There is more to a diamond than just its price. It is true that a well-cut, flawless, and brilliant diamond with high-quality color can be worth a great deal of money in the world of cut and color. Still, it is a fact that some diamonds are much more rare and valuable than others.
This is because they possess other unique qualities, such as their clarity rating or phenomenal carat weight. This means that you may have a very expensive carat weight diamond, but it could still have flaws in its cutting, resulting in poor light performance and less value overall.
Which diamond clarity is best? What is a decent diamond clarity? What are the levels of clarity in diamonds? Is there a diamond clarity 12? This post answers these questions and discusses all the essential things you need to know about the diamond clarity chart.
What is Diamond Clarity?
Diamond clarity is a grading system that measures the number and size of inclusions within a diamond. It is often confused with color, but they are actually two separate measurements of the same stone.
Clarity refers to imperfections or flaws in the diamond, while color refers to how light reflects off its surface. It also pertains to a diamond’s rarity and purity, including the extent to which it shows inclusions and blemishes.
When diamonds are formed, microscopic characteristics such as inclusions and abrasions can become trapped within the stone. Gemologists use a 10x magnifying glass to examine diamonds and assign each one a clarity grade based on its internal characteristics.
The fewer imperfections and flaws a diamond has, the higher its clarity grade. When determining a diamond’s clarity grade, remember that no diamond is entirely free from internal flaws.
Nonetheless, the nearer a diamond comes to purity, the clearer it becomes. Those with zero or fewer inclusions are regarded as high-value and rare.
Although clarity is one of the most important factors affecting a diamond’s value, very few defects are visible to someone without special training.
How Important is Diamond Clarity?
Being part of the 4Cs, diamond clarity is an essential factor in determining the price of a diamond. It determines how a diamond appears and sparkles when illuminated. So, it will sparkle more brightly if it has fewer inclusions.
While other factors such as cut and carat weight can affect the value of a diamond, clarity is still one of the most important characteristics that determine how much a diamond will cost.
Moreover, the open table and shallow pavilion in step-cut shapes like Asscher cut and emerald cut diamonds emphasize a diamond’s clarity. It can also make characteristics more noticeable. Similarly, a diamond’s characteristics are more visible because of the bigger facets of higher-carat stones.
What are Diamond Clarity Factors?
Five factors—relief, location, number, nature, and size—establish a diamond’s clarity and how inclusions are determined. Let’s find out more about them.
This pertains to the inclusion’s individuality compared to the host diamond. The higher the relief, the higher the impact on a diamond’s total grade clarity. Conversely, the lower the relief, the less impact on a diamond’s total grade clarity. Relief is typically measured in millimeters.
Location refers to the location of the blemish/inclusion in a diamond. Inclusions located close to the pavilion—whose facets function as mirrors—have the likelihood of reflecting themselves. Inclusions nearer the girdle are typically harder to see, and the closer they are to the surface, make the diamond more prone to damage. Inclusions located nearer to the table’s center have a higher effect on a diamond’s clarity grade.
Inclusions that are noticeable when concentrating beyond the culet have a weaker effect on a diamond’s clarity. Noticeable inclusions when focusing prior to the culet have lower effect on the diamond’s clarity grade. Moreover, the facet arrangement, cutting dimensions, and shape can also impact a diamond’s clarity by highlighting or minimizing the clarity factors.
Generally, the higher the volume of clarity traits, the lesser a diamond’s clarity rating. Nonetheless, it should be noted that inclusions are not evaluated based on the clarity features in all cases but also on how quickly they are noticeable.
This pertains to the kind of blemish or inclusion and its corresponding intensity or superficiality. Blemishes are features restricted to a diamond’s surface that don’t permeate into the depth. Inclusions, in contrast, are internal traits that permeate deep into a diamond. Inclusions that affect the diamond’s sturdiness are also part of its nature.
Typically, the larger the inclusion, the higher the effect on a diamond’s clarity rating. When inclusions are quite big, they can also affect a diamond’s durability. Inclusions that have the biggest effect on a diamond’s clarity are called grade setters since they establish the stone’s grade. Likewise, the inclusions’ sizes and their overall impact are established in relation to the diamond’s size.
What is Diamond Clarity Scale?
According to the American Gem Society (AGS), a diamond’s clarity rating is based on the balance between a stone’s appearance from eye visibility, 10x magnification under a microscope, and from a loupe.
The use of a higher power magnification (typically 15x) is used to determine inclusions that are alternatively challenging to identify at 10x magnification, which can include very small VVS inclusions. Nonetheless, the final AGS certified clarity grade is commonly established at 10x magnification from four directions.
When determining a diamond’s clarity grade, graders use factors that include the inclusions’ relief, location, number, nature, and size.
A diamond is examined by several experts before a clarity grade is assigned to it, so there’s agreement among graders about how diamonds should be judged.
To guarantee consistency in the diamond grading system, the AGS has also carried out quality control protocols. The following is the AGS clarity grading scale, which is the diamond industry’s preferred system when it comes to rating light performance and cut quality.
AGS 0 – Flawless or Internally Flawless Diamonds
Flawless diamonds have no internal imperfections that can be seen by the naked eye. Internally Flawless diamonds are flawless except for very minor blemishes on the surface of a diamond. AGS diamonds have no visible inclusions under 10x magnification.
AGS 1 or 2 – Very Very Slightly Included Diamonds
A diamond with a clarity grade of AGS 1 (VVS1)—a very clear diamond—or AGS 2 (VVS2) has minute inclusions that are undetectable to the naked eye.
AGS 1 diamonds are very slightly included, with inclusions that are visible only under 10x magnification. The most common type of inclusion is a tiny feather-shaped bubble trapped inside the diamond. These bubbles can be seen with the naked eye and make a diamond look cloudy or foggy. The inclusions are invisible to the naked eye and can only be seen when magnified 10x.
AGS 3 or 4 – Very Slightly Included Diamonds
A diamond with a clarity grade of AGS 3 (VS1)—a very slightly included diamond—or AGS 4 (VS2) has small inclusions that are only noticeable by a trained professional under 10x magnification.
The inclusions will not affect the brilliance or beauty of the diamond but may make it less expensive than one graded at FL 5, IF. The inclusions may be seen by the naked eye but are usually only visible under 10x magnification.
AGS 5, 6, or 7 – Slightly Included Diamonds
Slightly included diamonds, with a clarity grade of 5 or 6 (SI1 or SI2), have noticeable inclusions that are easy to see under 10x magnification. At times, these imperfections may be visible without the aid of a magnifying glass.
The inclusions may affect the purity of the diamond, but not its beauty. The inclusions will not affect the brilliance or beauty of the diamond but may make it less expensive than one graded at AGS 5, IF.
AGS 7, 8, 9, or 10 – Included Diamonds
Included diamonds with a clarity grade of AGS 7, 8, 9 or 10 (I1, I2 or I3) contain inclusions visible at 10x magnification. In some cases, inclusions of Included Diamonds are visible to the naked eye. At low levels, clarity can affect durability.
Included diamonds are not flawless, so they are less durable than IF diamonds. For instance, AGS 7 stones (diamond clarity i2) have a lower refractive index than IF diamonds, which means they will appear less brilliant.
What is Diamond Clarity Chart?
The other widely-used diamond grading system is from the Gemological Institute of America. The GIA Clarity Scale comprises six categories subdivided into 11 grades. Majority of these grades belong to either the SI (slightly included) or VS (very slightly included) categories.
Compared to the AGS, the GIA diamond clarity chart establishes a diamond’s clarity grade by evaluating the number of visible clarity characteristics under 10× magnification, color or relief, position, nature, and size. The following is the GIA Clarity Scale:
FL – Flawless Diamonds
FL diamonds are those whose blemishes and inclusions are invisible even under 10x magnification. Of all diamonds, less than 1% are FL clarity. A flawless diamond is so rare that one can be found only once in a great while.
These diamonds are usually set in high-end jewelry as a statement piece and are often passed down from generation to generation. The rarity of FL diamonds makes them extremely valuable. They are also the most expensive type of diamond on the market, with prices ranging from $18,000 to $30,000 per carat.
IF – Internally Flawless Diamonds
Just like FL, IF diamonds have invisible inclusions even under 10x magnification. However, some tiny blemishes can be noticeable on an IF diamond’s surface.
IF stones are considered among the most brilliant of all diamonds, and they are often used in high-end jewelry. Prices for these diamonds range from $4,000 to $10,000 per carat.
VVS1, VVS2 – Very Very Slightly Included (VVS) Diamonds
These two diamond grades have very minor inclusions that are challenging to detect even for professionals at 10x magnification. VVS1 diamonds have marginally lesser inclusions compared to VVS2 diamonds.
Most expert jewelers consider VVS diamonds to have a good clarity grade and superb quality. These diamonds are perfect for those who want to go with a high-end diamond, but don’t have the budget for it. Prices for these diamonds range from $2,000 to $5,000 per carat.
VS1, VS2 – Very Slightly Included (VS) Diamonds
The slight inclusions of VS diamonds are only visible under 10x magnification. Which is better VS1 or VS2? VS2 diamonds, which have lower clarity grade than VS1 stones, may have a few noticeable blemishes.
A VS grade diamond is perfect for those who want to go with a high-end diamond, but don’t have the budget for it. Prices for these diamonds range from $1,000 to $4,000.
SI2, SI1 – Slightly Included (SI) Diamonds
SI grade diamonds have visible inclusions under 10x magnification. SI1 grade diamonds’ inclusions are not always visible to the naked eye, whereas SI2 diamonds’ blemishes are usually visible inclusions without magnification. SI2 inclusions are often seen from the top, in the cone-shaped lower part, or from the pavilion.
SI diamonds are considered the best value diamonds. This is because they are still very beautiful and have excellent clarity, but for a lower price than an SI1 diamond.
I1 – Included Diamonds
I1 grade diamonds have slight blemishes that can be seen by the naked eye. I1 diamonds make up the majority of diamonds sold today and can still be beautiful pieces of jewelry.
I2, I3 – Heavily Included Diamonds
These lowest grade diamonds have the most visible inclusions that are very noticeable without any magnification. The most common diamond type belong to the diamond clarity chart I2, which make up about 80% of all diamonds sold today. The reason they are so popular is because they are still very beautiful, despite having some inclusions that can be seen by the naked eye. On the other hand, diamond clarity chart I3 pieces have more obvious inclusions than I2 diamonds and may be visible to the naked eye.
Diamond clarity chart helps separate the rare from the ordinary
The diamond clarity chart, be it from the AGS or GIA, has gifted the world with efficient and effective ways to grade diamonds. Both clarity grading systems have made it easy for consumers to understand the quality of a diamond.
The diamond clarity chart helps us to separate the rare from the ordinary, which is why it’s so important for jewelers to use it when selling diamonds. It is a great tool for helping consumers understand what they are buying and also helps jewelers market their products more efficiently.
In case you want to know more about diamond clarity, you’ll likely enjoy reading our post, “VVS Diamond Clarity Buying Guide: How To Find The Perfect Rock.”