There are five different C's to consider when it comes to buying a diamond. Diamond clarity is one of the most important, with carat weight, cut, colour and certification being the remaining four. The diamond trade is thousands of years old, and along the way it has picked up a fair amount of jargon which can overcomplicate the process for anyone who isn't already clued in. So what exactly is diamond clarity, how do you measure and grade it, and what does it mean to you as a buyer?
Diamonds, much like humans, are often born with natural birthmarks. These birthmarks are called 'inclusions' – someof these are visible to the naked eye, others can only be seen using a high powered microscope.The clarityof a diamond is a measure of how many inclusions a diamond has, and how easy to see they are. When you see people examining diamonds in the movies using a large magnifying glass, it’s the diamond’s clarity that they are looking to work out.
The clarity of a diamond is obviously a little more complex than the movies make out, especially considering most inclusions are invisible to the naked eye. Here at Marlow’s Diamonds we use the GIA Clarity Scale for our diamond grading. This scale is broken up into six categories, four of which contain slightly different gradings. In order from highest clarity to lowest, these are:
- FL – A flawless diamond, with no inclusions or blemishes at 10x magnification.
- IF – An internally flawless diamond. These show 'polish lines' – slight blemishes left on the surface of the diamond during the polishing process.
- VVS – This stands for very, very slightly included, and is broken into two subcategories:
- VVS1 – a 'pinpoint' inclusion is visible as a tiny speck at 10x magnification. This speck is a mineral deposit which was trapped inside the diamond as the diamond grew and can often only be spotted by high skilled experts.
- VVS2 – similar to VVS1, but the inclusions are slightly more visible.
- VS – This stands for very slightly included, and is again broken into two subcategories:
- VS1 – the inclusions here are easier to spot than at VVS level, and don't require a highly skilled expert to spot. At VS1, these inclusions are still typically invisible to the naked eye.
- VS2 – similar to VS1, but the inclusions can sometimes be spotted with the naked eye.
- SI – Unsurprisingly, this stands for slightly included, and is broken into two more subcategories:
- SI1 – the inclusions here are very easy to spot for a trained grader at 10x magnification. Again, these inclusions may or may not be visible to the naked eye.
- SI2 – similar to SI1, but the inclusions are even more obvious.
- I – I stands for included, and is the lowest clarity a diamond can be graded at. It's broken into three final subcategories:
- I1 – the inclusions here are obvious at 10x magnification, and are often visible with the naked eye.
- I2 – inclusions are easily seen with the naked eye.
- I3 – inclusions are large and extremely easy to spot. These inclusions are so severe that they typically impact not only the brilliance of the diamond, but its structural integrity too.
The ease with which inclusions can be spotted need to be measured too, or else the scale would be entirely subjective. The final grading is based on:
- The size of the inclusion(s).
- The number of inclusions in the diamond.
- The position of the inclusion – if the inclusion is hidden in the lower facets it will have a higher clarity than if it’s smack in the middle of the table.
- The nature of the inclusion – the likelihood that inclusion will affect the durability of the diamond.
- The relief of the inclusion –this is basically the colour, as black inclusions are much more visible than white or clear inclusions.
Which Clarity Should I Choose?
The ease with which an inclusion can be seen will affect not only the diamond grading, but the brilliance of the diamond, and thus how the diamond looks when it’s worn.Here at Marlow’s Diamonds we stock a wide range of stunning diamonds across a range of colours, cuts and clarities in order to meet any budget or occasion. That being said, if you're looking for a diamond engagement ring which will make the right impression, we recommend diamonds with clarities of VS2or higher. Either way, all of our diamonds come with full, independent certification and are guaranteed to be conflict-free for your peace of mind.
Here at Marlow's we're confident that we can find the right diamond for you, whatever your taste, budget or style. We’ve been providing high quality diamond jewellery from the heart of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter since 1951, and as one of Britain’s leading diamond experts we’re here to help you find the perfect diamond. If you have any questions about how to find the perfect diamond, give us a call today or visit us in store.