What is diamond clarity? 

Beyond the brilliance and sparkle of a diamond lies many hidden features, including imperfections that can greatly impact their value and appearance. In this article, we discuss diamond clarity, explaining what it is, how it’s graded, and why it matters to you when choosing the perfect diamond. 

What is diamond clarity? 

Diamond clarity refers to the presence or absence of internal and external imperfections, also known as inclusions and blemishes, within a diamond.  

Fun fact: These natural characteristics are like fingerprints, unique to each diamond, and they can provide valuable insights into the diamond’s history and formation. 

How is diamond clarity graded? 

Diamond clarity is typically graded on a scale established by gemological organisations, such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the International Gemological Institute (IGI). The scale ranges from Flawless (FL), which indicates no inclusions or blemishes visible under 10x magnification, to Included (I3), which has inclusions and/or blemishes visible to the naked eye. 

Here’s a breakdown of the key clarity grades: 

  • Flawless (FL) and Internally Flawless (IF): No inclusions or blemishes visible even under 10x magnification. These diamonds are exceedingly rare and highly valuable (and extremely expensive!) 
  • Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2): Inclusions are extremely difficult to detect under 10x magnification. These diamonds are exceptionally clear and valuable.  
  • Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2): Inclusions are visible under 10x magnification but are minor and do not affect the diamond’s overall beauty. This is a popular clarity range for those seeking a balance between quality and price. It means that to the naked eye, there will be no issues with the diamond. 
  • Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2): Inclusions are noticeable under 10x magnification and may be visible to the naked eye in some cases. However, SI diamonds can offer excellent value if the inclusions are minimal and not visible without close examination. 
  • Included (I1, I2, and I3): Inclusions are visible to the naked eye and can affect the diamond’s brilliance and transparency. Diamonds in this range are generally less valuable due to the significant presence of imperfections. 

Why diamond clarity matters: 

Diamond clarity is a crucial factor for several reasons: 

  • Beauty: The fewer inclusions and blemishes a diamond has, the more brilliant and sparkling it will appear. Clarity directly impacts a diamond’s visual appeal. Think of it this way, the fewer blemishes = the more sparkly the stone. 
  • Value: Diamonds with higher clarity grades are typically more valuable because they are rarer. 
  • Durability: It’s not just about how it makes the diamond look – serious inclusions near the surface of a diamond can weaken it and make it more susceptible to damage. 
  • Personal preference: Your personal preference for clarity (and how much you worry about it) will depend on how much you are willing to compromise between clarity and budget. 

Want some more diamond advice? 

Check out our other guides to diamonds, such as our guide to diamond carat, diamond colour and diamond cut. Alternatively, get in touch with our friendly team, who would love to answer any questions you may have.