How Diamonds are Graded on Clarity

“Flawless” is a slang buzzword that we’re all saying to describe amazing, beautiful, wonderful things in our lives. But when we’re talking about diamonds, we shouldn’t be so quick to describe them as “flawless.” Why not? A flawless diamond is exceptionally rare, and we know that because when diamonds are graded using the four C’s (carat, cut, color, and clarity), jewelers specifically look for flaws within the diamond in order to grade the clarity. And alas, as amazing, beautiful, and wonderful as you may perceive your diamond to be, it’s probably not “flawless”, as according to the GIA, most jewelers have never seen a flawless diamond! In fact, less than 1% of diamonds are graded as Flawless. Indeed, be it lab-grown diamonds or those formed in the Earth, nearly all diamonds have flaws (that you probably can’t see!). These are known as inclusions (internal flaws) and blemishes (external flaws). Do note, however, that these imperfections are tiny and do not take away from the beauty of the diamond. In this blog, we’ll help you better understand the clarity grading scale so you know what to look for when buying diamonds.

What is the Clarity Grading Scale for Diamonds?

There are 11 clarity grades that can be assigned to a diamond, ranging from Very Slightly Included (VSI) to Slightly Included (SI). In order to determine the grade, jewelers view the diamond under 10x magnification and assess the size, nature, position, color or relief, and quantity of inclusions or blemishes. The categories are as follows, and as defined by the GIA:

 

  • Flawless (FL) - No inclusions or blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification
  • Internally Flawless (IF) - No inclusions and only blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification
  • Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) - Inclusions are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10× magnification
  • Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) - Inclusions are minor and range from difficult to somewhat easy for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification
  • Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) - Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader under 10x magnification
  • Included (I1, I2, and I3) - Inclusions are obvious under 10× magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance

Whether you are buying diamonds online or in a store, the clarity should always be labeled using the above categories. This is the internationally-accepted grading scale that was formed specifically so it could be used no matter the language being spoken. And, it’s important to note that this grading scale is used for white diamonds and colored diamonds alike.

Buying Tips when Assessing Clarity of Lab-Grown Diamonds

Although you’ll probably never see a FL diamond, it’s good to know that the best value diamonds are SI or VS grade, as their inclusions cannot be seen by the naked eye (which is also why you may hear them referred to as ‘eye clean’ diamonds). When shopping our collections of stunning lab-grown diamonds, you’ll easily be able to see the clarity grade, as we include it in the title for every diamond. However, if you have any questions, we’d be more than happy to help. Simply contact us here or call us at 877-653-2250.

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