10x or ten powered, is ten times the normal eyesight. That’s what they use to grade diamonds with.
Nothing stronger is used to arrive at the clarity grade.
The size of the flaws, the placement of the inclusions, the color of them, the blemishes on the surface of the stone, these are all viewed and analyzed under 10x. They use that magnification to draw out the diamond plots you see on GIA reports. These types of drawings are how a lot of people view clarity, just like the diamond clarity chart shown below:
If you looked at a diamond under a 10x scope, you should see the flaws drawn out on the diamond plot.
You can use stronger magnification, sure, but not only would all of the flaws look bigger and more obvious, but you may also see other inclusions that weren’t detected under 10 power.
This means, that you’ll see more flaws in the diamond as you increase magnification.
Go up to 30x and the flaws could look monstrous (similar to the Super Zoom that James Allen uses here:)
That’s a great way to really view diamond clarity. It makes clarity easy to grasp, train with, teach with, study. When people see flaws, compare them with other diamonds of different clarities, they get it. It’s understandable.
But also realize that anything seen in the stone beyond 10x doesn’t count. If they’re not seen under 10x, they don’t matter in the least.
So why is higher magnification used?
Just to see the imperfections easier. See them closeup. To really inspect and scrutinize a diamond. Plus, like I said, it does make showing people laser inscriptions much easier (these are hard to locate with 10x).
That laser inscription shows up well in my sample photo above, but not under a microscope. Under 10x they are hard sometimes for even me to find. They’re that small. 30x is ideal for things like that.
But 10x is what I use to show customers the normal flaws under a microscope. That way, they see exactly what the graders see. And they can compare these flaws to the plot:
When you view diamonds online though, higher magnification is often necessary, because we’re not using a loupe or a microscope. We’re sitting back from a computer monitor and we need to see the same thing… So most places use 20x to show off their stones. James Allen is a pro at this, and even gives you the opportunity to spin each and every diamond around to see the details from all sides. The diamond shown below is 20x (as displayed by the slider on the side).
That diamond above is an SI2:
|CARAT, CLARITY, COLOR, CUT, POL, SYM, FLUOR||PRICE||VIEW|
|.91, SI2, H, EX, EX, EX, FAINT||$2,950||VIEW|
Normally from the top-down view inclusions in an SI2 are not seen with the eye. But in the 20x image above, they look huge. That’s because it’s magnified twenty times the sight of our eyes.
Let me give you better clarity…
Let’s shift the power down to 10x (grading magnification), to show you how that same diamond looks:
That’s a more accurate view.
It shows you how much smaller these graded flaws are. And as you can see, they are not so obvious, although you can still spot them, mainly the black carbon spot in the center.
What the eye sees:
Now, let’s drop the magnification down to 1x; pretty much what your eyes can see (close enough for this example). This is what the diamond would look like on your finger, or in a ring, with no loupe, no microscope, just your bare eyes.
Now you can see why an SI2 is an SI2. All the flaws are pretty undetectable (unless you magnified them).
So it’s important to note, when viewing diamonds online, what the magnification is. Generally, any diamond clarity SI2 or higher you won’t see flaws with the eye. I Clarity diamonds (I1, I2 and I3) you will see flaws. Those are included diamonds and have eye-visible inclusions.
SI2 diamonds from the top view, you shouldn’t see anything (these are called eye-clean diamonds). From a side-view you may spot the flaws in an SI2 (and that is expected).
To obtain a diamond where no flaws are seen top or side, you’ll have to step up into an SI1.
The best optical tools:
The best tools to use to view flaws with are a gem microscope with dual binoculars and a dark field with lights.
The best jeweler’s loupe to use is a loupe with a black case, triplet lens, large mm width, and minimal distortion. Like the BeLomo loupe below:
Magnification is generally only used to grade diamonds, buy diamonds, and to verify your diamond later (when you get it back from repairs).
Magnifying diamonds is advisable to everyone.
You should check under the hood when you’re buying, just to see what you’re really getting (and I advise SI1, Colorless diamonds, like these here).
Microscope, magnify, and see diamonds in a whole new world.
Swing into any jewelry store, or shop online, and start magnifying diamonds today.
Top Recommended Vendors:
James Allen is a leader in diamonds. Their real time interactive diamond inspection is the best in the industry. View and rotate any diamond under 20x magnification. Their prices, selection, lifetime warranty, 24/7 customer support and hassle free returns are unbeatable. Visit James Allen today.
Blue Nile is the largest and most well known respected diamond dealer online. They are highly trusted, have a huge inventory, and low low prices (compare anywhere and see for yourself). If you want to save money, or build your own ring, this is the place to shop. Visit Blue Nile today.