“Yeah, yeah, diamond clarity…”
Most people have a vague idea of what this all means. They see graphs and charts describing what all the particular grades stand for…
But there’s always something missing…
The REAL thing!
Like a light bulb coming on…
When they compare a real SI1 clarity diamond up against an I1 clarity, and then a VS1, it all totally makes Sense.
They get it!
It’s definitely much easier than just peering at a 4C’s Chart like so…
Diamond clarity close up
So that’s what we’re doing today. Taking a closer look at clarity. Let’s start with a peek at the diamond clarity chart below to become familiar with all the different grades…
While you see those red marks and understand they are flaws, it’s still hard to understand.
Is one really better than another?
It’s so much easier when you can see the real pinpoints, black spots, lines, feathers and clouds in real diamonds…
Seeing is believing!
So let’s begin…
The wonderful magnified diamonds below are from James Allen, a jeweler that actually shows you genuine certified stones close up and microscoped like you’ve never seen them before.
They are very impressive and quite interesting (even if you aren’t in the market for a stone).
Flawless Diamonds (FL)
Flawless diamonds are at the top of the chart…
They are totally flawless. You’ll see a perfectly clean diamond under a 10x (what jeweler’s use to grade diamonds with) microscope. They are rare, expensive and very, very stunning.
Flawless diamonds are difficult to find in jewelry stores because of the price and demand. They are usually snatched up by collectors before they even hit the shops.
If you find some, scope them, and enjoy their magnificent beauty.
Here’s a great photo of a Flawless diamond below. It’s breathtaking.
Internally Flawless Diamonds (IF)
Internally Flawless stones are just as clean as Flawless diamonds, but with one slight difference… The inside of the diamond is perfectly flawless, but the outside of the stone will contain a small blemish or two. A blemish is an inclusion that breaks the outer surface of the stone, like a natural, feather or grain line.
These minor blemishes are few and very difficult to see even with a trained eye. They are impressive and rare. And they also carry an impressive price tag. :)
Take a gander at some Internally Flawless diamonds below…
See, I told you they were grand. Can you see any difference between these and the Flawless stone above? Probably not.
Very Very Slightly Included Level 1 (VVS1)
VVS1 is the cream of the crop. They are elite diamonds that are very clean under the scope. To the bare eye, these diamonds will appear flawless. Even under a microscope all you’ll see is maybe a tiny dot or line or blemish. The flaws are very difficult to see under magnification.
I LOVE VVS1 Diamonds. Take a peek…
You may notice a tiny dot or two, but that’s it. They look just as good as a perfect stone… almost! :)
Very Very Slightly Included Level 2 (VVS2)
VVS2 clarity are just as beautiful as VVS1. They may contain a Few More very hard to see inclusions, but again, it’s only if you know what to look for. They certainly are an impressive stone with an impressive beauty.
Check out what VVS2 clarity looks like…
Do you see those minute flaws? Even this close up they are very, very tiny.
Very Slightly Included Level 1 (VS1)
VS1 diamonds have very small flaws in the stone that can be seen a little bit easier under magnification. These inclusions are not visible to the eye. They are only seen under a microscope or a 10x jeweler’s loupe.
VS1 is my favorite clarity of all, because the diamonds are very clean and they still have some very small imperfections that makes identifying the stones easier.
When you look at VS1 stones you will have a hard time telling the difference between these stones and the stones of higher clarity. They all look great.
If I would recommend any diamond clarity to buy, VS1 is my #1 choice.
See some VS1 diamonds up close below…
Do you see those very small dots and identification marks? That’s what I love best about these stones. I can look at these diamonds and memorize those flaws. It will keep you from getting your stone switched or swapped if you know what they look like.
Very Slightly Included Level 2 (VS2)
VS2 diamonds are wonderful clarity stones. These flaws are still invisible to the bare eye, but they are a little bit easier to see under a microscope. You’ll be able to pick out a few flaws, lines, dots, and marks here and there.
Usually the difference between a VS1 diamond and a VS2 diamond is just a few more inclusions in the VS2 and the placement of these flaws is usually more towards the center of the stone.
Take a look at some VS2 diamonds below…
See how a few of the inclusions are bigger and more obvious? (Only under magnification) You really start to see details more in a VS2 diamond.
Slightly Included Level 1 (SI1)
SI1 diamonds usually have flaws that are invisible to the eye. Usually!
The flaws get bigger and much, much easier to spot under magnification.
This is where you’ll really start to notice clarity. Anything higher than SI1 pretty much appears the same, but in SI1, the differences start to show up.
The flaws will be bigger, more centrally located, and may even start to diminish the beauty and sparkle in the stone (if the flaws get too big or too many).
SI1 clarity diamonds are some of the most popular clarity grades there are on the market, because the flaws are still small, mostly invisible to the eye, and the price range is great.
Take a look at some SI1 clarity diamonds below…
As you can see, I picked out one SI1 diamond that was pretty clean, all but some imperfections in the middle of the diamond… While the second SI1 diamond has more flaws spread throughout the stone. This is why you really should microscope and view every single diamond you buy. They can vary that much.
Slightly Included Level 2 (SI2)
SI2 diamonds are where the inclusions really start to play a huge role in the diamond quality, appearance and price.
The flaws in an SI2 get larger, real easy to see under magnification, and even easier to see with the bare eye (at the right viewing angle).
Generally in an SI2 diamond, from the top view (looking straight down into the table of the stone), you won’t see any flaws.
There are always exceptions, and people with extremely good eye sight.
These flaws are normally visible only from a side view (not from the top).
SI2 is the borderline clarity that splits invisible flaws from visible flaws.
These stones will normally still face up nicely (eye-clean stones are SI2 and higher), but if you look at the diamond long enough and close enough, you’ll probably pick up on the small lines, black carbon spots, feathers, and even chips or cracks in the stone.
If you’re buying SI2 clarity, microscope the stone good just to see what you’re buying.
Some stones look good, other’s not so good…
Take a look at SI2 clarity diamonds below…
See how the second SI2 stone looks much worse than the top? What separates these stones and why do they look so different?
The flaws of course!
If the stone faces up clean to the eye, but you can see the flaw from a side view, it’s an SI2 diamond.
So it doesn’t matter if the stone has 1 visible inclusion in it, or 15… as long as the golden rule applies, it’s an SI2.
Included Level 1 (I1)
Included diamonds are the lowest range of diamond clarity there is on the market. Included diamonds come in 3 clarity grades: I1, I2 and I3. Normally you won’t find I2 or I3 diamonds sold at any fine jewelers… they are too cloudy and lack brilliance and beauty.
Usually I1 is about the lowest grade that still passes for a nice looking stone.
I1 is the top of the included list. This clarity means that when you look at the stone with the bare eye (unaided, using no loupe or microscope), you will see the flaws. They will stand out and be obvious… Very obvious. Even more so under magnification.
Under a scope, the flaws in an I1 diamond can look huge (and you don’t even want to see I2 and I3 clarity).
But, you do get what you pay for. If you want a cheaper diamond, and don’t care much about the visible flaws, I clarity is the quality to buy.
Remember, the more flaws there are in a diamond, the weaker that diamond becomes. They can actually affect the structure and integrity of the stone and it can break or crack in half if hit with the right amount of force.
Flaws in an I1 clarity diamond are fascinating to look at under magnification. They vary so much, just like freckles and moles on people. Every diamond is unique and different in nature. You’ll see pinpoints, feathers, clouds, chips, cracks, fractures, knots, grain lines and more…
And when you go lower into I2 and I3 diamonds, the diamonds can look so bad that they lack all brilliance and sparkle. Some even look like a chunk of salt!
So if you’re going to buy included diamonds, at least stick with I1 clarity. They aren’t so bad…
Take a good look at I1 clarity diamonds below…
The good thing about I clarity diamonds? The PRICE!
So there you go…
I hope you enjoyed seeing diamond clarity with real diamonds. It really helps to see the flaws. It makes understanding clarity so much easier.
Plus, the clarity chart looks so much better as well… :)
Seeing really is believing.
I would suggest staying in the SI1 clarity or higher if you’re buying a larger stone, like 1 carat or up. And especially if you’re buying a diamond for an engagement ring. You probably don’t want her to see flaws her whole life, do you?
Buy SI or VS, buy them loose and certified (GIA or AGS only). That way you’re protected, and you’ll be buying the clarity you really wanted and paid for.
If it’s not certified, you really don’t know what it is you’re getting.
Buy GIA or AGS and you can’t go wrong!
Check out these different clarities below:
|CARAT, CLARITY, COLOR, CUT, POL, SYM, FLUOR||VIEW|
|1.00, FL, D,E,F, EX, EX, EX, NONE||VIEW|
|1.00, IF, D,E,F, EX, EX, EX, NONE||VIEW|
|1.00, VVS1, D,E,F, EX, EX, EX, NONE||VIEW|
|1.00, VVS2, D,E,F, EX, EX, EX, NONE||VIEW|
|1.00, VS1, D,E,F, EX, EX, EX, NONE||VIEW|
|1.00, VS2, D,E,F, EX, EX, EX, NONE||VIEW|
|1.00, SI1, D,E,F, EX, EX, EX, NONE||VIEW|
|1.00, SI2, D,E,F, EX, EX, EX, NONE||VIEW|
|1.00, I1, D,E,F, EX, EX, EX, NONE||VIEW|
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