Clarity is crazy!
Not only crazy, it’s highly subjective.
You see, when you look at the other 4C’s, color can be measured with machines (colorimeters). And carat weight can be weighed on a diamond scale. Cut can also be mathematically proportioned with today’s technology.
But clarity can’t.
No machine can look at a stone and grade it. Even people find it difficult to pinpoint one exact grade. Experienced grades (like GIA) don’t even rely on 1 person’s evaluations. They use 3 people (expert diamontologists) to compromise and arrive at the given final grade (this is called triple redundancy).
It’s all opinion!
(And everyone has one). It’s like judging people with moles, freckles, birthmarks, warts… How do you actually say one is better or worse than another?
Diamond clarity varies. Drastically. SI1 diamonds will all look different. Their flaws are different. Their imperfections bigger, smaller, centralized, spaced around. It’s nature’s fingerprint. They are all totally unique.
This is both interesting, and frustrating at the same time. Because a SI2 diamond in one store looks great, but an SI2 in another looks bad.
This happens because of range.
Clarity isn’t just one diamond, one grade, one plot… NO! It’s a range of quality that runs from one grade to another. There could be thousands of steps along the way from SI2 to VS2. Some SI1 stones could face up more like a VS diamond, others will look just like an SI2. Some flaws reside dead center. Others are hidden underneath facets, off to the side, or deep into the pavilion. Some flaws you only see from a side view.
Let’s prove this point.
Below is a portion of the GIA clarity grading chart. It will give you a better idea of how clarity grades can be blurred and really take on the opinion of the grader.
Take a peek:
This is a great example using a variety of stones.
You can see how some grades could be similar to either higher or lower grades. Many are borderline stones, meaning the grade could go either way depending on where you shop. GIA will always grade a borderline stone LOWER in clarity (so there is no debate). Whereas other jewelers, and other less strict diamond reporting companies (like IGI or EGL) will grade them higher (which also means, they can charge more for this same stone). This chart also shows that many diamonds are not dead set in one category only. They overlap. This is why opinion is so difficult.
All clarity grades could have such a range; higher or lower. A VS1 could look like a VVS2. An I1 could mimik an SI2.
Someone’s point of view. So while this is difficult for a customer to understand, it’s also an AWESOME thing. Because if you look hard enough, you’ll be able to find that SI2 clarity diamond that faces up just like a SI1. WIN-WIN! This gets you a better looking diamond that’s CHEAPER!
Look at the two diamonds below, can you tell which is the SI1 and which is the SI2 diamond?
The SI2 is on the left.
Diamonds can’t be graded from just the top view, like shown. They are analyzed from all sides, angles, and even upside down. Inclusions hide. They lay under facets, are blinded by light, cling to the girdle, follow the lines of the pavilion… Some are nothing but an ultra-tiny tiny dot.
Compare the I1 clarity diamond below, to an SI2:
In this instance the I1 looks better! Much better. Both diamonds have F color, excellent cuts, are the same carat weight. So why spend more money on the SI2, when you could go cheaper, and get the I1 diamond instead.
Eye-opener? You bet!
|CARAT, CLARITY, COLOR, CUT, CERT||PRICE||VIEW|
|.70, SI2, F, EXCELLENT, IGI||$1,710||VIEW|
|.70, I1, F, EXCELLENT, GIA||$1,580||VIEW|
Remember to buy GIA!
I can’t stress how important this is. GIA is strict and grades accurately. IGI is highly questionable. The example of two diamonds above, SI2 and I1 will explain everything. The I1 is graded by GIA. The SI2 is graded by IGI. See how not only comparing diamonds, but comparing reports is crucial?
The only exception to this rule is when you’re shopping for hearts and arrows diamonds. Those are perfectly cut diamonds, like True Hearts and Astor Cut. These diamonds will also be graded by AGS or Gemex. It’s important to note that AGS or Gemex are used primarily to grade the cut (because GIA’s highest cut grade is excellent). No matter though, both True Hearts and Astor Cuts will also come with a GIA diamond report, so you’re still getting the best of the best.
Where to shop?
I would recommend buying your GIA graded diamonds at James Allen or Blue Nile. Their prices are the lowest you’ll find, and if you compare them with mall jewelry stores, you’ll be blown away at how much money you can save.
Just remember to select GIA!
When comparing diamonds, view as many diamonds in the same clarity as you can. You’ll always find some that look better than the rest. That way, you’ll end up getting a much cleaner diamond, for cheaper.
Amazing how that happens, right?
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.