As one of the 4 Cs, clarity is an important criterion for the quality of a diamond. But how important is a high clarity grade and how does it affect the price? Find out what you need to know about diamond clarity and what to look for when buying in this blog post. In the series "Quality criteria of a diamond", articles on the valuation of diamonds appear on our blog from time to time.
The clarity scale briefly explained
The clarity of a diamond is graded by gemological laboratories on an 11-step scale. For graduation, the stone is examined under a magnifying glass with 10x magnification.
The best rating is "flawless", which is abbreviated as "FL". A flawless diamond has no damage that could negatively affect its appearance. Generally, a distinction is made between inclusions and blemishes. Inclusions are impurities inside the diamond, while blemishes are external damage such as scratches or nicks.
IF, meaning Internally Flawless is the second best rating. This means that the diamond has no inclusions, only minimal blemishes, which are often slight polish residues that are not visible to the naked eye. Diamonds certified as FL or IF are extremely rare and, accordingly, very expensive.
VVS1 and VVS2 (very very slightly induced) means that inclusions are present, but they are extremely difficult to see even under 10x magnification.
The grades VS1 and VS2 (very slightly induced) indicate that inclusions are present which are normally difficult to see under a magnifying glass, but can actually be seen with the naked eye under certain conditions. As a rule, however, they do not affect the external appearance.
SI1 clarity diamonds have inclusions that are easily seen under a magnifying glass and in some cases without magnification. However, there are definitely SI1 diamonds that are not affected optically by the inclusions. However, for diamonds with SI2 clarity grade, the inclusions are often visible to the naked eye.
The three lowest clarity grades, I1, I2 and I3 (Included), are assigned to diamonds where inclusions are clearly visible without any magnification. In these cases, the damage also affects the brilliance of the stone, as the incoming light cannot be fully reflected.
Clarity in diamond certificates
The certificates of the common gemological laboratories, i.e. GIA, IGI and also HRD, all contain a graphic representation of the clarity characteristics of the respective diamond. This is a diagram showing exactly where each type of damage is located and how extensive it is. The method by which the clarity of diamonds is evaluated was introduced by the GIA and then became an international standard.
How important is clarity?
If you want a diamond that displays its full brilliance and has no visual blemishes, it is absolutely not necessary to insist on the FL rating. Instead, it makes sense to focus on the fact that the diamond is "eye clean," meaning that the inclusions are not visible to the naked eye. In terms of value for money, therefore, a higher clarity grade is not necessarily the better choice, because the price of a diamond rises significantly with the clarity grade. Especially above one carat, the price here increases exponentially, because the larger the diamond, the less likely it is to have neither blemishes nor inclusions. There are many diamonds up to clarity grade VS2 or even SI1 that appear purely visually flawless despite their damage, which is why it is possible to purchase a diamond that is inherently high quality at a lower price. However, it is advisable to seek advice from a trusted jeweler, because other factors, such as the cut shape, also have an influence on which clarity grade you should choose. An Asscher, for example, is already very transparent due to its step-cut shape, which makes inclusions much more visible than with a brilliant-cut diamond. In such cases, you should not choose a clarity grade that is too low. The size of the diamond also plays a role in the choice of clarity grade: the larger the stone, the easier it is to see inclusions.
The clarity grade has a significant influence on the value and therefore the price of a diamond. The larger the diamond, the less likely it is to have no inclusions or only a few. Therefore, large diamonds with a high clarity grade are particularly rare and valuable. Accordingly, such stones are also well suited as an investment. However, if one wants the best possible value for money and the actual clarity grade is secondary, a comparatively inexpensive diamond with an otherwise good evaluation can be acquired here through a strategically wise selection.
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