Diamond Clarity - What you need to know when buying an engagement ring
When looking at diamonds, knowing what to choose can be wholly overwhelming. This is where we come in. With our expert advice we can find the best diamond for you and your price range.
Diamonds are formed deep within the earth over billions of years under extreme heat and pressure and therefore are likely to have individual marks internally or externally, in the same way that throughout life we pick up bumps and scars. Each diamond is unique, so it’s marks are akin to a fingerprint telling the story of a natural diamonds formation.
Whilst determining the clarity grade, the size, nature, position, colour and quantity of clarity characteristics are assessed under 10x magnification.
Using the GIA grading system, a diamond’s clarity refers to the absence of inclusions (internal) or blemishes (external). There are 11 grades, ranging from Flawless (FL) to diamonds which are heavily included (I3). At Blackacre we select diamonds within the FL-SI2 clarity range.
Flawless and Internally Flawless - The Best of the Best
Flawless diamonds have no blemishes or inclusions whilst internally flawless diamonds have no inclusions and only blemishes that are recognisable to experts under magnification.
Less than 0.5% of gem grade diamonds are flawless or internally flawless. These are some of the most rare and valuable diamonds in the world.
Our Somerset ring features a 1.00ct D IF Emerald Cut diamond at its centre.
VVS – Very, Very Slightly included.
VVS1 and VVS2 show "Minute inclusions which range from extremely difficult to very difficult to a skilled grader under 10x magnification."
These inclusions usually are pin points and are classed in the bracket of truly exceptional stones. These stones need a microscope to locate their tiny inclusions.
The diamond to the left is a 1.70ct F VVS2 Round Brilliant Cut.
VS - Very Slightly Included
VS1 and VS2 clarity grades are classed as displaying "Minor inclusions that range from difficult to somewhat easy to see under 10x magnification."
These grades should not have inclusions visible to the naked eye, depending upon diamond shape and cutting style.
The cutting style of a diamond is an important factor to bear in mind whilst selecting the right clarity grade for you. Brilliant cut diamonds including round, oval, pear and radiant often can hide clarity characteristics well, whereas step cut diamonds such as asscher, emerald and baguette are much more revealing.
A VS2 grade diamond may have inclusions visible to the naked eye if it is an emerald cut, but not if it is a round brilliant as seen in the image below.
SI - Slightly included
SI 1 - Noticeable inclusions under 10x magnifications that range from somewhat easy.
This is the most popular clarity grade for diamond jewellery, many SI1 clarity grades have no visible inclusions to the naked eye but have favourable pricing when compared to a VS2 of the same size, shape and colour.
This video shows the difference between two SI1 clarity grades. The diamond on the left has no visible inclusions to the naked eye, and a small cloud (group of pinpoints) on its pavilion (back). The diamond on the right however has a large feather and black carbon crystal on the table of the stone which will be visible to the naked eye.
SI2 – The good the bad and the ugly
"Noticable inclusuions that range from somewhat easy to see to very easy to see to a skilled grader under 10x magnification."
Some jewellers will not use SI2 diamonds as some are deemed not good enough for an engagement ring, but here at Blackacre we know that if you look for the right thing, that they can be a great way to maximise your budget.
Knowing that no two diamonds have the same inclusions in the same places, it is important to look under magnification at each stone out of a selection individually.
Below are examples of the range of clarity characteristics within the SI2 category.
Included diamonds have "Obvious inclusions that may affect transparency and brilliance", some diamonds within the I1-I3 range can have inclusions which pose a threat to durability.
These diamonds are are often referred to as Salt and Pepper diamonds for their black and white speckled inclusions.
When looking at diamond grades it is important to remember that they are a scientific report, graded by people to fit within a classification or bracket.
The images above shows the range of inclusion types within a category that one diamond can be at the top of the bracket whilst another could be at the bottom.
It is important to not solely rely on a report, but look at a diamond in person, with the naked eye and assess the 5th C, its character.
With the help of a trained gemologist we can help to find the perfect diamond for you.