More About The Clarity Of Diamonds
October 11, 2012 Leave a comment
Diamond clarity is a term used to describe the absence or presence of flaws inside or on the surface of a diamond. A perfect diamond with perfect clarity, or clearness, is rare, and most flaws that do exist in jewelry grade diamonds cannot be seen without looking at the gems through a jeweler’s magnifying loupe.
Diamond imperfections include:
- Imperfections, or flaws, inside a diamond.
- Tiny spots of white, black, or other colours.
- Cracks. Some cause no problems at all. Other could cause the stone to split.
- Coloured and uncoloured crystals.
Blemishes are flaws on a diamond’s exterior surface.Many exterior flaws are the result of the diamond cutting and polishing process.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) grades diamond clarity using 10X magnification. They tag diamonds as:
Fl, Flawless - No internal or external flaws.
IF, Internally Flawless-No internal flaws. Slight external blemishes.
VVS1 & VVS2, Very, very slightly included.-Minute inclusions. Difficult for even an experienced grader to detect.
VS1 & VS2, Very slightly included-Minute inclusions. Not easily seen by an experienced grader.
SI1 & SI2, Slightly included-Inclusions that are noticeable to an experienced grader.
I1 & I2 & I3, Included - Obvious inclusions that may affect transparency and brilliance.
Diamond clarity can be enhanced with treatments, but not all enhancement techniques are permanent. The two most popular treatments are:
Diamond Laser Treatments-A laser is used to remove some types of inclusions. An experienced jeweler can usually see the trail left by the laser.Laser treatments are permanent.
Diamond Fracture Filling -Tiny cracks in a diamond are filled with a colorless substance.Fracture filling is not considered permanent.
Treated diamonds cost less, so press the seller to disclose any type of treatment that’s been performed.
If you cannot tolerate imperfections, even those you cannot see, choose a VVS2 or better diamond. About 10% of all diamonds sold fall into this category.
The most popular range is the VS1-VS2 diamond. These diamonds appear flawless to the naked eye, and are a fraction of the price of a truly flawless diamond. Almost half of all diamonds purchased fall into this range.
The next most popular range is SI1, where the inclusions are usually not significant enough to impact the appearance of the diamond for the casual observer. Often, it makes sense to opt for this clarity range in exchange for a higher cut or color grade.This combination often results in a beautiful, lively diamond with imperfections detectable only upon close inspection. In diamonds under 1 carat, the same can be said for an SI2 grade. In diamonds over 1 carat (where clarity is more important, and SI2 inclusions are often easier to detect), an SI2 is often half the price of a VS1 diamond. About one third of diamonds sold fall into the SI1-SI2 range.
If you are primarily concerned with size and price, I1 may be your best clarity option. The location of a diamond’s flaws affects a gem’s looks and integrity.So it’s important to consider where a diamond’s flaw is located in relation to the gemstone’s cut, because some flaws are more noticeable when positioned in specific areas.And if you are considering the diamond itself as an investment versus the piece of jewellery as an investment. remember that some flaws compromise a diamond’s durability.
The larger the diamond, the easier imperfections are to detect; therefore Clarity becomes more important. For diamonds over 2 carats, a clarity grade of VS2 or higher is the safest bet for avoiding any signs of visible inclusions. In diamonds between 1 and 2 carats, clarity grades of SI1 or better will not have inclusions easily visible to the naked eye. In diamonds under 1 carat, clarity should be considered the least important of the traditional 4 Cs.Brilliant-cut diamonds (such as round, princess, cushion, oval, pear, and marquise) hide inclusions better than step cuts (emerald, asscher). When purchasing a step-cut, move up one clarity grade (e.g. purchase a VS2 instead of an SI1 if you desire the lowest grade that has no visible inclusions).
If, while shopping for a diamond, you are ever given a clarity range (e.g. SI1-SI2) as opposed to a specific grade, be certain to mentally discount the price of the diamond as the seller is trying to up sell his stone.