Clarity is a measure of internal defects of a wholesale diamond called inclusions. Inclusions may be crystals of a foreign material or another diamond crystal, or structural imperfections such as tiny cracks that can appear whitish or cloudy. The number, size, colour, relative location, orientation, and visibility of inclusions can all affect the relative clarity of a wholesale diamond. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and other organisations have developed systems to grade clarity, which are based on those inclusions that are visible to a trained professional when a diamond is viewed under 10x magnification. Wholesale diamonds are graded by the independent laboratories on a scale ranging from flawless to imperfect.
Please Note: Grading is performed under 10x Magnification and the related terms below are applied on this basis.
- Flawless: is applied to stones that are free of any external blemish or internal inclusion.
- Internally Flawless / Loupe Clean: Loupe refers to a 10x magnification eye-loupe and is applied to stones that are free of internal inclusions when viewed by a trained professional.
- VVS1 – VVS2: Very, Very Small Inclusions – difficult for a practiced expert to locate under 10x magnification. View Examples>
- VS1 – VS2: Very Small Inclusions – is applied when an expert can discern very small inclusions that are difficult to see. View Examples>
- SI1 – SI2: Small Inclusions – should not be visible to the naked eye, but when viewed by an experienced grader, are easy to locate under 10x magnification. View Examples>
- P1 / I1: Pique (included) / Imperfect – very easy to find under magnification, but with the naked eye, when viewed through the crown are only discernible with difficulty. View Examples>
- P2-P3 / I2-I3: Pique (included) / Imperfect – inclusions are easily found with the naked eye and these imperfections greatly effect brilliance & light performance. View Examples>
Diamonds become increasingly rare when considering higher clarity grades. Only about 20% of all diamonds mined have a clarity rating high enough for it to be considered appropriate for use as a gemstone; the other 80% are relegated to industrial use. Of that top 20%, a significant portion contains one or more visible inclusions. Those that do not have a visible inclusion are known as “eye-clean” and are preferred by most buyers, although visible inclusions can sometimes be hidden under the setting in a piece of handcrafted jewellery.
Most inclusions present in gem-quality diamonds do not affect its visual performance or structural integrity. However, large clouds can affect its ability to transmit and scatter light. It’s highly important to view and map inclusions with a trained expert, particularly when considering lower clarity grades. Diamond consulting from your diamond broker in Sydney can help you understand all of these nuances.
Interesting Fact: European Diamond Grading Labs (such as HRD) do not consider external defects, also known as blemishes, to be graded for clarity. Instead, any external blemish will affect the overall cut, generally impacting the polish or symmetry grade.