The clarity of a diamond refers to the presence of natural inclusions within the diamond. Diamonds containing no inclusions are rare and, as a result, more expensive than the rather more common flawed diamonds. The clarity of a diamond is graded using a 10x magnifying loupe and range from flawless (F; no inclusions or external blemishes) to Included 3 (I3) where inclusions are visible to the naked eye.
- F – Flawless: No internal or external flaws; extremely rare.
- IF – Internally Flawless: no internal flaws, but some surface flaws; very rare.
- VVS1 – VVS2 – Very Very Slightly Included (two grades): Inclusions very difficult to detect under 10x magnification by a trained gemmologist.
- VS1 – VS2 – Very Slightly Included (two grades): Inclusions seen only with difficulty under 10x magnification.
- SI1 – SI2 – Slightly Included (two grades): Inclusions easily detected under 10x magnification.
- I1 – I2 – I3 – Included (three grades): Inclusions visible under 10x magnification and to the naked eye.
Almost all commercial-grade diamonds sold in retail stores will fall into the VS to SI category, with some certainly being graded as I-category diamonds. One or two natural imperfections are not a bad thing, for the reason that most of the time they cannot be seen with the naked eye and they can be used to identify your diamond as your own stone, should you be concerned about “stone swopping” at some retail jewellers.
Most noteworthy with regards to clarity is to understand that the natural imperfections can range from colourless to black and, in some rare instances, even coloured. Black inclusions (such as sulphides and graphite) will naturally be easier to see than colourless “feathers” or “clouds” in a diamond. While purchasing diamonds online is a a growing market niche, we would certainly recommend examining a diamond yourself, whenever possible, to see what colour and types of inclusions your chosen diamond possesses.