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Diamond clarity is the assessment of small imperfections on the surface and internally. The surface flaws are called blemishes, and internal defects are known as inclusions. These tiny, natural blemishes and inclusions are microscopic and do not affect a diamond’s beauty in any way. Diamonds with the least and smallest inclusions receive the highest clarity grades.
Clarity is one of the 4Cs of diamond grading and quality. Diamond clarity is the least important factor when choosing to buy a diamond because most diamonds have blemishes and small inclusions that are microscopic, unable to be seen with an untrained or unaided eye.
In 1953, Richard T. Liddicoat and colleagues established the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) diamond grading system and clarity scale. The GIA diamond grading scale is divided into six categories and eleven diamond clarity grades. On the diamond clarity scale, also commonly referred to as the diamond grading chart, the complete list of diamond grading categories and clarity grades are listed below:
Inclusions and blemishes aren’t visible on flawless diamonds, even under 10x magnification. Less than 1% of all diamonds are FL clarity. A flawless diamond is incredibly rare because it's nearly impossible to find a diamond 100% free of inclusions. Six percent of customers buy FL diamonds.Shop FL Diamonds
In the market for an engagement ring or fine diamond jewelry? Here are a few things you should know about what diamond clarity means when it comes to diamond quality and how different clarity grades affect price.
Because they’re made underground, most diamonds have small inclusions and blemishes. When referring to inclusions, diamond experts often use the term “internal characteristics” instead. Internal characteristics of natural diamonds are what gives the diamond its character and uniqueness.
For the best value, select a diamond with inclusions that can’t be seen through the crown without magnification (also known as eye-clean diamonds), such as an SI or VS clarity grade. These diamonds are much less expensive than the extremely rare Flawless (FL) or Internally Flawless (IF) diamonds.
Diamond shape and cut play with and impact diamond clarity in different ways.
Diamond Shape — Some diamond shapes require a higher clarity grade than others. Emerald and Asscher-shaped diamonds (referred to as step cut) are designed with rectangular facets that emphasize transparency and let you see farther down into the diamond, which can make inclusions more visible. For these diamond shapes, choose a clarity grade of VS1 or better to ensure the inclusions will not be visible.
Conversely, round, princess, oval, marquise, pear, and heart-shaped diamonds may not require as high of a clarity grade. Cut with a brilliant facet pattern, which reflects light from many different angles, these shapes naturally hide many inclusions.
Diamond Size — As diamond size increases, the size of the facets (the multiple mirror-like surfaces on the diamond) also increases. This can make inclusions more visible. Be sure to prioritize a higher clarity grade as the size of your diamond increases.
When diamonds are graded, they are magnified 10x. The clarity grade of a diamond is based on the most noticeable inclusions when magnified by 10x. Any inclusions or characteristics that don’t get factored into the grade may still be noted on what’s called a diamond plot chart.
The five diamond clarity factors are:
At Blue Nile, we offer the highest quality diamonds and deliver the best value for your budget. If you're shopping for a diamond ring or other diamond jewelry, we offer the following diamond clarity grades:
Slightly Included Diamonds