Because natural diamonds take time (sometimes many years) to form underground and require high levels of pressure and temperature, it's no surprise that most diamonds have flaws.
A diamond has a clarity grade based on it's flaws (or lack of flaws). There are two types of flaws:
- Blemishes- flaws found on the surface
- Inclusions- flaws found inside the diamond
Inclusions are imperfections such as air bubbles, cracks, and non-diamond minerals found within the diamond. Inclusions are there naturally.
Inclusions are often referred to as:
- Included crystals or minerals
- Internal graining
- Laser Lines
On the other hand, blemishes are scratches, pits, and chips on the surface. When a diamond is being cut to it's size, sometimes the internal inclusions are now visible on the surface and are referred to as blemishes while some blemishes occur during the cutting process, most often at the girdle.
Blemishes may be referred to as:
- Polish lines
- Grain boundaries
How Clarity it Graded
Diamonds are inspected under a 10X magnifying glass called a loupe. Based on how few flaws are visible they are then graded on a scale with a range from FLAWLESS (no inclusions or blemishes) to INCLUDED 3 (large inclusions and blemishes highly visible to the naked eye).
- F (Flawless): No internal or external flaws. Extremely rare, these diamonds come with a price tag to match their rarity. Expect a flawless one-carat round brilliant diamond to cost a minimum of $20,000.
- IF (Internally Flawless): no internal flaws, but some surface flaws. Somewhat hard to find because of rarity.
- VVS1-VVS2 (Very Very Slightly Included 1 and 2): Minute inclusions very difficult to detect under 10x magnification by a trained gemologist. Easy to find in a wide range of prices.
- VS1-VS2 (Very Slightly Included 1 and 2): Minute inclusions seen only with difficulty under 10x magnification. Easy to find in a wide range of prices.
- SI1-SI2 (Slightly Included 1 and 2): Minute inclusions are visible under 10x magnification, and may be visible by the unaided eye. Easy to find in a wide range of prices.
- I1-I2-I3 (Included 1, 2, and 3). Inclusions visible under 10x magnification as well as to the human eye.
For clarity ratings of F through VS, inclusions are NOT visible to the naked eye. People want a diamond to look good and often can't justify the price tag that doesn't match what the eye can see. While Flawless diamonds are the most rare, a diamond does not have to be Flawless to be gorgeous and exquisite. In fact many gemologist prefer a diamond with some level of flaws guaranteeing it's authenticity.
Sometimes large cloudy inclusions can affect the diamonds ability to reflect light and can change the grade of CUT.
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