Is a diamond on your wish list? If so, it's imperative that you know how to read a diamond purity scale. This scale is used to determine the severity of inclusions and defects (both visible and invisible) within a diamond. Understanding diamond clarity and the diamond clarity scale will help you select a diamond with the fire and brilliance you desire. The diamond clarity scale and its various grades are explained in this article for your convenience in making a purchase.
What Is Diamond Clarity?
Diamond clarity refers to the presence of any imperfections, known as inclusions and blemishes, within a diamond. The diamond's luster and appeal may suffer as a result of these flaws. The clarity of a diamond is determined by the number, size, type, and location of these imperfections.
What Is The Diamond Clarity Scale?
The diamond clarity scale or chart is a system that grades diamonds based on the presence and visibility of inclusions and blemishes. The scale ranges from Flawless (FL) to Included (I), with eleven grades in total. Each grade represents a different level of clarity, with Flawless being the highest and Included being the lowest.
Here is a breakdown of the diamond clarity grades:
- Flawless (FL): Diamonds graded as Flawless have no visible inclusions or blemishes when viewed under 10x magnification. These diamonds are exceptionally rare and highly valuable.
- Internally Flawless (IF): Diamonds graded as Internally Flawless have no visible inclusions when viewed under 10x magnification. However, they may have some slight surface blemishes. These diamonds are also considered very rare and valuable.
- Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2): Diamonds in this grade have very small inclusions that are extremely difficult to see under 10x magnification. These inclusions are typically only visible to a skilled grader. VVS diamonds are of high quality and offer excellent clarity.
- Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2): Diamonds in this grade have small inclusions that are visible under 10x magnification but are not easily seen with the naked eye. These diamonds offer good clarity and are a popular choice for those seeking a balance between quality and affordability.
- Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2): Diamonds in this grade have noticeable inclusions that are easily visible under 10x magnification and may be slightly visible without magnification. While these inclusions may affect the brilliance of the diamond, they can still be a good choice for those on a budget.
- Included (I1, I2, and I3): Diamonds in this grade have inclusions that are visible to the naked eye and may affect the transparency and brilliance of the diamond. These diamonds are the lowest grade on the clarity scale and are typically more affordable.
How Does Diamond Clarity Impact Price?
The clarity grade of a diamond has a significant impact on its price. Diamonds with higher clarity grades, such as Flawless and Internally Flawless, are extremely rare and therefore more expensive. As you move down the clarity scale, the presence and visibility of inclusions increase, resulting in lower prices.
It's important to note that while diamonds with higher clarity grades are more valuable, inclusions do not always affect the beauty of a diamond. Choosing a diamond with natural inclusions can be a highly individual and distinctive experience.
What Factors Affect Diamond Clarity?
There are several factors that can affect the clarity of a diamond:
- Size and Type of Inclusions: The size and type of inclusions present in a diamond can greatly impact its clarity grade. Larger or more noticeable inclusions will result in a lower clarity grade, while smaller and less visible inclusions will result in a higher clarity grade.
- Location of Inclusions: The location of the inclusions within the diamond can also affect its clarity. Inclusions that are located near the center or on the table of the diamond are more likely to be visible and can lower the clarity grade.
- Number of Inclusions: The number of inclusions present in a diamond can also impact its clarity. Diamonds with a higher number of inclusions will typically have a lower clarity grade.
- Nature of Inclusions: The nature of the inclusions, such as their color or how they affect the diamond's transparency, can also impact its clarity grade. Inclusions that are darker or that affect the overall brilliance of the diamond will result in a lower clarity grade.
- Cut Quality: The cut quality of a diamond can affect its clarity grade. A well-cut diamond can help to hide or minimize the appearance of inclusions, resulting in a higher clarity grade.
It's important to consider these factors when choosing a diamond, as they can significantly impact its clarity and therefore its overall price and appearance. It's also important to remember that diamond clarity is just one of the 4Cs (caratweight, color, clarity, and cut) that determine a diamond's quality and value. It's a balance of all these factors that ultimately determines the beauty and worth of a diamond.
How Can I Determine Diamond Clarity?
Professional gemologists evaluate diamonds under specialized illumination and magnification equipment to grade them on clarity. One of the most trusted and well-known gem grading labs, the Gemological Institute of America's (GIA) scale is widely adopted throughout the trade.
The Role Of American Gem Society
Diamond clarity is determined in large part by the American Gem Society (AGS). The AGS has its own grading system, which is known for being particularly strict and thorough. Diamonds are graded according to the size, kind, location, and amount of inclusions in addition to the inclusions' nature and the diamond's overall cut quality.
If you're in the market for a diamond, you should prioritize finding one that has been graded by either the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or the American Gem Society (AGS). Diamond clarity information, along with the other 4Cs, is provided in these grading reports so that customers can make an educated purchase.
Can The Diamond Clarity Scale Be Used To Differentiate Between Natural and Synthetic Diamonds?
Yes, the diamond clarity scale can be used to differentiate between natural and synthetic diamonds. While natural and synthetic diamonds can have similar levels of clarity, there are certain characteristics that can help distinguish between the two.
Natural diamonds are formed over millions of years under extreme pressure and heat deep within the Earth's mantle. Therefore, they frequently include peculiar interior structures, known as inclusions, such as feathers, crystals, or clouds. Natural diamonds are distinguished by the presence of minute crystals called inclusions, which form during the diamond's formation.
Synthetic diamonds, on the other hand, are grown in a lab using HPHT or CVD (chemical vapor deposition) processes. These techniques permit the cultivation of diamonds under laboratory conditions. Synthetic diamonds are generally free from inclusions or have minimal ones because they are created in a controlled environment where impurities are kept to a minimum.
Therefore, when using the diamond clarity scale to differentiate between natural and synthetic diamonds, it is important to consider the type and location of inclusions present. In contrast to synthetic diamonds, which often have few or no inclusions, natural diamonds are more likely to contain a variety of distinct inclusions dispersed throughout the stone.
In conclusion, knowing how to read a diamond's clarity grade is crucial for making a well-informed purchase. The beauty and value of a diamond are affected by the presence of inclusions and imperfections, which are measured on the scale. Each letter grade, from Perfect to Included, represents a different level of precision. The price increases with the clarity grade, yet impurities can give a stone personality and make it one of a kind. Clarity is affected by inclusion size, inclusion type, inclusion position, and inclusion cut quality. Certification from respected organizations like GIA and AGS lends legitimacy. The inclusions in synthetic diamonds make them difficult to identify visually, but the clarity scale helps with that. If you understand this scale, you'll be more equipped to choose a diamond that fits your needs and your budget.
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