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When light enters a diamond it is reflected and refracted out. If there is anything disrupting the flow of light in the diamond, such as an inclusion, a proportion of light will be lost. As a result, brilliance and sparkle could be diminished. The number and locations of inclusions can determine the degree of brilliance lost. Diamond clarity is a term used to describe the absence or presence of flaws inside or on the surface of a stone.
Inclusions are natural identifying characteristics such as minerals or fractures, appearing while diamonds are formed in the earth and thus sometimes referred to as “nature’s fingerprints.” They may look like crystals, clouds or feathers, and are usually not visible to the naked eye unless magnified. To view inclusions, jewelers therefore use a magnifying loupe. This tool allows jewelers to see a diamond at 10x its actual size. Inclusions are ranked on a scale of perfection, known as clarity, which was established by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The diamond clarity scale chart ranges from FL (Flawless) to I (Included), based on the visibility of inclusions at a magnification of 10x. The position of inclusions can affect the value of a diamond. There are very few flawless diamonds found in nature, thus making these diamonds much more valuable. You can see where they rank on our diamond inclusion chart.
The diamond clarity chart below is based on the GIA diamond clarity grading system. All grading takes place under 10x magnification.
|Flawless: No internal blemishes are visible under 10x magnification||Very very slightly included: No internal blemishes are visible under 10x magnification|
Very slightly included: Blemishes and inclusions difficult to locate under 10x magnification
|Slightly included: Blemishes and inclusions easy to locate under 10x magnification||Imperfect: Blemishes and inclusions easy to locate under 10x magnification and naked eye||Imperfect: Blemishes and inclusions easy to locate with naked eye|
|Rating Acronym||Acronym Meaning||Definition|
|FL||Flawless||No internal or external flaws.|
No internal flaws; slight external blemishes.
|VVS1, VVS2||Very, Very Slightly Included|
Minute inclusions. Difficult for an experienced grader to detect.
|VS1, VS2||Very Slightly Included|
Minute inclusions. Not easily seen by an experienced grader.
|SI1, SI2||Slightly Included|
Inclusions that are noticeable to an experienced grader under 10x magnification. Not easily visible to the naked eye.
Inclusions that may affect transparency. If under 10 points, inclusions can not be seen by the naked eye.*
Obvious inclusions that may affect transparency and brilliance. Imperfections may take away from the beauty of the stone.
* 10 points = 1/10 of a Carat
The numbers in the above grading system represent levels within each grade. The 1s will be cleaner than the 2s, thus having fewer or smaller inclusions. This allows for more specific grading categories. Gems ranked near the top of the above scale are very rare and very expensive. Many flaws in these categories are tiny imperfections that do not affect a diamond’s brilliance and cannot be seen without magnification, even by an experienced jeweler.
The position of inclusions can affect the value of a diamond. You may not notice a significant difference between a VS1 and a VS2, however you should consider the number, size, brightness, nature and position of the inclusions. Some inclusions can be hidden by a mounting, thus having little effect on the beauty of a diamond. An inclusion in the middle or top of a diamond could impact the dispersion of light, sometimes making the diamond less brilliant.