Diamond clarity grades range from Flawless (diamonds free of
inclusion and blemishes) to I3 (diamonds having inclusion and blemishes
visible to naked eyes).
A standard 10X (viewing the item at ten times magnification) magnifying loupe is used for grading clarity of diamond.
10X magnification power is standard and is used by ALL Jewelers and Gemologists.
With higher magnification more flaws in diamond can be seen, but for grading purpose 10X magnification is used as a benchmark. Diamond flaws listed in Diamond Reports and Diamond Appraisals are detected by 10X magnification only.
Always pay attention to clarity while purchasing higher carat weight diamond. This is because as the size of diamond increases, flaws and inclusions are easily visible.
Chart of Diamond Clarity Grades
|Grading||Sub-grade||Grade Description||Clarity Details||Price|
|F||-||Flawless||No internal (inclusions) or external (blemishes) flaws.||Most expensive and desirable.|
|IF||-||Internally Flawless||No inclusions but blemishes can be viewed by 10X magnifying lens.|
|*VVS||VVS1||Very, Very Small inclusions (Level 1)||Very Difficult to see inclusions under 10X magnification. Inclusions are light colored. Blemishes are not present.|
|VVS2||Very, Very Small inclusions (Level 2)||Difficult to see inclusions under 10X magnification. Smallest of the blemishes are present.|
|*VS||VS1||Very Small inclusions (Level 1)||Inclusions are noticeable to experienced grader under 10X magnification. Inclusions slightly bigger than dots and small blemishes are present.|
|VS2||Very Small inclusions (Level 2)||Inclusions are noticeable to experienced grader under 10X magnification. Overall appearance of diamond is better than SI graded but on lower side of VS1.|
|*SI||SI1||Small Inclusions (Level 1)||Inclusions are easily visible to experienced grader under 10X magnification. Flaws are not visible to naked eye when viewed through crown.|
|SI2||Small Inclusions (Level 2)||Inclusions are easily visible to experienced grader under 10X magnification. Overall appearance of diamond is better than I graded but on lower side of SI1.|
|I||I1||Inclusions (Level 1)||Inclusions are visible to naked eye but there is minimum loss of brilliance.|
|I2||Inclusions (Level 2)||Inclusions are visible to naked eye with small loss of brilliance. Large cracks in diamond under this category can influence the durability of diamond.|
|I3||Inclusions (Level 3)||Inclusions are visible to naked eye with diminished brilliance.||Cheapest and least desirable.|
|* In abbreviations VVS, VS and SI grades, 'S' stands for 'slight' or 'small'. In our site we are using small.|
Now, let's talk about above-mentioned clarity grades in more detail. Images shown below are for educational purpose and should not be treated as standard for clarity grading.
Diamonds are categorized as Flawless if there are no inclusions or blemishes found even when viewed by 10X magnifying lens. These diamonds are very rare and thus very expensive. So, you will hardly find these stones in jewelry stores. These are usually collectors' items that never come in market.
Internally Flawless (IF)
Diamonds are categorized as Internally Flawless if there are no inclusions found but on which blemishes can be seen when viewed by 10X magnifying lens. These types of diamonds are also rare in nature.
|IF Grade - 1 ct diamond (100X magnification)|
Very Very Small Inclusion (VVS)
In diamonds under this category, inclusions can be detected with great difficulty and that too only by trained Gemologist by 10X magnification lens. This category is further divided in to two sub category:
|VVS1 Grade - 1 ct diamond (100X magnification)||VVS2 Grade - 1 ct diamond (100X magnification)|
Diamonds graded under this category don’t have any inclusion in the table. But there can be defects on star facets, arrow facets or upper girdle facets. Very minute inclusions like cracks or small blow indention can be present in the rest of diamond. Small dot-like inclusions can also be present. Inclusions are light colored.
Stones graded under this category can have very minute inclusions anywhere in the diamond. VVS2 graded diamond can have the smallest of external defects as well on its surface.
Very Small Inclusion (VS)
Diamonds falling in this category have small inclusions which can be seen with difficulty through 10X magnification lens. Even the experienced grader does not see’s the defects at once, but defects can be seen when diamond is moved slowly from side to side.
Small inclusions like light clouds, light crack on girdle or defects slightly bigger than dot are present. VS category is further divided into two sub category:
|VS1 Grade - 1 ct diamond (100X magnification)||VS2 Grade - 1 ct diamond (100X magnification)|
Smallest of the inclusions are present in the field of table along with small faults around girdle and elsewhere in the stone. Small external faults are also present.
Small but easily visible inclusions are present in the table along with some definite external faults. When overall appearance of diamond is better than SI grade but on lower side of VS1, then it’s graded VS2.
Small Inclusion (SI)
Diamonds in which minute inclusions are easily visible fall in this category. These defects are easily visible to experienced grader through 10X magnifying lens. Light colored defects are found under the table, while around the girdle small dark inclusions are present. SI grade is further divided in to two sub category:
|SI1 Grade - 1 ct diamond (100X magnification)||SI2 Grade - 1 ct diamond (100X magnification)|
Small internal faults under the table along with some definite external faults are present. Defects are not visible to naked eye when viewed through the crown.
When overall appearance of diamond is better than I grade but on lower side of SI1 then it’s graded as SI2. SI2 Clarity is the borderline Clarity that separates Invisible Inclusions (to the naked eye, you'll need a Jeweler's Loupe) with Visible Inclusions (visible to the naked eye).
This is the most questionable Clarity and should be scrutinized well. Some Jewelers will try to pass off an I1 Clarity Diamond as an SI2, which is also a good reason to only buy GIA Certified Diamonds. The Diamond Report will tell you if it's really an SI2 or if it's an I1 Clarity.
Diamonds in which inclusions are easily visible with or without magnifying lens are put in this category. This is the poorest clarity range and almost half of the diamonds available in market fall in I clarity range.
This category is further divided into three sub categories:
|I1 Grade - 1 ct diamond (40X magnification)||I2 Grade - 1 ct diamond (40X magnification)||I3 Grade - 1 ct diamond (40X magnification)|
Diamonds in which inclusions are visible to naked eye when viewed through the crown, fall under this category. Several inclusions can be present but these inclusions do not diminish brilliance of diamond. Inclusions are colored and large cracks and clouds can be also found.
When I2 grade diamonds are viewed through the crown, large and numerous inclusions are easily visible to naked eye which diminishes diamond’s brilliance. These diamonds have small dark inclusions or various light colored defects.
Large cracks in diamond under this category can influence the durability of diamond. It’s more risky if the cracks are near girdle, as these cracks can expand when exposed to mechanical stress like while setting of diamond in jewelry.
It’s the lowest clarity grade and includes diamonds in which inclusions cover 50% to 60% area of the top of the diamond. Inclusions are easily visible to naked eye when viewed through the crown. Brilliance of diamond is adversely affected due to numerous large inclusions.