Diamonds are graded on the four Cs: Carat, Cut, Color and Clarity. Clarity is perhaps the most confusing of the four.
Clarity refers to the flaws or inclusions in a diamond. The gemologist will examine the diamond under 10X magnification. The higher the number of inclusions, their types and how visible they are will determine clarity.
- FL = Flawless, meaning there are no inclusions or flaws
- IF = Internally Flawless with no inclusions or flaws under 10X magnification
- VVS1 and VVS2 = Very, very slight inclusions or flaws
- VS1 and VS2 = Very slight inclusions or flaws
- SI1 and SI2 = Slight inclusions or flaws
- I1, I2 and I3 = Inclusions visible to the naked eye
Diamonds in the VS1 and VS2 grades and lower grades may have inclusions visible to the naked eye, or they might be clear and only be visible with magnification. There are names for the types of inclusions such as feather, cloud and crystal. Each diamond is unique, and the same clarity grade can look different for different diamonds.
How Does Clarity Affect Price?
The higher the diamond clarity, the higher the price of the diamond. Fewer flaws will generally cost less money, although it's possible for a diamond with higher clarity to not have the best color, and that will bring the price down. The four Cs work together to affect an individual diamond's price.
Clarity often determines how sparkly a diamond appears because inclusions can block or distort the light coming through the diamond. But even mid-range clarity diamonds can have a decent amount of sparkle. Or if your preference is a large stone, clarity may take a back seat to carat so that you can afford a larger stone.
If the inclusions in a diamond are black and in the center of the stone, they will be more visible -- perhaps glaringly so. On the other hand, an inclusion may be clear and off to the side, so perhaps it can be hidden under a prong.
What Is Clarity Enhancement?
There are stones that have been clarity-enhanced, and that means that the flaw has been drilled out with a laser and replaced with a clear crystal substance. These stones can be just as beautiful as non clarity-enhanced diamonds, and they will cost less. A reputable jewelry store will let you know if a stone has been clarity-enhanced.
As you look at your options, consider how the 4 Cs work together with your setting, your budget, and the overall look of the ring. There's no right or wrong choice -- your ring is a very personal, and it should reflect you. Please let us work with you to find the perfect ring.