Clarity - When it shows

Most diamonds have markings inside them known as crystals, clouds, and feathers. Clarity grades are a way to rank their influence on beauty, durability and rarity. 

Click diamonds to enlarge clarity examples.

Each clarity grade will show many variations. These are offered only as representations of clarity grades.

What determines the Clarity grade given? It's the overall visibility of internal characteristics called inclusions or surface characteristics called blemishes. Size, number, position and darkness of these characteristics determine the final grade. 

What is the GIA grade scale? Offered here is an unofficial translation:

  • FL of IF (flawless or internally flawless). Absolutely free from inclusions. Internally flawless may still have extremely minor surface blemishes.
  • VVS1-VVS2 (very very slight inclusions).Contains tiny pinpoints that are nearly insignificant. They are very difficult to find by the trained eye under 10 power magnification. The number 1 refers to the upper end of the grade while 2 refers to the lower end.
  • VS1-VS2 (very slight inclusions) Within this range are diamonds with small inclusions that are still fairly difficult to locate by the trained eye.
  • SI1-SI2 (slight inclusions) contain inclusions that can be seen under 10x magnification with little difficulty by the trained eye. They are not usually visible to the unaided eye.
  • I1 (Included- Grade 1) Inclusions may be seen by the unaided eye and can be easily seen under 10 power magnification.
  • I2 (Included- Grade 2) Inclusions are more serious that impact either visibility or durability.
  • I3 (included- Grade 3) Both visibility and durability are significantly affected by inclusions in this grade.

How Clarity affects value: Inclusions are sometimes referred to as nature’s fingerprint. Nature doesn’t produce many crystals without these characteristics. Diamonds in the highest clarity grades are extremely rare. Anything rare and in demand will increase in value. However, clarity is only one of the criteria that will determine the value of a diamond. The overall beauty of a diamond plays a larger role in demand and therefore value. Beauty is determined by a balance of all four factors, known as the 4 C’s.

How Clarity affects brilliance: When light enters a diamond, it is reflected and refracted out. If there is anything disrupting the flow of light in a diamond, a portion of light will be lost. As a result, brilliance may be diminished by some degree. However, cut plays the major role affecting brilliance.

Diamond_Clarity_example.gifClarity characteristics can identify your diamond: No two diamonds are exactly alike. Clarity characteristics can not be easily altered when they are deep inside your diamond. They are birthmarks like the included garnet crystal that nature left inside the diamond pictured here.

How you can judge the accuracy of a clarity grade: Since grading is based on expert opinion, the clarity grade of one appraiser may differ from another appraiser. If you are comparing grades, all diamonds should be graded by the same appraiser or lab. Some labs grade on a standard more strict than others.

Comparing grades verses comparing diamonds: Grades don’t always tell the whole story. The more experience you get looking at real diamonds under magnification, the less reliant you are on grades. Get to know what to expect with a specific clarity grade. It's easy to be your own expert. 

Mills Jewelers offers big screen viewing: Our microscope camera can show you clarity differences in a big way. We make it easy. You’ll enjoy the discovery. 

We require certificates of origin through the "Kimberly Process" to insure all diamonds from
Mills Jewelers are "Conflict Free."