Nearly all diamonds have natural characteristics that formed within the rough crystal over millions of years of growth. Most are microscopic and need magnification to detect. Others may be visible to the naked eye.
What is certain is that no two diamonds are the same. Each is like a snowflake; never repeated in nature. In fact, one sure way to identify your diamond is to learn where a primary inclusion lies. Depending on the diamond’s clarity specifics – and your eyesight – it may be possible with no aid, or it may require a magnifying device. Either way, every diamond’s inclusions tell a special story that is absolutely unique.
Blemishes and Inclusions
Clarity characteristics are separated into two broad categories: Blemishes, which are external, and Inclusions, which are internal. The laboratory grading report will list all characteristics, in order of importance, with the primary characteristic(s) “setting” the clarity grade.
The clarity grade is determined by examining the diamond face-up at 10X magnification in neutral lighting. Five factors are considered: These include the size, number, position, visibility and type of characteristics visible at 10X magnification. If the implications are minute or minor the clarity grade is likely to be high. If the implications are noticeable or obvious the clarity grade will be lower.
- When strictly graded, FL and IF indicate the diamond is Flawless, or Internally Flawless; revealing no inclusions at this magnification.
- VVS1 and VVS2 indicate Very Very Slight inclusions; meaning that only minute characteristics were detected.
- VS1 and VS2 imply Very Slight inclusions; the grader saw only minor characteristics.
- SI1 and SI2 grades indicate the diamond was Slightly Included; inclusions were notable under 10X magnification.
- I1 means Included; characteristics were obvious to the grader when magnified
- .The I2 and I3 grades are reserved for diamonds with extremely obvious inclusions and/or durability issues caused by the inclusion type.
While diamonds are graded under 10X magnification they are not graded outside the ‘scope. This means that several diamonds of same-grade can appear differently to the naked eye. This is further influenced by several factors, including the following:
Laboratory Standards: Different laboratories have slightly different standards for clarity.
Shape: Brilliant cutting styles have greater faceting complexity and less transparency, so a round brilliant may show inclusions less than an emerald or Asscher of the same grade.
Size and Number:An inclusion plot that looks “clean” may not correspond to a cleaner presentation, since a single grade-setting crystal may be more naked-eye visible than several smaller crystals which set the same clarity grade collectively.
Position and Visibility: A diamond with a dark central inclusion can present with far more naked-eye visibility than one with a transparent inclusion under a girdle facet, yet both diamonds might have the same clarity grade.
Cut-Quality: A diamond cut with the critical angles and precision needed for highest performance boast superior brightness and scintillation, even when removed from jewelry store lighting, which helps to “mask” inclusions.
Cut quality affects visible clarity
A skilled diamond cutter can plan the “lay” of a grade-setting inclusion to reduce its face-up visibility. It may be impossible to omit a primary characteristic (and the resulting clarity grade) but a skilled cutter can orient the rough so that they become transparent or less visible. This is particularly true for SI1, SI2 and I1 clarity grades.