Are diamonds graded with a IF clarity grading really flawless? If so, why is there a comment “surface graining is not shown” on the GIA report? If there are clarity issues that are listed in the report, how can GIA grade this diamond as the “best” in terms of clarity? Could you explain this to me?
This was an email that our reader, Ryan, sent me a couple of weeks ago. Prior to Ryan’s email, I had also received a number of similar queries in the past. Hopefully, this article will help to address some common questions people have about internally flawless diamonds.
Now, when most people look at internally flawless stones, they tend to have misconceptions that the clarity makes the stone more beautiful since it is 100% perfect – with no flaws and no inclusions. Since IF diamonds are priced at the highest premium, most people don’t expect to see ‘flaws’ being listed in a grading report of an IF diamond.
First things first, you need to understand that diamonds are graded in the lab with a 10X magnification. Internally flawless literally means what it is – there are no visible inclusions seen at 10X within the diamond’s body. However, the IF grade does allow minute external blemishes to be present on the surface of the diamond.
Examples of blemishes seen in IF grades could be stated as surface graining or minor details of polish. I know the comments about surface graining sounds kind of serious, but it really isn’t.
Is surface graining a deal breaker?
From a technical viewpoint, surface graining basically refers to irregularities in the diamond’s structure. These typically show up as transparent lines which are only visible at certain lighting angles and high magnification. Grain lines can also connect across several facets and are caused by a change of grain direction during its crystal growth.
In essence, this statement marks the distinction between a flawless diamond and an internally Flawless diamond. Most surface graining occurrences are so insignificant that even a trained gemologist might have difficulty finding in with a 50X magnification. Of course, this is well over the 10X magnification that is supposedly used in diamond grading.
That’s a good question. Let me use an analogy of a plank of wood. Imagine that you are sawing off the end of the plank in an attempt to remove the ‘graining’ of the wood. Do you think that you can do that?
The answer is No.
In nature, the graining forms throughout the entire plank of wood! See image on right. Likewise in diamonds, it is common for them to have grain lines that CANNOT be removed even by polishing.
Sometimes, the graining can occur from the surface right into the stone. In such scenarios, no amount of polishing will remove this ‘flaw’. It doesn’t make sense for the cutter to continue polishing the rough stone in a futile attempt to remove surface graining. It will still be there like a fingerprint that can’t be removed.
To sum things up, if you are considering to buy an IF stone, don’t get too caught up by this comment. The reason it’s there is to mark a distinction between a flawless diamond from an internally flawless one. It’s like grading a literature essay where the teacher refuses to give a student an A+ just because the student had poor handwriting.
The bottomline is, this comment has no effect on the outward beauty of the stone. Don’t worry about it!