In a perfect world, every diamond should be flawless. In reality, imperfections are usually present in diamonds as a result of their chaotic formation process. When it comes to assessing value and other individual characteristics, inclusions play a large role in determining what a cutter does with the rough crystal.
For example, different flaws present in rough stones can define decisions cutters make when choosing the shape and facet patterning of the polished diamond. The presence of flaws can also influence the final outcome of clarity and color grade of a diamond.
The location of flaws can affect the diamond in two major aspects – its visual appeal and durability. The first aspect we are going to look into is how flaws can severely impact the diamond’s appearance.
Due to the way our brain is wired to work, we tend to focus our attention towards the center of an object when we look at things. When we look at diamonds, the same theory applies. That is why inclusions located directly under the table facet are the easiest to get picked out.
Inclusions under the table can be seen easily!
In the second example below, the positioning of the dark crystal inclusion is a serious concern. Not only is the inclusion located in a super obvious location, it is also reflected by the pavilion mains onto the bezel and upper girdle facets. The black splotches seen in the 11 o’clock orientation (indicated by the red arrow) is a result of this mirroring effect.
Impact of this huge inclusion is made worse as it is reflected by the pavilion mains.
Bigger diamonds generally need higher clarity grades to stay eyeclean.
The location of inclusions can also impact a diamond’s durability. For example, if huge feathers or cavities lie close to the girdle, the diamond will be more vulnerable to chipping. Gemological labs like GIA will take such durability issues into account and assign a lower clarity grading to the stone accordingly.
Compared to inclusions located near the center of the diamond, flaws found near the girdle could be covered up by prongs (prongable) so that they remain hidden from view. However, when a prong is placed on top of an inclusion, it will subject the weak point to a higher level of mechanical stress.
In an unguarded movement when the ring is worn, a sudden force in the right direction can possibly bring about catastrophic damage. Likewise, improper techniques and inexperienced jewelers can cause diamonds to be chipped during the setting process. That is why you need to be careful and seek professional advice when buying such diamonds.
The feather that reaches surface of diamond’s girdle is visible only at certain tilt angles
In the grading process, the carat size of a diamond is a direct factor that affects how clarity grades are assigned. For example, in smaller sized diamonds (<0.30 carats), a grade making SI2 inclusion is usually not visible to the naked eye. However, if this particular inclusion (with exact size and shape) was found in the same location of a one carat diamond, it is likely that the stone will receive a VS2 or SI1 clarity grade instead.
The rule of thumb is – as the carat size increases, the tolerance and visibility of flaws also increases. You will need higher clarity grades for larger diamonds in order for them to stay eye clean. That is to say, if you are looking for larger diamonds (> 2 carats), it would be extremely difficult for you to find SI1-SI2 diamonds without eye visible inclusions.
To illustrate this, here is an example of a diamond that is over 3 carats in weight and it isn’t eye clean despite obtaining a respectable VS2 clarity grade by GIA.
It’s always a good idea to inspect your diamond before purchase
If you intend to buy from a local brick and mortar store, always request the vendor to let you to examine the diamond under magnification. Check to see if you can notice anything obvious under the loupe or microscope.
If you can’t, chances are you probably won’t catch any flaws with your naked eyes too. If you are still unsure, consult an independent appraiser or a gemologist and seek their opinion about the stone before making a purchase.
Minor inclusions seen at 10X and unlikely to be seen with the naked eye.
Consumers often over-exaggerate the situation in their minds after looking at magnified images where details are blown up in proportions. The presence of a few minor inclusions in the pavilion or some tiny blemishes does not mean that the diamond won’t be beautiful. In fact, most inclusions that can be seen under magnification are actually not visible to the naked eyes.
I’m a practical guy and I believe most of our readers are too. There’s really no need to pay an excessive premium for an internally flawless stone if you don’t have special reasons for getting one. On the next page, I am going to show you a price comparison chart for similar diamonds with different clarity ratings.
Your jaws might drop (literally) after you realize how much more you are expected to pay for higher clarity grades…