Examining a loose round brilliant cut diamond with a 10x loupe.
When viewing a GIA diamond report, clarity is an aspect that people pay the most attention to (mostly because of the plot diagram since we are mentally wired to be more receptive to images).
Clarity refers to the surface irregularities (blemishes) and internal (inclusions) features of a polished diamond. Collectively, these blemishes and inclusions are termed as the diamond’s clarity characteristics.
A flawless diamond is one with the highest clarity grade (FL), which means there are no visible inclusions or blemishes on the stone when it is examined at 10x magnification. In real life, flawless diamonds are rarely encountered as the vast majority of natural diamonds have some degree of imperfections.
Needless to say, the fewer clarity features a diamond has, the rarer it is and the more valuable it becomes. It should come as no surprise that some of the world’s most expensive diamonds have a good combination of color and clarity ratings.
In this section of Beyond4cs.com, you will find out why you need to pay attention to a diamond’s clarity characteristics and where you can find them in a GIA report. You will also see how the different types of inclusions look like and why a grading report alone is insufficient to determine the appearance of a diamond in real life.
Clarity characteristics are an integral part of a naturally created diamond.
During a diamond’s formation process, the imperfections are created by a chain of chaotic events deep within the Earth and it doesn’t end there. Besides the forces of nature, rough diamond mining and polishing processes are also factors that affect the ultimate condition of the diamond.
Since no two diamonds are alike and do not have the same exact flaws in similar locations, clarity characteristics behave like fingerprints. This unique property allows you to identify one diamond from another easily.
The diamonds above have SI1 clarity ratings but both have different appearances.
Here, I want to point out that a high clarity or color rating does not guarantee a great looking diamond. Instead, the beauty of a diamond is largely determined by the cut quality it possesses.
During the grading process, clarity characteristics are identified by trained graders under 10x magnification and their locations are plotted onto representative diagrams. Blemishes (marked in green) and inclusions (marked in red) are indicated in both the diamond’s face-up and pavilion views.
Here are examples of clarity plots that I extracted from two GIA graded diamonds…
For first time shoppers, clarity plots like these can look intimidating due to the messy diagrams and the different types of clarity symbols used. But don’t worry, that’s what I’m going to address shortly.
The thing is, a “clean” looking plot may not necessarily translate into a better looking diamond when compared to one with a complicated and messy plot.
To help you get a better understanding of the various types of inclusions and what they look like in real life, check out the photographs and illustrations on the following page…