NOTE: Very often, grading reports for diamonds with carat weights less than 1.00 do not show a reference plot for its inclusions. Instead, the clarity features of the diamond are indicated under the “comments section” with a couple of words. That’s a big problem because it is impossible to judge a diamond’s appearance accurately based on a few descriptive words.
If you are considering buying diamonds based on a certificate, you are taking a huge risk with “blind shopping”. For people with the budget to purchase stones with top clarity grades like IF, VVS1 or VVS2, you probably don’t have to worry about clarity issues.
What about consumers who intend to value shop and go lower in clarity requirements? How would you be able to select diamonds within the VS2-SI1-SI2 clarity range when you don’t know if the inclusions would impact the diamond’s overall appearance?
If you are buying an engagement ring in a physical brick and mortar store, request to see the diamond under a loupe or a microscope. You should get the jeweler to show you where the diamond’s inclusions are and check to see if they are eye-visible without any magnification aids.
If you are shopping online, you MUST ALWAYS request a photograph or a video of the diamond. This will not only help you determine whether the stone is eyeclean, it will also help reveal other aspects of cut quality.
As an illustration, let me show you 2 GIA grading reports for diamonds with the same color, clarity and cut grades. Feel free to download the reports and verify them yourself by clicking the links below.
Based on the GIA certificates alone, these 2 diamonds appear identical to each other. This happens to be a huge pitfall for unwary consumers who don’t understand how things work. They will be in for a RUDE SHOCK if they bought the 2nd diamond.
Diamond with GIA #2141474872
Diamond with GIA #2135963357
Having seen photographs of these two diamonds, which one would you choose now? I guess it is pretty obvious which diamond is hands-down the better choice!
Even if you are looking at a full grading report with an inclusion plot, there are details that aren’t revealed without closer inspections. Sometimes, harmless looking plots can actually turn out to have unsightly inclusions!
Crystals can exist in different colors depending on the type of embedded mineral. In this particular example, the crystal takes on an awful opaque appearance.
In this example, the crystal inclusions at the center of the diamond aren’t visible to the naked eye since they are transparent. However, the real concern is the cloud located at the 5 o’clock position.
As you can see, the lab report only shows you the type and location of inclusions in a diamond. In the grading report, there is no indication about the intensity of cloud particles or the coloration an inclusion has.
Did you know that most online stores (e.g. Bluenile.com) WILL NOT provide any further details (like photographs or videos) beyond a grading certificate? Seriously, there’s no way you can make rational buying decisions with such limited information. If reading this article doesn’t change your mind about buying blind, my advice is to stick with a minimum clarity of VS1 or better.