Diamonds 101: The Four Cs – Clarity

“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without one.” – Chinese proverb

Wouldn’t we all prefer to have a diamond that is graded FL – completely flawless?

The reality is that “Clarity” strongly affects a diamond’s value, but not our enjoyment of the gem. Unless the diamond is graded I1 to I3, or “imperfect”, most flaws are impossible to see with the naked eye. You’d need a jeweller’s loupe of 10X magnification to see the flaws, which are also called inclusions.

Clarity is graded by several scales, but the most popular is the Gemological Institute of America’s scale:

Flawless (FL); Internally Flawless (IF); Very, Very Slightly included (VVS), Very Slightly included (VS); slightly imperfect (SI); and imperfect (I).

Diamond clarity

The various grades are described at, which recommends that consumers avoid buying diamonds graded I1 to I3 and SI1 or SI2. They also advise that clarity flaws are much more readily visible in step cuts than in brilliant cuts. (See my October 3 post for descriptions of “Cut”.)

They also warn buyers to beware of clarity-enhanced diamonds, where the flaws have been covered up. These diamonds may not be as durable.

So when shopping, narrow your selection to diamonds with clarities of VS1, VS2, and the slightly better VVS1 and VVS2 grades. Ensure the diamond has not been clarity-enhanced by checking the Gemological Institute of America certificate.

It’s “clear” to me that your intended shouldn’t necessarily fork over the premium for the very rare FL clarity.  Either the V or VV grade should suffice. The savings can be spent on the honeymoon!

One comment on “Diamonds 101: The Four Cs – Clarity

  1. I always thought that items (even Diamonds) with flaws only added character to the item. Now I’ll have to think twice about that where Diamonds are concerned.

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