The 4 C’s: Clarity

An Expert Guide to DIamond Clarity


Diamond Clarity is one of the 4 C’s of evaluating diamond quality – along with Cut, Carat and Color. Clarity is an important factor in determining a stone’s value. In this exclusive guide you will learn more about diamond clarity including definitions, the diamond clarity scale, and why clarity matters!


What is Diamond Clarity?

Diamond Clarity refers to the amount of imperfections your diamond has. These imperfections can be referred to as inclusions or blemishes. Diamond Clarity is an important part of the 4 C’s as it can affect the visual beauty of your stone. However, it is important to note that most inclusions are not visible to the untrained eye.


The Diamond Clarity Dictionary

There are four key terms when it comes to understanding diamond clarity:

Inclusion – Inclusions are markings or issues on the inside of a diamond. Inclusions occur due to irregularities in the growing process.

Blemish – Blemishes are any imperfections or issues on the outside of a diamond. Blemishes occur due to mistakes during the cutting, mounting and polishing process. You can also cause blemishes on a diamond while wearing it.

Eye Clean – The imperfections of a stone that are too small to see with the naked eye. (Though they can be seen under magnification).

Brilliance – The white light reflected from a diamond. Brilliance is part of what makes a diamond sparkle.

So, Why Does Clarity Matter?

Simply put – blemishes and inclusions will hurt a diamond’s brilliance. If the flaws are big enough, it might also impact the stone’s visual beauty. Make sure you are investing in a stone that isn’t harmed by too many imperfections.

What is the Diamond Clarity Scale?

The diamond clarity scale is a little bit strange. To understand what a stone’s clarity rating is, you have to be familiar with the whole scale because the ratings are not sequential like Carat or Color.

The diamond clarity scale has 6 categories and 11 grades. These categories and grades are as follows:


  • I3, I2, I1 Included Diamonds – These diamonds have visual inclusions that can be seen by the naked eye. The inclusions are likely to affect visual beauty.
  • SI2, SI1 Slightly Included Diamonds – Slightly Included diamonds have inclusions that are visible under 10x magnification or to the very keen eye. About 30% of diamonds sold are SI diamonds.
  • VS2, VS1 Very Slightly Included Diamonds – These stones will have minor inclusions that can be seen, sometimes with difficulty, under 10x magnification.
  • VVS2, VVS1 Very Very Slightly Included Diamonds – These diamonds have very slight inclusions that are difficult to see – even to the trained eye.
  • Internally Flawless (IF) Diamonds – These stones have no internal inclusions. The only clarity issues an Internally Flawless diamond has will be on the surface of the stone.
  • Flawless (FL) Diamonds – These diamonds are the highest possible clarity you could get from a stone. They have no inclusions or blemishes. Less than 1% of all diamonds are flawless, and as such are incredibly expensive.

When a jeweler assigns clarity, they look at the following factors.

Size: The larger the imperfection, the more likely a stone will go down a grade or two.

Number: How many imperfections does any one stone have? If the imperfections are small but there are a lot of them, that will negatively impact your stone’s clarity rating

Position: Where are the imperfections located? If they are in an easier to see location, it will affect your clarity rating.

Nature: What type of inclusion is it? Will that inclusion affect the stone’s longevity?’

Color and Relief: Is the inclusion a color that makes it stand out more? If so, it will negatively impact your clarity scale.

Diamond Clarity FAQs

Do Any Cuts Require a Higher Clarity?

Step cut diamonds, like emerald and asscher stones, are cut to emphasize the transparency of the stone. They also highlight inclusions within their stone. If you are purchasing one of these stones, make sure you opt for a higher clarity diamond. That will ensure you can admire the gorgeous cut of your stone without being distracted by inclusions.

What Influences Diamond Clarity?

The biggest factor in diamond clarity is the stone’s size. The bigger the diamond, the more likely it will have a few blemishes and inclusions. If you have your heart set on high-carat stone, you may have to make some compromises on stone clarity.

Do Lab Grown Diamonds Have Inclusions?

Because lab-grown diamonds are created in the same environments as mined diamonds, they will inevitably have inclusions and blemishes. However, because created diamonds are about 20-30% more cost-effective than mined stones, you can opt for a higher clarity rated in a lab-grown stone while still staying within a budget.

What Level of Diamond Clarity Should I Get?

That depends on a few factors including your budget and the cut you want to get. We would recommend starting at the very least a diamond that is eye clean. This would be a SI diamond or a VS diamond.

If you have your heart set on an Internally Flawless or Flawless diamond, you might have to make some compromises on the size of your stone.

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Carat is the unit of measurement for the weight of diamonds, gemstones and pearls. A stone’s carat is determined by weighing the stone and calculating the carat from there.

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