When you and I have faults and failings, people don’t hesitate to call them what they are. But don’t do that with diamonds!
No, a diamond’s flaws are never to be labeled as such. Instead, you should call them characteristics.
Wouldn’t it be nice if our own imperfections – such as being rude, late, or lazy – were merely called characteristics? But, of course, they never will be.
In any case, diamond clarity grades are based on the nature, number, and location of the flaws – I mean characteristics – within the stone.
These characteristics are often called “inclusions,” because they are included within the diamond.
There are many kinds of inclusions. In general, however, the more numerous, the larger, the darker, and the more centrally located they are, the more negatively they’ll influence the clarity grade given.
Here, then, from the top grade down, is a quick guide to the clarity grades:
IF-FL – Flawless/ Internally Flawless – The first shows no inclusions of any kind when examined under 10X magnification. The second may show some insignificant blemishes on the surface, but no inclusions.
VVS1 – Very, Very Slightly Included, 1st Degree – Inclusions almost not visible at all under 10X. Tiny pinpoints only visible under a powerful microscope.
VVS2 – Very, Very Slightly Included, 2nd Degree – Inclusions just slightly visible under 10X. Generally, however, a microscope would be needed to find these inclusions.
VS1 – Very Slightly Included, 1st Degree – Inclusions difficult to find under 10X. When using a 10X loupe (hand held jewelry magnifier) it can take a few seconds to find a pinpoint. Unlike VVS2, a powerful microscope (as opposed to a loupe) is not needed to find these inclusions.
VS2 – Very Slightly Included, 2nd Degree – Inclusions almost always easily noticeable at 10X. Occasionally located in difficult to find spot, but otherwise noticeable enough that they can be spotted quickly under 10X. Almost always clean to the naked eye.
SI1 – Slightly Included, 1st Degree – Inclusions seen clearly and obviously under 10X. With some shapes, but not with Asschers or Emeralds, inclusions are almost always clean to the naked eye. Often, the inclusions are small spots or clouds of tiny spots, which would make the inclusions clean to the naked eye. In some cases, however, the grade can be based on single, more noticeable, inclusion.
SI2 – Slightly Included, 2nd Degree – Inclusions seen clearly and obviously under 10X. With shapes like Asschers and Emeralds, inclusions will most likely be visible to the naked eye. With more faceted brilliant cuts, inclusions will at times be clean to the naked eye, at times visible.
I1-13 – Included, 1st, 2nd, 3rd degree – I grade inclusions are even more obvious than SI2 inclusions. Most I1 inclusions are visible to the naked eye, even on faceted brilliant cuts. I2 and I3 are more highly included than I1.
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