Diamond clarity is an important aspect of how diamonds are valued. If you are considering purchasing diamonds as an investment or as part of a jewellery collection, then you will need to know the clarity rating of the stones in order to be able to make an assessment of the asking price. Of course, when it comes to jewellery, other factors – such as the diamond’s setting – will affect the price, too. However, when it comes to the diamonds themselves, clarity is hugely influential on pricing. At Bonds of Brentwood, we are experts in assessing diamond clarity. What is it and how do we determine it?
What Is Diamond Clarity?
Diamond clarity boils down to the number and extent of the flaws any diamond will have. Remember that natural diamonds are formed by extreme geological pressures forcing carbon molecules to link together in a particular way. Other elements may also be present when this process occurs which will result in tiny flaws. In addition, the cutting process that goes on with diamonds may lead to certain flaws being highlighted. All diamond dealers tend to refer to anything present in a diamond that, ideally, would not be there as inclusions. Inclusions are often black, grey or even white specks that can be seen within the body of the diamond.
However, it should be noted that all natural diamonds are unique even if they have been cut in a standardised way. Therefore, there is a degree of subjectivity that will always play a part in assessing the clarity of one diamond compared to another. For this reason, reputable diamond dealers and jewellers like Bonds of Brentwood use an internationally recognised way of assessing diamond clarity. This helps everyone who handles them to value diamonds in the same light. To sum up, diamond clarity could best be described as the absence of inclusions within any diamond gemstone.
Diamond Inclusions Explained
Given that diamond clarity is really the absence of something – flaws or inclusions – it will be helpful to understand what inclusions really are. To begin with, external blemishes are not considered to be inclusions. Diamonds can be blemished despite their reputation as a hard material. These are flaws that can affect the price of a stone but are not, strictly speaking, inclusions. As the name of an inclusion implies, these sorts of flaws are on the inside of a diamond. To make things slightly trickier, however, some inclusions will be deep inside the stone while others will be close to the surface depending on the way the diamond in question has been cut.
Furthermore, in some cases, an inclusion can break through to the surface when the stone is polished. Inclusions are made up of various things in naturally formed diamonds. Minerals may have been trapped inside the diamond as it was formed, for example. Indeed, in some rare cases, inclusions may be formed from tiny diamonds trapped within the stone itself. In some cases, inclusions will affect how much a diamond sparkles but in other cases, they will have very little effect.
Looking For Diamond Inclusions to Determine Diamond Clarity
Given that diamond inclusions are very small, they need magnification to be spotted. The standard magnification used to assess inclusions – and therefore diamond clarity – is ten times. If closer magnification were to be used, it might be possible to spot even smaller inclusions but, generally speaking, these would not affect the sparkling quality of a diamond due to their tiny size. As such, x10 magnification offers a good balance between detecting inclusions while not making an overly critical assessment of their clarity. This is the global standard nowadays.
Simply spotting inclusions is only a part of the process of assessing the clarity, or otherwise, of a diamond, however. The number of inclusions is important, of course, but so is the position of them including how close to the surface they might be. Furthermore, the size and the colour of the inclusions will also impact on the overall clarity of a diamond. As such, there is still a fair amount of leeway that assessors have when determining the clarity of a diamond today. That’s why having a diamond’s clarity assessed by an experienced professional is so important, of course.
The Diamond Clarity Scale
Professional diamond dealers will assess the clarity of the stones they are viewing by rating them according to a standardised scale. FL, or flawless diamonds, are the best and have no inclusions viewable under x10 magnification. Next come VVS1 and VVS2 diamonds. These have very, very slight inclusions only. After them, come VS1 and VS2 diamonds which have very slight inclusions. Slight inclusion diamonds are next on the scale and are referred to as SI1/SI2 stones. I1 are the final diamonds on the scale and are referred to as inclusion diamonds.