Buying a diamond can be a nerve-racking experience. If you want my expert advice on buying the best diamond just drop me a note and tell me what you are looking for and how much you want to spend and I will get back to you with my personal recommendations for a beautiful stone that fits in your budget. This is a FREE service, doesn’t cost you a dime extra, (in fact I am sure that it almost every case I can save you lots of money) and there is absolutely no commitment.
In speaking with friends who are in the market for a diamond I often find that one of the most frustrating things is not having a clear understanding of what all the terms they are being introduced to mean and more importantly which are real concerns and which are marketing hype. The 2 most common issues revolve around diamond clarity and diamond color.
As I say over and over on this site- I always recommend to be careful not to spend money on getting a “better” diamond if you will never benefit from this. A diamond is all about the sparkle and brilliance which is why cut is so important – color and clarity play less of a role in this.
To better illustrate what you can expect in the real world I put together this diamond clarity chart (as well as a diamond color chart) with real life pictures of all the diamond clarity grades. The focus of this page is clarity so I will use varying colors and sizes.
The following diamond clarity chart brings you real images of GIA certified diamonds from James Allen webs site. Click on the images on the right to see very large photo close ups of the diamonds.
|Clarity Grade||Description||Sample Image|
|IF – FL||Internally Flawless / FLawless – No inclusions under 10x. These are the rarest diamond clarity and as such the most expensive.|
Anything that appears to be an inclusion on an IF diamond is probably dust or at worst a speck that can be polished out easily. If there were a true inclusion, even a tiny one, diamond grading labs would give the diamond a VVS1 grade and not IF.
Important to note that even though this diamond is IF clarity it does not have an Ideal rating on its cut grade!
You can view the sample diamond’s original page on James Allen here:
0.90 Carat E-IF Round Diamond
|VVS1||Very Very Slightly Included – Diamond clarity inclusions rated VVS1 may have minute inclusions that are extremely difficult for even an experienced diamond professional to see under 10x magnification. These tiny pinpoint inclusions are completely invisible to the naked eye and even under powerful magnification take a trained eye to find.|
Do you see any difference between this 0.90 VVS1 and the IF above? I didn’t think so, so why would you spend an extra $1200 on the IF clarity?
You can view this 0.90 F-VVS1 on James Allen web site here.
|VVS2||As in the VVS1 diamond clarity, the tiny specs on a VVS2 are invisible to the naked eye and can only be seen by a trained gemologist under heavy magnification. What generally separates a VVS2 from a VVS1 are the number of these small specs. SO while a VVS1 might have a small inclusion at 3:00 a VVS2 might have one at 3:00 and another at 9:00. This makes no difference to anyone looking at the diamond without strong magnification as both are too small to be seen even with a standard loupe.|
Once again- I wouldn’t recommend paying extra for this clarity grade because as you will see you can find lower grades that are just as clean to the naked eye.
Click on the image to the right for a close up of a VVS2 diamond clarity grade
Or, click here to see this diamond on James Allen web site.
|VS1||VS1 diamond clarity is defined as diamonds having minor inclusions that can range from difficult to somewhat easy to see under 10x magnification.|
In other words with a standard loupe trained gemologist should be able to pick up and identify the inclusions on a VS1 graded diamond pretty quickly. I have seen untrained people take several seconds and need instruction on where to look to see these. These inclusions are still too small to be seen by the naked eye.
Click here to see this 0.70 E-VS1 diamond on James Allen and see if you can spot the inclusion.
No luck? Now click on the sample on the right to see a large blow up of the same diamond and look at the 5:30 mark.
|VS2||Very Slightly Included (2nd Degree) – VS2 clarity inclusions always easy to find at 10x magnification Once in a while, the inclusion be hidden and make it more difficult to find, but otherwise, even a non-skilled person looking in a standard loupe will see the inclusion.|
In 99% of the cases VS2 diamonds are clean to the naked eye. There are rare occasions that a black inclusion will be dead center on the table making visible even without any magnification. By looking at the diamond photo on a site like James Allen you can save a lot of money by buying a clean VS2 rather then a more expensive higher graded clarity. In the photo on the right I chose a really bad VS2 to show how you can see the inclusions. Had these been moved over a little to the left they would have been hidden and not visible.
Click here to see this diamond on James Allen or click the image itself to see a larger version
|SI1||Slightly Included (1st Degree) – SI1 Clarity inclusions are easily found with a standard jeweler’s loupe at 10x magnification. With most shapes (to the exclusion of step cuts like Asscher and Emerald Cuts), SI1 clarity inclusions are almost always clean to the naked eye.|
The diamond on the right will look clean to the eye because the SI1 grading was do to several smaller inclusions rather then 1 large one. Each of the smaller inclusions is too small to be seen individually. This is an example of an SI1 that is a great value because it still appears clean.
SI1 diamonds are genrally a very good choice for diamond stud earrings.
|SI2||Slightly Included (2nd Degree) – SI2 clarity inclusions can many times be seen with the naked eye, most likely with shapes such as Emerald and Asscher cuts but in all cases are obvious when viewed under magnification. With other shapes like round and princess cuts you can find SI2 diamonds that are clean to the eye if the inclusions are not on the table itself. These can be great values as the prices for SI2 are significantly lower then higher graded diamonds.|
The image on the right shows an SI2 with obvious inclusions.
|I1||Included (1st Degree) – Inmost cases I1 clarity inclusions are clearly seen by the naked eye- even on round diamonds. Because they are so noticeable especially on stepped cuts manufacturers will generally avoid producing these and in turn you won’t find many of them on the market. With round and Princess cuts you can find I1 clarity but again- beware as the inclusions can many times completely ruin the look of the diamond and the Brilliance.|