Diamond Clarity & Diamond Clarity Chart

When considering adding a stone to your collection, the 4Cs (Carat, Clarity, Color, and Cut) are the main factors that should be concentrated on when assessing the stones. Carat we know refers to the weight of the diamond. Color is actually derived from the purity of various compound elements. Cut describes the art and style of how the gemologist cut the stone. But what really is the definition of Clarity?

Clarity Explained

The actual definition of what diamond clarity is, basically describes the diamond's overall appearance in relation to the number of both internal and external imperfections in the stone. Each stone is assessed and then graded according to a standardized grading scale.

Shmulik Polnauer louping the 1.68-carat, Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink, Radiant-shaped diamond

Shmulik Polnauer louping a 1.68ct, Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink Diamond

Clarity Grades (the Clarity Scale)

Diamond clarity is broken down to six categories, of which many contain a number of clarity grades. As the clarity grades move along the scale to a lower clarity grade, the overall value of the diamond decreases. Still, even though the clarity grade may drop, it might not necessarily affect the unmagnified appearance of the stone.

The table below defines the various levels of clarity in the GIA clarity scale for both white and color diamonds.


 Flawless  FL – Flawless A stone that is completely flawless. This is an extremely rare find.
 Internally Flawless  IF – Internally Flawless A stone that has no internal flaws at all but does have surface flaws. Also, an extremely rare find.
 VVS1/VVS2  VVS1/VVS2 – Very Very Slight Inclusion A stone with very small internal inclusions. These inclusions can only be determined with a X30 magnification.
 VS1_VS2  VS1/VS2 – Very Slight Inclusion A stone with very small internal inclusions. These inclusions can be determined with a X10 magnification.
 SI1/SI2  SI1/SI2 – Slight Inclusion A stone that has slight inclusions that can be determined with a X10 magnification.
 L1/L2/L3 Clarity Grades  I1/I2/I3 (P1/P2/P3) - Inclusion or Pique A stone that has inclusions most often visible with the naked eye. Inclusions of this level drastically bring down the diamonds value.


Clarity in Color Diamonds

In a colorless diamond, clarity is a very important measurement to scale. However, diamond clarity does not play as much of an important role in fancy colored diamonds as it does in colorless stones. When purchasing a fancy colored diamond, the color and intensity are far more important than the clarity of the diamond itself.

Learn more about diamond clarity in fancy color diamonds.


Types of Imperfections

Diamonds are the strongest element known to man today. Still, they are mined after having traveled to accessible depths through volcanic eruptions, and having been created in unimaginable conditions deep below the surface of the earth. Therefore, it is needless to say that various imperfections within the stones can occur.

The inclusions that are found are broken down to two categories, ‘Internal’ inclusions and ‘External’ inclusions. All diamonds have inclusions, only depending on the type, the size, and where in the stones they are located they might not necessarily affect the appearance of the stone.


 0.35ct Fancy Purplish Red with an External Inclusion

0.35ct Fancy Purplish Red Heart (External Inclusion)

2.28ct Fancy Orangy Brown Round SI2 (Internal Inclusion)

2.28ct Fancy Orangy Brown Round SI2 (Internal Inclusion) 


Learn more about the various internal and external imperfections of a diamonds.

The inclusions found in the stones are noted in the GIA certificate, with both text and images that specify where the imperfections are found.


 Heart-shaped Diamond ImperfectionsRound-shaped Diamond Imperfections


Diamond inclusions noted on the GIA certificate


The Effect of Imperfections

A stone with an SI2 inclusion grade can sometimes appear 'eye clean' even though its monetary value is significantly lowered. That means it might cost a lot less for the stone even though the diamond is still bursting with life. There is so much more than just the clarity grade that can affect the appearance or the value of the stone and it is therefore extremely important to inspect each and every stone you consider purchasing.

Learn more about how imperfections affect the value of the diamonds.

Improving the Overall Clarity

Throughout the years, several professionals have perfected their ability to naturally improve the clarity of their diamonds. One, who knows exactly what he is doing, can actually polish away an external blemish. However, much care must be taken when changes like this are made, since the size, the weight, and sometimes even the shape of the stone can be changed. Also, putting a stone back on the polishing wheel is always a risk.

There are firms that specifically look to purchase stones that look like it can be naturally modified, and with their outstanding polishing skills, they can improve the overall clarity of the stones.


Below are images of a Fancy Yellow, Pear-shaped diamond that Leibish & Co. modified. The stone was originally an 11.24ct, Fancy Yellow Diamond with an SI2 clarity grade. The stone was corrected to a 10.79ct, Fancy Yellow Diamond with an IF clarity grade. Click the GIA diamond certificates below for a closer view.


 11.24ct, Fancy Yellow, SI211.24ct, Fancy Yellow, SI2 - Certificate

11.24ct, Fancy Yellow, SI2

 10.79ct, Fancy Yellow, IF10.79ct, Fancy Yellow, IF - Certificate

10.79ct, Fancy Yellow, IF


Artificial Clarity Enhancement


There are also various forms of artificial enhancements one can do on a stone in order to enhance its clarity or color such as "Laser Drilling" (Keduach Meyuchad) and "Fracture Filling." Any artificial enhancements are of course legitimate, only it absolutely must be made aware to the ones purchasing the stones beforehand.

Learn more about diamond clarity enhancement.

It is important to remember that in reference to diamonds, 'perfection' is a relative term. With sufficient magnification, inclusions will be revealed in almost any diamond found.

Needless to say, each diamond still needs to be assessed by a professional as not to accidentally overlook any detrimental imperfections.


Contributor: Benji Margolese

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