Diamond Color Grading, Clarity, Carats and Flaws (Inclusions)When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure. - Peter Marshall
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Diamond Color Grading, Clarity, Carats and Flaws (Inclusions)

The value of a diamond is based on its clarity, grade, carats and flaws (inclusions).

 

Diamond Color

The color of a diamond is determined by nature. Customarily, the closer the diamond is to colorless, the more valuable it is. The less yellow within the diamond, the higher on the color scale the diamond will be graded. Color grades D, E and F are the rarest.

GIA Color Grading Scale:

 

D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V
W X Y Z
Colorless Near Colorless Faint Yellow Very Light Yellow Light Yellow

 

 

GRADE DESCRIPTION
D Exceptionally White
E Exceptionally White
F Rare White
G Rare White
H White
I-J Slightly tinted white
K-L Tinted white
M,  N-O,  P-R,  S-Z Tinted Color

Diamond Clarity

Clarity is a measure of the purity of the diamond, that is, the number and extent of the flaws. Generally speaking, the fewer the flaws, the more valuable the diamond.   Completely flawless diamonds are extremely rare. Barely a few hundred "FL" diamonds are produced per year worldwide.

Diamonds, being natural stones and created deep beneath the earth, almost always contain tiny traces of natural elements locked inside. These elements are called inclusions, although they may also be referred to as birthmarks, because they are formed naturally and are unique to each stone.

The GIA scale for Clarity is shown below.

FL IF VVS1 VVS2 VS1 VS2 SI1 SI2 I1 I2 I3
Flawless Very Very Slight Very Slight Slightly Imperfect Imperfect

 

Even though any scale is subjective, the GIA scale has specific criteria that are used to differentiate between the different grades:

 

GRADE

DESCRIPTION

FL

Completely Flawless

This is a diamond that has no inclusions or blemishes visible under 10x magnification.

IF

Internally Flawless

There are no inclusions or blemishes visible under 10x magnification. Only small external flaws are present, which can be removed by further polishing the stone.

VVS1,

VVS2

Very Very Slightly Included

Only an expert can detect flaws with a 10X microscope.  By definition, if an expert can see a flaw from the top of the diamond, it is a VVS2.  Otherwise, if an expert can only detect flaws when viewing the bottom of the stone, then it is a VVS1.

VS1,

VS2

Very Slightly Included

You can see flaws with a 10X microscope, but it takes a long time (more than about 10 seconds). Typically the inclusions in VS diamonds are invisible without magnification, however occasionally some VS2 inclusions may still be visible to the eye.

SI1,

SI2

Slightly Included

There are noticeable inclusions with a 10X microscope. SI1 denotes a higher clarity grade than SI2. These may or may not be noticeable to the naked eye.

I1,

I3

Included (Imperfect)

You can see flaws with the naked eye.  I1 denotes a higher clarity grade than I2, which in turn is higher than I3. Inclusions in I1 diamonds often are seen to the naked eye. I2 inclusions are easily seen, while I3 diamonds have large and extremely easy to see inclusions that typically impact the brilliance of the diamond, as well as having inclusions that are often likely to threaten the structure of the diamond.

Consider avoiding I2-I3 diamonds.

 

Diamond Carats

The definition of a carat is a unit of weight for precious stones. However, it is important to know that the size of the stone has nothing to do with its weight. Two diamonds of the same weight can be very much different in size. For example, when a diamond is cut deep and narrow, it will look much smaller than another diamond of the same weight that is cut shallow and wide.

One carat is equal to 200 milligrams. One carat can also be divided into 100 points, usually when referring to a smaller diamond. So, a .75 carat diamond is the same as 75 points or 3/4 carat diamond. Diamonds are weighed on an extremely accurate digital balance.

The weight of a single stone is shown as “ct.” “ct TW” refers to the total weight of multiple stones.

Flaws (Inclusions)

The natural flaws in diamonds are called inclusions, also know as flaws. There are many different types of flaws and many cannot be seen without magnification. The most common flaws are as follows.

Pinpoint Inclusion

By far, the most common flaw is tiny light or dark crystals in diamonds that appear by themselves or in clusters. If the dark crystals are all clustered together in the stone (known as a cloud) the clarity of the diamond is effected.

Carbons

Diamonds are made of carbon but they start out as carbon’s more common form, graphite. Sometimes they do not fully crystallize and therefore can contain specks of black carbon. This results in very small black blemishes on the surface of the stone.  These are found less frequently than pinpoint inclusions.

Feathers

These are small feather-like cracks within the stone, comparable to the look of an ice cube when it cracks.  Small internal feathers do not affect the durability of the diamond, except for lessening the clarity rating of the diamond. However, large feathers can ruin a stone if they reach the surface and the diamond is accidental hit thereby cracking the stone or even splitting it apart.

Clouds

Clouds are internal clusters of hazy areas, made up of small crystals. They are so small they cannot be seen individually. But in whole, they dull the diamond.

Crystal Growth

This is a small crystalline development that grows within the diamond and looks much like a small diamond within a larger diamond.

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