Posted on July 30 2012
When my clients come to see me in my Maharani Jewels showroom, they are often marvelled by all the gemological equipment and instruments that are set up. As a gemologist, such instruments are imperative to my understanding and grading of diamond quality.
One particular piece of equipment which attracts the most attention is a gemological microscope, which is also called a 'gemscope.' A portable version which I keep around my neck at all times is called a 'loupe'. A 'gemscope' or loupe helps to identify a diamond's internal characteristics, also known as its clarity.
By definition, clarity is a gemstone's relative freedom from inclusions and blemishes. Blemishes are clarity characteristics that are confined to a gemstone's surface, while an inclusion is enclosed within a gemstone or may even extend into the gemstone from the surface. Both of these types of clarity characteristics are easier to identify under magnification.
As we move towards the right of the clarity scale, the inclusions within
a diamond go from non-existent, to minute, to minor, to noticeable,
and finally to obvious.
Diamonds are graded using 10x magnification. The rarest diamonds of all are those that exhibit no blemishes and inclusions under 10x magnification and are rated Flawless or Internally Flawless. The most common and abundant diamonds in nature are those that exhibit obvious blemishes and inclusions under 10x magnification and are rated Included. With all other variables kept constant, a 1.00 ct round brilliant cut diamond of the highest clarity (Flawless) is approximately 17x more valuable than a 1.00 ct diamond of the lowest clarity (I3).
So given this vast difference in value, what is the best choice of clarity? To help guide you to make informed and educated decisions about your choice of a diamond's clarity, I have made the following list...
TOP 4 most important things to know when it comes to a diamond’s clarity:
- The primary difference between an SI2 clarity diamond, and a VVS2 clarity diamond, for example, is rarity. Though under a microscope at 10x magnification the inclusions of the SI2 diamond are noticeable, they are not visible to the naked eye. This becomes important when trying to decide on which clarity grade to choose, because SI2 diamonds are just as beautiful as VS or VVS graded diamonds, but not nearly as expensive.
- Each of the clarity characteristics of a diamond have been given a term to describe and identify it. These inclusions and blemishes are marked down on the diamond plot which is found on a GIA certificate. This plot helps us identify the diamond, as every diamond has a plot that is unique to it.
- There are 5 factors that determine the overall effect of characteristics on a clarity grade:
a) Size: The effect of size is obvious since larger inclusions affect clarity more than smaller ones.
b) Number: The number of inclusions is important; however it is possible to have several small unnoticeable inclusions which don't affect the clarity as much as 1 or 2 larger inclusions which can set the grade.
c) Position: Where an inclusion is located is important because one that is located right in the centre of the stone will be much more visible than one that is located towards the edge.
d) Nature: Certain inclusions are more hazardous than others based on how deep and far the extend in the diamond, and therefore impact the grading.
f) Relief: The darker the inclusions, the more visible they are, and will therefore have a greater impact on clarity.
- Though assigned the same clarity grade, some diamonds can be classified as 'top' clarity stones, or 'lucky' clarity stones. A 'top' clarity stones is one that may have been assigned an SI1 grading, but is actually very close to a VS2, whereas a 'lucky' clarity stone is one that has also been assigned an SI1 clarity, but is actually closer to an SI2 grading.
LEFT: GIAs colour scale goes from flawless, far left, to included, far right.
RIGHT: A 'Diamond Plot' identifies inclusions and blemishes.
As a gemologist who has worked with thousands of diamonds over the years, I am sensitive and knowledgeable about these slight differences and am always striving to provide my clients wit the top-most quality diamonds in their grade. Therefore, my diamond inventory will always have an abundance of 'top' clarity stones.
With the information above, you will certainly be in a better position to make an informed purchase, as well as one that can potentially save you a lot of money!
With this ends my blog series on the 4 C's which I hope you have found both educational and useful.
Visit www.maharanijewels.com for diamond education and information on jewelry Vancouver.