Clarity is the measure of tiny crystals trapped inside the diamond (called inclusions), and/or surface marks created primarily from cutting and/or polishing (called blemishes). Like fingerprints, almost all diamonds have some form of clarity characteristics. However, most are not visible to the naked eye. These are appropriately called “eye-clean” diamonds because they look amazing in everyday life. The tradeoff in price versus size often comes down to the buyer’s willingness to accept discrete inclusions in their diamond that cannot be seen without magnification.
We know that when you buy a diamond, you want to give a gem that is special and unique as the person who receives it. The fact is, every diamond is unique and unless you’re last name is Rockefeller or Carnegie, you can’t afford a truly flawless diamond. That should not scare you because the chances are nearly 100% that even your richest friends own diamonds that have some clarity characteristics.
In this article we’re going to show you how to decide what clarity level to accept and more importantly what the price break points are. This way you can give the dream diamond and still have enough left over to pay the monthly bills.
First let’s start with the GIA diamond grading scale, alongside of which we will tell you how many diamonds are produced each year at each level.
Flawless (1 out of 5000 diamonds) No blemishes or inclusions are visible to a skilled grader using 10X magnification.
Internally Flawless (»2%) No inclusions are visible to a skilled grader using 10X magnification; however, the diamond does have some minor blemishes on the surface.
VVS1 (»3%) Very Very Slightly Included – 1. These diamonds have inclusions that are extremely difficult to see under 10X magnification.
VVS2 (»4%) Very Very Slightly Included – 2. These diamonds have inclusions that are very difficult to see under 10X magnification.
VS1 (»6%) Very Slightly Included – 1. These diamonds have minor blemishes that are difficult to see under 10X magnification.
VS2 (»8%) Very Slightly Included – 2. These diamonds have minor blemishes that are somewhat easy to see under 10X magnification. But cannot be seen with the unaided eye.
SI1 (»10%) These diamonds contain noticeable inclusions that are easy to see at 10X magnification; however, they still cannot be seen with the unaided eye. This is the lowest “eye clean” category.
SI2 (»12%) These diamonds contain very noticeable inclusions that are very easy to see at 10X magnification and upon close examination they can be seen with the unaided eye.
I1, I2, (»20%) These diamonds are very popular for those that want the largest diamond possible and are often sold at retail stores in malls across the world. Inclusions are obvious and can be seen without magnification.
I3 (»32%) These diamonds are not popular. They lack transparency and durability. We do not recommend them.
Expert Buying Tips
If you want the largest eye-clean diamond possible, we recommend SI1. This diamond will be better than 68% of the diamonds found in nature. With SI1 diamonds inclusions cannot be seen unless magnified, and these diamonds are multiples less expensive than Flawless or Internally Flawless diamonds.
What’s the price difference? Like the price of gold, diamond prices change daily. So we have included links to James Allen’s online diamond store website that show prices at different clarity grades. James Allen is our 2017 Online Diamond Dealer of the Year and they are 20-40% off retail prices. We chose the best possible cut (called “True Hearts” at James Allen) which is a must when buying a diamond for beauty. You can save money on color, on clarity and even on carat weight, but the 4th C, Cut, affects beauty more than any other. Click the links below for pricing.