BIRTHMARKS
GIA Diamond Clarity

Natural diamonds are the result of carbon exposed to tremendous heat and pressure deep in the earth. This process can result in a variety of internal characteristics called ‘inclusions’ and external characteristics called ‘blemishes.’

Diamond clarity refers to the absence of these inclusions and blemishes. Diamonds without these ‘birthmarks’ are rare, and rarity affects a diamond’s value. Using the GIA International Diamond Grading System™, diamonds are assigned a clarity grade that ranges from flawless (FL) to diamonds with obvious inclusions (I3).

Evaluating diamond clarity involves determining the number, size, relief, nature, and position of these characteristics, as well as how these affect the overall appearance of the stone. While no diamond is perfectly pure, the closer it comes, the higher its value. Flawless diamonds are exceptionally rare and most jewellers have never even seen one.

CLARITY SCALE

The Clarity Scale contains 11 grades, with most diamonds falling into the VS (very slightly included) or SI (slightly included) categories. In determining a clarity grade, the GIA system considers the size, nature, position, colour or relief, and quantity of clarity characteristics visible under 10× magnification. Clarity grades are interpreted as follows:

  • Flawless (FL) No inclusions and no blemishes visible under 10x magnification
  • Internally Flawless (IF) No inclusions visible under 10x magnification
  • Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) Inclusions so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification
  • Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) Inclusions are observed with effort under 10x magnification, but can be characterized as minor
  • Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) Inclusions are noticeable under 10x magnification
  • Included (I1, I2, and I3) Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification which may affect transparency and brilliance

Many inclusions and blemishes are too tiny to be seen by anyone other than a trained diamond grader. To the naked eye, a VS1 and an SI2 diamond may look exactly the same, but these diamonds are quite different in terms of overall quality. This is why expert and accurate assessment of diamond clarity is extremely important.

Like the colour scale, GIA’s clarity grading system developed because jewellers were using terms that could be misinterpreted, such as, “loupe clean” or “piqué.” Today, even if you buy a diamond somewhere else in the world, the jeweller will most likely use terms like VVS1 or SI2, even if his or her language is French or Japanese instead of English.

Diamond Colour Grading by GIA

This short video explains the GIA colour scale and how GIA classifies a diamond with a letter grade from D-to-Z by comparing it to masterstones representing the colour grades on the GIA scale.

Diamond 4Cs