Almost all diamonds will have some blemishes and marks, due to being formed under extreme pressure in the depths of the earth. A diamond's clarity is measured by the severity of these blemishes. Diamonds that are entirely absent of imperfections are called flawless, and they're so rare that most jewelers will never experience the pleasure of seeing one. When a diamond is judged to be flawless, it greatly increases the jewel's value.
The diamond clarity chart consists of eleven different grades in which each diamond is categorized. These include:
- Internally Flawless
- Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2)
- Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2)
- Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2)
- Included (I1, I2, and I3)
There are several factors that go into the final clarity grade, such as size, position, color, and the number of flaws visible when under magnification. The majority of diamonds will fall in the middle of these categories between Very Slightly Included to Slightly included.
Diamond Carat Weight
Carat is the standard unit that the industry uses to measure a diamond's weight. It is based on a scale of 100 points, and is often confused with the visual size of the stone. The carat weight greatly impacts the price of a diamond, with prices rising exponentially the greater the carat weight, but clarity, cut and color also factor into the price.
A diamond's cut not only pertains to its brilliance, but how the stone reflects light. A high-quality cut diamond will sparkle with brilliance, while poorly cut diamonds will appear dark and dull. When a stone is well cut, it can appear larger than a one of the same carat weight.
There are three main characteristics of a well-cut stone: brilliance, scintillation, and dispersion.
- Brilliance- refers to the light that is reflected off of a diamond
- Scintillation- refers to flashes of color that can be seen when moving a diamond back and forth
- Dispersion- refers to the colors that become visible when light passes through the stone. Dispersion results in a spectrum of coloration known as fire.
Much like clarity, diamond color is graded on a scale. This scale ranges from D through Z for white diamonds, while fancy colored diamonds have their own separate grading scale.
The categories of the white diamond color scale are as follows:
- Colorless- (D, E, F) There are slight differences between these three grades, but they can only be determined by a gemologist. It is recommended that diamonds that fall into this category be set in platinum or white gold. These are not suitable for yellow gold due to their colorless effect.
- Near Colorless- (G, H, I, J) These grades do have a hint of color, but still work best in platinum or white gold.
- Faint Color- (K, L, M) This group will have a yellow tint that is slightly visible to the naked eye. Stones work well set in a yellow gold.
- Very Light Color- (N, O, P, Q, R) Diamonds with an N-R grade have a noticeable yellow or brownish tint. This category is more affordable than the previous groups due to lack of popularity. Not all jewelers will carry these diamonds and they may have to be specially ordered.
- Light Color- (S-Z) These stones will have too much tint for the majority of buyers who are shopping for white diamonds. Most jewelers do not carry these and they may have to be specially ordered.
The main thing to keep in mind when shopping for diamonds is to choose a stone that attracts you. As the old adage goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Everyone has their own unique preference for size, style, shape, and color.