What is Diamond Clarity?
To understand the clarity of a diamond, it’s important to know the origins of diamonds. Having formed in the depths of the Earth’s mantle for billions of years, diamonds pick up other minerals and irregularities. These visible ‘imperfections’ are known as inclusions, and it is highly rare to come across a diamond with zero inclusions, or that is ‘flawless’. In fact, some like the idea of the odd inclusion in their diamond, as this validates the long history of the stone and how it has formed.
Using the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) standard clarity grading system, diamonds are graded from 'Flawless' to 'Included 3'. Extremely rare in nature, a diamond will only be graded as 'flawless' if no internal or external imperfections are visible when magnified ten times.
As with Hearts of London diamonds, inclusions are usually only visible under intense magnification, so we often advise it is not the most important of the 4 Cs and can be a great point to compromise when working to your budget. We would advise that you avoid diamonds with inclusions visible to the naked eye, as this can interfere with the overall appearance of the stone.
Diamond clarity is graded with codes such as 'SI2', SI1', 'VS2', 'VS1'. These stand for 'slightly included 2', 'slight included 1', 'very slightly included 2', 'very slightly included 1', and so on. Flawless stones are graded 'FL' and 'IF', and heavily included stones 'I1', 'I2' and so on.
To put grading simply, we advise you stick between SI1 and VS2. A diamond graded SI1, or 'slightly included 1' will feature few marks, which are unlikely to be seen by the naked eye. An SI1 will carry a slightly lower price tag than a VS2, but if you are concerned about inclusions, you may want to pay a little more for a diamond that is only 'very slightly' included. We don't recommend going much higher than a VS2, as the difference of appearance to the naked eye will be negligible yet the stone will carry a heftier price tag.
If you'd like a little more help when it comes to selecting a diamond, you may want to book an appointment to meet with one of our gemmologists, who will source a selection of diamonds for you to view. Our gemmologists will always look out for stones in which inclusions are minor, or can be hidden by the claws of your ring - but the ultimate decision is up to you.
Our gemmologists work closely with our goldsmiths to ensure a diamond is set in the most flattering way possible, ensuring the beauty of your stone is fully realised. If your stone does have an inclusion that bothers you, we can often hide these underneath the claws of a setting, meaning you don’t need to fork out for a ‘flawless’ stone.