Few things in nature are absolutely perfect. This is also true with diamonds. As touched on in the first part of the clarity series, diamonds have internal features called inclusions and surface irregularities called blemishes.  Together, inclusions and blemishes make up a diamond’s clarity characteristic.

diamond clarityDiamond clarity is one of the 4Cs of diamond quality that influence a diamond’s value. When GIA examines a diamond to determine its diamond clarity grade, it takes five factors into account:

  • The size of the clarity characteristics and the number present.
  • The position of the characteristics is also important–are they located on the table or in an inconspicuous place?
  • The nature of the blemish or inclusion is examined, to see if it will affect the structure of the diamond.
  • And finally, the clarity characteristics are checked for relief—whether they result in any color being present.

GIA’s clarity grading system is made up of eleven diamond clarity grades – terms used worldwide by jewelers and consumers alike:

  • Flawless
  • Internally flawless
  • Two categories of Very Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2)
  • Two categories of Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2)
  • Two categories of Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2)
  • Three categories of Included (I1, I2, and I3)

Blemishes usually only affect the clarity grade in the top two categories (Flawless and Internally Flawless), whereas inclusions affect all grades. Flawless diamonds are very rare – so rare, that it’s possible for a jeweler to spend a lifetime in the industry without ever seeing one.

Learn more about diamond clarity with the first article of this series: Introduction to Diamond Clarity: What are Inclusions and Blemishes.

Updated: GIA report scales have been updated with the newest scales as of May 2014