Understanding The Basics of Diamond Clarity & Eye Clean Diamonds

Author David Millette
Date Feb 15, 2021

If you are shopping for a diamond, you probably have a rough idea of the price you want to spend. With your budget set, you will need to decide what characteristics are the most important to you. Whether it be the cut, color, carat, or clarity, all of these qualities will effect the price of the diamond.

A diamond's clarity grade has a direct correlation with a diamond's price. But, after a certain point, it's impossible to distinguish between grades with the naked eye! The good news is, if you aren't bothered by imperfections that require a microscope to see, you can probably choose a diamond that has a lower clarity grade to get more for your investment. This can free up your budget and allow you to spend a little more on things like the cut, color, and carat of your diamond.

Intrigued? Let's take a look at how diamond clarity is graded and what it means to shop for an "eye clean" diamond:

Understanding the basics

When grading the clarity of a diamond, the two types of imperfections that gemologists look for are surface blemishes and inclusions. The overall clarity grade of a diamond is based on the size, number, position, nature, and color of these imperfections. The GIA clarity scale has 11 grades ranging from no imperfections (flawless) to prominent inclusions visible to the eye (I3).

These grades are seperated into 6 groups: flawless, internally flawless, very very slightly included, very slightly included, slightly included and included. These groups are defined as follows:

  • Flawless (FL)
    No inclusions eye clean diamondsand no surface 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 only under 10x magnification or greater
  • Included (I1, I2, and I3)
    Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification, may affect transparency and brilliance and are typically seen with the naked eye.

GIA clarity grading scale

What are inclusions?

Diamonds are formed deep beneath the earth's surface when carbon is exposed to high heat and large amounts of pressure. During this process, it is very common for other crystals to get trapped in the diamond. We call these imperfections "inclusions," and once they are present in a diamond, there is no getting rid of them. Think of them as your diamonds fingerprint as no two stones will have the same inclusions. eye clean diamonds clarity

eye clean inclusion eye clean inclusion

What are surface blemishes?

Unlike inclusions, surface blemishes are not formed with the diamond. Instead, surface blemishes occur after the diamond has been cut and polished. As you can probably tell from the name, these imperfections are found on the surface of the diamond. Surface blemishes usually come in the form of scratches but can also include chips in the stone.

Since blemishes are on the surface, it is possible to fix these imperfections. Depending on the severity of the blemish, fixing can require either polishing or re-cutting the stone. Recutting the stone can dramatically reduce its weight; while polishing typically removes minimal weight from the diamond.

Surface blemish eye clean diamond Surface blemish eye clean diamond

And how does this all relate to eye clean diamonds?

An eye clean diamond is one that contains imperfections that aren't visible to the naked eye. This means that even if you have very good vision and hold the diamond as close as you would like, you will not be able to spot any inclusions or blemishes. Only by examining the diamond under 10x magnification will these imperfections be visible.

If you refer to the diamond clarity grading scale at the beginning of this post, any diamond that is graded between VVS1 and SI2 are considered to be eye clean. Under magnification, a VVS1 diamond's imperfections will be extremely difficult to see whereas a SI2's will be very prominent. However, unless you are viewing the diamond under a loupe or microscope the difference in clarity isn't noticeable.

Purchasing an eye clean diamond that falls in the SI or VS category can save you a lot of money vs a higher clarity diamond. Because you can only see these imperfections under magnification, you can buy a diamond with a lower clarity grade that still looks visually beautiful. She wears a diamond ring on her finger, not a certificate, so consider an eye clean when buying a diamond!diamond clarity eye clean

Want to see an eye clean diamond for yourself? Take a look at it up close and under magnification with one of our diamond experts!

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