Clarity refers to the presence (or absence) of impurities, blemishes or other identifying characteristics within a diamond. 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.’
Clarity characteristics are what make each diamond unique, since there are no two diamonds that will have the same exact inclusions in the same location(s). 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.
DIAMOND CLARITY IS GRADED AS FOLLOWS
FL or IF
Internally Flawless: No inclusions or blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10x magnification. Extremely rare, less than 3% of jewelry quality diamonds are rated IF
VVS1 – VVS2
Very, Very Slightly Included: Inclusions are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification.
VVS1 inclusions are typically only visible from the pavilion, while VVS2 inclusions are visible from the crown. In each, the inclusions are invisible to the eye, appearing identical to the higher grades unless viewed under 10x magnification by a skilled grader.
VS1 – VS2
Very Slightly Included: Inclusions are clearly visible under 10x magnification but can be characterized as minor. Inclusions are not visible to the naked eye. Perhaps 1 in 100 untrained observers can detect VS2 inclusions with the naked eye, on close inspection under ideal conditions.
SI1 – SI2
Slightly Included: Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader using 10x magnification. SI1 is the lowest grade with flaws often invisible to the naked eye. SI2 inclusions are usually visible to the naked eye, although they will require close inspection.
I1 – I2 – I3
Included: Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance. I1 diamonds have inclusions that are almost always visible to the naked eye.
Read about clarity enhancement for diamonds