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Understanding Diamond’s 4 Cs.
Whether one is looking for the perfect engagement ring or a slew of diamonds to make a tennis bracelet, there is no denying that understanding the 4 golden Cs of diamond shopping is very important. Be it sifting through loose diamonds, wholesale diamonds or even choosing a pre-set engagement ring, it is important to note that the diamond’s clarity, cut, color and carat mean everything.
Diamonds are formed through an incredible feat of nature and is a result of carbon being exposed to a combination of great heat and pressure deep within the earth. This natural process will undoubtedly result in various characteristics and natural imperfections within the diamond that will affect the diamond’s clarity. Internal characteristics are known as inclusions whereas external ones are known as blemishes and these imperfections are what determine the diamond’s clarity.
Inclusions and blemishes will affect the appearance of the gem, resulting in a grading system that determines just how flawless the diamond’s clarity is. When it comes to a diamond’s clarity, no diamond is completely pure and perfect, but the closer the diamond is to being completely pure, the more valuable and hence more expensive it becomes.
Many inclusions and blemishes are not perceivable to the naked and untrained eye as they are too miniscule. However, a diamond’s clarity plays an important role in the overall value of the diamond and even though many are not able to tell the difference, a diamond’s clarity rating is taken very seriously.
Diamond Clarity Classification
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is the world’s foremost authority on diamonds and this nonprofit institution is the leader when it comes to pivotal knowledge and standards of diamonds. From the diamond’s clarity, cut, color and carat, GIA is the number one institution when it comes to all things diamonds. As one of the most respected diamond institutes in the world, jewelers the world over have instituted GIA’s method of tagging diamonds based on the diamond’s clarity.
The GIA scale uses a 10x magnification and is as precise as one could possibly get when it comes to a diamond’s clarity. Most of the time, a diamond’s imperfections are not visible to the naked eye and even with magnification, can only be determined and picked out by a professional diamond grader.
The higher the diamond’s clarity grading, the more valuable it is. This is because a diamond with a high clarity rating contains less or zero inclusions and blemishes that will stand in the way of its ability to reflect light. The better a diamond’s clarity, the more reflective a diamond is and hence the more brilliant its shine. The diamond clarity scale from the highest to lowest grade is as follows.
- Flawless (FL)
Diamonds that are rated FL have no blemishes and inclusions under the 10x magnification and are the most sought after diamonds. These diamonds usually command a very high price as they are deemed flawless and contain no imperfections that will impede the diamond’s ability to reflect light and hence, affect the diamond’s clarity along with its brilliance and shine.
- Internally Flawless (IF)
Diamonds within this category have no inclusions under the 10x magnification and are the closest thing to being completely flawless. Diamonds rated IF are also highly sought after and command a high price as they are always brilliant and boast every quality one could possibly want in a top-notch diamond.
- Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2)
Diamonds that boast a diamond clarity of VVS1 and VVS2 have inclusions that are so minuscule and slight that even skilled diamond graders have a hard time picking out the flaws. Diamonds with this diamond clarity grading are expensive and whether they are wholesale diamonds, loose diamonds, or pre-set diamonds in a conventional jewelry store, are some of the most popular diamonds amongst buyers.
- Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2)
Diamonds with a diamond clarity of VS1 and VS2 have very minor inclusions and are characterized as such. Generally, gems with this diamond clarity grading contain small flaws such as cloudiness or crystals that can only be noted under 10x magnification and are undetectable by the naked and untrained human eye. Diamonds with this diamond clarity grade are very popular amongst buyers who wish to stay within their budget and not compromise on quality and brilliance.
- Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2)
This grade means that the diamond’s clarity contains inclusions that may be visible to the naked eye, although most of the time, they are not. The naked eye may be able to note the inclusions when they are still loose diamonds but these imperfections become less obvious once it has been set into a jewelry setting.
- Included (I1, I2, and I3)
A diamond’s clarity with this grade usually contain inclusions that are visible to the naked eye. Although less brilliant than its counterparts, diamonds with I1, I2, and I3 grades are still beautiful and the best part about them is that they come with a significantly lower price tag than the diamonds on the other end of the rating scale.
Choosing the Right Diamond Clarity
Whether one is choosing from a range of loose diamonds, wholesale diamonds or a pre-set engagement ring, there is denying that picking the right diamond is a challenging task, especially for someone who is not a professional in the diamond industry. However, there are certain tips and tricks that one should take into account when diamond shopping.
- First of all, one should ask the jeweler what the diamond’s clarity grade is on the GIA clarity scale.
- Once determined, one should use the diamond classification list above as a rough guideline to determine which diamond clarity rating is more suited to one’s budget and preferences.
- Once that has been determined, one should then examine the diamond and ensure that the diamond’s clarity contains no visible inclusions or blemishes to the naked eye.
- Diamonds without any inclusions will obviously command a higher price than diamonds with obvious flaws as inclusions affect the diamond’s clarity and hence, the diamond’s fiery brilliance.
- Generally when a diamond contains obvious inclusions or blemishes, it will affect the gem’s ability to reflect light from the surface.
- The less imperfections there are, the more light is able to be reflected, thus giving the diamond a more brilliant shine.
- Diamonds that are brilliant are more sought after than diamonds that appear dull.