When picking out the perfect diamond, there are many things to consider. What color diamond are you looking for? What cut do you prefer? What carat weight can you afford? And what clarity of diamond? A diamond’s clarity is essential to the overall beauty and appearance of the finished ring. Knowing what clarity characteristics to look for in a diamond is very helpful in finding the perfect ring.
Inclusions and Blemishes Are Not Flaws
The clarity of a diamond is crucial when determining the stone’s value, as well as its appearance. It is easy to assume that a diamond that has inclusions and blemishes is flawed and therefore less beautiful. However, this is not the case. Inclusions are often caused during the formation of the stone, or during the cutting, polishing and setting process. It can also be a result of wear and tear.
They can be within the diamond or on the surface. In most cases, blemishes are only seen on the surface. Gemologists look at these characteristics as a way to identify the natural diamonds from the synthetic diamonds. Each stone has its own unique variety of both inclusions and blemishes, therefore, these characteristics are what make each diamond special. There are 16 different types of inclusions and 11 types of blemishes that are most seen in diamonds.
Less is More
A diamond that has little or no clarity characteristics is a rare find. Of course, these types of diamonds are more expensive, as they are considered “flawless.” A flawless diamond is so rare, in fact, that some jewelers may never see one. Most diamonds that have inclusions are noticeable to the naked eye. Yet, some diamonds have inclusions that are only visible with the help of magnification.
The characteristics of clarity within diamonds can be seen easier depending on its cut. For instance, the emerald cut contains long rectangular facets that make any inclusions easy to find, compared to a round brilliant cut. The larger a diamond’s clarity features are, or if the facets are mirrored, the more visible the inclusions will be, despite the cut. In certain cases, a diamond can be recut and polished in order to remove some of the inclusions.
The Diamond Clarity Scale
Diamond clarity is graded on a scale of 11 different grades for natural diamonds. This scale goes from flawless to included. Flawless refers to the diamond having no visible inclusions or blemishes. Internally flawless means that the diamond has no inclusions, but has minor blemishes that are only visible under magnification.
Very, very slightly included means that there are minor inclusions ranging from extremely difficult to see without the help of magnification. Very slightly included is the next grade scale that refers to small inclusions that are difficult or somewhat easy to detect under magnification.
The slightly included grade scale refers to very easy to see inclusions under magnification. The last three grade scales are included (levels one to three), which means that inclusions are visible under magnification as well as with the naked eye.
How Clarity is Graded
There is a process that grades a diamond’s clarity. It involves looking at the diamond under specific lighting, under certain angles and using precise measurements to make sure that the diamond is examined to be properly graded. A grader must take several things into account when looking to grade a diamond, such as size, number, location, relief and nature.
In reference to size, if the factors of the diamond are equal, then the inclusions will be larger and more noticeable, making the clarity a lower grade. If the number of factors are equal, this means that the inclusions will be visible under magnification. The location of these inclusions relates to its position. If, for example, an inclusion is in the center of the diamond, it will be visible and affect the clarity grade.
The relief demonstrates the difference between inclusions and the brightness of the diamond. Nature references the clarity characteristics, such as the type of inclusions and blemishes that the diamond contains. All of these factors greatly affect the grade of the diamond. While stones can have many inclusions, it may still rank higher on the clarity scale. Blemishes, however, do not often affect the grade as these can be removed after being polished.
Important Things to Note
In certain cases, a manufacturer will try to improve the clarity of a diamond by using different treatments. One way to accomplish this is by laser drilling, which removes or lightens inclusions within the stone by dissolving these spots. The overall effect is more visually appealing but it can affect the clarity as the drill hole can cause another inclusion.
Fracture filling is another treatment that fills fissures, fractures and drill holes that are on the stone’s surface. It does not completely clear the fracture or improve clarity, it merely makes the imperfections less noticeable. This treatment is not permanent either, as stones treated using these procedures can become damaged when cleaned or exposed to heat.