Best Clarity Diamond Engagement Ring

The Ultimate Guide to Diamond Clarity Ratings: Unveiling the Sparkle

When you're in the market for a diamond engagement ring, the clarity of the diamond is a key factor that significantly influences its overall appeal and price. Diamond clarity refers to the absence of inclusions and blemishes – the fewer there are, the higher the diamond's clarity grade and consequently, its cost. This comprehensive guide aims to help you navigate the complex world of diamond clarity ratings and make an informed decision when purchasing your diamond.

Table of Contents

  • Basic Understanding of Diamond Clarity

  • Diamond Clarity Chart: Unraveling the Mystery

  • The Art and Science of Diamond Clarity Grading

  • The GIA Diamond Clarity Scale: A Detailed Exploration

  • Understanding Different Types of Inclusions

  • How to Choose the Right Clarity Grade

  • The Best Clarity Grade vs. The Best Clarity Grade for You

  • How Clarity Affects Diamond Pricing

  • Diamond Clarity Buying Tips

  • FAQs about Diamond Clarity

  • Why Trust Our Expertise

  • Conclusion

Basic Understanding of Diamond Clarity

Diamond clarity is one of the four primary characteristics, often referred to as the "4Cs", that determine a diamond's quality and price. The other three characteristics are color, cut, and carat weight.

In simple terms, diamond clarity grades are based on the presence (or absence) of inclusions and blemishes. Inclusions are internal flaws like air bubbles, cracks, or foreign particles, while blemishes are external irregularities on the diamond's surface.

It's worth remembering, however, that many of these imperfections are microscopic and not visible to the untrained eye.

Diamond Clarity Chart: Unraveling the Mystery

A diamond clarity chart provides a systematic way to grade diamonds based on their inclusions and blemishes. This chart ranges from "Included" (I) to "Flawless" (FL), with several subgrades that offer more details about the visibility of inclusions in the diamond.

Here's a basic breakdown of the common clarity grades:

  • Flawless (FL): These diamonds have no internal or external imperfections visible even under 10x magnification. They are extremely rare and, therefore, highly valuable.

  • Internally Flawless (IF): IF diamonds have no internal flaws but may exhibit minor surface blemishes under magnification.

  • Very Very Small Inclusions 1 and 2 (VVS1 and VVS2): These diamonds have minute inclusions that are challenging to see, even under magnification. VVS1 inclusions are usually invisible, whereas VVS2 inclusions can sometimes be barely visible under 10x magnification.

  • Very Small Inclusions 1 and 2 (VS1 and VS2): Diamonds in this grade have minor inclusions that are visible under 10x magnification but often invisible to the naked eye.

  • Small Inclusions 1 and 2 (SI1 and SI2): These diamonds have inclusions that are easily detectable under magnification. In many cases, these inclusions are invisible to the naked eye, especially in brilliant cut diamonds.

  • Included 1 (I1): Diamonds in this grade have inclusions that are obvious and clearly visible under magnification, and often to the naked eye as well.

The Art and Science of Diamond Clarity Grading

The process of grading a diamond's clarity is both an art and a science. It requires expert knowledge, meticulous observation, and a deep understanding of diamond growth and formation.

Five crucial factors influence the clarity grade of a diamond: size, nature, number, location, and relief of the inclusions. The larger, more numerous, and centrally located the inclusions, the more they affect the diamond's clarity grade and appearance.

In recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) has also found its place in diamond grading. Notably, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), a leading authority in diamond grading, has collaborated with IBM to develop an AI-based system for assessing diamond clarity.

The GIA Diamond Clarity Scale: A Detailed Exploration

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is a globally recognized authority in diamond grading. Their diamond clarity grading system is based on rigorous standards and decades of research and analysis.

The GIA diamond clarity scale is a universally accepted system that categorizes diamonds based on five fundamental factors: the size, nature, number, location, and relief of inclusions.

Understanding Different Types of Inclusions

Various types of inclusions can affect a diamond's clarity. Here are a few common types:

  • Cloud: This term refers to a cluster of tiny pinpoints that can give the diamond a dull or hazy appearance.

  • Graining: These are internal lines caused by irregular crystal growth, which can make the diamond appear hazy.

  • Cavity: These are surface dents or cracks in a diamond, which can appear colorless or colored depending on the type of minerals within the diamond.

  • Feather: These are small cracks that can either appear clear or capture light, giving off a white appearance.

How to Choose the Right Clarity Grade

When choosing a diamond, don't just focus on the clarity grade. Instead, choose the lowest clarity grade that still presents an eye-clean diamond. An "eye-clean" diamond is one where inclusions are not visible to the naked eye.

The best clarity grade for a diamond is seemingly straightforward. A Flawless (FL) diamond clarity grade is the highest possible grade a diamond can receive. However, it's not always necessary to aim for the highest grade.

In fact, many inclusions and blemishes are too small to be seen by anyone other than a trained diamond grader. To the naked eye, a VS1 and an SI2 diamond may look exactly the same.

How Clarity Affects Diamond Pricing

Clarity plays a significant role in determining a diamond's price. The fewer the inclusions, the higher the diamond's clarity grade, and consequently, its cost.

For instance, an SI1 clarity grade diamond may cost around $5,000, while an internally flawless diamond of the same size and quality could cost over $9,000. That's an 80% premium for a characteristic that doesn't impact how the diamond looks to the naked eye.

Diamond Clarity Buying Tips

When purchasing a diamond, remember these tips:

Don't overpay for clarity. A diamond with a VS1 or VS2 grade will likely be eye-clean just like a flawless diamond, but cost far less.

Aim for the Best Diamond Clarity. The best clarity grade depends on the shape of your diamond. Some diamond shapes are much better at hiding inclusions than others.

Review the diamond closely. Look for visible blemishes and inclusions. Note where they are on the diamond and how visible they are.

FAQs about Diamond Clarity

Which diamond clarity is best?

 The best diamond clarity grade is Flawless (FL) clarity. These diamonds are extremely rare, with no internal or external imperfections, even when viewed under intense magnification.

What is the best diamond clarity to get?

 Though Flawless/Internally Flawless is the highest diamond clarity rating, the best clarity to get is the lowest grade which appears clean to the naked eye, which can be anything from VS1 to, in some cases, as low as SI1 or SI2.

Is SI clarity good for a diamond?

 SI clarity diamonds can, in some cases, look as good under normal viewing conditions as a Flawless diamond. Inspect each diamond individually to be sure, as approximately 50% of SI1 diamonds qualify as eye-clean.

What clarity sparkles the most? 

Clarity has little effect on a diamond's sparkle (or, more accurately, its fire and brilliance). As long as the diamond's clarity grade is SI2 or higher, there should be no effect on the way it interacts with and reflects light.

Why Trust Our Expertise

Our CEO, Mike Fried, has over 20 years of experience in the diamond industry, starting from the bottom and working his way up to dealing with diamond retailers. He has written hundreds of articles and answered more than 30,000 emails from our readers, giving him a unique perspective on what information truly helps our readers in their quest for the perfect diamond engagement ring or piece of jewelry.


In essence, understanding diamond clarity and how it impacts the beauty and price of a diamond is crucial when buying an engagement ring. While it's easy to get lost in the technical details, always remember the most important factor regarding diamond clarity: whether you can see the inclusions with your naked eye once the diamond is mounted in the ring. In many cases, a lower clarity eye-clean diamond will look identical to a flawless diamond, assuming all else is equal, yet cost far less.

When in doubt, trust your eye and lean on the expertise of professionals in the field. Be sure to focus on online retailers that offer high-quality images of their diamonds, like James Allen and Blue Nile. This will make the process of reviewing diamonds for clarity easier, helping you avoid low-quality diamonds and identify those that offer the right combination of eye-clean clarity and great value for money.

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