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The 4 C's: Clarity

Welcome to part three of my four part series on The 4 C’s! Simply put, the 4 C’s are a mnemonic device used to characterize a faceted diamond – carat, cut, clarity, and color! Comfortability with these characterizations are really important when choosing a diamond because you want a beautiful one to grace her finger! Last week, we delved into the importance of Cut ( ), and this week, we examine Clarity!

Prior to Robert Shipley (founder of The Gemological Institute of America ) creating the 4 C’s, every diamond seller had their own standards and language to describe a diamond’s characterizations. This made things confusing and very difficult for consumers to know what they were buying. Since their inception in the 1930’s, the 4 C’s have become a globally accepted standard giving consumers confidence in making a diamond purchase!

A diamond is graded under 10x magnification and will have one of the following grades:

  • Flawless (FL) - No inclusions or blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification

  • Internally Flawless (IF) - No inclusions and only blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification

  • Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) - Inclusions are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10× magnification

  • Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) - Inclusions are minor and range from difficult to somewhat easy for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification

  • Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) - Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader under 10x magnification

  • Included (I1, I2, and I3) - Inclusions are obvious under 10× magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance

*Inclusions are inside the diamond, and blemishes are on the surface of the diamond*

An important aspect of clarity is relief or contrast. Inclusions can be black, colorful, or clear depending on the type. I recommend a diamond with clear inclusions, as the black or colorful inclusions can be visible to the naked eye and stick out like a sore thumb, like an ink stain on a white shirt!

One thing to consider is that a diamond with a black inclusion and a diamond with a clear inclusion can have the same Clarity grade. That is why it is SO IMPORTANT to see a diamond in person, preferably with a microscope, BEFORE you buy one! I am a Graduate Gemologist who has been trained to grade diamonds and read lab reports, but even I would never buy a diamond without seeing it in person!

Inclusions are not always bad, though! If they are not prohibiting the beauty of a diamond, inclusions can be fascinating, even enhancing a diamond! I have seen an inclusion that looked like the profile of a humming bird which made the humming bird enthusiast very excited! I sold a ‘pregnant diamond,’ one with another diamond crystal inside the diamond! Inclusions are also a great way to identify your particular diamond because of the size, shape, color, and placement of inclusions are unique to each diamond.

Due to the nature of inclusions, I can’t stress enough how important it is to see a diamond in person before you buy it! Just as you can’t get an accurate view of a person based entirely on their online dating profile, it is very difficult to know what kind of diamond you are buying based solely on its online profile.

I know that diamond and engagement ring shopping can be intimidating, and a bit overwhelming to some. With my education, I’d love to help guide you in choosing a ring that you are confident and proud of! Book your appointment in my private showroom that is safe and clean! Why shop with the crowd when you don’t have to?

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