A picture really is worth a million dollars.
I could talk about Inclusions and Flaws in a Diamond all day. I could explain Clarity and how it affects the beauty of a Diamond. But until you dive in and grab a microscope, you’ll never really understand it all.
It won’t click until you see it with your own eyes.
So that’s what I’ve done today. I’m showing you Inclusions and Flaws and Imperfections in Diamonds, magnified 10x (ten times) like you’ve never seen them before.
You’ll actually see what a Diamond looks like under a 10x powered Jeweler’s Microscope, and then you’ll also be able to see what the Clarity looks like on a Diamond Plot (I’m using GIA for all of these examples).
I’m going to show you Diamonds in most of the Clarities available on the web. I’m going to explain them so you can really grasp what Inclusions are, what to watch out for, and what the best Clarity to buy is.
Real Diamonds, Real Inclusions, Real Clarity!
Credit, where Credit is due
Before we begin let me give credit where credit is due. The detailed images of Diamonds and Flaws used in this post are obtained through James Allen who has been kind enough to allow me to use their high-res photos for teaching and training purposes.
James Allen has one of the largest online selections of Loose Certified Diamonds you can find, and they are the only Jeweler to not only show you the actual Diamond Certificate (this is the limit most companies will go), BUT they are the ONLY Jeweler to show you the actual Real Diamond, magnified, microscoped at 10x power (what Diamonds are graded with) and photographed so you can see all the Flaws and Inclusions with your own eyes.
It really is amazing!
Their Virtual Loupe is cool to use and very impressive. Take a look…
So now, let’s jump in and take a look at some Flaws…
I have left out Flawless (FL) Diamonds and I2 and I3 (Included Diamonds Level 2 and 3) from the list because they are the very top of the line (extremely expensive and very rare) and the bottom of the bucket (lowest 2 Clarity Grades on the market). Most of what you’ll find available are the Clarity Grades in between, which are below. So let’s look at them…
Internally Flawless Clarity
Internally Flawless Diamonds are probably the Best Clarity of Diamond that you’ll find in any local Jewelry Store. And even then, only expect to see one, maybe two of them (James Allen has 877 in stock).
The only difference between Flawless and Internally Flawless Diamonds are that Internally Flawless Diamonds have zero Flaws inside the stone, but the outside of the stone may contain some small blemishes like Polish Marks, Slight Abrasions, Nicks, Naturals or Trigons.
These small Flaws are almost impossible to see or detect even under a 10x microscope.
It takes practice and training to pinpoint these minor defects.
Here is what an Inclusion in an Internally Flawless Diamond looks like.
And here, is what the GIA Diamond Report for that Internally Flawless (IF) Diamond looks like.
See any Inclusions? Neither do I.
This Diamond is very impressive!!! There really is nothing to see but sheer beauty and sparkle.
Here’s the rest of the Diamond Quality and the price…
Internally Flawless Price
VVS1 is a stunning Clarity to have. You’ll only find a couple of very tiny Flaws in a stone of this quality. A very faint Feather, a tiny Pin Point, a Crystal…
They are breathtaking stones and lovely Diamonds to own.
Take a look at the Diamond below…
Now let’s see what a VVS1 GIA Diamond Certificate looks like…
See those tiny marks on the Certificate Plot? They are just about impossible to locate in the real stone.
Here’s the rest of the Diamond Quality and the Price of a VVS1 Diamond.
VVS1 Clarity Price
VVS2 is pretty much the same as VVS1 except it may have a few more Inclusions and they may be slightly larger. But trust me, these are both exceptional stones and to most, they’ll look perfect, because to most, under a scope, they still won’t see any Flaws in the stone.
Take a look at a VVS2 Clarity Diamond…
Now let’s see the actual GIA Diamond Certificate for that VVS2 stone…
Here’s the Price and rest of the Quality for the VVS2 Diamond…
VVS is very clean, very beautiful – cream of the crop.
VS1 Clarity is one of the best Clarity of Diamonds to buy, and here’s why: The Diamond is very clean, there are only a couple of tiny distinguished Flaws in the stone, but they are easier to identify than any of the higher clarities (VVS, IF, FL).
I like to be able to spot a few Flaws under the microscope. I can scope my stone at any time and know it’s mine. If you try to scope a Flawless Diamond, you won’t see anything in the stone so you’ll have no reference points.
With VS, I can look at the stone under magnification and say “Yep, that’s my stone!“
Take a look at a real VS1 Clarity Diamond in the image below…
Now let’s look at the Diamond Certificate and the Diamond Plot…
That’s awesome Clarity! They have just a few identifying marks that make them easy to memorize.
I highly advise buying VS Clarity Diamonds. You’ll love the Clarity, love the look and love the Diamond. :)
Take a look at the Price of this VS1 Diamond below…
VS1 Clarity Price
VS2 Clarity is just as good as VS1. The Flaws are slightly bigger or maybe a little bit more frequent or maybe even just closer to the center of the stone. But really, it’s just as beautiful to look at.
One of the best things about buying a VS2 Diamond over a VS1 Diamond is the price. Why not save a few bucks if you can’t see the difference unless you microscope them. And even then, it’s pretty darn close.
Take a look at what a VS2 Diamond looks like…
Now let’s take a look at a VS2 Diamond Plot…
Simply beautiful! You’ll notice a few Flaws, nothing big. A couple of lines, crystals and very small Inclusions are normal for a VS2. They help you identify the stone.
I can’t tell you enough how much I LOVE VS Diamonds. It’s what I would buy if I were purchasing a Diamond and especially a Diamond Engagement Ring.
Here’s the price of a VS2 Clarity Diamond and the rest of the quality…
VS2 Clarity Prices
SI1 Clarity means Slightly Included. SI1 is the most popular Clarity Grades on the market for 2 main reasons:
1) The Flaws are Microscopic
2) The Price is Right
Any Diamond with a Clarity of SI1 (read SI1, NOT SI2 or in some cases SI3) will have Inclusions that are NOT visible to the naked eye (unaided). They will be virtually invisible unless you use a Jeweler’s Loupe or a 10x Microscope.
What this means is that you could put an SI1 Diamond up against any Clarity higher (even a Flawless Diamond) and the Clarities would look identical. You would not see a difference. Never!
All the Flaws and differences are only visible when you microscope them.
That’s why SI1 Diamonds are so awesome. It’s true that the Flaws and Inclusions get bigger and more abundant, and to an untrained eye under a scope they do get pretty noticeable (as in the image below), but they still face up quite well and are still considered eye clean.
Take a look at a real SI1 Diamond image…
This is where you’ll really start to notice Inclusions and see what they really are. SI1 has easy to spot Flaws under the scope.
Now take a look at the GIA Certified Diamond Report that goes along with that stone.
See how easy those Flaws start to stand out?
But, like I said, when the Diamond is in a Ring on your finger, you’ll never see those Flaws (unless it’s not Certified, or Certified by a more lenient and lax Certification Company – GIA or AGS are the best!).
Now for the fun part. The Price…
SI1 Clarity Price
Sticking in the SI Clarity Grades we move onto SI2…
SI2 Clarity is still fine when you’re buying a Diamond, but iffy if you’re buying an Engagement Ring and here’s why…
SI2 splits all the different Clarities into 2 groups. Visible Inclusions – Invisible Inclusions.
Anything SI1 or higher, all the Inclusions will be invisible to the naked eye. Any Clarity I1 or lower they will be visible just by looking at the stone. SI2 is the borderline Clarity that will have both types of Inclusions, Visible and Invisible.
The true definition of an SI2 Diamond is this: From the top view (looking directly down into the Table), you won’t (or shouldn’t) see any Flaws or Inclusions with the eye.
BUT, from the side view (turning your Diamond so you can view it from the side), you WILL be able to spot them. You may see Black Spots, Lines, Clouds, Crystals, Chips, Fractures… from the side view only.
That’s the true definition, but I’ll guarantee you that if you shop and compare SI2 Diamonds all over town, you’re bound to find some SI2 Diamonds that do have eye visible Inclusions from the top view. This is why if you buy SI2, it’s vital that you buy only GIA or AGS Certified SI2 Diamonds. Just to make sure it’s a true SI2 and not a lower Clarity rounded up (Grade Bumped).
SI2 is questionable and you really need to scrutinize every single Diamond you buy.
I say buy only GIA or AGS because they are the top 2 in the country and are very strict in their Gradings and very accurate!
Take a look at what a real SI2 Diamond looks like…
See how the Inclusions get bigger in the center of the stone?
Now see what an SI2 Diamond Plot looks like on a GIA Certificate…
As you can see, the Flaws get much bigger, darker, lean towards the center and are more abundant.
The great thing about SI2 Clarity is the bargains… You save a lot of money!
Check out the SI2 Diamond price below…
SI2 Clarity Price
It’s not difficult to see that some of these Flaws might be visible just by looking at the stone.
But, if you want to see real Flaws… Check out I Clarity Diamonds…
I1 Clarity Diamonds
I Clarity is like a box of Cracker Jacks, you’ll never know what surprises you’ll get.
Flaws in an I1 Clarity Diamond are pretty visible, pretty big and may even make you gasp. Flaws this big can also make a Diamond vulnerable to Chipping or Breaking! The more Flaws a Diamond has the weaker the Diamond becomes.
Check out what this I1 Clarity Diamond looks like…
It’s an eye opener isn’t it?
And it’s a real eye opener to know that a good portion of these Flaws are noticeable just by glancing at the stone – no microscope needed.
So your fiancee will look at her Diamond and chances are good there’ll be a huge black spot staring back at her. Not a pretty sight!
Most women don NOT want to see this!
Check out a real I1 Clarity Diamond Plot below.
Now not all the Inclusions in an I1 Clarity Diamond are black Inclusions (looks like pepper) that stand out like a sore thumb. Some are white Flaws that blend in with the Diamond better and aren’t so obvious. Some Flaws are Cracks, Chips, Cloudy Areas, Pits… But if you look good enough, you’ll see them.
The best trait about I1 Clarity Diamonds is the price. You will save tons!!! But you also get what you pay for.
Check out the price of an I1 Clarity Diamond below…
I1 Clarity Price
The Bottom Line
Don’t buy a Diamond if you don’t view the Inclusions (you could end up getting a Diamond like the I1 Clarity). You should also buy a Diamond that’s GIA or AGS Certified. And, you must shop and compare prices.
Some of the best prices and best deals that you’ll find anywhere are online with James Allen. Check them out, view the Diamonds with their very cool Virtual Loupe, see the Inclusions and be able to make a much better buying decision.
If you need any help in selecting a stone or info about quality, send a question to my Diamond Guide Q&A and I’ll be sure to respond.