The first C is clarity. This is not the most important but is generally the first item looked at in a stone to be rated. Clarity does not refer to the concept of “being clear” with reference to a diamond. Clarity refers to the purity of the stone and lack of visible defects.
These defects or flaws or as they are properly known, inclusions, may manifest themselves as dark, black carbon spots, white carbon spots, small cracks, “clouds”, feathers, or other areas of visible diffusion within a diamond or on the surface of the stone itself.
A truly flawless stone, one without any spots, cracks or inclusions, is very rare and extremely valuable. One can expect to find some flaws in most stones. The type of flaws, size of flaws, and location will have an effect upon the stone’s value. It is important to learn how to judge a stone for clarity.
A rating system for expressing the clarity of diamonds has been established. This rating system is based on the use of initials and numbers to identify what is a good stone and what is a bad stone.
The scale is as follows:
Flawless – no blemishes can be found.
VVS-1 – no flaws inside the table. Possible very small internal flaws outside the table. If any external flaws are present, must be very minor.
VVS-2 – very difficult to see flaws with 10x magnification power employed.
VS – 1 – flaws readily seen using 10x glass but almost impossible to see when the stone is viewed from from the back.
VS – 2 – the back looking down through the stone.
SI – 1 – flaws unable to be seen with the naked eyes but quite apparent using 10x magnification.
SI – 2 – inclusion may include carbon spots or clouds or feathers underneath the table or larger flaws outside of the table.
SI – 3 – some laboratories and jewelers will include an SI3 grading, which is an in-between of SI3 and I1.
I-1 to 3 – this is the least valuable group. They are heavily flawed and the flaws can be determined with the naked eyes. There are going to be internal flaws inside the table, maybe clouds, groups of carbon spots, feathers and/or cracks that can be seen with the eye.
VVS – Very, very, slightly imperfect
VS – Very slightly imperfect
SI – Slightly imperfect
I – Imperfect
A flawless stone is simply that. No flaw can be found even with the use of a 10x jeweler’s loupe or 10x microscope. As you go down the scale, the VVS-1 may have one very small inclusion, generally not in the table (which I’ll cover it later in the file) portion of the diamond but possibly on the edge. Again, this flaw is seen only from the front and only on using 10x magnification. It should not be visible to the naked eye.
As we get into VVS-2, there may be more than one flaw with magnification but they’re still extremely small. One small inclusion may be in the table area of the diamond.
Into the VS grades, the flaws become larger and more prominent than their VVS cousins. VS2 may have larger flaws or a number of small spots possibly located in the table of the diamond that group together and are almost considered one flaw. They are generally in the same area.
Note that flawless VVS and VS rated stones are rated when looking at the stone right side up with a 1Ox magnification device. If you pick up a stone that supposedly falls under one of these ratings and you can see inclusions with the naked eye, you’re not looking at a stone that is properly rated.
An Sl-1 rated stone will have inclusions that are very obvious under 1Ox magnification, but should still be borderline visible or not visible when viewed with the naked eye. The SI-1 stone may have these borderline visible, small dots or inclusions in the table or edge of the stone. An SI-2 rating will have larger flaws and probably more than one. These will be easily visible to the naked eye.
In the I grades, the stones can be considered either quite flawed or imperfect. Flaws are probably inside the table. There may be flaws of more than one variety, clouds, cracks or groups of black or white carbon spots will be visible. This last group of stones obviously are the least valuable and the least interesting for anyone trying to convert from cash to gems and back again. But if you’re on a tight budget and want bling for the best price, this is your to-go stone.