Clarity refers to how free the diamond is of blemishes and inclusions when viewed with your own eyes and when viewed under lOX magnification. Blemishes are imperfections on the outside of the diamond, for example: pits, chips, nicks, scratches. Inclusions are inside the diamond: carbon, fractures, and breaks. The following scale is the GIA (Gemological Institute of America-I will give you more details on GIA later in the book) grading scale. You will use this scale to compare one diamond to another when dealing with your bridal jewelry.
Flawless: Free from blemishes and inclusions when viewed under lOX magnification.
Internally Flawless: Free from inclusions, but it might have some slight blemishes when viewed under lOX magnification.
VVSl and VVS2 (Very, Very Slightly Included): Has minute inclusions or blemishes the size of the head of a pin when viewed under
lOX magnification. VSl and VS2 (Very Slightly Included): Has inclusions or blemishes smaller than a grain of salt when viewed under lOX magnification. There can be no carbon, fractures, or breaks in a VS stone.
SI1 (Slightly Included): Has inclusions or blemishes that are larger than a grain of salt when viewed under lOX magnification. These inclusions can be carbon or fractures; 95 percent of all SIl diamonds are eye-clean. *
SI2 (Slightly Included): Has inclusions or blemishes that are larger than a grain of salt when viewed under lOX magnification. Some of these inclusions or blemishes might be visible without magnification when viewed.
I1 (Imperfect): Has inclusions and blemishes visible to the naked eye.
I2 (Imperfect): Has inclusions and blemishes visible to the naked eye that can make as much as 25 percent of the diamond appear cloudy or lifeless.
I3 (Imperfect): Has many, many inclusions and blemishes visible to the naked eye. A very unattractive diamond with very little luster or sparkle.
For recommendations of which clarity grade is for you, review "Step Four: Know What Kind of Customer You Are and What Quality You Should Buy." The average clarity grade purchased in the United States is, sadly, an 11 to 12. Most people purchase this quality unknowingly. Only lower quality diamonds are 11-12. Don't make the same mistake. Careful shopping will allow you to purchase an SI1 stone for the same amount that most 12 stones are sold for. On the following pages are some typical stones when viewed under lOX magnification.
- Chip: A little nick, a piece missing from the outside ofthe diamond. A chip can be caused through wear or during the cutting process.
- Scratch: A line or abrasion on the outside of a diamond.
- Fracture: A crack on the outside of the diamond.
- Polishing Lines: Lines on the outside of a diamond that were formed during the polishing stage of the diamond.
- Natural: A part of the diamond that was never polished, usually on the girdle.
- Extra Facets: Areas where additional polished surfaces are placed on a diamond that shouldn't normally be placed there. Example: The typical diamond has 58 facets; a diamond with an extra facet would have 59.
- Bearding: Very small little fractures on the edge of a diamond.
*Not possible to see inclusions or blemishes with your own eye when viewing the diamond without a jeweler's loupe or microscope.
- Carbon: A black spot or spots inside a diamond.
- Feather: Slight to heavy crack inside the diamond.
- Crystal: A white spot or spots inside a diamond.
- Pinpoints: Small dot-like spots in a diamond. (A pinpoint is smaller than a crystal.)
- Cloud: A group of pinpoints gathered together, giving the impression, in some cases, of one large inclusion. An untrained person will have a very difficult or impossible time trying to find the inclusions or blemishes in a VVSl, VVS2, internally flawless, or flawless diamond. Unless you're a gemologist, don't expect to. These top four grades will appear, to the average person, perfectly clean. You should only be purchasing one of these grades if you're buying the diamond for investment purposes. In my opinion, these grades are too high a quality to be worn. That would be like circulating a proof coin: it would ruin your investment. Diamonds can get abrasions or even chipped through normal wear and tear. Some people find this hard to believe. They say that since a diamond is the hardest thing in the world, that must mean it's very tough and cannot be damaged. The truth is that even though a diamond is hard (hardness being a stone's resistance to being scratched, and the only thing that can scratch a diamond is another diamond), that doesn't mean a diamond is tough (toughness being a stone's resistance to breakage). You see, a diamond can cleave in four directions, meaning it can be damaged. A diamond is the hardest thing in the world but not the toughest. And it is possible for someone to buy a VVS or flawless diamond and through normal wear lower the clarity grade to a VS or even a SI grade. I don't recommend wearing such a high grade diamond. But if you do decide to buy one of these grades, I highly recommend that the diamond purchase be accompanied by a GIA certificate. * Since I stated earlier that an untrained person can't pick out inclusions and blemishes with his own eyes, the GIA certificate will be your only guarantee that you are truly getting one of these grades.
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