Diamond clarity is the assessment of the imperfections on the surface and inside. Surface flaws are referred to as blemishes and internal flaws as inclusions. Some of these can be microscopic and do not largely affect the finish of a diamond but some are larger and more visible. Diamonds with the smallest flaws have the highest clarity grades. Clarity is one of the four c’s of diamond grading and quality assessment. Clarity is one of the more objective factors when choosing a diamond.
The grading scales are divided into six categories and eleven grades. Flawless diamonds have no visible inclusions even under magnification. Less than one percent of all diamonds are flawless and so they are incredibly rare. VS and SI (very slight and slight included respectively) are the best value. VS has inclusions under magnification and SI has inclusions that may be visible with or without magnification. The other clarity grade is VVS or very very slightly included which has inclusions barely detectable even under magnification.
There isn’t an awful lot between the grades, in all honesty it is dependent on diamond size and how good someone’s eyesight is, they may never notice the inclusions. The only truly tangible difference is the price, the higher the grade the more expensive the diamond. Location can also be a factor; an inclusion that’s hidden isn’t as bothersome as one that is front and center.
There are different kinds of inclusions termed internal clarity characteristics. Diamonds form underground in extreme heat and pressure and during this process, small crystals can become trapped inside which is the most common form of inclusion. A large amount of these crystals can only be seen under magnification. An irregular atomic structure can lead to gaining which is a growth in the structure; they look like lines or streaks but faint.
Twinning wisps are also caused by an irregular atomic structure; they are usually a group or cluster of another inclusion such as feathers or clouds. Diamonds can also have internal breaks or feathers (as this is what the resemble) which if located near the edge can make the diamond more susceptible to chipping. Small mineral spots usually black or white are also common, white being the better option because they can blend in more easily.
Pinpoint are tiny versions of these crystals almost impossible to detect. Clouds are then clusters of pinpoints combined to make a larger more noticeable flaw giving the diamond a hazy effect. Long thin crystals are referred to as needles and they are usually white and minimally invasive.
Blemishes, on the other hand, can occur at any part of the process, during the cutting, mounting or even just the wearing. Extra accidental facets or lines from polish burns are all examples of errors made during the manufacture of the diamond. Small nicks, scratches, chips or even abrasions are a result of wear and tear. Research can find some helpful diamond clarity chart and examples.