The Complete Guide to Diamond Clarity (2023)

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by Suzanne Sachs 5 min read




Diamond clarity, the judgment of a stone’s crystalline perfection, is graded based on both internal flaws as well as surface defects. But what exactly do the different ratings of clarity mean for stone quality? Understanding the diamond clarity scale can help you better classify a diamond’s perfection and decide if its quality is what you are looking for in one of these precious gems.


In this guide, we will explain the following:

  • Defining diamond clarity
  • Understanding the diamond clarity scale
  • Imperfect
  • SI1 and SI2
  • VS1 and VS2
  • VVS1 and VVS2
  • Flawless and Internally flawless clarity diamonds
  • What you need to know about judging diamond clarity
  • Number of flaws
  • Size of flaws
  • Surface flaws
  • Visibility
  • Brilliance
  • Positioning of the flaws
  • Understanding diamond clarity

Defining Diamond Clarity

While diamond clarity has always been recognized as a valuable trait for these precious gems, the standardized scale for grading diamond clarity was not introduced until 1953. Today, jewelers, gemologists, and lapidaries worldwide use the same scale to communicate diamond clarity so there is no confusion about the quality or condition of a stone.

diamond clarity

Understanding The Diamond Clarity Scale

• I1, I2, I3 – Imperfect

Deep inclusions are obvious and visible to the naked eye. These diamonds are not often used for jewelry, as their significant structural flaws weaken the stones and greatly diminish their value.


• SI1, Si2 Clarity – Slightly Included

Small flaws are readily visible at 10 times magnification, and may still be visible to the naked eye when closely examined. These stones are often used for engagement rings and diamond jewelry.


• VS1, VS2 Clarity – Very Slightly Included

These diamonds only show very small, minor flaws when viewed under 10 times magnification. Many cut diamonds fall into this clarity grade, and are popular for diamond engagement rings and other jewelry.


• VVS1 and VVS2 Clarity – Very, Very Slightly Included

Only very small, relatively insignificant flaws are detectable. These flaws are usually challenging to see even when magnified 10 times, and can be hard even for trained professionals to spot.


• IF – Flawless and Internally Flawless Clarity

These diamonds show no internal flaws or inclusions, but may still exhibit surface flaws such as chips or scratches. Many high quality vintage diamonds are labeled as IF due to years of wear that produces surface flaws.

Each flaw rating may also be accompanied by a number – I1, I2, I3, SI1, SI2, VS1, VS2, VVS1, VVS2 – to further quantify the overall stone clarity. High numbers indicate a somewhat more flawed stone, but not quite enough imperfection to be moved to the next lowest classification.

A freshly mined, newly cut diamond can have a higher clarity grade than the same stone may be rated after years of wear, particularly if it is not treated carefully or stored appropriately. Over time, small surface blemishes can develop, and if not repaired, may develop into more serious flaws as material penetrates into the diamond at that weaker point.


What You Need to Know About Judging Clarity

A diamond’s clarity is judged not only on the type of flaws, inclusions, or imperfections. In addition to the overall character of flaws, the following traits are all factored into the diamond clarity scale:

• Number of Flaws

Total number of flaws in the stone.

• Size of the Flaws

Size and composition of different flaws.

• Surface Flaws

How close to the surface flaws are, which impacts durability over time.

• Visibility

Visibility of the flaws, both to the naked eye as well as under magnification.

• Brilliance

How flaws affect a diamond’s brilliance or color.

• Positioning of the Flaw

Whether the flaws change what types of jewelry the stone can be used in. Another, more subjective factor is how different flaws may affect a diamond’s versatility and what types of jewelry pieces or setting styles it can be used in. Flaws that may have dramatic impacts on a stone’s durability or versatility will have especially strong influences on an overall clarity rating.


Understanding Diamond Clarity

When buying an engagement ring, a loose diamond or any piece of diamond jewelry, it is important to carefully read the gemologist’s clarity report to determine the nature of any flaws and how they impact the stone and its overall value. The better you understand the diamond clarity scale, the easier it will be to compare clarity between different stones as you make the best selection for your budget, visual preferences, and diamond investment.


Antique Engagement Rings For Everyone:

No matter which era is your favorite, these time-honored rings have a rich history and individualized character and will continue to have a timeless beauty and elegant appeal that is part of a legacy to pass on to future generations.

Find The Perfect Engagement Ring:

Antique diamond cuts are prized not only for their beauty but also for their exquisite attention to detailing and faceting. If you’re looking for a ring with a sense of glamour, sophistication and vintage charm, explore our collection of vintage engagement rings today!


Suzanne Sachs

Suzanne has always believed vintage rings can change lives. She's been in the jewelry industry for over 35 years, working with vintage jewelers, diamond dealers, diamond cutters, and gemologists. Suzanne started Artdecodiamonds in 2000 and understood the demand for vintage rings throughout the world. She ultimately started in 2014, and understands each vintage ring is a reflection of you – your history, your relationships, your style, your elegance and is honored to have the opportunity to help you showcase your flair in a unique and exquisite way.


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