diamond clarity

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  • Why the GIA paperwork doesn't always tell the full story

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  • Fancy yellow diamonds

  • How different types of inclusion look under magnification

    When you look at a diamond certificate, you will often have a clarity characteristics line or an inclusion map with a key. This is telling you what the inclusions look like in your diamond and in the case of the inclusions map, where they are positioned within the stone.

    We can explore the different types of inclusions, including crystals, needles, feathers, and naturals. The first type of inclusion to consider is called a crystal. Some crystals can resemble a diamond within a diamond, and some can resemble bubbles. Some crystals can be so thick that they start to take on a darker and even a black appearance.

    A common inclusion type is called a cloud. This is a very broad term, as it means there is a collection of small inclusions close together. They can look, though, very different. If the diamond has a larger cloud, it may start to appear foggy or hazy, and this can have a significant effect on the appearance of the stone to the naked eye.

    A feather is probably the easiest type of inclusion to identify and to find. A feather is a crack or a fracture within the stone that has the appearance of a feather. These are caused by immense pressure as a diamond has risen through the earth's crust. They are nearly always white, and they vary significantly in size and shape.

    Needle inclusion: this is similar to the crystal inclusion, but as the name suggests, it is needle-like in shape. This type of inclusion is often white, and is very rarely visible to the naked eye.

    An indented natural is where part of the skin of the rough diamond is left on the surface of the polished stone and that then intrudes into the diamond.

    There are some other less common types of inclusions, such as twinning wisps. These are formed when a diamond stops growing and then starts growing again, maybe thousands of years later, but in a different direction. This change in grain leaves a mark in the stone, rather like the crown in your hair or a knot in a piece of wood.

  • Diamonds of the same clarity grade can look very different

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    Every GIA graded diamond has a clarity grade - however, these grades can be quite broad. At Samara James, we hand-pick diamonds which are towards the the top of each grade of clarity, rather than the middle or bottom. In this video we show why this is important.

    Video Transcript

    By definition, every single diamond is completely unique. This is why two diamonds, that may sound the same on paper, can look completely different in real life. One of the factors that makes a diamond unique is the clarity of the stone and, in particular, the nature and position of the impurities or inclusions.

    Every diamond has different types of inclusions, formed over billions of years. If you take a particular grade of clarity, for example SI2, you would find a range of diverse appearances from good to bad.

    If you select a particularly nice SI2 clarity diamond, there will be some inclusions visible under magnification, but these are not visible to the naked eye. But if you select a lower quality SI2, then the inclusions will be much more prominent and will be visible to the naked eye.

    Diamonds which have the same level of clarity will often be priced very differently, even though they are the same GIA clarity grade. Thus, prices for individual diamonds on the Internet can vary considerably, even if the certificate information appears identical.


  • Diamond clarity, what is it?

    Clarity grades are assessed at ten times magnification. The highest clarity grade is flawless, and this means there are no impurities in the diamond visible at ten times magnification.

    VVS1 and VVS2 is the next grade. VVS stands for very very small, and at this level the impurities will resemble five to ten microscopic specks of dust within the stone. This level of clarity is very rare, and you certainly can not see the impurities with the naked eye.

    After VVS on the scale is VS1 and VS2, where VS stands for very small. At this level the size and the quantity of inclusions are getting more frequent, although they are still not visible to the naked eye in a round brilliant cut.

    Below VS is SI1 and SI2. SI stands for small inclusions. This is the level where the inclusions are getting quite a lot larger and more obvious, and then can sometimes be seen with the naked eye. In fact, in general around 30% to 40% of the inclusions of an SI2 clarity diamond are visible.

    There are quite a lot of differences between individual diamonds which are graded at this level. It is therefore important to check the diamond from the side, because often the inclusion from above may be obscured by the facets in the crown, whereas from the side the inclusion could be easily visible. At Samara James, we only sell diamonds which we have checked are 'eye clean'.

    Beyond SI2 are the levels known as I1, I2, and I3. These diamonds do have obvious flaws when viewed carefully and are considered typical commercial quality. This means that most of the uncertified diamonds that, for example, you might find on the High Street will often be somewhere between a I1 and I2 level.

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