Your favorite diamond necklace is priceless, right? In a sentimental sense, maybe, but it had a price when it was purchased, and a price would be determined if you decided to sell it again. When it comes to placing value on a diamond (and certain other stones as well), the process depends upon the “four Cs”: carat, color, clarity, and cut. These methods are used by your Austin jewelry store and all other jewelry retailers.
In general, of course, clarity is a measure of how clear or transparent something is. When it comes to diamonds, there are two factors that can negatively affect clarity: blemishes, which may occur on the stone’s exterior, and inclusions, which are imperfections inside the gemstone. Blemishes may happen naturally, but they can also result from the polishing process or from stress on the diamond as it is worn. Inclusions are irregularities in the atomic structure of a diamond, such as clouding or feathering. They can occur for a number of reasons, such as a volcanic eruption that brings the diamond to the earth’s surface or one or more tiny mineral crystals that became trapped inside the stone as it formed. Some diamonds have no blemishes or inclusions whatsoever, although this is so rare that many jewelers have never seen a totally flawless diamond. For gemstones that do have blemishes or inclusions affecting their clarity, these marks are unique from stone to stone, like the birthmarks or scars on a human being.
Most diamond imperfections are invisible to the naked eye, and they can often be minimized even more in the process of cutting them gem, so clarity is the “C” that has the least impact on the overall value of a stone. When a diamond’s clarity is evaluated, it is done under 10x magnification, an industry standard., and attention is paid to the quantity, visibility, locations, and sizes of any imperfections are noted, along with their possible effects on the stone’s durability. Originally, there was no set scale to describe a diamond’s clarity, and many confusing and conflicting terms were used. The current industry scale was developed during the 1950s by Richard Liddicoat, Jr., a former president of the Gemology Institute of America. It consists of eleven ratings:
- Flawless (F1) – absolutely no blemishes or inclusions
- Internally Flawless (IF) – no inclusions, but minor blemishes on the stone’s surface
- Very Very Slightly Included, levels 1 and 2 (VVS1, VVS2) – having miniscule inclusions that are difficult to see at 10x magnification
- Very Slightly Included, levels 1 and 2 (VS1, VS2) – having minor inclusions ranging from difficult to see to somewhat easy to see under 10x magnification and on a white background
- Slightly Included, levels 1 and 2 (SI1, SI2) – having inclusions that are easily seen under 10x magnification on a white background and may be visible with the naked eye when viewed from the bottom of the diamond
- Included, levels 1, 2, and 3 (I1, I2, I3) – having obvious inclusions, which may be visible to the naked eye when viewed from the top of the stone
Major problems with a diamond’s clarity will be plotted on a grading report, and less significant imperfections will be discussed in the report’s comments. Viewing this documentation may help you select a particular diamond, and it’s especially important to pay attention to any internal feathering, which could potentially cause the stone to crack, depending on the feathering’s size and position. Remember that diamonds with very few or no imperfections are quite rare, meaning they’ll be more expensive, and remember that most minor blemishes and inclusions are invisible to the naked eye, and more significant problems may be lessened or eliminated altogether with the right cut of the stone.
At Copeland Jewelers, you can rest easy knowing that you’ll always get an honest, fair, and accurate evaluation of a diamond’s clarity. Our experts can help you choose the best stone for you, based on your target price and design ideas. We are always happy to help you understand the four Cs of diamonds!