Mineral Review

What is more important: clarity or color of a diamond?

When purchasing a diamond, you should determine your priorities:


Why is choosing a reliable certificate more important than the weight, clarity or color of a diamond?

  • Only a certificate proves the naturalness and absence of prohibited enhancements of the diamond. A synthetic or ennobled diamond costs 3-8 times less than a natural one, with the same weight, color and clarity as the natural one.
  • Only a laboratory certificate proves that the stone has the color, clarity and quality of cut that the seller claims

How to spot a fake diamond certificate

Although counterfeit certificates exist but are few and far between, in most bad purchases the customer faces one of three situations:

  1. The diamond is sold without a certificate, but only with a tag issued by the store (87% of sales)
  2. The diamond is sold with a certificate from a little-known laboratory, which usually depends on the seller, deliberately overstates the quality of the stone and is unable to determine its naturalness (10%)
  3. A certificate from a reliable laboratory is presented, but the stone does not correspond to it (3%)

Which laboratory certificates should you choose?

There are several other laboratories that may make a mistake on 1-2 positions, but their certificate should be accepted at a favorable price (since a possible small error is offset by the profitability of the offer)

How to determine that a stone does not comply with the certificate?

Only a gemologist can do this 100%. The client is recommended to check the number located on the girdle of the diamond during the preliminary inspection, before payment and after setting the diamond in a setting.

Additionally, it is recommended to compare the shape and relative position of the inclusions in the stone and in the picture of the certificate using a magnifying glass. A layman is not able to determine the quality of the cut and the color of the stone, but he can easily compare the location of the inclusions.

How to choose a diamond according to characteristics

If a diamond has a reliable certificate, what characteristics should you pay attention to?

Diamond color selection

The color of a diamond is the most important characteristic, visible from afar. The ideal color of a diamond, the whitest, is D. The last color, in which the stone still looks almost white, is N. The difference in cost between them, for example for a 1-carat stone, is more than 2 times.

Therefore, choosing the right diamond color depending on the color of the setting can lead to saving half of your budget. A white frame requires whiter stones; yellow gold allows you to save significantly by purchasing a stone with a yellowish tint without compromising the appearance of the product.

Selecting Diamond Weight

How to choose the carat of a diamond? Buying diamonds of borderline sizes, for example. 0.9 carats instead of 1.0 carats seems preferable at first glance, since when moving to another group in the Rapaport table, the price changes sharply.

In practice, when buying through an exchange dealer, it is often more profitable to buy a diamond weighing 1 carat, since the exchange dealer can search among thousands of diamonds of this weight and will find the one that is the cheapest at that moment, and there will be few stones weighing 0.9 and the hope is to find one of them with a big discount less.

The second advantage of buying diamonds of equal weight 0.3 0.5 0.7 1.0 2.0 is their high liquidity on the secondary market, of course, only with a reliable certificate.

Therefore, in order to choose the right diamonds, you must first determine the color and cut quality of the diamond and only then look for a diamond that fits your budget.

Selecting Diamond Clarity

The clarity of a diamond is determined by specialists under a magnifying glass with 10x magnification, and to select the clarity of a diamond, one must focus on the visibility of inclusions with the naked eye.

The purchase of ultra-pure IF VVS stones can be recommended to clients with a high level of wealth and in case of purchase for investment purposes.

Clarity I refers to inclusions visible to the eye, and before purchasing such stones, be sure to inspect them in person.

How to choose the clarity of a diamond? Depending on the type of decoration! For earrings Vs1, for a ring Vs2 or SI 1. If the budget is limited, you can allow SI 2 for the ring.

The clarity of a diamond is one of the main indicators that affects its value. The ratio of color and clarity of diamonds determines the price of a stone per 1 carat weight.

Natural diamonds often have small natural imperfections called inclusions. Cutters try to level out imperfections during processing so that they are less noticeable when cut. In good quality diamonds, most inclusions are microscopic in size and are not visible to the naked eye (without a loupe).

What is diamond clarity?

Diamond clarity is a quality metric that evaluates the appearance of each diamond. The fewer inclusions and blemishes a diamond has, the better its clarity. Clarity significantly affects the value of a diamond, although flaws in the stone are usually invisible without a magnifying glass and the help of a gemologist.

The most stringent evaluation and grading system is adopted by the Gemological Institute of America GIA. Scales from other laboratories are built according to a similar algorithm, but often have additional values ​​and other criteria.

In world practice, everyone is guided by GIA standards.

Diamond purity chart from the Gemological Institute of America. Source: GIA

According to their purity, diamonds are:

  • flawless (FL – Flawless)
  • internally flawless (IF – Internally Flawless)
  • very very small inclusions 1 (VVS1 – Very Very Slightly Included 1)
  • very very small inclusions 2 (VVS2 – Very Very Slightly Included 2)
  • very small inclusions 1 (VS1 – Very Slightly Included 1)
  • very small inclusions 2 (VS2 – Very Slightly Included 2)
  • small inclusions 1 (SI1 – Slightly Included 1)
  • small inclusions 2 (SI2 – Slightly Included 2)
  • inclusions 1 (I1 – Included 1) • inclusions 2 (I2 – Included 2)

Purity in the certificate is indicated by an abbreviation of the first letters of the meaning of purity. So, Very Very Slightly Included 1 is designated VVS1.

Diamond Clarity Values

Some very rare diamonds contain no inclusions at all. They are assigned the best diamond clarity FL or IF in the international classification GIA and 1 (Without internal and external defects) according to GOST.

FL – Flawless

No stains or blemishes of any kind – as perfect as a baby’s tear. Even under a microscope, a professional jeweler will not be able to see any flaws. Flawless diamonds are very rare, especially those of significant size – most jewelers have not even seen them in books.

IF – Internally Flawless

There are no internal inclusions visible within the stone, but an expert can detect tiny imperfections on the surface of the stone, visible under a 20x microscope. Ordinary people will not see anything, even under a microscope. The rarest, purest and, accordingly, the most expensive diamonds with Flawless and Internally Flawless clarity ratings.

VVS1 – one very, very small inclusion

Tiny imperfections are present, but they are so difficult to see under a microscope that they are practically non-existent. An expert will be able to detect very small inclusions inside the stone when looking at it under 10x magnification from below, from the side that will not be hidden by the jewelry.

VVS2 – 2 or more very, very small inclusions

Small inclusions inside the diamond can be seen by an expert when examining the diamond from above. However, you still need to know what and where to look for the stone pattern. You won’t be able to see imperfections without a microscope. Choose VVS1 and VVS2 diamonds if you want high quality. Inclusions will not be visible to the unprofessional eye even at 10x magnification.

VS1 and VS2 – very small inclusions

Small inclusions that are easier to see under a microscope. A layman, not knowing about them, will be able to see them with a magnifying glass, if they exist. In VS2, there may be inclusions that are quite obvious when viewed at 10x magnification. The diamonds will still be “clean” and free of any visible inclusions to the naked eye. You will find the optimal price/quality ratio in VS1 and VS2. These are clear diamonds with very small inclusions at 10x magnification. Diamonds up to VS2 fall under the investment quality characteristic.

SI1 and SI2 – small inclusions

It’s easy to see imperfections with a microscope, and sometimes even with the naked eye. The SI range can be a good compromise between affordability and quality, but it is best to inspect each specific stone you are considering purchasing to ensure it is free of blatantly visible inclusions. If you’re on a budget, choose SI1 and SI2 quality diamonds. These are diamonds with inclusions that are not visible to the naked eye with a magnifying glass, but are easily detected when magnified.

I1, I2 and I3 – noticeable inclusions

Flaws can be seen with the naked eye – you don’t need a microscope or magnifying glass to spot them. Approximately half of the diamonds on the market today are in Range I, meaning that 50% of the stones have noticeable flaws. You should avoid Grade I diamonds if you want your stone to appear clean and free from visible blemishes.

A jeweler who values ​​his reputation will never hide or enhance the clarity of a diamond. He will show the certificate and allow you to examine the diamond through a 10x magnification loupe or microscope.

How does a diamond’s clarity affect its value?

Without a loupe, diamonds with clarity ranging from FL to VS2 look the same. But the degree of clarity greatly affects the cost, because there are very few perfectly clean diamonds.

Diamonds without inclusions are rare. These minerals are formed at depths of 100-200 km at temperatures of 1100-1300 degrees Celsius. Together with the carbon from which diamond is formed, other chemical compounds melt and form inclusions. The larger the diamond, the more likely it is to contain particles of other minerals.

To show how clarity can affect the per-carat price of a diamond, we conducted an experiment using diamonds with identical characteristics. Only the purity indicator was replaced.

The table shows how the cost depends on the clarity of the diamond.

The values ​​in the table are very different. When you compare diamonds of other sizes and characteristics, this spread may be different.

Flawless stones are the most expensive. Then the price drops sharply. This must be taken into account when choosing, because in categories VVS1 and VVS2 only a jeweler will notice a defect under a microscope. The average person won’t notice anything even at 10x magnification.

Diamonds in the VS1 and VS2 categories are visually clear and their inclusions cannot be seen without a microscope. But they cost 45,2% less than flawless stones of the same size, color and cut.

Stones SI1 and SI2 may also turn out clean without a magnifying glass – depending on the specific specimen. They are 50% cheaper. If you find an SI1 stone without noticeable inclusions, the difference in price will cover part of the holiday costs. A good option if the inclusions in the diamond are on the bottom edge or on the sides. The inclusions will be hidden once the diamond is in the jewelry. The stone will look like a top-grade diamond if you don’t take a microscope. And no one carries them with them.

Diamond 1.01 carats, color F, Clarity IF, 3 Excellent. Diagram from GIA certificate and photo at 20x magnification.

Diamond 2.52 carats, color F, Clarity VS 2, 3 Excellent. Diagram from GIA certificate and photo at 20x magnification.

Diamond 1.81 carats, color F, Clarity SI 1, 3 Excellent. Diagram from GIA certificate and photo at 20x magnification.

Look at the pictures of the 3 stones. The purity of one is IF, the other is VS2, the third is SI1. All are magnified 20 times. Even at this magnification, the VS2 and SI1 look flawless. It will also look perfect in a ring. But not all diamonds have inclusions that are invisible on the face, so look at each stone individually.

Is it worth paying for a stone with no inclusions at all? It’s up to you, but if you ask us, it’s not worth it.

Diamond size and clarity rating

The larger the stone, the more likely it is to have inclusions. This is why large diamonds are so much more expensive than small ones. The visibility of inclusions determines the clarity grade of a diamond.

Natural Fancy Intense Yellow diamond weighing 30.6 carats with SI2 clarity. Dark inclusions are located in the middle of the stone.

Stones less than 0,50 carat VS2 will be clear. Most stones of the SI1 and SI2 categories are also clean, but you need to look more carefully at the location of the inclusions. If you buy online, ask for an enlarged photo. Diamonds from 0,50 to 1,00 carats grade VS2 and above will appear cleaner. Most SI1 stones should also be clean, but it’s best to check.

VS1,00 diamonds between 1,50 and 2 carats must be clear without a loupe. If you like the look of them, they may be the best deal for the price. In SI1 diamonds, inclusions will be visible to the naked eye. Stones larger than 2 carats in the SI1 category will definitely have visible defects – so look at the VS1 and higher categories.

So, the larger the diamonds, the more noticeable the defects, but this is considered normal. If you are looking at natural colored diamonds, be prepared to choose between clarity and size. There are very few natural, richly colored diamonds without visible inclusions. Or prepare an impressive budget. The larger the stone you choose, the higher the purity category should be.

How can you save on the quality of a diamond?

There are different shapes of diamond cuts. Purity manifests itself differently in different cuts.

In emerald and asscher cuts, inclusions will be more noticeable, since they are cut in steps, and the diamond platform is easily visible in depth. We do not recommend buying diamonds below VVS2 in clarity.

Emerald cut diamond 1.02 carats, color D, clarity VS1. Diagram from GIA certificate and photo at 10x magnification.

For round, pear and cushion it’s the opposite. The internal “pattern” and shine obscure the inclusions, making them less noticeable without a magnifying glass. You can find a beautiful SI1 stone.

1.30 carat pear cut diamond, D color, SI 1 clarity. Diagram from GIA certificate and 10x photo.

If you want to buy a beautiful diamond, but are looking to save money, choose a diamond with SI1 clarity with inclusions on the sides and/or bottom. When set in jewelry, these inclusions will not be noticeable, even if you see them without magnification in an unset stone.

Conclusions and advice from professionals

Chasing the purity of a diamond is stupid. Although it affects the cost, for professionals, the quality of the cut and color of the stone are more important. And for the buyer – how big a diamond can you afford (in carats) and high enough color. How brightly a diamond sparkles and its color is immediately visible. And inclusions in a stone are visible only upon close examination, even if it is a very “dirty” diamond.

Subscribe, Share and Remember – there are no diamonds that are too expensive, there are sellers who, taking advantage of your ignorance, want to sell you the most expensive.

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