When purchasing diamonds, there are four things to look for that help to determine their true value. These are known as the four C’s – Clarity, Color, Cut and Carat. Diamond clarity is the easiest of the four to evaluate and often the easiest for consumers to understand. Clarity simply refers to the appearance of the diamond and whether any inclusions and surface defects or blemishes are apparent. Inclusions can include tiny cracks that cause the diamond to appear cloudy or white in color as opposed to clear. Clarity grades are assigned to diamonds based on their appearance under magnification of ten times.
Inclusions in diamonds will not affect the performance or structural integrity of the stone. They will however affect the ability of the stone to transmit and scatter light which can cause it to be less brilliant. Large cracks in the stone, particularly those that are close to the surface, can reduce the resistance of the stone to fractures and cause it to be a bit less structurally intact. Those stones with higher diamond clarity grades are more valuable and stones with flawless grades are the most expensive.
When a professional evaluates diamond clarity, they look for blemishes and inclusions which create a fingerprint of the stone. The fingerprint of each diamond is what distinguishes each one as a unique stone. Inclusions can include crystals which are tiny minerals that have become trapped in the diamond while it was forming. Other inclusions include clouds and feathers. Clouds are spots on the stone that appear foggy. Feathers are tiny fractures and they typically do not cause a problem with the stone’s integrity. Larger cracks or feathers however tend to make the diamond less valuable.
Blemishes also contribute to diamond clarity. These are impurities that are on the surface or the outside of the diamond. To someone not trained in diamond evaluation, they may simply look like small scratches. They have less of an impact on the overall value of the diamond as well as its grade and beauty because they do not affect the overall structural integrity of the stone.
The globally recognized standard for clarity assessment is set forth by the Gemological Institute of America’s International Diamonds Grading System. The system provides 11 grades and classifies each stone based on the nature of the inclusions and blemishes as well as the position and size of the exclusions. Diamond that have the least number of flaws are graded higher and are more valuable. A truly flawless diamond is very rare and can be very expensive. Because flawless diamonds are so rare, internally flawless diamonds are considered to be the most valuable with their near perfection.
When purchasing diamonds, consumers should consider diamond clarity. Experts agree that consumers should work within their budgets and choose a stone that fits well with what they can afford. Once you know what you can spend, choose the stone that offers the least amount of blemishes and inclusions. It is important to remember that nearly all diamonds have flaws of some type. Finding a completely flawless diamond is going to be difficult to say the least.
When you are looking at diamonds that have many facets and brilliant cuts, it may be nearly impossible to tell the difference in diamond clarity as opposed to other cuts. Round brilliant stones for instance can look perfectly flawless but have internal blemishes that do not show. If you are purchasing brilliant cuts with many facets, it is nearly impossible to differentiate between a higher and lower clarity grade. This means that you can purchase a diamond with a lower grade and still have one that sparkles as it should when the light hits it.
When you are looking at diamonds that have unique shapes such as emerald cut stones, the inclusions are going to be much easier to see by those who are not professionals. These stones could show blemishes even to someone who has never evaluated a diamond. If you are concerned about overall diamond clarity, you can speak with a jeweler and learn more about how to look at diamonds to determine their overall value. While you may not be able to specifically grade a stone when you see it, you can learn to spot imperfections that are more evident than others. Experts recommend that consumers work with a professional and someone with experience in evaluating diamonds when choosing their stones. This ensures that you receive a diamond that has fewer inclusions and one that you will be happy with.