A gemstone's clarity is related directly to its rarity. The fewer clarity characteristics, such as inclusions (internal flaws) and blemishes (surface defects) that a stone has, the rarer (and more valuable) it is. No matter what your ring buying budget, your aim should be to find a stone without blemishes, cracks or severe inclusions. In darker gemstones, you may find that blemishes are masked and you should remember that flawlessness in colored gemstones is even more rare than in diamonds.
Gemstone Clarity Types
The GIA (Gemological Institute of America) has a grading system which divides transparent colored gemstones into three clarity types, which enables gems to be evenly evaluated. However, each variety of gemstones has its own clarity standards - so read up on the type of stones you want! For example, tanzanite is virtually inclusion free, whilst emeralds almost always contain clarity characteristics.
Diamond Clarity Ratings
Whilst clarity ratings for diamonds may vary between diamond grading labs, the clarity ratings for the GIA are widely followed. They are as follows, in order of perfection:
- FL = Flawless - No internal inclusions or external irregularities visible under 10x magnification to a trained eye.
- IF = Internally Flawless - No internal inclusions but possibly tiny external irregularities in the finish visible to trained eye under 10x magnification.
- VVS-1 = Very Very Slightly Included 1 - Usually one very tiny inclusion visible only to a trained eye under 10x magnification.
- VVS-2 = Very Very Slightly Included 2 - Tiny inclusions visible only to a trained eye under 10x magnification.
- VS-1 = Very Slightly Included 1 - Some very small inclusions visible to anyone with 10x magnification.
- VS-2 = Very Slightly Included 2 - Several very small inclusions visible to anyone with 10x magnification.
- SI-1 = Slightly Included 1 - Small inclusions visible to anyone with 10x magnification.
- SI-2 = Slightly Included 2 - Several small inclusions visible to anyone with 10x magnification.
- SI-3 = Slightly Included 3 - Inclusions are visible to the naked eye of a trained observer.
- I-1 = Included 1 - Flaws that are visible to the naked, untrained eye.
- I-2 = Included 2 - Many flaws clearly visible to the naked, untrained eye that decrease the brilliance.
- I-3 = Included 3 - Many flaws clearly visible to the naked, untrained eye that decrease brilliance and compromise structure (more easily cracked or chipped).
Find out more about the other Cs:
Diamond Colour |
Diamond Caret |
Diamond Clarity |
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