Clarifying Diamond Clarity

The way diamonds are graded can be very confusing to someone that isn’t an expert in diamonds. There are so many terms, and abbreviations that you may not understand as you begin to search for a diamond ring. (see our diamond color guide ) We have written this guide to assist you in understanding what the clarity of a diamond means and what to look for. So what is diamond clarity and which one is a good choice?

Clarity grades are determined by the amount of inclusions in the stone. While diamonds are naturally created within Earth, they gather tiny elements of carbon or boron and which results in inclusions. They look like small lines, marks, or even colored specks which have a direct impact on the clarity of the diamond.  The more visible the inclusions are, the more it affects the clarity grade and the value of the diamond.

What does it all mean?

Here’s a breakdown of all the abbreviations diamond sellers use to describe the clarity of the diamond. There are other grades below these clarity grades but these are the ones most commonly used:

  • F– Flawless – this is the highest clarity grade a diamond can get. “Flawless” grade means that there aren’t any inclusions on the diamond internally or externally. These types of diamonds are extremely rare and finding them can be very difficult.

  • IF– Internally Flawless – on the clarity scale, “Internally Flawless” comes next. The only difference between the two grades is the fact that (IF) diamonds have clarity characteristics on the surface.These diamonds have external inclusions without internal flaws and although they are not visible to the naked eye, once viewed under a magnifying glass they will appear on the surface of the diamond.

  • VVS– Very Very slightly Included – the next grade is divided into two categories. The first one is VVS1 which holds the highest grade of the two and has no visible inclusions at 10x magnification. Only by greater magnification will the inclusions be shown. The second category is VVS2. The inclusions on the diamond will appear with 10x magnification or with greater magnification than a VVS1 diamond. These two categories are known as “eye clean” because these inclusions cannot be seen by the naked eye.

  • VS–  Very Slightly Included – these diamonds are also divided into two categories. The first category Is VS1 which indicates that the diamonds have visible inclusions under 10x magnification, but at the same time it can be quite difficult to notice and locate them. The second category is VS2, which refers to diamonds with few visible inclusions under 10x magnification. These diamonds also do not have any visible inclusions to the naked eye.
  • SI– Slightly Included – This grade is split into two as well. These diamonds may have some inclusions visible to the naked eye, but we hand pick these diamonds to make sure the inclusions are in places where they will be hidden by prongs or won’t be as noticeable. SI1 and SI2 are both diamonds that have inclusions visible under magnification but almost always eye clean. SI2 usually has more inclusions and can sometimes be visible depending on the cut of the diamond.

How to know which clarity to choose?

You have to take into consideration your budget, size of diamond and cut of diamond. Not everyone can afford a flawless clarity diamond and it is not necessary for everyone to purchase the most flawless diamond. When you choose a diamond on the smaller side, you can also get away with a lower clarity rating because inclusions are less noticeable on smaller diamonds. If you are going with a larger diamond the inclusions may be more noticeable. The cut of the diamond also plays a part in what clarity you should choose. If you choose a diamond with more facets like a round brilliant or oval, inclusions tend to be way less noticeable because of how they are cut. If you choose a step cut diamond like an emerald or an asscher cut diamond, inclusions will be more noticeable because there are less facets on the diamond. In this case you’ll want to go with a better clarity. Got any more questions about diamond clarity? Our diamond experts are always happy to answer any questions. Send us an email at and we’ll help you out.