Which Diamond Clarity is Best?

Man Inspecting Diamond
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You would be forgiven for thinking that the ‘best’ is always the classification to go for when purchasing a diamond. But this is overly simplistic and assumes that every other aspect of the diamond will be equally good! In fact, clarity – which refers to the light reflected back by the diamond, the amount of sparkle, if you like – is not the most important aspect of a diamond. Choosing an internally flawless/ flawless (IF/F) graded diamond that has been badly cut, is not a fashionable color, and is of a low weight can be a worse choice than a diamond that has been superbly cut to see better than its rating of (for example) VS1 (very small inclusion, first degree) in which flaws are only noticeable under x10 magnification. So, when does diamond clarity come into play, and which is the best rating?

How Do I Know…?

Broadly speaking, you cannot just look at diamond clarity. For more details, this site offers a clear and succinct breakdown of the classifications and choices to be made by a would-be diamond owner: www.pricescope.com/wiki/diamonds/diamond-clarity. But the four Cs all need to be considered rather than picking and choosing which aspects to focus on, as detailed above.

Why Are You Buying: for Investment?

In general, though, it depends upon the purpose of buying the diamonds. If the diamonds are an investment or form of hard currency liquidity, then the best clarity (along with suitably good cut, color, and carat weight) is desirable. Even quite small inclusions can make a big difference to the value of diamonds – and the inverse is equally true, so having as close to flawless as possible is a good way to ensure that your investment does not lose its intrinsic value.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Why Are You Buying: For Love or Pleasure?

If the diamonds are being bought for romantic reasons – engagement rings and other jewelry still account for a huge proportion of diamond retail sales worldwide – then you can afford to be a little more relaxed about your choice of diamond. Color gradations between D (which is as close to completely colorless as it is possible to get, highly desirable in a diamond) and H are easy for a jeweler to spot when seen under the right conditions, unmounted, against a white background and with magnification – and yet, those same stones, set into a ring, for example, will look identical to a prospective purchaser. Similarly, clarity – so important when setting the price of a stone – does not matter quite as much when the stone is mounted in a beautiful ring, brooch, or other settings.

What Makes a Diamond Shine?

This is because a diamond’s inner fire – that tantalizingly beautiful sparkle – comes from its reflectivity. A diamond will take on the colors of the world around it and reflect them within its carefully shaped facets and drawing the envious eye of those around! But, unless the clarity is seriously flawed, the sparkle will be unaffected, especially when the careful cutting and equally careful setting of the stone to show off its best aspects is considered.

In general, avoid stones with large, visible inclusions (apart from anything else, they will be brittle and prone to breaking) – these are usually rated I2 and I3 (included second and third-degree). Stone rated I1 (included first degree) should also be treated with caution unless your budget is minimal, and you are certain your setting will protect the stone while allowing it to shine as best it can. Just about any other stone should be acceptable for ‘domestic’ use. For investment purposes, stones rated VS1 and up should stand the test of time. If in doubt, look for GIA certification to be reassured that your diamond is of the quality promised.