Unseen to the naked eye, a diamond's landscape and true characteristics are revealed when the diamond is viewed under a jeweler's microscope or loupe. Within this miniature landscape of unique and natural occurrences, there are tiny specks, ripples, and indentations embedded in the crystal, which identify your diamond much like a fingerprint. These imperfections are known as inclusions, and the degree to which a diamond is free from them determines the clarity and value of the gem.
The GIA Standard
The Gemological Institute of America is the creator of the diamond clarity standard for evaluating the purity of a diamond. The Clarity rating of a diamond is directly dependent on the size, type, number, location, hue, visibility (relief) and nature of the inclusions (internal) that exist within the diamond. The GIA standard for Clarity is based on 10X magnification.
The GIA system of clarity grading
Flawless (FL) have no external or internal imperfections; these are very rare.
Internally Flawless (IF) have very miniscule external imperfections and no internal inclusions.
Very Very Slightly Included(VVS1, VVS2) have minute inclusions which are very hard to detect with a microscope.
Very Slightly Included (VS1, VS2) have very small inclusions which are difficult to detect with a loupe by the untrained eye.
Slightly Included (SI1, SI2) contain slightly larger and greater amounts of inclusions than VS2, which are still difficult to see with the naked eye.
Included (I1, I2, I3) contain noticeable inclusions that can affect a diamond's brilliance and durability.
External Characteristics are Important
While focusing on the internal clarity of a diamond, one should be mindful of the diamond's external characteristics as well. Depending on their sizes, naturals, indented naturals, abrasions, and extra facets can play a significant role in the beauty and value of the diamond.
Avoid Large Inclusions
Higher quality diamonds have very few inclusions. For engagement purposes it would be advisable to avoid selecting diamonds that have large inclusions that can easily be seen with the unaided eye. Diamonds that have more inclusion than I3 level are considered "Rejection Class". These are diamonds so flawed that the GIA will not certify them.
In recent years, much of these Rejection Class diamonds have become candidates for Fracture Filling Clarity Enhancement procedures. This is a reversible process that uses inorganic fillers to artificially enhance the appearance of extremely poor quality diamonds that have large internal cracks and fissures. This treatment is very much like filling cracked windshields with chemical polymers to make the cracked fissures undetectable to the human eye. GIA only grades natural diamonds. They do not certify diamonds that are synthetic (man-made) or have been Clarity Enhanced.
Verify Your Purchase with a GTL
Unfortunately, in recent times, there have been efforts by unscrupulous dealers to provide counterfeit GIA GTL reports with Clarity Enhanced diamonds to defraud the public. Therefore, it is essential that the consumer verify their diamond purchase with a reliable diamond-grading laboratory. GTL has made the verification process easy by providing a Plot Plan of the natural inclusions of each certified diamond. Since it is virtually impossible for two diamonds to have the same exact set of inclusions, exact verification is achievable.
Buying Strategy for Clarity
When selecting a diamond, clarity is a very important attribute. While Flawless and VVS clarity diamonds are very rare, often you can find VS and good SI clarity diamonds that are just as beautiful without the high price premium. Of course, the cut quality of the diamond must be excellent in all cases in order for this to work. Otherwise, even if you have acquired the most colorless and flawless diamond, without a proper cut, it can still look as dull as a heavily flawed diamond. Take a look at DSD's Diamond Inventory for a wide selection of beautiful diamonds.