DIAMOND CLARITY GRADES (GEMOLOGICAL INSTITUTE OF AMERICA - GIA)

GRADE

DESCRIPTION

IMPORTANCE

F - FLAWLESS

As it implies, no defects internally and no surface defects, graining, or surface naturals or defects in cut or polish.

Very rare and somewhat subjective; only applies to 10x magnification. At high magnification all natural diamonds have some defect.

IF - INTERNALLY FLAWLESS

No visible inclusions at 10x magnification; some slight surface defects; surface graining or naturals; imperfections in cut and/or polish

Usually the highest grade given; in large, high color grade diamonds will have impact on investment value as these are rare - priced accordingly. This is becoming a popular choice to celebrate the millennium; prices about $15,000 for 1 carat in EF color, higher for D. Don't settle for anything less than a perfect cut (make).

VVS1/VVS2 - VERY, VERY SLIGHT INCLUSIONS

Inclusions are very difficult to detect at 10x magnification; have no effect on brilliance.

Probably the best diamond you would want to set in jewelry. The flaws are so minute that you will never find them. These grades usually have the highest quality of cutting as befits their clarity.

VS1/VS2 - VERY SLIGHT INCLUSIONS

Inclusions are difficult to detect at 10x magnification; have no effect on brilliance.

This is the best grade I would advise purchasing; anything better is really unnecessary as the very tiny inclusions at this grade still have no effect on brilliance although there may be slightly less emphasis on perfect cutting as with above grades.

SI1 - SLIGHTLY INCLUDED, COMPLETELY EYE CLEAN

Inclusions are detected at 10x magnification; have no effect on brilliance. Should not be visible when viewed from top with naked eye.

This is probably the best grade in terms of "bang for the buck". It is the grade I recommend for engagement rings as it allows one to purchase a bigger stone with better color. It is also the grade given in many over-graded diamonds. While inclusions are visible with magnification, giving you a "fingerprint" to identify your diamond, they will not be visible to the naked eye when the diamond is mounted, even under the closest examination.

SI2 - SLIGHTLY INCLUDED, POSSIBLY EYE VISIBLE

Inclusions are easily detected at 10x magnification; may have a slight effect on brilliance. Will be visible when viewed from top with naked eye in good light; should not be obvious when viewed under normal wearing conditions.

 

This is a good clarity when the wearer is involved in the purchase. You will see inclusions which are part of the character of a diamond and again give you a "fingerprint" for identification. The inclusions may be a group of small white feathers or a hairline fracture on the bottom or edge (girdle). There may be a small black spot (carbon) near the girdle that will be covered by a prong when mounted. There may also be a peppering of tiny carbon specks which are not outwardly visible but beware; these can give the diamond a grey or dark cast. Under no circumstances should inclusions break the top surface of the diamond a be visible when viewed in sunlight like you would a window to see if it is clean. There is a wide range of cutting quality at his grade and a well cut SI2 will look better than a poorly cut SI1.

I1 - INCLUDED, EYE VISIBLE IN GOOD LIGHT

Inclusions are obvious at 10x magnification; may have an effect on brilliance. Will be visible when viewed from top with naked eye in good light; may be visible when viewed under normal wearing conditions.

 

This is a good clarity for earrings, pendants and bracelets although I sell many diamonds in this grade for rings when the wearer is seeking size and color within a price range. As with the SI2 grade there is a wide range of cutting quality here and a lot of I1s are very poorly cut. A poorly cut diamond is almost never a bargain at any price as you lose the beauty of the gem while a well cut I1 diamond with inclusions that will be obscured by prongs can be one of the best bargains around. As with SI2s, watch for carbon peppering as well as cloudy areas. Larger concentrated inclusions will have less effect on brilliance. This grade will pick up some surface breaking inclusions. In my opinion if an inclusion breaks the surface of the table (top facet, visible when viewed across the table) then the diamond falls below I1 - surface breaking inclusions may be visible on the smaller facets (star & upper).

I2 - MORE INCLUDED, EYE VISIBLE IN MOST CONDITIONS

Inclusions are obvious without magnification; usually have an effect on brilliance. Will be obvious when viewed from top with naked eye in good light and visible when viewed under normal wearing conditions.

This grade should be reserved for earrings in which case they are not noticeable when worn although they will affect the brilliance but again a well cut I2 will look better than a poorly cut I1. This is the grade that will pick up surface braking inclusions on the table or clouds which severely affect brilliance. Again larger strategically located inclusions usually have less effect on brilliance than many smaller ones.

I3 - VERY INCLUDED, OBVIOUS AT ANY VIEW

Inclusions are very obvious without magnification; usually have an effect on brilliance. Will be obvious when viewed under normal wearing conditions.

You can really see some ugly diamonds in this grade. If you are looking purely at price they might offer some possibility; personally I would save my money and buy something better. Don't expect this grade to rise in value; there are probably tons of it out there and as cutting becomes more automated the price is actually dropping.

PROMO (NOT A GIA GRADE) MORE INCLUSIONS THAN DIAMOND

Cloudy, opaque, often referred to as "snow cones" only relationship to diamond is hardness.

Should never have been cut; best used for sandpaper and industrial applications. Unfortunately very common in cluster jewelry and low cost bracelets. Has no value when removed from settings which are usually poor quality and break down quickly. SAVE YOUR MONEY!

CALL (904)-642-8341 or EMAIL to diamonds@jewelry1.com

RETURN TO JEWELRY1.COM HOMEPAGE

copyright 1999 JHC