What Diamond Clarity Should I Buy?


Firstly what exactly is diamond clarity?

One of the first things we must clarify (no pun intended) is exactly what ‘diamond clarity’ means. Diamonds are graded for clarity, according to the presence of natural marks or inclusions within the stone. Inclusions can be present in varying concentration, ranging from a complete absence of any marks (flawless) to very heavily included (I3) at opposite ends of the scale. In between we have several grades, some of which will be academically different, not apparently different to the untrained and naked eye, but will demand significantly different prices by comparison.

What diamond clarity should I buy?

This question that most people will ask themselves, in the early stages of buying a ring. The complexity of diamond grading makes a simple exercise of purchasing an engagement ring extremely difficult. Without some prior knowledge, how is it possible to choose the right diamond? There are certainly some very serious implications for being ignorant of how diamonds are valued. The most obvious will most likely be the cost.

Most people, with some fundamental knowledge of how diamonds are priced, will appreciate this is determined by what are known as the four C’s. These are colour, clarity, cut and carat weight.

The clarity of a diamond is probably the easiest factor to over-spend on. When we refer to over-spending, we must define exactly what we mean. Many people buying an engagement ring are looking for a diamond that fulfills the idea of what a diamond should be, this being a bright, white stone, clear to the eye, with plenty of fire. It is very difficult to judge just how good the diamond clarity needs to be. If the chosen clarity grade is higher than necessary, the resulting price could realistically be far higher than it needs to be. Some people like the reassurance that they have a diamond of a very high value, by choosing a clarity grade at the upper level. By doing this, you can reduce the carat weight affordable, so we always suggest a balance of the four C’s to gain the best of each characteristic.

Suggestions for diamond clarity.

Our advice for diamond clarity probably would span the range from VS1 down to SI1 clarity depending on the diamond style. (i.e. shape.) The reason is that these clarity grades will both be ‘clear of natural inclusions to the naked eye’ and in effect, the diamond will be ‘eye clean’.

Are there any exceptions to this?

We would definitely say there are exceptions. One instance where a better purity would be advantageous would be in the case of step-cut diamonds (such as an Emerald Cut, Baguette Cut, Asscher Cut, Carre Cut.) Since these cuts are all very open and ‘window like’ revealing inclusions more easily, a VS1 clarity is always a good idea to attain the same eye clean appearance. With an Emerald cut diamond, small inclusions can quite literally reflect within the diamond, sometimes appearing more concentrated than it actually is.

Further information on this and on some of the other aspects of diamond grading can be found on our diamond information page.

Mark Johnson

About Mark Johnson

Mark attended Liverpool University and went on to pursue a career in the diamond industry. After more than a decade working in polished diamonds, Mark moved to the Isle of Wight where he launched Serendipity Diamonds. He works most days from their busy Ryde showroom, photographing jewellery and writing for the Serendipity Diamonds website.

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