Imperfections or impurities start to manifest themselves inside a diamond during its growth process. Also known as inclusions, these imperfections are common within precious stones. Some within the diamond industry refer to them as ‘birthmarks’, and are what gives each diamond a unique look.
If you have been catching up on diamonds, you may have heard or come across the phrase “no two diamonds are similar.” According to the Pricescope Diamond forum, a highly regarded source of independent news on diamonds, inclusions are the reasons for this. You won’t ever find two diamonds having the same type, location, size, or the number of imperfections.
While the diamonds may have the same clarity grade assigned to them through the GIA or AGS certification scales, the inclusions will vary. The imperfections also have a direct impact on each diamond’s sparkle. They can reduce their ability to sparkle by making it impossible for light to pass through and refract through it.
Diamond Clarity Grades and their Meaning
By now you already know that GIA and AGS certification systems, the two industry standards on quality, employ different grading criteria. To provide you with a better understanding of the clarity grades, we have taken the time to provide a simplified breakdown comprising of the two.
AGS 0: Internally Flawless or Flawless
Diamonds in this category have no blemishes or inclusions noticeable under 10X. For Internally Flawless diamonds, their inclusions may not be visible, but they are likely to have tiny blemishes on their surfaces.
AGS 1 or 2: VVS
If the stone is graded VVS1 or VVS2 (AGS 1 or 2), it means that it contains tiny inclusions that can’t be viewed even by a skilled grader using a magnification of 10X lense.
AGS 3 or 4: VS
Very slightly included (VS) diamonds have a clarity grade of VS1 or VS2 (AGS 3 or 4).
AGS 5,6, or 7: SI
Stones in this category have Slight Inclusions and are assigned a clarity grade of SI1 or SI2 (AGS 5,6, or 7). Their inclusions tend to be noticeable and can easily be seen even when using a magnification of less than 10X. In certain cases, the naked eye can also view the inclusions.
AGS 7,8,9, or 10: I
This category refers to the Included diamonds or those having a clarity grade of I1, I2, or I3 (AGS 7,8,9, or 10). Such inclusions are easily noticeable, especially when using 10X magnification. If you look closely, you can also see some of the inclusions using your naked eye. When the diamond is in the lower clarity levels, this may affect its overall durability.
The determination of the diamond’s clarity involves striking a balance between eye visibility, the microscope at 10X, and the stone’s appearance. Higher power may be needed to identify inclusions that may prove difficult to determine. This often includes diamonds in the VVS category.
Granted, diamond size (carat) is important, which is why it’s included in the 4Cs. But this doesn’t mean that you should opt for size over clarity. Clarity is equally important, and that’s the reason it’s able to influence price tags and light performance.