The clarity of a diamond is the degree to which a stone is free from characteristics such as blemishes and inclusions. Blemishes are external marks. Inclusions are internal features. If your diamond contains either of these characteristics, it's not necessarily a bad diamond as long as the blemishes or inclusions don't affect the beauty of the diamond. It's more important to purchase a diamond that doesn't contain flaws that can make your diamond appear less attractive and less durable.
When examining the clarity of a diamond, you should purchase a ten-power magnifier such as a loupe. You should also have a lint free cloth, a light source with a translucent shade or with a bulb that's not frosted or bare. You can also examine your diamond using a microscope.
Make sure that your diamond is cleaned with a lint free cloth before you begin to examine it. Be sure not to leave any fingerprints on the diamond. First, you should examine the diamond with your naked eye and then you can examine the diamond using a ten-power magnifier. To examine your diamond, hold the magnifier at a reasonable distance from the stone- roughly about one to two inches away from the stone. Try to observe the diamond from all angles- top, bottom, and sides. Also, look at the diamond with light shining on it from various angles. If you view the diamond with light shining above it and through the sides, you will be able to see any blemishes and inclusions.
As a general rule, if there are very few flaws in your diamond, the higher its price. The GIA has created 11 clarity grades.
There are several types of inclusions you should be aware of:
- Crystals- come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Sometimes they can appear as tiny specks (also known as pinpoints) within the diamond. The presence of crystals in your diamond can lower the clarity grade of your diamond.
- Cracks- are also known as fractures, breaks, and feathers. If the crack is straight or flat, it's called a cleavage. Tiny hairline cracks that are found throughout the girdle are called bearding.
- Clouds- are hazy or milky areas in the diamond that has the appearance of a galaxy.
- Growth or grain lines- are fine lines or ripples caused by irregular crystallization.
- Cavities- are large indentations where chunks of the diamond are missing.
- Laser Drill Holes- are tiny holes drilled into the diamond with a laser beam.
- Knots- are included diamond crystals that are left exposed on the surface and may appear like raised areas on the diamond.
There are several types of blemishes:
- Abraded Facet Edges
- Extra Facets
Scratches, nicks, pits and abraded facet edges are not as serious as inclusions since these types of blemishes can be easily polished away.
Extra facets are additional facets to the normal number of facets found on a diamond. Normally, these additional facets are used to polish away any flaws on a diamond. Extra facets on the pavilion will not affect the clarity grade of a diamond.
Naturals are part of the original surface of the diamond crystal which has been left unpolished. Naturals usually appear as step-like ridges or triangular forms called trigons. Naturals confined to the girdle will not affect the clarity grade of the diamond as long as the naturals don't distort the girdle outline.