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How Important is it to Have Excellent Clarity in a Diamond?

If you’re a diamond enthusiast, you already know that the often touted Four Cs of diamonds are cut, carat, color and clarity. But just how high in the priority order should clarity rank? The other three Cs seem to get the bulk of the attention and accolades. Today’s blog explores the important (especially for your wallet!) question of “How important is it to have excellent clarity in a diamond?”

The Eighty-Eight diamond engagement ring

Truth be told, of the four Cs, clarity is actually the least important. That’s because anyone viewing a given diamond can really see any inclusions (internal imperfections) or flaws existing in or on the stone only with the aid of a jeweler’s magnifying glass known within the trade as a diamond loupe (or simply “loupe”). The loupe magnifies inclusions by ten times so as long as you’re looking at a diamond with just your naked eyes, especially once it’s set in a ring or other type of jewelry, it will be very difficult to pick up on any inclusions that may be in the stone. At the naked eye level, a diamond with a VVS clarity will look practically the same as one with a VS clarity. (Sidenote: step cut diamonds, i.e., emerald cut and Asscher cut, on the other hand, require clarity of absolute superior quality as the nature, shape and size of their facets will mean they give off less brilliance and fire – and therefore the likelihood that any present inclusions can be masked becomes significantly smaller – than traditional brilliant cut diamonds.)

Of course, as diamonds get bigger, so do their facets. Inclusions in a 5 carat diamond of SI clarity will be relatively easier to detect even with naked eyes than similar inclusions in a 1 carat, or smaller, diamond. If you’re determined to buy a diamond on the larger side (1.50+ carats), try to stick with a high clarity (VS or better) because there’s a greater chance anything in the SI or worse range can be seen even when set in jewelry.

If you’re shopping for diamonds of average or smaller size, you can definitely save major bucks by opting for a diamond of average clarity grade, especially if it contains a noticeable inclusion that can be covered by a ring prong. If you’re concerned that diamonds with lower clarity grades have compromised beauty and brilliance, don’t be. Verify the cut (the most important factor of the Four Cs, in practically all gemologists’ opinion). Cut is what determines brilliance and liveliness in a diamond – not clarity.

If you’re OK with buying a diamond of lower clarity, be sure to view the stone multiple times in different sources of lighting before committing to it. The beauty of diamonds is that they are all unique – and this applies to diamond clarity in particular. You may have heard that a diamond’s clarity is like its fingerprint. This is absolutely true – two diamonds with an SI2 grade showing crystals could differ in color, number and/or location, which is the exact reason you need to check out a diamond in person before you buy it, particularly when it comes to larger diamonds. Any two randomly selected SI2-graded diamonds are theoretically the same on paper, but their physical appearances could be worlds apart. There’s nothing inherently wrong or bad about choosing a diamond with lower clarity as long as it doesn’t detract from the beauty or structural integrity of the diamond.

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