Diamond Clarity

The term clarity is used to describe the flaws and imperfections in the inner and outer surface of the diamond. Most diamonds have these imperfections although almost none are visible to the naked eye and must be viewed using jewelers magnifying glass.

Terms commonly used to describe Diamond Clarity:

  • Abrasions: tiny nicks on facet junctions or the culet; caused by wear or coming in contact with other diamonds.
  • Extra Facets: small facets placed to remove imperfections; not part of the cutting style. (Not to be confused with Added Facets which are added symmetrically and are part of the cutting style)
  • Naturals: part of the original crystal surface remaining on the polished stone, frequently in the area of the girdle.
  • Polish Lines and Marks: tiny parallel lines or surface clouding left by irregular polishing or excessive heating during polishing, respectively.
  • Rough Girdle: a grainy or pitted girdle surface usually caused by poor workmanship.
  • Surface Graining: structural irregularities in crystal growth; may appear as faint lines, causing grooved or wavy surfaces and often cross facet junctions.

  • Bearding: tiny feathers extending inward from a bruted girdle surface. (Bruting is the process of rubbing two diamonds together to achieve the rounded shape of the diamond.)
  • Cavities and Chips: large/deep openings, and small/shallow openings in the diamond's surface, respectively.
  • Clouds: hazy or milky areas of many very small, usually crystalline inclusions.
  • Feathers: cleavages or fractures often white and feathery in appearance. (There are 4 cleavage planes in diamond, which run in octahedral directions. Fractures are breaks along planes other than cleavage planes and may alternate with them to form step-like feathers.)
  • Included Crystals: mineral crystals, such as garnet or peridot, contained inside a diamond.
  • Indented Naturals: natural rough surfaces that penetrate the stone and may distort the girdle outline.
  • Internal Graining: regions of irregular crystal growth that may appear as milky or colored lines or streaks, or may be reflective.
  • Laser Drill Holes: a tiny tube made by a laser; the surface opening may resemble a pit, while the tube usually resembles a needle.
  • Needles: needle-shaped included crystals.
  • Pinpoints: areas of minute, dot-like inclusions.
  • Twinning Wisps: cloudy areas produced by distorted crystal growth.

Here is a GIA Clarity Chart:

GIA Clarity - FL/IF FL Flawless... Free from all inclusions and blemishes at 10x magnification
IF Internally Flawless... No inclusions visible at 10x magnification. Insignificant surface blemishes only
GIA Clarity - VVS1 VVS1 Minute (Very, Very Small) inclusions extremely difficult for a skilled observer to locate at 10x magnification.
GIA Clarity - VVS2 VVS2 Minute inclusions very difficult for a skilled observer to locate at 10x magnification.
GIA Clarity - VS1 VS1 Minor (Very Small) inclusions difficult for a skilled observer to locate at 10x magnification
GIA Clarity - VS2 VS2 Minor inclusions somewhat difficult to see at 10x magnification
GIA Clarity - SI1 SI1 Noticeable (Small inclusions) easy to see at 10x magnification
GIA Clarity - SI2 SI2 Noticeble inclusions very easy to see at 10x magnification and perhaps visible to the unaided eye.
GIA Clarity - I1 I1 (Imperfect) Obvious inclusions at 10x magnification barely detectable to the unaided eye
GIA Clarity - I2 I2 Obvious inclusions easy visible to the unaided eye.
GIA Clarity - I3 I3 Prominent inclusions extremely easy to see with the unaided eye and possibly affecting the durability of the diamond.