Here’s Which Diamond Clarity Is Best Overall and If You’re On a Budget
When it comes to picking out an engagement ring, deciding which diamond clarity is best is likely low on your list of priorities. It’s completely understandable, because most of us only pay attention to the carat size of the diamond and the cut.
However, there are two more Cs on the list of 4 Cs of diamonds to consider: color and clarity. You can find out more about the first in our comprehensive guide to diamond color (which is different than if you’re considering a colored diamond). Clarity is important but can get confusing — but understanding it can mean finding the perfect diamond for you (and possibly saving considerable money in the process).
How diamond clarity affects what your stone looks like
Gemologists use sophisticated tools (including 10X magnification) to determine the clarity of diamonds, but most of us simply look at it sparkle to determine which diamond clarity is best. Typically, the more sparkle the diamond has, the higher it rates on the clarity scale.
At With Clarity, we use the Gemological Institute of America’s clarity scale to rate diamonds. The GIA scale classifies diamond clarity into 11 different grades, but in general they fall under these main categories:
- Flawless diamonds (FL) with no blemishes or inclusions (flaws).
- Internally Flawless (IF) diamonds with no inclusions and blemishes only recognizable to trained experts under magnification.
- Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) diamonds with inclusions that are difficult to see even under magnification.
- Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) diamonds have small inclusions that range from difficult to see to easy to see under magnification.
- Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) diamonds with inclusions that are noticeable to experts under magnification. Some inclusions are eye visible in the SI2 diamonds.
- Included (I1, I2 and I3) diamonds with obvious inclusions under magnification that are also eye visible. These inclusions can potentially affect transparency and brilliance. With Clarity carries Included I1 diamonds but not I2 or I3.
Flawless diamonds and internally flawless diamonds are rarely used in engagement rings with IF diamonds making up only 0.5 percent of diamonds used in rings and other jewelry.
What does all of this mean when evaluating which diamond clarity is best?
Clarity will affect how the diamond sparkles and looks under light — and fewer inclusions means the diamond will shine more brightly under the light. But the truth is that no two diamonds are exactly alike — even diamonds that are rated the same under the GIA scale.
In general, a Slightly Included (SI) diamond is easier on the wallet, but the slight inclusions aren’t typically visible to the naked eye. This can differ depending on the stone, which is why it can be helpful to have an expert gemologist review your potential stone with you over the phone. With Clarity does not carry Included I2 and I3 diamonds for engagement rings because the inclusions start to impact the clarity of the diamond.
How does diamond clarity affect price?
In general, the more flawless the diamond, the more you’ll spend. Prices can vary from 15 to 25 percent between clarity grades — and even diamonds in the same grade can vary anywhere from 5 to 15 percent.
What is diamond clarity enhancement?
Diamond clarity enhancement is essentially a trick to make stones with inclusions look flawless to the naked eye. The process is usually done via laser drilling or fracture filling. With laser drilling, a diamond expert drills tiny holes down to the flaws and then burns them out with a specialized laser. Fracture filling also involves drilling, but the holes are then filled with a crystal-like substance to create a more flawless look.
The biggest advantage to diamond clarity enhancement is price. A stone that is rated slightly included or included on the GIA scale can cost upwards of 20 percent less than a flawless diamond, but the two diamonds look virtually identical with diamond clarity enhancement.
It sounds like a win-win situation, but there are plenty of drawbacks to diamond clarity enhancement. The problem with diamond clarity enhancements is that not all of them are permanent. We want you to love your diamond as much in 15 years as you do today. Although GIA certifications should say if a diamond has been enhanced, it doesn’t always indicate if it’s permanent or not.
With Clarity doesn’t use diamond clarity enhancement on our gemstones. The reason: We want our customers to know that they’re getting natural diamonds — and we don’t want there to be any surprises for our customers down the line with such a significant purchase.
Which diamond clarity is best?
So, which diamond clarity is best? It really depends. Most people assume that having a flawless or internally flawless diamond is better than opting for one with inclusions, but that’s not always the case. The reason: Flawless or internally flawless diamonds are rare and beautiful — and expensive. Add in a larger carat stone with a unique cut and you’ll pay significantly more than if you opt for one with even microscopic inclusions.
If you’re buying an engagement ring on a budget and your top priority isn’t clarity, your best option is to look for diamonds in the Very Slightly Included (VS1 or VS2) or Slightly Included (SI1) range. These diamonds still look good to the naked eye. You aren’t going to be looking at your ring under a microscope — and no one else will either — so the difference between clarity won’t matter as much. You can save hundreds (or even thousands) by opting for a stone that maybe isn’t as highly rated on the GIA scale as others — and opting for a lower-rated clarity diamonds often means you can opt for a high carat size.
The expert gemologists at With Clarity can also help you find the engagement ring that fits both your dreams and your budget. You’ll be surprised at the clarity of the diamond — and the carats — you can buy when you have an expert on your side.