Diamond clarity is a phrase you will hear over and over again in relation to a diamond’s worth and overall quality.
But what is it exactly and why does it matter so much?
Essentially, the clarity is a method of ensuring the purity of a diamond. When it is being judged and graded, it is on any impurities or blemishes that are within it. These compromise its overall quality and worth, although, as we will see, it can be very hard to spot any impurity except by a highly trained eye.
The impurities of a diamond can be split into two main classifications, blemishes and inclusions.
Inclusions are crystals within the diamond and mark it out as being unique. It is a bit like a fingerprint for a gemstone. Inclusions may be things like cavities, feathers, clouds, cleavage, included crystals or minerals, knots, bearding, internal graining, pinpoint or laser lines.
Blemishes may include scratches, nicks, chips, breaks, dark spots and light spots, amongst other things.
WHAT IS CLARITY ENHANCEMENT?
Something else to look out for when considering the clarity of a diamond is clarity enhancement.
This is something a bit like cosmetic surgery that is performed upon a diamond to make it look better. Clarity enhancement takes the form of a drilling into the diamond to burn a hole into the inclusion, which is colored, and then washing it with acid. This takes away the color of the inclusion. Once it is done, this is a permanent rectification.
Diamonds can also be fracture filled. This is a bit like a tooth being filled or a windscreen being filled to prevent a small crack becoming larger.
There is nothing wrong with this process being undertaken, as long as it is disclosed by the vendor, however, you should be aware that it will affect the value of the diamond and that fracture filled diamonds are generally discounted in price compared to non-fracture filled ones.
This is because the process of filling the fracture is classed as a non-permanent treatment and will not last as long as the rest of the diamond (i.e. forever).
If a fracture filling has been done by a reputable source, it will have a slight tinge of color added to it, so that it is visible to the trained eye.
Because of the non-permanent nature of the treatment of fracture filled diamonds, GIA do not grade them, but they do grade laser drilled diamonds, as this change is viewed as being permanent and lasting.
WHO ARE GIA AND WHY DOES THEIR SCALE OF CLARITY MATTER?
GIA stands for the Gemological Institute of America. Their clarity scale is the industry standard and was devised in the nineteen fifties to grade diamonds based on their color, clarity and cut.
This has subsequently altered in the seventies to add another grade, that of Internally Flawless.
This is now the second top grade of diamond clarity. This was introduced because diamonds were sometimes being cut ruthlessly to get rid of external blemishes, so much that it actually lowered their quality.
The introduction of this grade allowed manufacturers to keep the blemishes on the outside of the diamond and still achieve a classification that was higher than the next available rung on the ladder.