What Is the GIA Clarity Scale?

The GIA clarity scale grades diamonds based on their natural flaws. Diamonds form deep within the earth under extreme heat and pressure, which causes unique markings. External markings are known as blemishes, while internal markings are called inclusions. Diamond clarity is the absence of inclusions and blemishes. Jewelers worldwide use the GIA clarity scale, which has 11 unique grades, from flawless (FL) to obvious inclusions (I3).

GIA Clarity Scale Categories

The GIA grading system considers the size, position, nature, color, and quantity of the clarity characteristics. No diamond is perfect under the 10x magnification, but some come close. Such diamonds are graded as Flawless (FL) and are the most valuable. FL diamonds are also rare.

Here’s an overview of the GIA clarity scale categories that skilled jewelers use to grade diamonds:

•    Flawless (FL): Has no visible blemishes or inclusions 

•    Internally Flawless (IF): Has no visible inclusions but features visible blemishes. 

•    Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS): Features some inclusions that are difficult to see. VVS diamonds fall into two categories, VVS1 and VVS2.

•    Very Slightly Included (VS): Has minor inclusions ranging from difficult to easy to see. VS diamonds also have two categories, VS1 and VS2.

•    Slightly Included (SI): Features noticeable inclusions under the 10x magnification. SI diamonds can be SI1 or SI2.

•    Included: Contains obvious inclusions that can affect transparency and brilliance. Included diamonds can fall under I1, I2, or I3.

Most diamonds fall into the VS (very slightly included) or SI (slightly included) categories. Diamond inclusions and blemishes are often too tiny to notice if you’re not a trained diamond grader. VS1 and SI2 diamonds look the same to the naked eye but differ in quality and clarity. Expert graders use powerful magnifiers to inspect the diamond and determine its correct spot in the GIA clarity scale.

About Inclusions and Blemishes

Blemishes, like chips and scratches, and inclusions, like crystals and feathers, directly impact the value and price of the diamond. Large black crystal inclusions appearing at the center of the diamond or on the table are considered the worst. White feathers and pinpoints appearing on the side of the girdle aren’t as bad because they don’t weaken the girdle. 

Crystals are the most common and concerning inclusions. They become trapped while the diamond forms and some grow and develop irregularities in their atomic structures. Other inclusions include bearding, graining, cavities, cloud, etch channels, feathers, pinpoints, twinning wisps, manufacturing remnants, and indented natural. These flaws affect how light passes through the diamond.

Main Benefit of the GIA Clarity Scale 

The GIA clarity scale was developed to give jewelry designers a uniform system for grading diamond clarity. Before the scale, people used terms like “pique” or “loupe clean.” Such words could easily misrepresent the diamond’s actual characteristics.

The GIA scale is universal, so you can buy jewelry from any part of the world based on the same marketing standards. The jeweler will use terms like VVS1 or SI2 to describe the diamond’s clarity.

Working With Jewelers

The best way to know the quality of your diamond is to involve experienced jewelers. Only a trained jeweler can inspect a diamond and place it in the correct category in the GIA clarity scale. Clarity is one of the four Cs used to determine the value and price of a diamond, so you need an accurate indication. Stick to reputable jewelry designers with a clean track record for quality diamonds.

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