The clarity of a diamond reveals how close it comes to perfection. Only extremely rare diamonds are actually flawless. Even the famous 45-carat Hope Diamond has some imperfections. Generally, the amount and type of flaws inside and on the surface of a stone, or ‘diamond clarity’, is one of four elements that determine the value of the diamond.
The other 3 criteria that are taken into consideration are diamond color, diamond carat weight and diamond cut. Together, these are known as the 4 C’s, which are used by gemologists in assessing a diamond’s quality. Once these 4 characteristics are measured, a gemologist can more accurately determine the diamond’s potential market value.
Although all diamonds are flawed in some way, their imperfections are usually unable to be detected by the naked eye. Diamonds are created as the result of carbon being imposed upon by intense heat and pressure deep inside the earth. When diamonds are eventually formed, volcanic eruptions bring them closer to the earth’s surface. As this extreme process occurs in nature, each diamond is essentially ‘born’ with birthmarks or flaws that contribute to diamond clarity.
Flaws that are inside the diamond are referred to as inclusions and a diamond’s surface defects are known as blemishes. Inclusions, or internal characteristics, are known as feathers (feather-like cracks), embedded crystals or minerals, knots, cavities (holes), cleavage (where crystals are split), bearding (hair-like breaks or fringe lines), internal graining (irregularities in crystal growth), bruises (areas of impact), pinpoints (tiny crystals that create haze), and clouds (a grouping of pinpoints).
Blemishes on the surface may be polish lines, grain boundaries, scratches, nicks, pits, chips or breaks. The number, size, color, relative location, orientation, and visibility of inclusions and blemishes all affect the clarity of a diamond and how it interacts with light to achieve its brilliance.
To accurately assess the value of a diamond, a trained gemologist, specializing in diamond appraisals, would need to examine the diamond with a magnification device known as a jeweler’s loupe or hand lens. A 10x, or 10 times magnification, loupe is the Gemological Institute of America’s (GIA) standard for grading diamond clarity.
Sometimes a stone will be inspected at higher magnifications, but as a general rule of thumb, inclusions and blemishes must be visible at 10x magnification to affect the grade of the stone. Diamonds with higher clarity grades are more valued, but minor inclusions and blemishes are actually useful, as they can give the diamond its unique signature or identifying marks like fingerprints. To learn more about the value of your diamond, take it to a GIA certified gemologist for a professional appraisal.
Ralph Mueller & Associates has been serving the Valley of the Sun for over 28 years, and have over 60 years combined experience in buying and selling diamonds and precious gemstones between their two senior Graduate Gemologists. Over the years, the company has purchased millions of dollars worth of fine gemstones and jewelry from people all over the world. Visit diamondbuyersofaz.com to have your jewelry appraised by our experts.