The Essential 7C's
The Gemological Institute of America* grades diamond clarity
on an 11 point scale ranging from Flawless and Internally Flawless
(FL/IF) to Included (I1, I2, I3). These categories are founded upon the
ability to see the inclusions under 10x magnification. FL/IF to VS2
categories are referred to by diamond experts as "eye clean" and are the
categories of the highest clarity. Diamonds classified as “eye-clean”
are considered to have no imperfections visible to the naked eye. To
read more about eye clean diamonds please click here.
*Although the GIA sets the standard, there are several
other prestigious labs who offer certificates and grading but these do
differ slightly from the precedence set by the GIA. Read more.
EYE–CLEAN: FL/IF | VVS1 | VVS2 | VS1 | VS2
NON EYE–CLEAN: SI1 | SI2 | I1
Flawless or Internally Flawless: FL or IF
and Internally Flawless certified diamonds are extremely rare. The
difference between the two is that internally flawless diamonds (IF),
like the FL, are 100% flawless from the inside but IF diamonds will
contain surface graining on the outside. These are not technically
considered a flaw, but consist in the only point of differentiation
between the extremely rare Flawless and the very rare IF clarity grades.
FL or IF diamonds may also be referred to as 'LC,' meaning "Loupe
Very Very Slightly Included 1: VVS1
diamond of this clarity grade would have one tiny inclusion that can
only be located using a powerful microscope. This clarity grade
guarantees that the inclusion is invisible even under a 10x
magnification loupe. This clarity grade is almost as rare as the IF
clarity and as such is highly regarded although not quite as expensive.
Very Very Slightly Included 2: VVS2
diamonds would only have two tiny inclusions and consistent with the
VVS1 grading only a microscope would identify inclusions. However,
expert graders may be able to locate a VVS2 inclusion using a 10x
magnification loupe but VVS2 still offer a very high level of clarity
and are less expensive price than a VVS1.
Very Slightly Included 1: VS1
diamonds have one small or a few very tiny inclusions that are not
visible to the unaided eye (eye clean) and can only be located, often
with difficulty, using a 10x magnification loupe. VS1 clarity diamonds
are an excellent choice as they are still eye-clean whilst being less
expensive than the VVS categories.
Very Slightly Included 2: VS2
VS2 diamonds have a series of tiny inclusions that like the VS1 grade
can only be located using a 10x magnification loupe. VS2 clarity
diamonds are an extremely popular as it is the last grade which
virtually guarantees an eye clean diamond. In 95% of cases VS2 diamonds
are eye clean. Rare exceptions, may include VS2 diamonds on EGL or IGI
certificates (extremely rare on IGI) and in certain cases, Emerald and
Asscher cut diamonds, which may not always be eye clean, even on GIA
certificates. The type of inclusions here would generally be two small
inclusions or a series of tiny ones.
Slightly Included 1: SI1
graded diamonds have two medium or many small inclusions that will
almost always be visible to the unaided eye and are easy to locate using
a 10x magnification loupe. Depending on how well placed and lightly
coloured the inclusions are the stones can appear almost eye clean and
therefore SI1 clarity diamonds can offer exceptional value for those
wishing to maximise their budget. An SI1 diamond on a GIA, HRD or AGS
certificate will in over 50% of cases be eye clean depending on the
chosen shape. However, as with the VVS2, this grade of diamonds probably
won’t be eye clean on Emerald and Asscher cuts, on any certificate.
Slightly Included 2: SI2
diamonds have a greater number of inclusions that will almost always be
visible to the unaided eye. As with the SI1 clarity diamonds, they can
offer great value for money and depending on the inclusions it can be
possible to find an eye clean stone at a fraction of the price of higher
I1 or lower
diamonds will always have inclusions clearly visible to the naked eye,
even on the strictest certificates, such as those of the GIA. Even
though it is still possible for us to source such diamonds upon request,
we would recommend choosing SI2 clarity diamonds or above.