Diamond Clarity:Diamonds, all you need to know (part 2) clarity
I have studied diamonds at the The Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A), passed their diamond grading exams, and been accredited DGA, (diamond member of the Gem-A) I’ve been buying diamonds for around 40 years, and have seen many hundreds of thousands…good and bad.Diamonds, all you need to know (part 2) clarity
As with the diamond (part 1), this is a brief guide as to why and how diamonds are graded. It is important that if you are buying a diamond, you look at the diamond you are buying, love the diamond you are buying, rather than put faith in a piece of paper or certificate which isn’t a guarantee but a persons (not always impartial) opinion on a specific day.
The second of the 4 c’s clarity, how free from flaws.
We grade diamonds clarity with a loop of 10x magnification. The highest/ most desirable grading is flawless, going through various grades as shown on the diagram, until the flaws are so severe, they are obvious with the naked eye and are detrimental to a diamonds durability. Diamonds with higher clarity grades are more valued, and extremely rare. Lower clarity diamonds are less brilliant and if heavily flawed can be more prone to fracture. Like the colour scale it’s non linear, and the lower the grade the greater the differences. The GIA scale most commonly used, and has 6 catagories, divided into 11 specific grades.
When clarity grading a stone, the diamond is held in tweezers, first we look at it with just our eyes, if we can easily see the flaws then the diamond will be included or lower. Then we look at it with a loop, trying to connect our hands to try and minimize any natural movements of the body. We visually break the stone down into segments much like a clock face, working clockwise round from 12 o’clock, the longer it takes to see any flaws the higher the clarity. The number size and position together help determine a diamonds clarity. Inclusions may be crystals of a foreign material or another diamond crystal, or structural imperfections such as tiny cracks that can appear whitish or cloudy. The number, size, color, relative location, orientation, and visibility of inclusions can all affect the relative clarity of a diamond. Any dark or black flaws are graded lower than white or pale flaws, the nearer the center of the diamond the lower the clarity. Some flaws will be inside the diamonds which we call internal characteristics, those on the outside, external characteristics. It is very important to look at a diamond rather than simply go by a certificate. Sometimes stones contain micro inclusions or clouds, which you don’t see under 10 x magnification, but give the diamond a cloudy/ dull look, and would show up under greater magnification.
Only about 20% of all diamonds mined have a clarity rating high enough for the diamond to be considered appropriate for use as a gemstone; the other 80% are relegated to industrial use. Of that top 20%, a significant portion contains an inclusion or inclusions that are visible to the naked eye upon close inspection. Those that do not have a visible inclusion when the gem is examined approximately 6 inches from the naked eye are known as “eye-clean”, although visible inclusions can sometimes be hidden under the setting in a piece of jewelry.
Clarity can also be “enhanced” by filling the fracture much like a car windscreen crack can be treated. Such diamonds are called “fracture filled diamonds”. Reputable jewellers must disclose this filling and reputable filling companies use filling agents which show a flash of color, commonly orange or pink, when viewed closely. There is a significant price discount for a fracture-filled stone.
I am more than happy to show anyone who is interested in placing a commission a range of diamonds, to ensure they are happy with what I make for them. It is impossible to say simply by looking at a certificate, which is the more attractive stone, and more importantly, what the individual will prefer. I understand the technicalities and will gladly share my experience and knowledge, but most importantly, the wearer needs to look at what I make for them, and love it, now and into the future.