The 4 C's
(cut, color, CLARITY, carat weight)
(Click to view each)
Diamonds are Graded - and Valued - on the basis of what is commonly referred to as "The 4 C's" - Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat Weight.

Decide on Clarity.

Every diamond has some internal or external "inclusions" or "flaws" (as is the more commonly used terminology), but you should decide based on how much they are visible and how much that means to you. Usually, "flawless to the naked eye" ("SI3" or better) is quite sufficient for anyone concerned about beauty but not wanting to pay extra for rarity that you can't see.

If you want perfection regardless of cost ----- go for "Flawless" or "Internally Flawless" (very rare and expensive but possibly the only grade you will always be proud to own).

If you want it to look flawless under a loupe or a binocular microscope but not pay for flawless ----- go for "VVS1" or "VVS2" clarity grades (still flawless to an untrained eye with a 10x loupe).

If you want to see very little with a loupe or a 10x power binocular microscope and nothing to the naked eye ----- go for "VS1" or "VS2" clarity grades (certainly flawless to the naked eye, even to an experienced diamond grader).

If you just want it flawless to the naked eye ----- go for "SI1" or "SI2" clarity grades (some "SI3" stones will also be flawless to the naked eye); remember that most women really only want this degree of flawlessness.

If you don't mind some small inclusions that might be visible to the naked eye and want a larger stone that still sparkles ----- go for an "I1" clarity.

If you were interested in the lowest clarity grades of "I2" or "I3" ----- we don't recommend them for engagement rings because they lack brilliance and crack or chip more easily due to large structural flaws.

The presence of any trace minerals, feathers, dark pinpoints, or other inclusions within the diamond affects its Clarity Grade. The fewer the inclusions, the higher the price. The chart below compares the two major Clarity Grading Systems advocated by GIA and AGS:



GIA  Fl.
Int. Fl.
VVS1 VVS2 VS1 VS2 SI1 SI2 I1 I2 I3
Category  Flawless
Very, Very
AGS  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Most diamonds
contain natural inclusions, or flaws. Each stone - each inclusion - is unique in itself. Some are microscopic, and can be seen only when examined by a trained eye under the 10-power magnification of a binocular microscope or a jeweler's loupe. Some inclusions can be seen when examined by a trained eye under four-power magnification, whereas some inclusions may be visible to the unaided eye. The type, number, size, and location of the inclusions determine the clarity of the diamond. As long as inclusions do not affect the passage of light through the diamond, they will not detract from its beauty. Again, international standards have been established for grading diamonds according to their clarity. These clarity grades range from "Flawless" to "I3". An additional grade has been introduced - for use ONLY within the "wholesale trade"; this grade is called an "SI3". We have discovered that a number of Diamond Sellers on the internet are using this grade of "SI3" which falls in between an "SI2" and an "I1". Neither GIA nor AGS recognizes the grade of "SI3", and until they do, we at Bennett's will NOT use this grade. You, as a buyer, should not purchase an "SI3" grade; GIA or AGS would grade it as an "I1".

The charts below are Clarity Plots, which show the number and size of inclusions typically present in diamonds of a particular clarity grade. Look for a clarity plot on a Diamond Certificate, or Grading Report, to get a clear idea of the number and size of inclusions in a particular diamond. From this plot, you can accurately gauge a diamond's clarity without even seeing the diamond.

Clarity Plots
Flawless -
Minor Surface Blemishes.)
(Very, very small inclusions, difficult to locate under a gemologist's 10X power binocular microscope.)
(Very small inclusions, easy to locate under a gemologist's 10X power binocular microscope, but difficult to locate under a 4X power jeweler's visor.)
(Small inclusions easy to see and locate under a 4X power jeweler's visor, but not visible to the unaided eye in the "face-up" position.)
(Imperfect - Eye-visible inclusions when the diamond is unmounted - sometimes "eye-clean" when set into a mounting.)
(Imperfect - Definite eye-visible inclusions, even when mounted. Durability of the diamond may be questionable.)
(Highly Imperfect - Very, very eye-visible inclusions even when mounted. Extremely fragile, this grade should NEVER be set into a ring mounting.)


How to Grade Clarity

Gemologists use Grades of Clarity to describe how many inclusions a diamond has. These grades range from flawless (FL) and internally flawless (IF) to included (I3) with the grade numbers indicating varying degrees of quality within a grade (1 being the best).

A Word of Caution

Within the past ten years, two Clarity Enhancement processes have been introduced into the Diamond Business. These two Clarity Enhancement procedures actually improve the visual appearance of the diamonds, sometimes as much as two to three Clarity Grades.

The two procedures are:
1) Lasering and 2) Fracture Filling (Click each to view details)

In its "Revised Guidelines for the Jewelry Industry" compiled three years ago, the FTC strongly stated that, "It is illegal for a Diamond Seller NOT to disclose that a diamond has been clarity-enhanced by fracture-filling."
We have noticed that none of the Internet Diamond Sellers have mentioned either of these two Clarity Enhancement processes. Both of these procedures are Beauty-Enhancement processes. Both processes allow less expensive diamonds to become identical in visual appearance to diamonds costing much more money. How much more? From 80% to 100% more. A Clarity-Enhanced diamond should sell for from 40% to 50% less than a non-Clarity-Enhanced diamond that looks the same in visual appearance.

Click here to view a Clarity Vs Price Comparison Chart


So, how are Clarity-Enhanced diamonds graded? GIA has recommended that, when Clarity-Grading a Clarity-Enhanced diamond, the gemologist determines a grade based on its visual appearance (to the eye and under magnification), then lower that grade to the next grade, and mark that "Lower Grade" with the note "CE-L*" (*"L" - designating "Lasered") or "CE-F**" (**"F"- designating "Filled".)

Any trained jeweler can tell if a diamond has been beauty enhanced by studying the diamond under magnification. Among jewelers, the process is often referred to as "Clarity-Enhancement." It is virtually impossible for the enhancement to be detected without extensive training and 10X magnification.

The 4 C's
(cut, color, CLARITY, carat weight)
(Click to view each)

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