The 6 Categories of Diamond Clarity

Diamonds have long been cherished for their beauty and brilliance. When it comes to evaluating the quality of a diamond, several factors come into play, one of the most significant being diamond clarity. Clarity refers to the presence or absence of internal and external flaws, known as inclusions and blemishes, respectively. These natural characteristics impact a diamond’s visual appearance and overall value. In this article, we will explore the six categories of diamond clarity, providing insights that will assist buyers in making informed decisions when purchasing these exquisite gemstones.


Flawless (FL) and Internally Flawless (IF)

Flawless (FL) diamonds are regarded as the purest and most pristine diamonds in existence. These diamonds are entirely devoid of any internal or external flaws, even under 10x magnification. The absence of inclusions or blemishes allows FL diamonds to radiate an unrivaled brilliance, creating an awe-inspiring play of light that captivates the beholder.


Flawless Diamond Clarity

Internally Flawless (IF) diamonds, although similar to FL diamonds in terms of purity, may exhibit minor surface blemishes. However, like FL diamonds, they possess no internal inclusions when viewed under magnification. IF diamonds offer exceptional clarity and present an exquisite visual appearance, with any surface blemishes typically being minimal and barely perceptible to the naked eye.


The Rarity of FL and IF Diamonds:

Flawless and Internally Flawless diamonds are exceedingly rare. Only a small percentage of mined diamonds achieve these extraordinary clarity grades. The rigorous grading process employed by gemological laboratories ensures that only diamonds with the utmost clarity and visual perfection attain the FL and IF designations. The scarcity of FL and IF diamonds contributes to their allure and significantly increases their value in the market. You can find more of them on this Website.


Grading Criteria for FL and IF Diamonds:

Gemological laboratories, such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), employ stringent criteria to assess the clarity of diamonds, including FL and IF stones. These criteria consider both internal inclusions and external blemishes, examining the diamond under 10x magnification to determine its clarity grade.


In the case of FL diamonds, the absence of inclusions or blemishes throughout the stone leads to their flawless classification. The presence of even the tiniest flaw results in a downgrade to a lower clarity grade.


Internally Flawless diamonds possess no internal inclusions but may have slight surface blemishes that do not detract from their overall beauty and brilliance. These blemishes are typically negligible and do not impact the diamond’s structural integrity.


Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2)

VVS1 and VVS2 diamonds fall just below the Flawless (FL) and Internally Flawless (IF) categories in terms of clarity. These diamonds possess minute inclusions that are barely discernible even under 10x magnification. VVS diamonds represent an exceptional standard of clarity, offering stones with virtually imperceptible flaws. The slight difference between VVS1 and VVS2 lies in the size, location, and quantity of the inclusions, with VVS1 diamonds exhibiting slightly fewer and smaller inclusions than VVS2 diamonds.


Grading Criteria for VVS1 and VVS2 Diamonds:

Diamond clarity is assessed by gemological laboratories, such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), using strict grading criteria. The clarity evaluation involves a thorough examination of the diamond under magnification, taking into account the size, position, nature, and quantity of any inclusions or blemishes.


For VVS1 diamonds, inclusions are exceptionally small, and they are usually located near the edge or on the pavilion (bottom) of the diamond. These inclusions are barely visible, even under magnification.


VVS2 diamonds possess slightly larger inclusions compared to VVS1, but they are still minimal and challenging to detect without magnification. The inclusions may be located towards the edge or within the diamond, but they do not significantly impact the stone’s overall beauty.


Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2)

VS1 and VS2 diamonds represent an excellent standard of clarity, just below the Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) category. These diamonds exhibit slight inclusions that are visible under 10x magnification. While these inclusions may not be immediately apparent to the naked eye, they contribute to the diamond’s unique fingerprint and can add character to the stone. The distinction between VS1 and VS2 lies in the size, location, and quantity of the inclusions, with VS1 diamonds having smaller and fewer inclusions compared to VS2 diamonds.


VS1 and VS2

Grading Criteria for VS1 and VS2 Diamonds:

Diamond clarity is assessed through a meticulous grading process conducted by reputable gemological laboratories such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The grading criteria consider the size, position, nature, and quantity of inclusions or blemishes within the diamond.


VS1 diamonds possess small inclusions that are visible under magnification but are relatively challenging to detect with the naked eye. These inclusions are typically located near the edge or on the pavilion (bottom) of the diamond. Despite their presence, they do not significantly impact the overall beauty and brilliance of the stone.


VS2 diamonds, while still within the Very Slightly Included category, have slightly larger and more visible inclusions compared to VS1 diamonds. These inclusions may be located closer to the center or more prominently within the diamond. However, they still have minimal impact on the diamond’s overall appearance and durability.


Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2)

SI1 and SI2 diamonds fall within the Slightly Included category, indicating the presence of noticeable inclusions. These inclusions may be visible to the naked eye or require magnification to be seen clearly. While they are more apparent compared to higher clarity grades, SI diamonds still possess beauty and radiance that can rival their higher-priced counterparts. The distinction between SI1 and SI2 lies in the size, location, and quantity of the inclusions, with SI1 diamonds having smaller and fewer inclusions compared to SI2 diamonds.

SI1 and SI2 diamonds

Grading Criteria for SI1 and SI2 Diamonds:

The clarity grading process for SI1 and SI2 diamonds involves a detailed assessment by reputable gemological laboratories such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The criteria consider the size, location, nature, and quantity of inclusions or blemishes within the diamond.


SI1 diamonds feature inclusions that are typically visible under 10x magnification and may occasionally be visible to the naked eye. These inclusions, though noticeable, do not significantly impact the diamond’s overall beauty and structural integrity.


SI2 diamonds exhibit inclusions that are more apparent and may be visible without magnification. However, they still possess enough transparency and brilliance to create a stunning visual impact.


Included (I1, I2, and I3)

The Included (I1, I2, and I3) category represents diamonds with inclusions that are clearly visible without magnification. These inclusions can vary in size, shape, and location within the diamond, creating a natural fingerprint that makes each stone truly one-of-a-kind. While the visibility of inclusions may be more apparent in Included diamonds, it is important to note that the overall beauty and value of a diamond extend beyond its clarity grade alone.


I1, I2, and I3 Diamond

Grading Criteria for Included Diamonds:

Included diamonds are further divided into three subcategories: I1, I2, and I3. The grading process assesses the size, number, and location of the inclusions to determine the appropriate classification for each diamond.


I1 diamonds typically have inclusions that are easily visible to the naked eye. These inclusions can vary in size and quantity, but they do not necessarily hinder the diamond’s durability or structural integrity. I1 diamonds often offer an affordable option for those seeking a larger or more intricately cut diamond.


I2 diamonds exhibit more prominent inclusions that may affect both the diamond’s appearance and durability. These inclusions are more readily noticeable, but they can also create fascinating patterns and reflections within the stone. While I2 diamonds may have more significant clarity considerations, they can possess individual beauty and character.


I3 diamonds feature inclusions that are immediately visible and may have a significant impact on the diamond’s transparency and brilliance. These diamonds are the most affordable within the Included category and are often chosen for their unique visual appeal and the opportunity to own a larger diamond at a lower price point.


Clarity Enhancements

Apart from the natural clarity characteristics, it is essential to mention that some diamonds undergo clarity enhancements to improve their appearance. These enhancements may include laser drilling or fracture filling to minimize the visibility of certain inclusions. While such treatments are considered acceptable in the industry, it is crucial for buyers to be fully informed about any enhancements before making a purchase decision. Transparent communication between sellers and buyers regarding clarity enhancements is vital to ensure a fair and accurate evaluation of the diamond’s true value.


Diamond clarity enhancement refers to the process of improving a diamond’s appearance by minimizing the visibility of inclusions or surface blemishes. Various techniques are employed to achieve this, including laser drilling, fracture filling, and high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) treatment.


Laser Drilling:

This technique involves using a laser to create tiny channels that reach the inclusion within the diamond. The inclusion can then be removed or lightened through chemical treatments. The laser drill holes are typically invisible to the naked eye, but they may be detectable under magnification.


Fracture Filling:

Fracture filling is a method where a substance, such as a glass-like material or resin, is applied to the surface-reaching fractures or cavities within a diamond. This filling material helps reduce the visibility of these imperfections, enhancing the diamond’s clarity and brilliance.


HPHT Treatment:

High-pressure, high-temperature treatment is a process that subjects a diamond to extreme conditions to alter its internal characteristics. This treatment can potentially improve the diamond’s color and clarity by reducing or eliminating certain types of inclusions.


Benefits of Diamond Clarity Enhancement:

Enhanced Beauty: The primary advantage of clarity enhancement is the improvement in a diamond’s visual appeal. By minimizing the visibility of inclusions or surface blemishes, the diamond can exhibit greater brilliance, transparency, and overall beauty.


Increased Accessibility: Clarity-enhanced diamonds offer an opportunity for buyers to own diamonds that possess higher clarity grades at a more affordable price. This makes diamonds with enhanced clarity more accessible to a wider range of consumers.


Customization and Personalization: Clarity enhancement techniques can be tailored to specific diamonds, addressing their unique clarity challenges. This allows for a more customized approach to diamond selection, ensuring that each diamond is optimized to maximize its beauty.


Considerations and Ethical Aspects

Durability and Longevity: It is important to consider the long-term durability and stability of clarity-enhanced diamonds. While the enhancements are designed to be permanent, certain treatments may require additional care and precautions to maintain their effectiveness over time. It is crucial to follow proper maintenance guidelines provided by reputable jewelers or gemological experts.


Disclosure and Transparency: Ethical practices within the diamond industry emphasize transparency and disclosure regarding clarity enhancements. Sellers should provide accurate information about any enhancements performed on a diamond, allowing buyers to make informed decisions.


Impact on Value: Clarity enhancement can affect the value of a diamond. While enhanced diamonds may offer improved visual appeal, their value may differ from naturally occurring diamonds of the same clarity grade. Buyers should consider the balance between enhanced beauty and the potential impact on resale or investment value.


Consumer Awareness: Buyers should educate themselves about clarity enhancement techniques and understand the associated benefits and considerations. Working with reputable jewelers or gemological experts who adhere to ethical practices can help ensure a transparent and informed purchasing experience.



In the enchanting realm of diamonds, clarity serves as a defining factor in a diamond’s allure, value, and overall beauty. The 6 categories of diamond clarity provide a comprehensive framework for understanding and evaluating the presence of inclusions and blemishes within a diamond. From the remarkable purity of Flawless (FL) diamonds to the unique character of Included (I1, I2, and I3) diamonds, each category offers its own distinct charm and appeal.


By appreciating the nuances of each clarity grade, buyers can navigate the diamond market with confidence, making informed choices that align with their preferences, budget, and personal style. The pursuit of diamond clarity is a delicate balance, where perfection may be the ultimate desire, but the unique features and stories hidden within inclusions can also captivate the heart.


It is essential for buyers to consider the interplay of clarity with other essential factors such as color, cut, and carat weight. These elements collectively contribute to the overall beauty and value of a diamond, ensuring a harmonious blend of brilliance, fire, and scintillation.


Moreover, transparency and ethics are paramount when engaging in the purchase of diamonds. Reputable jewelers and gemological experts play a crucial role in guiding buyers through the intricacies of diamond clarity, providing accurate information, and ensuring ethical practices are upheld.


As the quest for perfection continues, it is important to remember that beauty is subjective, and the individuality of each diamond should be celebrated. The 6 categories of diamond clarity offer a spectrum of choices, catering to diverse preferences and budgets, while showcasing the captivating wonders that lie within these remarkable gemstones.


Ultimately, the journey into the world of diamond clarity is one of discovery, appreciation, and personal expression. Whether it be the pristine elegance of Flawless diamonds, the exquisite brilliance of VVS or VS diamonds, or the unique charm of Included diamonds, each category holds its own allure and contributes to the enduring fascination with these precious treasures of the Earth.