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Carat  |  Cut  |  Clarity  |  Color

CLARITY refers to the presence of any identifying characteristics on and within the stone. Some of these occur naturally and some occur because of the stress put upon the stone during the mining process.

All diamonds are graded based on their appearance--that is, the presence or absence of blemishes and inclusions--under 10x magnification. They are graded on a scale that ranges from Flawless to Imperfect.

Grade Characteristics
FLAWLESS no internal marks or internal inclusions
IF extremely, extremely slight inclusions
VVS1, VVS2 very slight inclusions
SI1, SI2 slight inclusions
I1, I2, I3 inclusions mainly visible under a microscope of 10x magnification as well as some to the naked eye

Blemishes and Inclusions are important to know about when dealing with clarity. Here are some of the most important terms and definitions in relation to clarity.

BLEMISHES - These occur on the surface of a diamond and are usually a result of the environment that the diamond has been exposed to either naturally or during the mining process. Here are some of the most common:

1. Extra Facets - When an inclusion is near the surface this cut is made to eliminate it. This raises the overall quality. In many cases, they do not affect the clarity grade. With the naked eye it is difficult to detect in most cases.

2. Naturals - This is a small part of the original rough diamond's surface which is left on the polished diamond. These are blemishes, but they might also be regarded as a sign of skilled cutting; the presence of a natural reflects the cutter's ability to design a beautiful polished gem, while still retaining as much of the original crystal's weight as possible. In many cases, naturals do not affect the clarity grade. In most cases, they are undetectable to the naked eye.

3. Surface Graining - This is a naturally occurring blemish while the diamond grows. It does not exactly occur on the diamond's surface; it is an integral part of the stones structure and most likely cannot be removed from the diamond without causing some weight loss.

INCLUSIONS - These are certain characteristics that occur within the diamond itself. Almost all internal inclusions are naturally occurring. Here are some of the most common:

1. Included Crystals - Very minute crystals of other minerals or materials that were absorbed while the diamond was growing. Some are transparent and some have color, depending on what type of crystals they are. Under a microscope they often look like little round bubbles. These are usually undetectable to the naked eye.

2. Pinpoints - These are included crystals that are so extremely minute that, even when magnified to 10x, they still only look like little dots. They can sometimes be tough to find.

3. Needles - These look like extremely slender tiny needles even under microscope.

4. Knots - A knot is an included diamond crystal that reaches from the inside to the surface of the polished diamond.

5. Chips - This is a small, very shallow opening on the surface of the diamond. This could be a naturally occurring opening in the diamond, or it could be created by removing a tiny crystal or creating the diamond itself.

6. Cavities - This is a larger version of a chip. These are sometimes created by the person doing the cutting when an included crystal near the surface of the rough diamond is removed, which may leave this cavity behind.

7. Feathers - These are small fractures in a diamond. Stress usually causes this while the diamond was growing. This could be occurring inside the diamond or on the surface. The term "feather" comes from the fact that, under magnification, these fractures often seem to have an indistinct, feathery shape to them.

8. Internal Graining - This is a naturally occurring phenomenon in some diamonds. This usually occurs within the diamond.

9. Clouds - Clouds are actually a cluster of a number of extremely tiny inclusions that are too small to be distinguishable from one another, even under magnification. Therefore it is that, under a microscope, this cluster many times looks like a soft transparent cloud inside the diamond.

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