Clarity refers to the clarity characteristics within or outside the diamond. These are generally referred to as “flaws” which is now known as a misnomer in the industry. Clarity characteristics are considered the “fingerprint” of the diamond, as each diamond will have different inclusions or blemishes that make up the identity of the diamond. Diamonds are formed in nature and many different factors can affect the outcome of the diamond when it is developing. Some of these elements can create inclusions or blemishes on or within the diamond. To understand how this effects the diamond’s value, the clarity grading scale is universally used as a benchmark for certain types of clarity characteristics to be able to grade and to help assess the value of the diamond.The diamond clarity grading scale has twelve grades: Flawless(FL), Internally Flawless (IF), two categories each of Very Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2), Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2), and three Slightly Included (SI1, SI2, and SI3), and Included (I1, I2, and I3).Clarity GradesFlawless: As noted above, a “flaw” is a misnomer when it comes to inclusions. The industry does not like to use the term “flaw” as it has a negative connotation to what would otherwise be a beautiful diamond. That said, the diamonds that have no inclusions of blemishes of any kind, upon examination under a 10X loupe by a trained grader. A diamond can have certain characteristics and still be considered “Flawless” such as a natural or a surface confined inscription.Internally Flawless: (IF) Blemishes are clarity characteristics that are confined to the surface of the diamond. An Internally Flawless diamond is a diamond that possesses no internal clarity characteristics and only has blemishes when examined under 10x by a trained diamond grader. This grade was introduced for diamonds that do not meet the standard of the “Flawless” grade, but can be re-cut or re-polished to achieve that rank.Very Very Slightly Included (VVS1 & VVS2) – VVS graded diamonds have tiny inclusions that are often difficult for a trained diamond grader to see under 10X magnification. The difference between a VVS1 and VVS2 graded diamonds has to do with the location of the inclusion or the type of inclusion. Usually, VVS diamonds have small pinpoint inclusions. A diamond may receive a VVS2 grade because the location of the pinpoint inclusions is in a more revealing position than a VVS1 diamond.Very Slightly Included (VS1 & VS2) – VS graded diamonds usually have small inclusions that can be more visible to a trained diamond grader to see under 10X magnification. The difference between a VS1 and a VS2 will depend on how visible the inclusion(s) are. A VS1 graded diamond will have an inclusion or two that are difficult to see with the 10X loupe. They will likely be light color (white or clear) and are usually located away from the table or a facet junction. VS2 graded diamonds might have a more visible inclusion under 10X magnification. The inclusion (s) might be located under the table, and may possibly contrast in color with the rest of the diamond. The types of inclusions that are usually found in VS graded diamonds are usually groups of pinpoints, feathers, included crystals or clouds. Diamonds are also graded in proportion to the size of the diamond, so an inclusion that is the exact same size in a 5 carat diamond will have a different effect on a 0.25 carat diamond, thus giving them different grades. It should be noted that VS graded diamonds do not usually have inclusions that will affect the beauty or durability of the diamond. VS graded diamonds are a good choice when picking a diamond as the inclusions are not eye visible, will not affect the beauty of the diamond and are generally a lower price than the VVS graded counterparts.Slightly Included (SI1, SI2, SI3) – While being graded under 10X magnification, the SI grade will contain inclusions that are easily visible. As a general rule, SI1 inclusions cannot be seen face up without magnification, while an SI2 may reveal inclusions with the naked eye. These inclusions may be small and not disturb the light performance of the diamond, but they are present and will receive this lower grade. SI3 grades are considered a ‘high I1’ grade as the inclusion is not large enough to fall into the I1 range, but more obvious than an SI2. The type of inclusion you may see within SI diamonds are clouds, feathers and sometimes included crystals. We recommend SI1 and SI2 grades in well cut diamonds for someone who is looking for a larger size diamond without the large price tag. It is usually difficult to see an inclusion in an SI graded diamond without a loupe, and if it is well cut, it will mask the inclusion with the fire and brilliance of the light.Included (I1, I2, & I3) – I graded diamonds are the lowest grade category that a gem quality diamond can receive. The I range will show obvious inclusions under 10X magnification, and usually even to the naked eye. The degree to which you can see the inclusions in the face up position, the locations, the color and the size will determine where it ranks on the I scale. If the inclusion(s) can compromise the diamond’s durability, it can be problematic – especially when placed in a ring. Sometimes the inclusions are large and disruptive enough to block the light performance of the diamond, leading them to show dull and lifeless. A well cut I graded diamond, however, will still show the inclusion, but also yield the best light performance from the diamond making it an economical choice for a larger sized diamond.