5 factors that determine a diamond's clarity grade

This post reviews the 5 factors that determine a diamond’s clarity grade. We will also review each of the diamond clarity grades in detail.

The 5 factors that impact a diamond’s clarity grade include:

  • Size- Usually the bigger an inclusion is the lower the clarity grade will be.
  • Number - More inclusions mean a lower clarity grade, however the type of inclusion and how easy it is to see makes a big difference
  • Position- An inclusion located under the table is easier to see than one hidden by the girdle.
  • Nature- Nature is type of inclusion and whether it is an internal inclusion or an external blemish.
  • Color or relief- Inclusions that differ in color from the diamond are much easier to see than white pinpoints

Sometimes one factor will make more of a difference than others. The importance of each factor varies depending on the Diamond

The GIA Clarity Grading Scale

The GIA Clarity scale provides a consistant way for a diamond dealer in New York to describe a Diamond to a retailer in Minnesota without having to show it. There are 11 different Clarity grades and each one describes the Grade-setting Characteristics that give a diamond it’s grade.

Flawless - Flawless diamonds are so rare that many people in the trade will never even see one. To obtain a flawless grade a diamond must have no inclusions or blemishes of any kind.
Internally Flawless - Diamonds with an IF Grade must have no internal inclusions but may include minor external blemishes.
VVS1 and VVS2 - Diamonds with a VVS grade have minute inclusions that are barely visible at 10X magnification. VVS1 can be very difficult to see face up and VVS2 is slightly easier to see. Usually these inclusions are minor pinpoints etc.
VS1 and VS2 Diamonds with a VS1 or VS2 grades have inclusions that range from included crystals to groups of pinpoint. The inclusions are easier to see face up than VVS1 and VVS2, however very few VS diamonds contain eye-visible inclusions.
SI1 and SI2 - SI graded diamonds contain inclusions that are easy to see at 10X magnification. Typical inclusions include feathers, clouds and included crystals
I1, I2 and I3 - I1-3 graded diamonds contain obvious inclusions that are eye-visible. Many times these diamonds boarder on industrial grade and are cut only if the market demands it.


My GIA Diamond Course instructor taught me a good, easy method to help determine a clarity grade. Pay attention to how long it takes to find the grade determining inclusion.

If you can see it immediately without magnification, it’s probably an I2 or I3. If you don’t pick up on it unaided, but quickly find it with a loupe and then you can see it unaided, it’s probably an I1, or maybe SI2. If you don’t see anything in about 30 seconds or a minute unaided, but you can find it in fifteen seconds or so with a loupe, it’s likely an SI1 or 2.

If you have to study it with a loupe or microscope for around than a minute before finding anything, it’s in the VS range. If you have to search for five minutes with a microscope before finding anything, it’s going to be in the VVS range. If I don’t see anything after about five minutes with a microscope at 40X, I call it a VVS1. I won’t call anything IF unless the GIA or AGS has graded it that way first.



What when you have a poor visability?
How poor or sharp are your eyes anyway?

All diamonds become IF or VVS - grade with bad eyes -)
diamonds go downhill with good eyes…

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