Clarity is another vital grading characteristic in diamonds. Clarity refers to the number, position and size of inclusions and blemishes that occur naturally in diamonds. The fewer and less obvious the inclusions are, the more valuable the diamond. Diamonds.co.nz uses the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) nomenclature with the addition of SI3. Following are the GIA's definitions of the clarity grades:
Flawless diamonds show no blemishes or inclusions when examined by a skilled grader under 10X magnification.
Internally Flawless (IF)
Internally Flawless diamonds show no inclusions and only insignificant blemishes under 10X magnification. Normally what separates IF from FL stones are characteristics that can be removed by minor re-polishing. There is very little demand for Fl and IF diamonds in the New Zealand market.
Very Very Slightly Included (VVS1 & VVS2)
VVS diamonds contain minute inclusions that are very difficult for even a skilled diamond grader to locate under 10X magnification. In VVS1 they are extremely difficult to see, visible only from the pavilion or small and shallow enough to be removed by minor re-polishing. In VVS2 they are very difficult to locate using 10X magnification. Again there is very little demand for VVS diamonds in the New Zealand market. What demand there is will be combined with high colours.
Very Slightly Included (VS1 & VS2)
VS diamonds contain minor inclusions ranging from difficult (VS1) to somewhat easy (VS2) for a skilled diamond grader to see under 10X magnification. Small included crystals, small feathers and clouds are typical. VS clarity is becoming increasingly popular in the New Zealand market as consumers become quality conscious and are concerned with "eye visible" inclusions.
Slightly Included (SI1 & SI2)
SI diamonds contain noticeable inclusions which are easy (SI1) and very easy (SI2) to see under 10X magnification. In some SI's the inclusions can be seen with the unaided eye, especially in SI2. In the New Zealand market SI is the most popular clarity grade range. SI1 as opposed to SI2, is growing in popularity as it gives a good balance between price and quality.
Imperfect (I1, I2 and I3)
Imperfect grade diamonds contain inclusions which are very obvious to a skilled diamond grader under 10X magnification and the inclusions can be seen face-up with the unaided eye. I2 and I3 diamonds have inclusions that can seriously affect the diamonds potential durability and are so numerous they affect transparency and brilliance of the diamond. Diamonds.co.nz does not list I2 and I3 diamonds.