"A VS2 grade is the sweet spot. It gives you a beautiful clean stone to the eye without breaking the bank."
A CLoser Look
Clarity refers to the frequency of natural imperfections, known as inclusions, that exist within the stone - and if you can identify them with the naked eye. The fewer perfections, the higher the value of the diamond.
The GIA grading scale ranks diamonds from Flawless (FL) to Included (I). However, it’s not necessary for a diamond to hit the very top of the scale — Flawless or Very Very Slightly Included (VVS) — to appear perfect and inclusion-free.
What’s critical is how eye-clean the diamond appears. If an SI1 (Slightly Included) clarity diamond seems perfectly eye-clean, there is no visible difference between a VVS1 (Very Very Slightly Included) clarity diamond of precisely the same cut, colour and carat — apart from tens of thousands of pounds!
Some industry experts claim that there is no reason to go any higher than VS1 [Very Slightly Included] clarity, with emerald or Asscher as possible exceptions. For most shapes, starting at SI1 [Slightly Included] clarity and upwards, it’s rare to find imperfections that are visible to the naked eye. Even SI2 diamonds can be extremely eye-clean in some cases.
To get the best value for your money, striking a balance between colour and clarity is paramount. While that balance will be affected by the shape that most captures your interest, you can definitely save money without sacrificing quality if you stick to the high end of the colour scale, but the medium section of the clarity scale. The overriding factor is whether there are any visible inclusions. A VS2 grade is the sweet spot. It gives you a beautiful clean stone to the eye without breaking the bank.
There are a few different systems for measuring clarity. The American Gem Society (AGS) applies a similar system to that of the GIA; however, the AGS prefers a numerical system with ‘0’ signifying the cleanest (GIA "IF") and ‘10’ representing the most imperfect (GIA "I3").
Clarity enhanced diamonds
You should be aware of a trend in the industry towards clarity enhancement - a treatment that aims to actively, artificially improve a stone’s apparent clarity. To make a diamond more appealing and marketable, it is possible to have the stone ‘clarity enhanced’ to make the eye-visible inclusions less obvious.
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