GIA Clarity Grading Scale

Ok, now you might be looking at the clarity scale thinking “what do all those letters and numbers mean???" Don’t worry, it’s just looks complicated, difficult and boring. I can guarantee you that after few minutes, you will not think this way, anymore. The scale is rather simple, it starts from the highest clarity grade FL (Flawless) and it ends with the lowest grade of I3. The higher the clarity grade is – the rarer and the higher the price of the diamond. The scale is rather simple.

Flawless
Internally Flawless
Flawless
VVS1
VVS2
Very Very Slightly Included
VS1
VS2
Very Slightly Included
SI1
SI2
Slightly Included
I1
I2
I3
Included
Flawless
At the top of the scale there are: FL – Flawless and IF – Internally Flawless diamonds. Both those grades have no visible inclusions that can be detected by an experienced gemologist using 10X magnification. They are extremely rare and therefore very expensive. The price: The most expensive.
FL
IF
It doesn't matter if you look for internal inclusions with the naked eye or by ten times magnification, you will find nothing at all.
Very Very Slightly included
Next category of clarity is VVS (Very Very Slightly included). VVS diamonds contain microscopic inclusions which take time and effort to detect, even for a very experienced gemologist using microscope. They are almost impossible to detect using a regular 10X magnification loupe. In other words, as a gemologist, I can tell you a small secret: neither you nor your girlfriend, not even the most professional jeweler, you may know or a seller in a fancy jewelry store are able to see the differences between FL, IF, VVS1 or VVS2 diamonds. Only a high skilled gemologist can do it using special gemological microscope. Without the microscope, in 100% of cases, a professional gemologist will refuse to grade the clarity of Fl to VVS2 diamonds. The price: Too expensive.
VVS1
VVS2
So, if you consider buying VVS2 when you want Flawless. Don’t hesitate, go for it. Your girlfriend will not be able to see the difference. Actually, nobody will.
Very Slightly included
Next category is VS (Very Slightly included). VS diamonds contain very small inclusions which are not visible to the naked eye. It even takes a while to detect such inclusions under 10X magnification for a professional. A non-professional will not be able to see VS inclusions with the naked eye and even under proper magnification, it would be still almost impossible. The price: Very expensive.
VS1
VS2
Even by ten times magnification, your chance to find an inclusion is close to zero.
Slightly included
Next category is SI (Slightly Included diamonds). This is the most popular category among buyers. In most cases, SI diamonds are eye clean diamonds when observed with the naked eye. But, inclusions are easily detected under 10X magnification. SI diamonds are considered the best choice for those looking for eye clean diamond at a low price. A non-professional will not be able to see VS inclusions with the naked eye but he can find it by ten times magnification. The price: Expensive.
SI1
SI3
You will have to use the loupe to detect an inclusion. Without the loupe it is impossible.
included I1
Next category is I (Included). Here inclusions are obvious to the naked eye. Should you ignore this category? Not at all. First, let’s divide it into two parts: I1 and I2-I3. What about I1 diamonds? Well, most of those diamonds contain visible inclusions easily detected by the naked eye, but some of them are only visible under the proper lighting conditions of a gemological laboratory and almost invisible under regular lighting. An experienced gemologist can help you to find such I1 diamond, that will look much better, than I1 grade, it can help you to save money and still to get an excellent stone for your fiancé. The price: Its not so high, but it is still expensive.
I1
I1
You will have to look closely to find an inclusion without the loupe.
included I2, I3
As a gemologist, I wouldn’t recommend you to purchase I2 and I3 diamonds since they contain visible inclusions capturing 20% and more of the diamond.
I2
I3
I2 and I3.. don't even think to approach such a clarity if you don't want to get devorse even before you get married.
In Conclusion

Now you may ask, what do all the subgrades (1 and 2, like VS1 and VS2, SI1 and SI2) actually mean? In order to make it easy, we’ll cut all the nuances and border cases and give you the most common definitions:

  • VVS1single microscopic inclusion
  • VVS2few microscopic inclusions
  • VS1inclusions are difficult to detect, mostly far from the center of the diamond
  • VS2inclusions are difficult to detect, close to the center of the stone
  • SI1easily detected inclusions by x10 times magnification, small quantity, small in size, or far from the center
  • SI2easily detected inclusions by x10 times magnification, bigger quantity, bigger size orin the center of the stone
  • I1eye visible inclusions, take up to 20% of the surface of the stone
  • I2eye visible inclusions, take 20 to 60% of the surface of the stone
  • I3what is the difference? Who cares? It doesn’t matter. You don’t want it anyway.)
Hope this article helped you to understand the clarity scale better. If you have any questions, don't hesitate, share your concerns with us and we will help you find the best stone for your beloved.
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