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When an “F” is a Good Grade
Jun 05, 2013

One of my greatest pains is having a customer come into my Portland, OR jewelry store and show me a diamond they bought as an “F” clarity on the internet but was clearly NOT an “F” clarity when they got it.

I have to keep in mind that the clarity scale is opinion based. But sometimes I have to say “come on!”. An “F” clarity is FLAWLESS with no internal or external flaws. They are extremely rare, very valuable, and very expensive.

It is so heartbreaking to have someone come in for a setting with a diamond purchased off the internet and watch their face when I tell them their “F” diamond is in fact a VS1 at best.

So how do you keep from getting a diamond that is not what you bargained for? Educate yourself!

As consumers we have a responsibility to do our due diligence before making a large purchase. And if you don’t think educating yourself about a product is important, maybe you should hang around my shop and see someone’s face when they come in with this problem.

Here is a quick tutorial on clarity of diamonds and why clarity is important…

The Diamond Clarity Chart

First you need to understand the clarity chart.

  • F – Flawless: No internal or external flaws. Extremely rare.

  • IF – Internally Flawless: no internal flaws, but some surface flaws. Very rare.

  • VVS1-VVS2 – Very Very Slightly Included (two grades). Minute inclusions very difficult to detect under 10x magnification by a trained gemologist.

  • VS1-VS2 – Very Slightly Included (two grades). Minute inclusions seen only with difficulty under 10x magnification.

  • SI1-SI2 – Slightly Included (two grades). Minute inclusions more easily detected under 10x magnification.

  • I1-I2-I3 – Included (three grades). Inclusions visible under 10x magnification AS WELL AS to the human eye. Generally not recommended you purchase these.

Wait, wait, wait…. What do some of these terms mean? Good catch, I’m glad you asked.

  • Flawless – Free of defect

  • Included or inclusions- Refers to internal flaws

It is important to understand the clarity chart because MOST diamonds have flaws!

Let that sink in. MOST of them have flaws.

Think about the incredible pressure that creates a diamond. They are bound to have flaws being under that much pressure. So clarity is important to mitigate the appearance of the flaws in the diamond you purchase.

For lots of great info on buying a diamond go here.

How do I choose the right diamond clarity then?

A diamond does not have to be an “F” quality to be stunning. An “F” diamond is the top of the line. Not everyone will be able to afford an “F”, an “IF”, or even the “VVS” quality diamonds, and that’s okay! In fact it is very rare for these diamonds to be purchased here in the US.

There are still great quality choices available in the “V”’s and “S”’s and this is the clarity most people in the US purchase. Unless you have a friend who is a gemologist and has a 10x magnifying glass most people will not even be able to see the flaws.

Now as for an “I” quality diamond… The fact that it is defined as “visible to the human eye”… You might want to think twice on spending your money on these types of diamonds.

There are a lot of great things available on the internet. But use caution when making a large purchase such as a diamond and if you need to see one in person please come see me beforehand. I don’t want to see that sad face on you. :(

- Slava