Due to the ideal environment lab-grown diamonds are created in, they are usually clearer and less prone to inclusions than mined diamonds. Nevertheless, it is wise to know what to look for when choosing high clarity lab-grown diamonds.
What is Diamond Clarity?
A diamond’s clarity is a measure of its purity, which is determined by the presence of unwanted particles known as inclusions or defects known as blemishes. The more flaws in a diamond, the less radiant and desirable it becomes.
Inclusions are seen as a play of internal factors and often occur naturally. On the other hand, blemishes are mostly a play of external factors and can be avoided under prime conditions.
“Natural diamonds are produced deep in the ground when high pressure and temperature work on pure carbon while ab-grown diamonds are produced by mimicking this same process in the laboratory”, says Mr Lo from BIRON® Gems.
Because the natural process of producing diamonds occurs uncontrolled, it is possible to have more internal and external factors that could cause inclusions or blemishes in mined diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds, on the other hand, are less prone to blemishes, although inclusions may not be totally unavoidable.
Clarity Grading Scale
The clarity grading system for diamonds is structured based on how much inclusions and blemishes they contain. Diamonds are rated VVS1, VVS2, VS1, VS2, SI1, S12, I1, I2, and I3.
You are at an advantage if you can identify how clear diamonds are based on the information in their grading report.
VVS1 – VVS2 (Very Very Slightly Included)
These are premium grade diamonds and only about 10% of diamonds available in the market are in this group. Their inclusion may not be seen even under 10x magnification.
VS1 – VS2 (Very Slightly Included)
Diamonds in this category have inclusions that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Most quality diamonds in the market fall under this grade.
SI1 – SI2 (Slightly Included)
The inclusions within these diamonds may be visible with or without magnification.
I1 –I3 (Included)
Inclusions in these diamonds are very noticeable and interfere with brilliance, thereby affecting the appearance.
Quality lab-grown diamonds have clarity grades from VVS1 to VS2.
How Are Clarity Grades Determined?
Seeing as inclusions are more or less a part of diamonds, a diamond’s clarity is more about the size, frequency and placement of the inclusions it has. Five characteristics play the most role in a diamond’s clarity grade. These are:
- Size – The bigger the inclusion in a diamond, the more it disturbs its clarity. Minor inclusions are less visible and don’t affect radiance that much
- Nature – An inclusion deep within a diamond would affect it more than one closer to the surface
- Number – The higher the frequency of inclusions present, the less clear a diamond becomes. SI2 – I3 diamonds usually have more than two inclusions
- Location – Inclusions closer to the edge of a diamond are less visible than those at the centre
- Relief – This explores the nature of an inclusion against the whole diamond. For example, inclusions that are coloured or opaque will stand out more within a diamond than transparent ones
Different Types of Inclusions
An inclusion in a diamond is like a birthmark, although we can sometimes tell why or how they got there. Diamond inclusions are imperfections that occur in the structure of a diamond. Mainly, they are caused due to extreme heat and pressure as diamonds are forming.
There are four basic kinds of inclusions, and each of them could affect a diamond’s clarity in different ways.
- Graining – This inclusion appears like faint lines, creases, or reflections within a diamond. Graining occurs due to irregular crystal growth while the diamond is forming.
- Feather – A feather is a small crack or diamond within a diamond. Depending on the angle you are viewing it from, a feather could be transparent, near-invisible, or white when it absorbs light.
- Cavity – A cavity is a noticeable depression on the surface of a diamond. It usually happens when an inclusion has been dislodged from the surface during polishing.
- Bearding – These are the inclusions that occur around the girdle of a diamond. They form like a short fringe and give the diamond a fuzzy appearance, almost as if it has been scratched.
A high quality and clear diamond should be termed eye-clean rather than inclusion-free as it is possible to find inclusions when examined under powerful zooming devices.
Although most diamonds out there contain inclusions and may not rank VVS1 – VVS2, the inclusions are usually not enough to affect radiance.
Where inclusions in a diamond are visible, they can create a dull appearance, cause coloured spots, or reduce the value of the diamond.