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A high-quality diamond is a product of Mother Nature’s elements perfectly balanced; carbon levels, heat, and pressure must all unite in perfect harmony to create a natural diamond.
Clarity refers to the unique ‘birthmarks’ or tiny imperfections encapsulated within the diamond and on its surface. These fragments are known as ‘inclusions’ when featured internally and ‘blemishes’ when they rest upon the surface. The value of a diamond is determined by the absence of these imperfections.
Inclusions in a diamond are subcategorized and identified by their unique visual properties and their effects on their overall appearance of the stone. The most common of these are small black carbon fragments that appear in a spotted formation giving the impression of dirt within the diamond. While there are numerous examples of unique flaws within the gemstone, some feature more regularly and thus more likely to influence you when choosing the perfect diamond.
- Knotting: Knotting refers to the extensions of diamond crystals towards the surface of the stone. Visible to both the naked eye, and beneath a jeweler’s loupe, knots can present raised points on the diamond, as well as compromising the structure of the stone.
- Feathering: Feathers are a light inclusion of cracks or fissures that give a feather-like appearance. If they appear close to the surface of a diamond they can affect durability and longevity, particularly when set in a regularly worn ring.
- Needles: Perhaps the most visible of all inclusions, needles appear exactly as they sound. Often black, these long thin lines can be clearly seen throughout a diamond, defined in both color and shape. When needles gather the effect can be striking, a rare and beautiful sight, however regular needles impact on the sparkle and light return of diamond.
- Pinpoint: Tiny white crystals form within the diamond. While these rarely affect the clarity of a diamond and are not often mentioned in grading reports, the presence of three or more of these little white lights are referred to as Clouding can give a hazy, unclear appearance in a diamond, and detract from its natural luster.
No diamond is blemish and inclusion free. The entirely natural formation of this stone is part of what makes it covetable, rare and valuable. However, the absence of visible inclusions has a huge impact on the beauty and value of a diamond. To determine the quality of the stone, the GIA and AGS have created detailed scales to creating international uniformity when assessing diamond clarity.
Alongside its clarity grade, a certified stone will often come with a ‘map’ of its unique inclusions and their placements within the diamond. Studying your jewel beneath a loupe and identifying these marks and blemishes can be an excellent way to broaden your understanding of diamond clarity.
Clarity is perhaps the most tangible of the four Cs and has the greatest impact on the structural durability of your diamond. Armed with the knowledge of inclusions and their appearances you can be sure that you choose a stone that will truly last an eternity.