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Home > Clarity > Definition of Clarity Grades

Definition of Clarity Grades

Loupe clean - Lc

A diamond can only be termed loupe clean if an expert examines it with a 10 x achromatic and aplanatic loupe in normal light and it is found to be absolutely transparent and free from inclusions. Nothing to be seen.

External features which do not devalue the clarity:

Fringes

These are small cleavage cracks along the girdle, as far as they do not appear under 10 x magnification as an individual crack, but only cause a general lightening of the girdle.

Small blow indentations

Which are only on the surface and do not penetrate as cracks into the interior of the stone.

Nicks

Must not be accompanied by cleavage or fracture cracks which expand into
the interior.

Damaged culet

Is only counted as external fault if not accompanied by fracture or cleavage
cracks.

Growth lines

If very fine and only to be seen on the surface of the stone.

Twinning lines

If they are only on the surface of the stone, show no color and do not diminish the brilliance of the stone.

Further external features or faults include fractures, extra facets, dot-like blow indentations, natural crystal faces (naturals), scratches, polishing marks, polishing traces, damaged edges, burnt facets and other surface defects.
Unlike commercial usage in Germany, the North American and Scandinavian countries consider the internal and external defects in their clarity grading.

That is the reason the scale of the American and Scandinavian nomenclature begins with the term "flawless". This term refers to cut diamonds, which are free from internal and external faults, so in way it is a superposed description for clarity and cut. Only in second place is the grade "internally flawless" which describes diamonds which are free from internal faults, i.e. loupe clean.

These deviations mean, that a diamond which is described as loupe clean in Germany could in America or Scandinavia be classified as VVS, VS or even SI because of external defects. But in the final evaluation, both systems evaluate the stone at the same level, what one system grades under clarity, the other deals with under cut grading.

Very, very small inclusions VVS 1 + VVS2

These terms describe cut diamonds which when viewed through a 10 x achromatic and aplanatic loupe by an expert show only very, very small. inclusions which are very difficult to be seen.

Crack-like, separately recognizable fringes on the girdle, as well as small blow indentations which may extend into the interior of the stone, are counted into this clarity grade. The inclusions should be light colored. For graders with little experience, these features of grade VVS are exceptionally difficult to discern. The typical faults of this grade are dot-like inclusions. In order to find these, it is essential that the surface is thoroughly cleaned and any dust particles removed.

Half-caraters (0.47 ct) and over can optionally be sub-divided into VVS 1 and VVS 2. If the general appearance of the diamond is closer to a higher clarity grade, the grader will decide on VV 1, if closer to a lower grade, the sub-division 2 is applied.

Very small inclusions VS 1 + VS 2

Cut diamonds are classified into this grade when the expert using a 10 x magnification can discern very small inclusions which are difficult to be seen.

The experienced grader does not find the internal faults at once, but does not have too great difficulties to see the inclusions when he moves the stone a little from side to side. Typical inclusions of this group are small, light clouds, or small light cracks on the girdle, as well as single crystals, just slightly larger than a dot. Inclusions in this clarity grade should be mainly light-colored. Very small dark inclusions are allowable around the girdle. Half-caraters and above can also here be sub-divided into VS 1 and VS 2.

Small inclusions SI 1 + SI 2

The term comprises cut diamonds which, when viewed with 10 x magnification, have small inclusions. These are usually easily to be seen by an experienced grader, that is, as soon as he observes the stone with the right magnification, the inclusions "jump" into the field of view, they are at once visible. The inclusions under the table should be light, around the girdle there can be small, dark inclusions.

Lately, this grade is not sub-divided any more, that is, the group has been condensed and inclusions which up to some time ago would be classified as 81 2 are now graded as Pique 1. As far as this clarity grade is concerned, classification of inclusions is always undertaken with the help of 10 x magnification. Also in the clarity grade SI, the inclusions should not be visible to the naked eye when viewed through the crown. Diamonds of the grades described up to here are "eye clean".

With increasing size and number of inclusions in the pique grades, two further definitory criteria are added: recognition with the naked eye, solely through the crown in natural day-light, and the influence of inclusions on the brilliance effect.

The division according to differentiation by the naked eye between the groups SI and Pique 1, can only be an added aid; never an absolute criterium, and there will always be exception to the rule.

Inclusions                     P 1

This term comprises cut diamonds, which when viewed with 10 x magnification, show several inclusions at once, but which do not diminish the brilliance. With the naked eye, when viewed through the crown, these faults even in larger stones - are only discernable with difficulty. Typical defects of this group are larger colored inclusions as well as larger cracks or plane-like clouds.

Larger inclusions         P 2

This grade comprises cut diamonds with larger and/or numerous inclusions which can be seen with the naked eye through the crown and which diminish the brilliance somewhat even in smaller stones. There might be dark inclusions, or numerous light-colored features. Another characteristic are larger cracks, which may influence the durability of the stone, i.e. they could expand under mechanical stress into the interior of the stone, especially if they are to be found near the girdle.

Large inclusions         P 3

This lowest grade of clarity comprises cut diamonds with large and/or numerous inclusions which are easily visible through the crown with the naked eye. Number and size of inclusions diminish the brilliance considerably.

The term "eye clean" was formerly used to describe diamonds with small inclusions. With the establishing of exact definitions of the individual clarity grades, there is no room for this term any more and should not be used. Maybe in the future one will come back to the old term "eye clean". The enormously increased prices for diamonds in the last few years might give rise to the use of this expedient to offer diamonds which are still beautiful to the eye with inclusions which can only be seen with magnification. Especially for use in jewelry these stones are optically as acceptable as loupe clean or VVS diamonds, if they are well cut. It is worth while considering whether one should not promote diamonds with inclusions with the term "eye clean" and thus make them acceptable to a broader layer of the market.

Grade of clarity grouped according to number and size of inclusions and grade of discernibility:

clarity grade number and size of inclusions discernable with a loupe 1) discernable with the naked eye 2) influence on brilliance
Lc no inclusions nothing to be seen loupe clean
VVS (vvs1+2) very very small inclusions very difficult to see "eye clean"  
Vs (V81+2) very small inclusions difficult to see
SI (SI1+2) small inclusions easily to see
P 1 inclusions recognizable at once difficult to recognize not influenced
P2 larger and/or numerous inclusions recognizable at once recognizable somewhat influenced
p3 large and/or numerous inclusions recognizable at once very easily recognized definitely influenced

1) 10 x magnification, experienced grader
2) Seen through the crown

Conditions of Clarity Grading Illustrations VVS