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Discussing the Colour & Clarity of Diamonds

With much information regarding diamonds now being online and being able to be sourced by the lay person how much of this information is accurate and true?

Over the years I have had many clients and potential clients tell me they have been told by either staff in a high street jewellery store or read online that the clarity of a diamond is more important, or at least as important as the colour.

The clarity of a diamond is gauged by means of using a 10 magnification lens – not the naked eye. When grading diamonds the clarity is determined by the size, number and position of any marks within the stone by use of a 10x lens. The clarity scale is below :

FL – Flawless

IF – Internally Flawless

VVS1 – Very Very Slight 1

VVS2 – Very Very Slight 2

VS1 – Very Slight 1

VS2 – Very Slight 2

SI1 – Slight Inclusions 1

SI2 – Slight Inclusions 2

SI3 – Slight Inclusions 3

I1 – Included 1

I2 – Included 2

I3 – Included 3

From FL, Flawless all the way down to SI1, Slight Inclusion 1 are all classed as eye clean. This means that any marks within the diamond cannot be seen with the naked eye of someone with good eyesight and importantly, the marks do NOT impact on the beauty, radiance and sparkle of the diamond.

As for SI2, Slight Inclusions 2 and down to I3, Included 3 the marks in stones with these classifications CAN generally be seen with the naked eye and generally will impact on the beauty, radiance and sparkle of a diamond. Some diamonds classed as SI2 may be classed as ‘bluffy’ as any mark/s may not be obvious with the naked eye due to their position within the diamond.

From experience over many years working with, in particular, clients choosing a single larger diamond for a ring or a pendant I have given the client a 10 magnification lens to let them see any marks that may be in the diamonds I have sourced to let them see and from which they can choose. Many have difficulty seeing anything even with diamonds classified as SI1 and being prompted by me as to where to look for the mark/s.

Contrast this with grading the colour of diamonds. Grading the colour does NOT require a 10 magnification lens but can and is done with the naked eye. You can grade the colour of a diamond from anywhere between a few centimeters up to around 30 centimeters. The colour scale of how white a diamond is starts at ‘D’, the top colour or the whitest and goes down the alphabet, E, F, G, H, I, etc, getting progressively more coloured ( a subtle brownish / yellow colour ) as you go down the scale. This, however is not a sliding scale, for example the difference in colour between the first three grades D to F is about the same as the difference between G and H, one grade.

From experience, while working with clients choosing from a selection of stones sourced for them to view, I have witnessed many who can identify the difference in colour of diamonds at the top end of the scale, D, E, F and G colours.

With educating my clients in this way it is obvious to them that it is far easier to determine the colour than the clarity. As the pricing of diamonds is partly dependent on the colour and the clarity independently of one another as you go up the scales to a better colour and better clarity the price goes up exponentially.

As everyone has budgets they try to keep to, it is evident from experience, clients that face having to compromise on the colour and or the clarity of any diamond to get the size they wish choose to compromise firstly on the clarity as the colour is more obvious and they wish to keep the colour as high as possible. This is a choice they make for themselves after having learnt in a practical way through my educating them with actual loose stones to view.

It is evident then, when given some practical education and experience colour is regarded as more important than clarity.

I trust this helps those confused with contradictory information online.

Alan P. Fulton

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