Natural diamonds form when carbon is put under such intense heat and pressure that the atoms bond together and begin to crystallize. These are the conditions that exist in the earth's mantle where diamonds form. That bond is what gives diamonds their hardness, but enduring these extreme conditions also creates inclusions. Inclusions exist in nearly all diamonds, and they're nothing to be afraid of. Most inclusions can't be seen without a strong magnifying lens, and you may never notice a very slight inclusion at all.
What Are Diamond Inclusions?
Inclusions in diamonds are small imperfections. These tiny flaws can result from impurities such as other crystals that have been encapsulated within the diamond, or internal graining, which results from irregular growth. Some inclusions are created during the processing, cutting, polishing, or handling of a diamond, such as chips and bruises.
Most diamond inclusions are natural. Over 99.5% of all diamonds have at least one type of inclusion, and most diamonds have more than one. If this seems shocking, it should also ease your reservations about diamond inclusions. Flawless diamonds are so rare that a professional jeweler may spend their entire career without ever coming across one. You've probably looked at a number of diamonds that seemed perfect, and the fact that they were probably all flawed in one way or another means that you can't tell the difference. Indeed, diamonds with very, very slight inclusions can look absolutely flawless, even though they're not.
What Are "Eye Clean" Diamonds?
A diamond with inclusions that cannot be visibly detected without magnification is considered eye clean. An eye clean diamond requires at least 10x magnification for the flaw or flaws to become noticeable. The difference between a flawless diamond and a diamond with a clarity rating of VVS, meaning very, very slightly included, can be extremely difficult to detect, and most people will never notice the difference.
What Is Clarity In A Diamond?
Clarity, cut, color, and carat comprise the 4Cs of diamonds, all of which are graded separately before a diamond is assigned an overall grade and value. When a jeweler evaluates the clarity of a diamond, they look for the presence of inclusions, especially certain kinds of inclusions that damage a diamond's internal structure. Most inclusions are completely harmless. However, laser drill hole inclusions and diamond cavities should be avoided. Diamonds with these types of structural flaws are often used for industrial purposes and are not recommended for jewelry.
The Clarity Grading Scale
Diamond inclusions are graded according to six categories and 11 total grades. Grades that are followed by the number 1 have better clarity than a grade followed by the number 2, with number 3 indicating the lowest quality within a category.
- FL – Flawless
- IF – Internally Flawless
- VVS1 & VVS2 – Very, Very Slightly Included
- VS1 & VS2– Very Slightly Included
- SI1 & SI2 – Slightly Included
- I1, I2, & I3 – Included
Should I Buy A Diamond With Inclusions?
We highly recommend that you consider buying a diamond with benign inclusions. Inclusions will save you money, and you may end up with a diamond that looks flawless anyway. Diamonds that are graded VVS are extremely popular and do not have any visible inclusions. VS diamonds are also very common. In fact, there is a growing market for diamonds that feature inclusions. "Salt and pepper" diamonds can have inclusions throughout the entire stone, creating an untraditional and unique diamond marked with dark flecks or speckles.
For many people, visible inclusions can make a diamond that much more special. It's also a great way to save a boatload of cash. By purchasing an included diamond, you can afford a bigger carat, save thousands of dollars, and still end up with a stunning diamond.