Understanding How Diamond Clarity Affects Value

Grading Diamond for Clarity

If you knew nothing else about two one-carat diamonds, except that one diamond contains a few inclusions and that the other diamond is completely clean, which would you choose?

Most customers would choose the diamond without inclusions. However, in some cases, the diamond with some inclusions might turn out to be a better choice.

How could that be possible? In this post, we weigh the importance of clarity and help you decide how to prioritize this “C” when you’re purchasing a diamond.

What is clarity, exactly?

Like human beings, diamonds have birthmarks and unique identifying characteristics. A diamond’s birthmarks are known as “inclusions” and “blemishes.”

An inclusion is an imperfection located within a diamond. Inclusions can be cracks or even small minerals or crystals that have formed inside the diamond.

On the other hand, a blemish is more likely a result of the cutting and polishing process than the environmental conditions in which the diamond was formed. Blemishes can include scratches, extra facets, nicks, and chips.

How is clarity graded?

To grade a diamond’s clarity, a diamond grader uses a lens with 10X magnification, the industry standard. The stones with the highest clarity grades barely show inclusions under this level of magnification. Inclusions that can be seen with the naked eye will greatly decrease the value of the diamond.

How does clarity impact price?

Let’s say we’re searching for a round-brilliant diamond with all these factors being equal: 1 carat, D color, very good cut, very good to excellent polish, very good to excellent symmetry, and no fluorescence. How much does clarity impact price?

Clarity IncreaseApprox. Price Increase (%)

How much should you prioritize clarity?

Inclusions and blemishes aren’t necessarily negative qualities. For one, an inclusion can help you identify your diamond and set it apart from other diamonds. Before a reputable jeweler intakes any diamond jewelry for repair, he or she will plot the diamond and identify its unique characteristics to ensure that you receive the same diamond in return.

Surprisingly, diamond clarity is not the most important “C” of the 4Cs. Most diamond experts would consider “cut” to be more important than clarity because it can affect how well the diamond reflects light. Cut can make a smaller diamond appear larger and can also mask imperfections within the diamond.

For some shoppers, carat weight might be the most important “C.” They want a big rock more than anything else and are willing to compromise on other “Cs” like color and clarity in order to buy the rock that fits their budget.

Other customers are able to purchase a round brilliant stone that’s cut so well to reflect life and produce fire that clarity doesn’t matter as much because the inclusions are hidden.

It’s nearly impossible to make a blanket statement about diamond clarity because each diamond is different. Always ask to see a photo of the diamond if you’re unable to see it in person; the certificate’s clarity grade won’t tell you everything about how the diamond will look on the finger. Judge a diamond’s clarity not by its grade but how it will look as a ring.

Do you refuse to shop for diamonds below a certain clarity grade? Are other diamond quality factors more important to you?  

For a deeper into in to diamond Clarity, checkout our Complete Diamond Clarity Guide .

Featured photo by Lars Plougmann