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I2 diamond
I2 graded diamond
Diamond Clarity Grading in Colorless
Diamonds and Fancy Colored Diamonds

When considering desirability and the value of a diamond, clarity, plays a large part. Still, this vital aspect of the diamond's grade is not as straightforward as it might seem. Not all diamonds that are SI2 or I1 are created equal. Some I1 diamonds are butt ugly and still others would knock your socks off. It is these aspects that make it difficult to buy diamonds from a list. The grade the diamond garners doesn't always reflect the difference between a subtle spray of imperfections that get lost in the sparkle and a giant black spot in the center of the diamond table.

Clarity in Colorless and Near Colorless Diamonds.

Diamonds are graded for clarity, based on the presence of imperfection within, or surface imperfections. Without question, people value a diamond with fewer imperfections, so it stands to reason they are priced more.

diamond grading clarity
Photos are of the same princess diamond. One on the left points out the imperfection, known
affectionately as a goober. But even in the photo on the left, the goober is not obvious when magnified
this large. In this case, the cut of the diamond is so dazzling, the imperfection is lost in the dazzle.

diamond grading clarityA lot of people think an SI2 diamond is "worse" than a VS1. There are even jewelry sales people who will try to sell you a VS2 instead of an SI2 by telling you it is "better quality". But clarity does not literally mean clear nor does it literally mean quality.
How important is clarity? For the purposes of this conversation, let's pretend that all the diamonds we are talking about are really well cut. Let's further assume that all the diamonds we are talking about have no "brilliance issues"- that none are inherently dull.

DIamonds are graded for clarity based on the presence of imperfection- as opposed to the visibility of imperfection.

I1 pink diamond
I1 Fancy Light Orangey Pink diamond.
See the GIA Clarity Grading Scale

The nature of the imperfections in a diamond does not affect the grade.
grading fancy colored diamondsWhat that means is this. If a white imperfection and a black imperfection are exactly the same size, they will likely garner the same grade from GIA. See the I1 brownish diamond in the lower right hand corner as an example of a I1 diamond with a black spot.

DIamonds are graded for clarity based on the presence of imperfection- as opposed to the visibility of imperfection.

See the GIA Clarity Grading Chart.
If there is a black spot in the diamond, and it is tucked away near a corner or under an angle where you cannot see it, the diamond might be graded SI2.
diamond clarity To the naked eye, this hypothetical diamond could be identical to an internally flawless. In this case, the diamond is blocking virtually no light from leaving the diamond. Let's say we move that black spot in the dead center of the diamond. Right above a large facet. Now you can see the imperfection with the naked eye.

SI2 Marquise diamond
Example of an SI2 diamond with
colorless imperfections
The diamond would still be graded SI2, if the imperfection was exactly the same size as the one in the first example. In the second case, the diamond is not eye clean.
For this reason, it is not possible to say that every SI2 diamond is not eye clean, or that every SI1 diamond, is eye clean. An imperfection that the GIA grades as an SI2 is not large enough to impact the overall brilliance of the diamond. This is also true for many imperfections graded I1 by GIA. Clarity plays a direct role in the pricing of colorless and near colorless diamonds. Still, it does not stand on its own. That is to say, an internally flawless diamond that has a bad cut is a very tough item to sell. Therefore it's worth a lot less than a well cut internally flawless diamond. The Cut of a diamond always plays a large role.

 internally flawless diamond
On the left is a fancy colored diamond with a black spot inclusion or imperfection.
To the right is an fancy colored diamond graded Internally Flawless.

Is an SI2 Eye Clean?

diamond clarityTo best understand clarity, let's talk about "Eye Clean". If a stone is Eye Clean, it means you won't be able to see any imperfection without the aid of a magnifying device (Loupe). It is generally agreed that SI2 is the last grade which is usually eye clean. In some cases, an SI2 stone can be eye clean- yet in some cases an SI2 may not be eye clean.

Diamond Clarity In Fancy Colors

When considering fancy colored diamonds, the actual hue, and intensity of the color are generally more important than the clarity. There are a lot of reasons for this. For one thing, the body color of the diamond tends to hide imperfections.
diamond clarity in fancy colored diamondsMainly, clarity is less important in fancy colored diamonds because the ultimate color is what is so desirable. For example, many pink diamonds are from the Argyle mines in Australia. Diamonds from that region are typically not clean diamonds.
diamond clarity in fancy colored diamondsWhen looking for an intense pink, or a vivid pink, you will not generally not find VVS or internally flawless stones. A 1.00ct diamond graded by GIA as Fancy Intense Pink, SI2, might be worth $500,000 simply due to the color and the fact that pinks are truly rare.