Diamond Clarity Chart

Your guide to diamond clarity, with hi-def images and UK-specific pricing info



Diamond clarity is the characteristic that jewellers are often most keen to demonstrate when you are looking at diamonds, which makes it easy to get caught up in wanting to get a ring with the highest clarity quality possible.

But looking through a microscope or at the magnified images online can give you a false sense of what diamonds actually look like.

For most people, ensuring that a diamond is ‘eye clean’ should be a priority: this can mean either a VS2 or a good SI1.

diamond clarity header image

The diamond clarity chart

The standard diamond clarity chart, as defined by GIA is below:

diamond Clarity chart

Almost all diamond grading authorities use this chart, with the exception of AGS, which has developed its own chart.

When reviewing diamonds, either online or at a jeweller, these are the terms that will be used.

What’s the best diamond clarity?

While ‘Flawless’ is the top of the diamond clarity scale, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the best choice for most people.

As you’ll see in the next section, above a certain level, diamonds all look absolutely perfect once they are mounted into a ring.

Of course, if you do want to have the best of the best, then you can choose a flawless or internally flawless stone, but for most people, choosing an eye-clean VS2 or SI1 is the best balance of beauty and value for money.

Examples of diamonds at each clarity grade

The table below shows a typical example of each clarity grade. You can click each image to magnify it, or click through on each clarity to find out more about it.

One thing to note is that a 1 carat diamond is just 6.5mm wide, so inclusions that may appear significant on a magnified image are likely to be impossible to see in real life.

DescriptionImage (click to increase size)Inclusion visibilty

Flawless Diamond (FL)

No blemishes or no inclusions whatsoever – as perfect as a natural diamond can be.

Even under a microscope, a trained jeweller wouldn’t be able to see any flaws at all.

Flawless diamonds are very rare, especially at a significant size – most jewellers don’t even have them on the books.
Flawless diamond magnifiedmicroscope
Microscope needed to see inclusions

Internally Flawless (IF)

No internal inclusions can be seen inside the stone, but an expert may be able to detect some small surface blemishes visible under a 10x magnification microscope.

Normal people would not be able to see anything, even under a microscope.
Internally flawless diamondmicroscope
Microscope needed to see inclusions

VVS1 (Very, Very Slightly Included 1)

Tiny flaws are present, but they’re so difficult to see under a microscope that they’re basically non-existent.

An expert would be able to detect very small inclusions inside the stone when looking at it under 10x magnification from underneath ie. from the side that will be hidden by a ring setting.

VVS clarity diamondmicroscope
Microscope needed to see inclusions

VVS2 (Very, Very Slightly Included 2)

Small Inclusions inside the diamond can be seen by an expert when looking at the diamond from above.

However, you’d still need to really know what you are looking for and you wouldn’t be able to see the flaws without a microscope.

vvs clarity diamondmicroscope
Microscope needed to see inclusions

VS1 Diamonds (Very Slightly Included 1)

Small Inclusions that are easier to see under a microscope – even someone who didn’t know what they are looking for will be able to see them if them.

Diamonds will still be ‘eye-clean’ though with no inclusions visible without using a microscope.

vs claritymicroscope
Microscope needed to see inclusions

VS2 Diamonds (Very Slightly Included 2)

With a VS2, while some may be difficult to see, others will be quite obvious when viewed under 10x magnification.

Diamonds will still be ‘eye-clean’ though with no inclusions visible without using a microscope.

vs2 claritymicroscope
Microscope needed to see inclusions

SI1 Diamond (Slightly Included 1)

It’s easy to see the flaws using a microscope and you may, or may not, be able to see the flaws with the naked eye.

SI Clarity range can be a good compromise between affordability and quality, but it’s best to inspect the individual diamond you’re considering buying to ensure that it is eye clean.

si1 clarity diamondeye
May be able to see flaws with the naked eye

SI2 Diamonds (Slightly Included 2)

Inclusions are easier to see, often with significant crystals under the table which means they can be seen without a microscope.
For carat weights below 0.5, SI2 diamonds can be eye clean, but their light performance may be impacted by significant clouds.
si clarity diamondeye
Inclusions likely to be able to be seen

I1, I2 & I3 Diamonds (Included)

Flaws can be seen with the naked eye – you don’t need a microscope to spot them. Roughly half the diamonds that are on the market today are in the I range, which means that 50% of the stones have noticeable flaws.

You should avoid diamonds with an I grade if you want your stone to look eye-clean and not have visible imperfections.

i clarity diamondeye
Flaws definitely visible with the naked eye

How diamond clarity affects price

Clarity has the second largest effect on a diamond’s price behind carat weight.

While diamond prices are always changing, we’ve taken an average of the 5 lowest prices, as at June 2022.

It’s important to note that the prices listed at those from an online retailer and significantly lower than they would be from a traditional jeweller, which can be as much as double for an identically specced diamond.

To ensure that the comparison was fair, we looked at the difference in prices between diamonds with the following characteristics:

  • Round brilliant shape
  • 1 carat
  • Excellent cut, symmetry and polish
  • H colour grade
  • Med / Weak / No fluorescence

This colour and cut grade or a good starting point when beginning your diamond search to ensure you’re not over-paying for colour and that your diamond sparkles.

Clarity gradeCostDifference (£)Difference (%)
Internally Flawless£8,200£3,00026.8%

As you can see, there is a drastic drop from ‘flawless’ to ‘internally flawless’ due to the rarity of truly flawless diamonds.

Prices continue to drop at each grade, with VS1 and VS2 diamonds being around 40% less expensive than flawless stones. VS is a good clarity grade to begin your search with, and it may also be worth reviewing SI1 diamonds to see whether you can find an eye-clean stone that fits your other criteria.

Diamond clarity on a grading report

We recommend that you only consider diamonds that are accompanied by an independent grading report, to ensure that you are actually buying a diamond of the quality you are paying for.

When you are considering a diamond, you can request to see an electronic copy of a grading report, or you can ask for a grading report number that you can check on the grading labs online system. The GIA’s report check is here.

There are three places that incude clarity information on a grading report.

  1. The first is the clarity grade is listed in the ‘grading results’ section.
  2. Then there is a map of the ‘clarity characteristics’ which shows the type and location of the inclusions
  3. Lastly there is the ‘comments’ section, which includes information on any inclusions which aren’t shown in the clarity characteristics map. Usually this is nothing to worry about, but if a diamond is SI1 or SI2 and the comment ‘clarity grade based on clouds not shown’, this can mean that the diamond is negatively impacted by a large number of small inclusions which are likely to reduce the amount of light it transmits, and should probably be avoided.
diamond clarity on grading report

The clarity chart is extremely useful in understanding where you should look when assessing a diamond.

With this diamond, we can see that there is a collection of small crystals in the lower right of the ‘table’ – the flat area on top of the diamond:

diamond clarity characteristics on report

If we look at this actual diamond (below, but rotated slightly from the clarity chart), we can see that the inclusions are actually very small and won’t be visible to the naked eye:

vs clarity example

The flipside of this is that some diamonds are given low clarity grades because of inclusions near the edge of the stone. If this is the case, the inclusion could possibly be covered by a prong of the ring setting, which would mean that it would look perfectly eye clean.

Diamond clarity and pictures online

If you’re considering buying a diamond online, it’s important to be able to see the actual diamond that you are evaluating.

Many jewellers use stock pictures, which don’t necessarily reflect what the diamond will actually look like.

If you are considering a VS2 diamond or below, it’s essential to view images, or ideally video, of the exact diamond you are reviewing.

A good example is this ring from Mappin & Webb – a 0.7 carat solitaire priced at a not insignificant £5,000:

mapping webb engagement ring

Mappin and Webb even let you zoom in on the diamond itself:

mappin webb i clarity diamond

It looks nice and clear, with no visible inclusions or flaws.

However if we look at the diamond quality characteristics, we can see that this diamond is in fact specced with an I1 clarity diamond.

An I1 clarity diamond could look like this:

i clarity example

Very different from the Mappin & Webb image!

Aside from the fact that this ring is hugely overpriced (a 0.7 carat with acceptable stats of excellent cut, H colour, VS2 clarity is around £3,500), if you did order the ring from Mappin & Webb, you would likely be very disappointed.