Understanding Diamond Clarity: What Does It All Mean?

December 19, 2023

Diamonds come in various clarities. The top-tier flawless versions are extremely rare, while those with imperfections are far more common. 

The industry has developed a rating system to grade diamonds according to these blemishes. The higher a diamond scores, the more expensive it becomes. 

These ratings are partially subjective, especially around the edges. Some evaluators may consider a diamond only slightly flawed while others might bump it down to the next category, depending on their appraisal. 

Therefore, if you are planning on buying a diamond, you should always visually inspect the quality yourself and compare it to reference images. After all, it is not so much the rating that matters, but whether you are happy with how it looks. 

This post lists some of the most common clarity classifications and what they mean, starting with the most flawed diamonds and working up from there. 


You will sometimes see diamonds listed as “included” with labels I1, I2, and I3, depending on the severity of the inclusion. This term means that the diamond has visible imperfections you can see with the naked eye. 

Many of these diamonds go to industrial usage. However, some wind up in cheap jewelry to offer buyers a lower price point while still benefiting from the unique sparkle and glow of diamonds. 

Slightly Included

You will also see diamonds labeled “slightly included” or SI1 and SI2. This rating means that imperfections are visible with ten-times magnification. You might be able to see scratches and flaws with the naked eye, but they will appear minimal. 

These diamonds are more expensive, but still cheap compared to flawless versions. Moreover, they offer good sparkle and most people won’t be able to see any problems with them from a distance. 

Very Slightly Included

Most jewelry diamonds are very slightly included, labeled VS1 or VS2. These stones have minute imperfections under ten times magnification, with imperfections almost always invisible to the naked eye.

As insights from James Allen jewelry reviews show, people buy these diamonds when they want to strike a balance between beauty and price point. These rocks are significantly cheaper than their flawless alternatives but still offer the look you want. 

Very Very Slightly Included

Very very slightly included diamonds are the next level up, often labeled VVS1 and VVS2. These diamonds are nearly flawless and only have tiny inclusions visible to experienced graders at ten-time magnification. With the naked eye, no blemishes or irregularities are visible.

Internally Flawless

An internally flawless diamond is one that has no internal flaws but might have external features due to the cutting process or being scraped or dropped. These diamonds are still worth a lot of money because experienced jewelers can machine them to remove these imperfections and provide owners with flawless products. 


Finally, there are the highest-tier flawless stones. These have no external or internal blemishes and can sell for millions of dollars, depending on the carat. Expect to pay at least four to ten times more for one of these incredibly precious and rare diamonds. 

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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