It’s easy to get caught up in searching online for a diamond that is totally free of inclusions, especially when the real diamond image you’re looking at is the size of a baseball ball on your screen. In reality, the diamond you’ll be buying is likely the size of a pencil eraser, and so we can shift our focus instead to finding a stone that is free from visible inclusions.
Don’t Overspend on High Clarity Grades
When someone overpays for a diamond, a good majority of the time it’s because they didn’t understand the notion of ‘eye clean’. Instead of finding a diamond that has inclusions but aren’t visible to the naked eye, they went with the basic understanding clarity grade and got a diamond with a high clarity grade (i.e. FL, IF, VVS1, VVS2 range). This common mistake causes shoppers to pay for something that isn’t absolutely necessary.
Focus on Eye Clean Instead of Clarity Grade
In an ideal consumer friendly world, the 4C’s would be replaced by a new set of E and C’s
- Carat Weight
- Color Grade
While I’m certain the above has the marketing team behind “The 4C’s of Diamonds” in a rage, focusing on “eye-clean” instead of “clarity” is one of the most important lessons a shopper can learn. Not surprisingly, this can also help save several hundred of dollars.
Shoppers should understand that clarity grades are a ranking system designed for diamond retailers and gemologists to categorize their stones into collections. They do this by using a magnifying loupe which allows them to see infinitely small inclusions. Because normal people don’t walk around with magnifying loupes in their pockets, clarity grade is NOT something shoppers should use while picking stones. Shoppers should look at all stones (regardless of clarity grade) and simply categorize them into two buckets – “Clean” and “Not Clean”.
Eye Clean IF
Eye Clean VVS2
Eye Clean SI1
Eye Clean SI2
The Eye-Clean Analogy
When learning something new, it’s always helpful to put things in the context of everyday life. Consider the following example where we’ve translated gemologist speak to consumer speak.
|FL||Flawless||Cleaner than Mr. Clean|
|IF||Internally Flawless||So damn clean you could eat off it|
|VVS1||Very Very Slight Included||Really really really clean|
|VVS2||Very Very Slight Included||Wow, Super clean|
|VS1||Very Slight Included||Yup, clean|
|VS2||Very Slight Included||Could be clean|
|SI1||Slight Included||Might be clean|
|SI2||Slight Included||Hope it’s clean|
|I1 / I2 / I3||Included||Definately not clean|
Now, imagine your significant other (fiancé-to-be) is coming over for a romantic dinner. When she arrives, she takes a quick glance around and throws you a smile because your place is clean. As you might imagine, she isn’t concerned with the exact DEGREE of clean as it’s literally impossible to gauge by look alone. The same applies to diamond shopping. You want a diamond that looks clean with no visual inclusions. The exact degree of clean is irrelevant as you can’t tell the difference using just the naked eye. This is what’s known as “eye-clean”. Anything more is just paying for something you literally can’t see.
Eye-Clean Diamonds Can be Found in SI2 Grade or better
If you’re just starting your diamond search, we recommend you start with SI2 diamonds. Eye-clean diamonds be found at each clarity grade from SI2 and better. If you don’t find an eye clean stone at SI2 clarity, move on up to SI1. Repeat the process till you find your desired eye clean stone. It may take some time to find an eye-clean SI1/SI2 stone but that patience will translate into money saved!