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Diamonds formed deep within the earth. As they formed under extreme heat and pressure, they often resulted in unique visible characteristics. Sometimes other minerals or even other diamond crystals became entrapped within the formed diamond. Very often the crystal structure developed a break or a distortion. Only in very rare cases did a diamond form without any of these visible characteristics. So rare, that today most jewelers have never seen what is called a flawless diamond.
Diamond clarity is the assessment of a diamond's internal and external characteristics. Internal characteristics are called inclusions and are inside the diamond crystal. External characteristics are called blemishes are confined to the surface of the diamond. This assessment is made by a trained grader using 10x magnification evaluating all inclusions and blemishes for the following factors: size, location, nature, number and color (or relief). Certain inclusions have the most impact on the clarity grade and are called "grade setting inclusions". Other more minor inclusions may bear no significance to the final grade.
There are two clarity grading systems that we use when grading diamonds. The GIA Clarity Grade and the AGS Clarity Grade. The two grading scales relate directly to one another and so can be interpreted back and forth easily. The GIA clarity grade is the system in most common usage, while the AGS clarity grade is very easily understood.
The GIA clarity scale is made up of six categories: included (I), slightly included (SI), very slightly included (VS), very, very slightly included (VVS), internally flawless (IF) and flawless (FL).
These categories are further broken down into eleven clarity grades. The included category is divided into three grades: I1, I2, and I3. The SI, VS, and VVS categories are each broken up into two grades: SI1, SI2, VS1, VS2, VVS1 and VVS2.
The AGS clarity grade is an intuitive number scale from 0 to 10. 0 is the highest clarity grade and 10 is the lowest. These number grades correlate with the GIA clarity scale with some minor differences in the 7-10 range.
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