High Diamonds

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Inclusions are noticeable at 10x magnification with SI diamonds, the best value diamonds.

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With SI1 diamonds, inclusions are sometimes visible to the keen eye without magnification. SI2 clarity grade diamond inclusions are usually visible from the pavilion, or cone-shaped lower portion, and from the top. Thirty percent of all diamond customers buy SI diamonds. VS diamonds have minor inclusions that cannot be seen without 10x magnification. VS1 is a higher clarity grade than VS2, which may have some visible inclusions. Forty-three percent of customers buy VS diamonds.

VVS diamonds have miniscule inclusions that are difficult even for trained eyes to see under 10x magnification. A VVS diamond is an excellent quality diamond and clarity grade. Twenty-one percent of customers buy VVS diamonds. Some small surface blemishes may be visible on IF diamonds. Six percent of customers buy IF diamonds. Six percent of customers buy FL diamonds. In the market for an engagement ring or fine diamond jewelry? Here are a few things you should know about what diamond clarity means when it comes to diamond quality and how different clarity grades affect price.

Internal characteristics of natural diamonds are what gives the diamond its character and uniqueness. Diamond Shape — Some diamond shapes require a higher clarity grade than others. Emerald and Asscher-shaped diamonds referred to as step cut are designed with rectangular facets that emphasize transparency and let you see farther down into the diamond, which can make inclusions more visible. For these diamond shapes, choose a clarity grade of VS1 or better to ensure the inclusions will not be visible.

Conversely, round, princess, oval, marquise, pear, and heart-shaped diamonds may not require as high of a clarity grade. Cut with a brilliant facet pattern, which reflects light from many different angles, these shapes naturally hide many inclusions. Diamond Size — As diamond size increases, the size of the facets the multiple mirror-like surfaces on the diamond also increases.

Diamond Types According to the GIA Clarity Grading Scale

This can make inclusions more visible. Be sure to prioritize a higher clarity grade as the size of your diamond increases.

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When diamonds are graded, they are magnified 10x. The clarity grade of a diamond is based on the most noticeable inclusions when magnified by 10x. At Blue Nile, we offer the highest quality diamonds and deliver the best value for your budget. If you're shopping for a diamond ring or other diamond jewelry, we offer the following diamond clarity grades:.

Diamond Clarity Buying Tips

Learn More. Shop All Diamonds. Colored Diamonds. Shop All Engagement Styles. Engagement Ring Styles Home. Recently Purchased. Ready To Ship Rings. Ring Size Help. Top Engagement Rings. Shop All Wedding Rings. Couple Rings. Birthstone Jewelry Home.

Diamond Clarity: Grading Scale and Buying Tips | Blue Nile

Education Home. Shipping To:. Product selection may have changed due to availability Because of each country's product availability, the selection on this site may not be the same as the one you were previously on. Confirm Cancel. Diamond Education Clarity. Diamond Clarity Diamond clarity is the assessment of small imperfections on the surface and internally. I2, I3 Heavily Included Diamonds I2 and I3 diamonds may have more obvious inclusions at 10x and may be visible to the naked eye. I1 Included Diamonds I1 diamonds have minor inclusions that may be visible to the naked eye.


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See Diamond Jewelry. Shop IF Diamonds. Shop FL Diamonds. Diamond shape and cut play with and impact diamond clarity in different ways. The five diamond clarity factors are: Size — First to get looked at is the size of a characteristic or inclusion. The larger or more noticeable a characteristic, the lower the likely clarity grade. Number — Next is number of easily seen characteristics, not number of total characteristics. Having fewer characteristics means a higher clarity grade. Position — The third factor is the position of a given characteristic; is it under the table most visible and close to a pavilion?

This position turns inclusions into reflectors, which have a bigger impact on the clarity grade. Internal characteristics cannot be graded as flawless or internally flawless diamonds. Color and relief — Color and relief is essentially a measure of how easily seen a characteristic is, or how much contrast there is between the characteristic and surrounding diamond. Build Your Own Jewelry Home. How Shape Affects Price. Learn About the 4Cs.

The Most Personal Path

We don't have any way of drilling to that depth or any other way of traveling down to the upper mantle of the Earth. The diamonds that we see at the surface are ones then that are brought to the surface by a very deep-seated volcanic eruption. It's a very special kind of eruption, thought to be quite violent, that occurred a long time ago in the Earth's history. We haven't seen such eruptions in recent times. They were probably at a time when the earth was hotter, and that's probably why those eruptions were more deeply rooted.

These eruptions then carried the already-formed diamonds from the upper mantle to the surface of the Earth. When the eruption reached the surface it built up a mound of volcanic material that eventually cooled, and the diamonds are contained within that. These are the so-called Kimberlites that are typically the sources of many of the world's mined diamonds.

One of the things we know, therefore, about any diamonds that were brought to the surface is that the process of the Kimberlite eruption bringing the diamonds from the upper mantle to the surface of the Earth had to happen very quickly, because if they were traveling too long and too slowly they would have literally turned into graphite along the way. And so by moving quickly they essentially got locked into place into the diamond structure.

Once the diamonds have been brought from high temperature to low temperature very quickly—and by quickly, we mean in a matter of hours—these eruptions, these Kimberlite pipes moving to the surface, may have been traveling at rates of 20 to 30 miles per hour. Once the diamonds are brought to the surface and cooled relatively quickly, those carbon atoms are locked into place and there's just not enough energy to now start rearranging them into graphite.


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Diamonds are made of carbon so they form as carbon atoms under a high temperature and pressure; they bond together to start growing crystals. Because of the temperature and pressure, under these conditions, carbon atoms will bond to each other in this very strong type of bonding where each carbon atom is bonded to four other carbon atoms. That's why a diamond is such a hard material because you have each carbon atom participating in four of these very strong covalent bonds that form between carbon atoms.

So as a result you get this hard material. Again where the carbon is coming from, how quickly they're growing, those are all still open questions, but obviously the conditions are such that you've got some group of carbon atoms that are in close enough proximity that they start to bond. As other carbon atoms move into the vicinity they will attach on.

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That's the way any crystal grows. It's the process of atoms locking into place that produces this repeating network, this structure of carbon atoms, that eventually grows large enough that it produces crystals that we can see. Each of these crystals, each diamond, one carat diamond, represents literally billions and billions of carbon atoms that all had to lock into place to form this very orderly crystalline structure.

You mentioned that scientists don't know where the carbon comes from. What are some possible sources? In some cases, the carbon seems to have originated within the mantle of the Earth, so carbon that was already in the Earth. In other cases, there's evidence very curiously to suggest that the carbon may have originated near the surface of the Earth.

The thinking there is that this carbon could have literally been carbon that was part of carbonate sediments or animals, plants, shells, whatever, that was carried down into the upper mantle of the Earth by the plate tectonics mechanism called subduction. We really don't know how long it takes. There have been attempts to try to date inclusions in different parts of diamonds, and those have largely been unsuccessful. It may be that diamonds form over periods as short a time as days, weeks, months to millions of years.

Typically, as with many crystals that grow on the Earth, it's not a continuous process. The diamonds may start to grow and then there may be an interruption for some reason — a change in conditions, temperature, pressure, source of carbon, whatever—and they could sit for millions, hundreds of million of years, and then start growing again. That's part of the problem of trying to put some sort of a growth period on them; things don't always occur continuously in the Earth. We can grow diamonds in the lab and we can simulate conditions there. But there are things we have to do to grow diamonds in the laboratory that aren't obvious as to how it happens in the Earth.

In the laboratory, they're typically grown, but there's some catalyst. Some metals are often added to cause the diamonds to grow, but these same catalysts are not observed in the diamonds from the upper mantle of the Earth.

All diamonds, as far as we know, are quite old in the Earth. Most diamond formation probably took place in the Earth in the first couple billion years of the Earth's history. There are diamond deposits that have been discovered that are younger—the rock itself, the Kimberlite, is maybe just tens of hundreds of millions of years old. The way they date diamonds is typically looking at inclusions of other minerals in the diamond that can be radioactively dated. The diamonds themselves can't be dated. But if the mineral inclusions contain certain elements like potassium and things that can be used in a radioactive dating scheme, then by dating the inclusion in the diamond you get some sense of the age of the diamond itself.

And those dates always suggest the diamonds are quite old. At least hundreds of millions of years old, but in most cases billions of years old, anywhere from one to three billion years old, a time when the earth was probably hotter than it is today and so conditions were perhaps more appropriate for diamond growth. The Hope diamond is at least a billion years old.

You don't see the original rock that carried the diamonds to the surface, but they have found some Kimberlites in India that do have evidence of diamonds in them. Those Kimberlites date to at least a billion years old. So that suggests the Hope diamond and similar diamonds found in India were brought to the surface at least a billion years ago and perhaps longer ago.

So we're comfortable saying that the Hope Diamond is at least a billion years old. When you look at the age spread of most other diamonds, it's probably much older that that.



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