Diamond Cut vs Clarity

Diamond Cut vs Clarity

Bottom Line Recommendations

  • When deciding between a diamond’s cut and a diamond’s clarity, it is the cut that should be given priority. This is because it has the largest effect on the appearance of the diamond.
  • While you can compromise on the clarity of the diamond, it is not a good idea to compromise on the cut quality. Since the brilliance and fire of the diamond will be affected most by the cut, a high cut quality can help mask the imperfections in the diamond. Take a look at this VSI round cut here.
  • When deciding on the ideal clarity scale for your diamond, it’s important to consider the type of cut as well as the size of the stone. Step cuts such as the emerald and the Asscher cut focus more on the luster and clarity of the stone. Therefore, for these diamonds, you will need to go higher up on the clarity scale to get an eye-clean stone. Take a look at this Emerald cut here. Its large table makes it easy to spot the imperfections.
  • Brilliant cuts, on the other hand, focus more on the reflective capabilities of the stone which means that you can go lower on the clarity scale for an even better deal. An example is this radiant cut here.
  • Clarity can affect the fire and brilliance of a diamond. The more the imperfections, the more likely they are to interfere with the light reflection in the diamond.

James Allen Diamonds

Before going out in search of your ideal diamond, chances are you have done your homework and come across the 4Cs of diamond quality. These are the color, carat weight, cut, and clarity.

These are the 4 main factors that you need to consider when buying your loose diamond. However, do you start with any of the 4Cs or do you give priority to some factors more than others?

The truth is that there are factors that are more important and should, therefore, be given priority. Two of these are the cut and the clarity as these have the most significant effect on the appearance of the diamond.

What’s more, you may find two identical-looking diamonds that have a huge difference in the price. It all comes down to the differences in the 4Cs.

Let’s find out more about the diamond clarity and the diamond cut below.

Diamond Cut

The Diamond Cut

The appearance and beauty of a diamond are affected most by the quality of its cut. The cut is not the shape of the diamond but rather the symmetry, proportions and the polish of the stone.

It is not a simple task to judge the cut of a diamond. Note however that there are three main factors on the diamond that are affected by its cut. These are the brilliance, fire, and scintillation.

The brilliance is the brightness of the diamond and is a result of optimal light reflection inside the stone which is then directed back to the observer.

Fire refers to the color flashes that you see in a diamond and is a result of white light being dispersed inside the diamond into its seven colors. The higher the cut quality the more the dispersion and therefore the more the fire.

Scintillation, on the other hand, is the flashing of light on the diamond when the stone is moved around in the light.

A diamond may have excellent color or clarity and may even come in ideal carat weight, but if it’s cut quality is not good, then there will be little brilliance, fire, and scintillation making the stone appear dull and lifeless.

What’s more, is that a well-cut diamond will allow you to go lower on the clarity scale and still get a stunning diamond. This is because the brilliance and scintillation will hide most of the imperfections. As a result, you can save significantly and get a great deal.

If you want to maximize brilliance, make sure you choose a diamond that is in the very good or excellent cut grade, if that is, you are going for the round diamond.

However, if you are going for the fancy shaped diamonds, a cut grade of good or above is ideal. This is according to the GIA cut scale which is the most widely accepted and widely used grading of diamonds in the world.

Take a look at the GIA cut scale below.

ExcellentVery GoodGoodFairPoor


Also, when evaluating the cut, make sure that the diamond has good symmetry and is well polished.

If you are on a budget, choose a diamond that is lower on the carat weight and clarity. You may go down the cut scale to Good or Fair but the brilliance will also be lower in these diamonds. However, this will allow you to save a lot on the price while still getting a nice-looking diamond.

Never go for a Poor cut diamond. Even while it may be high on the clarity scale, it will still come out dull and lifeless and will not be appealing to the eye.

The ideal diamond cut proportions

The proportions of a diamond refer to how the size, the angles well as the shape of the facets work together to provide the ideal cut. There can be a wide range of different interactions between these factors which ultimately determines how the diamond behaves.

When a diamond is exposed to light, up to 20% will be reflected off the surface of the stone. This is known as glare and it is the light that will not enter the diamond.

This leaves a remaining 80%. Some of the light will go through the diamond and will be lost through the bottom of the stone.

With the best cut, the diamond will prevent most of the light from escaping and will be reflected in the observer.

The diamond depth %

The depth is the distance between the table and the culet of the diamond. This is when observing the diamond from the side.

The depth percentage is gotten by taking the depth and dividing it by the width of the diamond. The less the depth percentage the larger a diamond tends to appear. Note however that the smaller the depth percentage the more likely that light will escape through the pavilion and will not be reflected the observer.

The table %

This is gotten by dividing the width of the table by the total width of the diamond. A larger table allows maximum light into the diamond. However, all other factors including the angle of the pavilion facets need to be right for maximum light reflection.

When buying your diamond, do not just rely on the lab report. This doesn’t give a clear indication of the appearance of the diamond. For that, it is better to observe the diamond yourself using 360-degree videos and images of the stone.

Diamond Clarity Scale

The Diamond Clarity

Diamonds are formed deep in the earth’s crust under immense pressure. They are therefore prone to having imperfections inside their structures known as inclusions or on their surfaces known as blemishes.

The clarity of a diamond refers to how much such imperfections are visible. When the diamond is being cut from the rough stone, the expert cutter will try the best that they can to ensure that inclusions and blemishes are not easily seen.

Inclusions are much harder to see when they are located nearer the edges than if they are located further from the edges.

The most commonly used scale for judging the clarity of diamonds is the GIA clarity scale. Before a diamond can be given a clarity scale, the number, sizes, location and how visible the imperfections are will be considered.

The GIA clarity scale is as shown below.

Flawless (FL)—there are no blemishes or inclusions that can be seen under 10x magnification.

Internally Flawless (IF)—there are no inclusions that can be seen under 10X magnification.

Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1-VVS2)—these are slight inclusions and only a very skilled grader will be able to see them under 10X magnification.

Very Slightly Included (VSI1-VSI2)—there are slight and minor inclusions that can be seen under 10X magnification.

Included (I1, I2, and I3)—the inclusions are very easy to see under 10X magnification and these may affect the appearance and brightness of the stone.

When searching for a stone that is clear and has no visible inclusions, go for a VVS2 diamond or higher in the clarity scale.

That said, many diamond buyers will go for the VSI diamonds. To the naked eye, the diamonds look completely clear and flawless. Even better is that the price of these diamonds is highly affordable. Up to 50% of all diamonds bought will be on this clarity scale.

You can go for a lower clarity scale but do not compromise on the cut quality. A high-quality cut results in a diamond that has plenty of fire and brilliance and one that will hide the imperfections well.

On the other hand, if you are concerned about the price of the diamond, you can opt for an I1 on the clarity scale. Granted the inclusions will be visible to the naked eye, but the benefit is that you can go even lower on the price.

Keep in mind that the higher you go on the carat weight, the easier it gets to see the inclusions. This, therefore, means that clarity becomes even more important. If you plan on buying a large stone that is over 2 carats, then it is advisable to go for the VS2 or better clarity scale.

On the other hand, if it is less than 1 carat, you can go lower on the clarity scale to SI1.

The Diamond Plot

The GIA diamond report will come with a diamond plot of the location of the inclusions and blemishes. These are the imperfections that will be seen under 10X magnification.

Note that the diamond plot will only show the location of the imperfection. How visible the imperfections are will be stated by the clarity grade. This means that while two diamonds could have similar plots, they will have different clarity scales.

Note that it is always important to view 360-degree angles of the diamond. This will help you judge the appearance of the diamond in the best way.

Diamond cut vs clarity — Brilliance

The diamond cut has the most effect on the brilliance of a diamond. It is considered the most important of the 4Cs. A stone with a high-quality cut will have a lot of brightness and can hide the imperfections.

On the other hand, the clarity of the diamond will affect the brilliance of the stone indirectly by disrupting the reflection of the light rays inside the diamond.

Diamond cut vs clarity — Fire

The diamond-cut will determine the amount of fire in the stone. Fire is the dispersion of white light into its seven colors. A high-quality cut will result in more fire which in turn gives the diamond its life.

The clarity of the diamond will affect its fire indirectly by disrupting the light dispersion in the diamond.

Diamond cut vs clarity — Step cuts and brilliant cuts

The type of cut whether step cut or brilliant cut will be affected by both the clarity and the cut of the diamond.

Step cut diamonds are designed to show off their amazing luster and clarity. Their larger table facets make it easy to spot any imperfections. With these types of cuts such, it is important to pick a diamond much higher in the clarity scale.

You can afford to go lower on the clarity scale with brilliant cuts such as the princess cut and the radiant cut. These have amazing brilliance when they have a high-quality cut and can, therefore, hide the imperfections much better than step cuts.

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