Flawless Diamond Clarity

Basics

The flawless diamond and internally flawless diamond are the undisputed queens of clarity. When paired with D color and a top cut grade there is no higher pedigree in the diamond world.

PriceScope Pointer: Unless you have a specific reason to spend for flawless diamond clarity you will get identical clarity appearance at VS1 clarity, most often with VS2 clarity and sometimes even with SI clarity.

Before going on: Check out the PriceScope Diamond Buying Guide

Basics-1 | Flawless Diamond Clarity (FL) Described

The diamond clarity grade describes a stone’s relative freedom from internal characteristics, classified as inclusions, and surface characteristics, classified as blemishes.

When a gemologist examines a diamond and fails to find even minute inclusions or blemishes using 10X magnification the diamond is a candidate for the flawless grade* A skilled grader will examine the stone again, from all directions, to confirm the initial flawless impression. Finish grades are also considered for this designation. Since flawless refers to both the internal and external integrity of the diamond its polish and symmetry are also required to earn the lab’s highest grade.

*Some laboratories will not issue the flawless diamond clarity grade unless the owner of the diamond requests that grade in writing when the diamond is submitted.

Flawless diamonds are permitted to have laser inscriptions on the girdle or laser brand marks/holograms which do not penetrate the surface when examined at 10X.

Internally Flawless (IF) Diamond Clarity

An internally flawless diamond shows only insignificant surface blemishes when examined at 10X magnification. These blemishes can often be removed with minor repolishing except for surface graining, which cannot be polished away.

PriceScope Pointer: Some diamond professionals and collectors believe that a flawless diamond becomes an internally flawless diamond once it’s mounted. Opinions about this vary.

Basics-2 | Let’s get practical

Are FL and IF diamonds always eye-clean?

Absolutely. Any clarity above VS2 is reliably eye clean and the FL and IF grades are four levels of scrutiny higher. Any flawless or internally flawless diamond will be absolutely eye clean by the definition below.

The only characteristics permitted for flawless and internally flawless diamonds include discrete extra facets which cannot be seen from the top, an area of natural skin which is entirely confined to the girdle and internal graining, which is completely transparent, not white, colored, or reflective, and cannot be seen from the top.

There is no laboratory definition for eye clean, but a PriceScope survey of gemologists resulted in this consensus:

Eye clean diamond
Photo courtesy of PS member Soxfan
Eye-clean = No inclusions visible to the unaided eye when viewed from the face up position in daylight equivalent or fluorescent lighting from approximately 6-12 inches from the eye using 20/20 vision.

Basics-3 | Real World Information

A Flawless diamond will not sparkle better than a diamond with lower clarity. A diamond’s observable brightness, fire, sparkle, and contrast are all attributable to its cut-quality. A diamond’s optical properties are not influenced by inclusions and blemishes, except in the very lowest grading category Included: (I1-I2-I3): Those three grades are reserved specifically for diamonds with inclusions numerous or severe enough to impact light transmission and/or durability.

Reality Check

A diamond’s clarity grade is established at 10X magnification. Examination at higher levels of magnification may reveal natural clarity characteristics which do not appear at 10X. Such characteristics are permitted in “flawless” diamonds since they were not a technical consideration at 10X magnification.

D Flawless Prestige

FL or IF clarity, when paired with D color and a top cut grade (for round brilliants) represents the highest pedigree in the diamond world. This “D Flawless” (or IF) pedigree becomes even more prestigious when the diamond type is confirmed to be Type IIa, the most chemically pure in nature.

Collection Quality

A flawless or internally flawless diamond, when paired with D,E or F color and a top cut grade, are considered to be collection quality. Such diamonds, with the purest natural color and clarity grades, have typically held their value best over time and have special status in the eyes of many diamond professionals, collectors, enthusiasts, and auction houses.


Intermediate Flawless Diamond Clarity

Analysis

Analysis-1 | Where does a flawless diamond rank?

The internationally accepted grading scale and terminology for diamond clarity consists of 11 grading levels. Grading is traditionally performed using 10 power (10X) magnification. Flawless and internally flawless diamonds exist represent the highest point on the scale.

diamond clarity chart - flawless clarity

diamond clarity chart - low clarities

A clarity grader will also consider the location, number, color, size and nature of the characteristics present at 10x magnification when deciding the clarity grade. Logically, this will only apply to diamonds considered internally flawless.

Analysis-2 | Standards, Subjectivity and Value

While the descriptive scale above is universally applied, standards can vary between individuals and organizations that decide flawless diamond clarity.

Subjectivity

Variance between reputable graders and organizations may be attributable to standard deviation. Color and clarity judgments are matters of opinion and diamonds often sit on the border of two grades. The only time this becomes an issue is when a buyer and seller disagree about which set of grades establish the diamond’s value.

Value and Over Grading

Intentional over grading has been a historic issue in the diamond trade. Over grading is a willingness to purposely deviate from internationally accepted standards to inflate the perceived value of a diamond. Certain locations of the EGL (now closed) became infamous for over-grading loose diamonds, by 3-4 grades in some cases, permitting unscrupulous sellers to overcharge consumers.

Value and Under Grading

Under grading occurs when a jeweler examines a diamond and claims it was over graded to create fear-based doubts in the diamond owner’s mind. The most frequent example of under grading is when one jeweler implies a consumer overpaid a competing jeweler, hoping the consumer will return the diamond and purchase there, instead.

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