What is purity?
Purity, also called clarity, describes both the natural birthmarks that are formed within the diamond and its surface imperfections that were not or could not be polished away as nature transformed it from a lump of carbon into a magnificent crystal. Think of a diamond’s purity as its fingerprint. Every diamond is unique and can be identified by its natural markings even though it may require a microscope. These varied markings inside and on the surface of a diamond can look like black specks or lines, white specks or lines, bubbles, cracks, or clouds. At Perrywinkle’s you’ll see diamonds under a state-of-the-art microscope so that you are confident identifying the “fingerprints” that were invisible to your un-aided eye.
The key to mastering purity, however, is not to base your purchasing decision on what you see under the microscope. In fact, often times Perrywinkle’s recommends selecting a lower purity for your diamond. Does that sound like jeweler’s heresy to you? It’s not….. because there’s a caveat. We’ll recommend a lower purity provided that when placed next to the highest purity and examined at very close range you cannot see any difference between the two. Markings that are easy to see under a high quality microscope often times are not visible to the un-aided eye…..and there are other characteristics that play an even more important role in a diamond’s beauty. We will show you hand-selected diamonds placed side-by-side next to the highest clarity available. In most cases, you will not see any difference even when examined at very close range without magnification. Of course, if money were no object then you would choose a flawless diamond (the highest clarity grade, but extraordinarily rare) but in most cases choosing this grade will not get you the most beautiful diamond for your budget.
How purity is measured:
Gemologists observe the size, location, quantity, type and prominence of these inclusions in accordance with the Gemological Institute of America’s precise set of rules and standards in determining a clarity grade. In addition to internal inclusions, inclusions on the surface, called blemishes, are graded. There are eleven “grades” in the GIA clarity scale. For all but the lowest two grades, and sometimes with the third and fourth lowest grades, clarity grades do not determine the diamond’s beauty; the purpose of the grades is to group the diamond according to its rarity.
- Flawless (F)
- Internally Flawless (IF)
- Very Very Slightly Included (VVS1)
- Very Very Slightly Included (VVS2)
- Very Slightly Imperfect Included (VS1)
- Very Slightly Included (VS2)
- Slightly Imperfect Included (SI1)
- Slightly Included (SI2)
- Included (I1)
- Included (I2)
- Included ( I3)
What’s confusing is that you might want to reject an SI2 diamond because it’s only the eighth best grade. But an SI2, and in rare instances an I1 diamond, can be perfectly reasonable choices if they are hand-selected by a highly-experienced diamantaire like Perrywinkle’s. I2 and I3 diamonds can certainly be rejected categorically for an engagement ring. You will be surprised at how Perrywinkle’s diamonds appear “clearer” than ones elsewhere with the same grade using GIA’s guidelines and parameters, especially compared to ones sold online, some of them using different grading parameters but using the same nomenclature.