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Clarity is one of the Four C's of diamond grading, representing the four main variables that are used to calculate the quality and value of a diamond. The term "clarity" refers to the presence, or absence of tiny imperfections known as "inclusions." These inclusions can occur within the stone, or on the surface of the cut stone, and can be naturally occurring, or human caused.
Inclusions which are not visible to the naked eye (eye clean) fall into the GIA range of "IF" (Internally Flawless) to "SI2" (Small Inclusions). Inclusions which are visible to the naked eye are referred to as piqué, and so-called "piqué diamonds" fall into the GIA grading range of I1 to I3 (CIBJO grade P1 to P3).
This section contains a compendium of photography depicting all of the various types of diamond inclusions—both naturally occurring, and man-made imperfections—that can be found in raw and cut diamonds. All of the microscopic inclusion photographs on this page were generously contributed by the A.G.S.L. gemological testing laboratory in Las Vegas, Nevada, and beautifully photographed by their Director of Gem Services, Joe Vanells.
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Internal Diamond Inclusion Photos
Tiny black spots caused by undigested carbon inclusions (natts). Black material found within internal fracture planes can also be crystallographic inclusions of graphite, ferropericlase, pyrrhotite and pentlandite.
Piqué Carbon Inclusion Photos
A dense grouping of tiny pinpoints that create a cloudy zone which may not resolve as individual pinpoints at 10X Magnification.
Cloud Inclusion Photos
Cleavage planes or internal stress fractures that have the appearance of feathers. Common around included crystals.
Feather Inclusion Photos
Grain Center (GrCnt)
A concentrated area of crystal growth that can appear light or dark.
Grain Center Inclusion Photos
Imperfection formed during crystal growth, when a tube is generated by a formerly liquid filled cavity.
Growth Tube Inclusion Photos
Included Crystals (Xtl)
Included and undigested gemstones or fragments of garnet, diopside, spinel, olivine, calcite, iron oxides, or silica.
Included Crystals Inclusion Photos
Internal Graining (IntGr)
Irregular crystal growth causing internal distortions, waviness, and/or haze. Can be accompanied by internal strain.
Internal Graining Inclusion Photos
Internal Laser Drilling (LDH)
Internal pathway caused by laser-drilling to remove large inclusions, and where pathway does not breach the cut diamond's surface.
Internal Laser Drilling Inclusion Photos
Rutile-like needle-shaped inclusions.
Needle Inclusion Photos
Minute crystals within the diamond that appear white. Large groupings of small pinpoints can create a cloud effect.
Pinpoint Inclusion Photos
Inclusions and defects resulting from crystal-twining during crystal growth. Can be accompanied by graining and strain.
Twinning Wisp Inclusion Photos
Odds & Ends: Microscopic Diamond Inclusion Beauty Photos
Natural External Diamond Inclusions or Blemishes
An inclusion that penetrates the surface, appearing as a raised area.
Knot Inclusion Photos
Indented Natural (IndN)
A naturally occurring indentation in the crystal that was not removed during cutting or polishing.
Indented Natural Inclusion Photos
A bumpy or wavy 'orange-peel' textured pattern on the polished surface of a diamond.
Lizard Skin Inclusion Photos
A raised portion of the rough diamond's original surface structure that remains visible on the surface of a polished stone.
Natural Inclusion Photos
Dislodged pinpoint inclusions at the surface.
Surface Graining (SGr)
Visible surface lines caused by irregular crystallization during formation.
Surface Graining Inclusion Photos
Human Caused Surface Blemishes
A tightly grouped series of nicks along the sharp edge of facet junctions, creating a whitish fuzzy edge as opposed to a sharp edge.
Bearded Girdle (BG)
Fine cracks, chips, fringing, or feathers along the outer edge of girdle.
A percussion mark or hole caused by impact and surrounded by tiny feathers.
Created during polishing, the overheating of a facet causes a burn mark.
An indentation resulting from a feather or damage during polishing.
Damage usually occurring on the sharp edge of a facet.
Created when a rough particle is dragged along the surface, or caught by a included crystal, during cutting and/or polishing the diamond.
Drag Line Photos
Extra Facet (EF)
An asymmetrical and irregularly placed facet that is not part of the original faceting scheme.
Fractures or feathers that have been artificially filled to enhance clarity.
Filled Fracture Photos
Laser Etching or Markings
Careless or inadvertent laser etchings, markings, and inscriptions.
Laser Etching Photos
Polish Lines (PL)
Fine parallel surface groves resulting from the polishing process.
Polish Marks (PM)
Also known as "Wheel Marks," whitish film on the surface of a facet caused by excessive heat during polishing.
A fine whitish line that can be curved or straight.
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