All diamonds have inclusions, except internally flawless diamonds, and few of us have the budget to afford these!
An inclusion is an imperfection in a diamond. It’s a naturally occurring phenomenon, and can take various forms, from a tiny black pinpoint through to a white crystal effect in the stone.
Inclusions are referred to by the term ‘clarity’ of a diamond. This is one of the 4Cs of diamonds.
In a nutshell, the fewer inclusions, the better the 鑽石.
One of the most common questions, therefore, is at what point can you start to see inclusions in a diamond with the naked eye. After all, unless you buy a flawless diamond, your diamond will have inclusions, but the last thing you want when you look at the stone is to easily see these imperfections.
Firstly, bear in mind that diamonds are graded under laboratory conditions. This is why clarity is graded as Flawless, VVS1, VVS2, VS1, VS2, SI1, SI2, and so on. But at which one of these levels are inclusions visible?
Well, the answer to this question lies in (a) the cut of the stone, and (b) the size of the stone, and (c) the position of the inclusions.
Let’s consider the cut of the diamond. Think of it this way – the more facets in the diamond, the better disguised any inclusions will be. This is why with round brilliant cuts and princess cuts, for example, you can usually go down to a clarity grade of SI1 and even SI2 and achieve an eye-clean diamond. Yes, the diamond will contain inclusions, but these diamonds are cut to maximize sparkle, and that is the first thing you will see with this diamond….sparkle, not inclusions. Emerald cut diamonds, on the other hand, have far fewer facets than round diamonds. With this cut of stone, therefore, with a clarity grade of SI1 or SI2, you probably WILL see some inclusions with the naked eye, as looking into the diamond from the top, the stone is transparent as it uses step-cut facets. Therefore, with emerald cut stones, I’d say go for a minimum clarity level of VS2, but ideally VS1+.
With regards to the size of the stone, it goes without saying that the larger the diamond, the more visible inclusions are likely to be, so bear this in mind as well.
And finally, the position of the inclusions. Again, common sense dictates that if your diamond has a big inclusion right in the middle of the diamond, then it will be more visible than if the inclusion were positioned off to the side of the stone.