Every diamond, be it natural, or a lab-grown simulant, is graded in quality based on standards set in place by the Gemology Institute of America (GIA). These standards cover Cut, Carat Weight, Color, and Clarity—the 4 Cs of diamonds. In order to find a simulated diamond engagement ring you love, it’s important to know all that determines a diamond’s quality, and thus cost.
Diamonds are chosen and loved because of their beauty, but value is important too. When you are armed with the information that determines how much a diamond costs, you can make an educated choice that suits both your style and your budget. In terms of clarity, knowing what classifies as an IF diamond (Internally Flawless) will benefit you in your search.
“Internally Flawless” is a clarity rating given to diamonds, so to understand Internally Flawless diamonds, it’s important to first understand diamond clarity. Clarity is the amount and size of inclusions and blemishes i.e. flaws or lack thereof of a diamond and how these flaws affect the appearance of the stone.
Understanding Diamond Clarity
Inclusions and blemishes determine a diamond’s clarity grade, but what are they? A natural diamond is created by tremendous heat and pressure within the earth that cause carbon atoms to form together and take shape. Throughout this process, the diamond takes on certain characteristics that affect its appearance. Internal characteristics are called ‘inclusions’ and external characteristics are called ‘blemishes.’ Inclusions are actually small crystals that become trapped in a diamond and can grow and change as it forms, sometimes even becoming a diamond within a diamond.
The Gemological Institute of America has a clarity scale in which it ranks diamonds that is widely adopted as the industry standard. The highest clarity grading is ‘Flawless.’ The lowest clarity grading is ‘Included.’ The size, position and visibility of inclusions and blemishes impact a diamond’s clarity grade; The fewer the inclusions and blemishes, the higher the clarity score, although no natural diamond is completely without inclusions and blemishes. Even a flawless grade diamond will show the impacts of being formed beneath the earth’s surface if it is viewed with magnification of 60X to 100X. Only dramatic differences in clarity are noticeable to the human eye.
The clarity grades are as follows from highest to lowest:
- Flawless (FL): No inclusions or blemishes visible under 10x magnification of diamond
- Internally Flawless (IF): Diamonds that contain no visible inclusions under 10x magnification
- Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2): hese diamonds have inclusions that are so slight that they are difficult for an even skilled grader to see under 10x magnification.
- Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2): Inclusions are observed with effort under 10x magnification, but can be characterized as minor.
- Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2): Inclusions are noticeable under 10x magnification
- Included (I1, I2, and I3): Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification
What is an Internally Flawless Diamond?
As stated above, an Internally Flawless diamond (IF) has no visible inclusions under 10x magnification. This matters because inclusions affect the appearance of a diamond. They can cause it to look milky, scratched, hazy, cracked, or even partially colored. When you look at an IF Diamond, under magnification or with a naked eye, you won’t see any of these side effects. IF diamonds have no hint of inner imperfection.
Inclusions aren’t only beauty marks though, they can also affect a diamond’s durability, especially if they occur near the sharp corners of certain shaped stones such as princess, pear, and emerald. With an Internally Flawless diamond, there’s no risk of inclusions causing potential damage.
There is a reason for the “Internally” in “Internally Flawless”. While there are no inclusions within the diamond, there could be minor details, polish marks, or graining on the surface or outside of an IF diamond. However, these blemishes are typically hardly visible.
Sparkle is a top priority for diamond shoppers, especially if the stone is for an engagement ring. It will be shown off, after all. Inclusions can affect the transparency and brilliance of a diamond, so the fewer the inclusions, the more sparkle you can expect. An IF diamond will allow for maximum brilliance and fire. Once you reach SI2 or I clarity grades, brilliance and fire may be negatively impacted.
It’s rather unlikely for mined diamonds, which undergo an intense transformation process underneath the earth’s surface and come into contact with many naturally occurring elements there, to form without any inclusions. So, it’s understandable that IF diamonds are extremely rare. In fact, they make up less than one percent of all the diamonds in the world.
Because of their rarity, IF diamonds are extremely valuable, and thus, extremely expensive.
Clarity isn’t the only determinant of price, though. Cut, color and carat weight will also influence the price of a diamond, so you can compromise in these other areas to meet your budget if clarity is the most important to you.
Are IF Diamonds Worth it?
An engagement ring is a significant purchase, so it’s understandable to wonder if IF diamonds are worth it. If you are looking for an exceptional center stone with unparalleled diamond clarity, or are after the rarest of diamonds, then an Internally Flawless diamond will meet your high standards.
However, the steep cost of these stones isn’t attainable for the budget-conscious shopper, and not even necessary. When it comes to a diamond for an engagement ring or other piece of diamond jewelry, having the very best clarity grade isn’t everything. Diamonds with lower clarity grades often appear Internally Flawless to the naked eye, even if inclusions are visible with magnification. Since most admirers of your engagement ring, including you, won’t view it under a magnifying glass on a regular basis, if it all, you may be better off putting your money behind a larger carat weight or excellent cut than spending it all on an Internally Flawless clarity rating.
For the best value, consider a VS2 or SI1 Clarity. These diamonds may have inclusions under the surface, but they will be “eye-clean”, a term used to delineate when inclusions aren’t visible without magnification.
Buying IF Diamonds Online
If you do decide an IF diamond is right for you, you can purchase an IF diamond online with peace of mind. Due to their internally flawless nature, you don’t have to worry whether any imperfections will be noticeable when your ring arrives, because there will be none. Of course, if you want to see how much the diamond sparkles in the sunlight, you may want to shop in person.
How To Choose The Right Diamond
Selecting the right stone is important, but the right stone is largely subjective. If the diamond you choose for your ring is beautiful to you, that is all that matters. Consider your priorities for an engagement ring and balance the 4Cs accordingly. For example, if you want a stone with a hefty carat size, you may want to consider lower color ratings. Keep in mind, with larger diamonds inclusions are more visible. So, if you’re going up in carat, you’ll want to consider going up in clarity too.
In addition to carat size, the shape of the diamond also affects the visibility of inclusions, and thus the clarity grade you’ll want to go after. If you’re in the market for an asscher, emerald, or baguette cut diamond, clarity will be more important than if you want an oval, radiant, cushion, marquis, or pear diamond, all of which have intricate patterns that reflect light and hide inclusions better than the step-cut diamond shapes. In the latter scenarios, an SI1 or SI2 diamond will give you the best value.
IF Diamond Clarity Without The Cost
While it is difficult to find a natural IF diamond for a good value, it is possible with lab created diamond alternatives or simulants. Nexus Diamond™ alternatives are created in a lab, specifically to have IF rated clarity. Because this lab-based formulation process can be easily controlled, when you choose a Nexus Diamond alternative, you are guaranteed a stone with IF rated quality.
This promised quality is just one of the many characteristics that make diamond simulants so desirable. The patented chemical formula used in creating the Nexus diamond alternative can be manipulated to create flawless simulated diamonds that are of the highest grading on every quality scale from clarity to color. While this sets simulants apart from diamonds on a microscopic level, all you, the wearer, will see is a stunning stone that looks, weighs, and feels the same as a traditional diamond.
Additionally, while natural IF diamonds have the capability to break any budget, the Nexus diamond alternative allows you to shop a wide selection of flawless stones all within your means. You don’t have to compromise on quality to meet your budget. Here, you can choose a stone for both its beauty and its value—your dream ring can be yours.
*Here at Diamond Nexus, we strive to provide valuable information while being clear and honest about our products. The Nexus Diamond™ alternative is a patented lab created diamond simulate that, among all simulants, most closely imitates the look, weight and wear of a diamond, with two exceptions – it is absolutely perfect in every way, and it costs significantly less. Price points and environmental facts expressed in this blog were taken from popular online retailers and may vary. Learn more about the environmental impact of mining by visiting our blog.