Gemstone Clarity

Marquise cut diamond, isolated on white background

After color, the most important factor affecting the value of colored gemstones is clarity – a gemstone’s relative freedom from inclusions. There is no international standard for grading clarity in colored gems similar to GIA’s International Diamond Grading System.  However, GIA has introduced a clarity type system for colored gems that helps consumers to understand that there are different clarity standards for different gem varieties. The GIA system classifies gem varieties according to 3 types.  The clarity grade is based on how visible inclusions are and how much they affect the appearance and durability of a gemstone.  Since different gemstone types and varieties have certain natural characteristics in regard to clarity and inclusions, some of which are actually desirable, there is no official grading system that can be fairly applied to all gemstone varieties. Therefore, it is important to understand how gemstone clarity is evaluated.

Transparent, faceted gemstones are broken down into three different clarity groups based on their type or variety before they are evaluated and assigned an overall grade. This is because each gemstone type and variety has a different range of what is considered to be ‘normal’ in regard to clarity and inclusions.  GIA groups each colored stone variety conveniently into one of three clarity types as follows:

[su_box title=”Type 1″ box_color=”#2E85AE”]Stones that are often virtually inclusion free. They are so abundant in this quality that even minor inclusions detract from their desirability. Type 1 gems include aquamarine, morganite, yellow beryl, chrysoberyl, kunzite, danburite, green tourmaline, smoky quartz, imperial topaz, blue topaz, blue zircon, white zircon and tanzanite.[/su_box]

[su_box title=”Type 2″ box_color=”#2E85AE”]These gemstones are usually included. Some ‘eye clean’ gemstones can be found, but are not nearly as common in occurrence as type 1 gem types. Stones with minor inclusions that are visible to the unaided eye are often used for jewelry.  Type 2 gems include amethyst, ametrine, andalusite, alexandrite, citrine, corundum (all sapphire and ruby), garnet, iolite, peridot, spinel, tourmaline that is not green, pink or watermelon, and zircon that is not blue.[/su_box]

[su_box title=”Type 3″ box_color=”#2E85AE”]Stones that are almost always included. Even specimens with obvious inclusions are faceted for use in jewelry. Type 3 gems include emerald, red beryl, idocrase, benitoite, kyanite, prehnite, sphalerite, sphene and watermelon and rubellite tourmaline.[/su_box]

Here is our grading scale:

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  • IF            Loupe Clean-Internally Flawless under 10x magnification
  • VVS       Almost Loupe Clean- Small inclusions that can only be seen under 10x magnification
  • VS           Eye clean – appears clean to the unaided eye.
  • SI            Slightly included – minute inclusions difficult to see with the unaided eye.
  • MI          Moderately included – minor inclusions somewhat easy to see with the unaided eye.
  • HI           Heavily included – prominent inclusions that have a negative effect on appearance or durability.