Some people are faced with a dilemma when buying a diamond: Should they choose a bigger stone and save on clarity, or should they get a smaller diamond of higher clarity? Let’s see how you should choose between diamond clarity and carat weight.
Are Bigger Diamonds Always Better?
A lot of people think that it is better to go for a bigger diamond while saving money on cut, color, or clarity. However, this is not always a good idea.
You should keep in mind that larger stones are more visible, and whatever imperfections they have, such as yellowish tints, natural flaws, or nonsymmetrical cut, will be more noticeable.
Should You Choose Bigger Diamonds with Lower Clarity?
If you decide to go down the clarity scale and buy a diamond with a higher carat weight, you should remember that you are more likely to end up with a stone that has visible flaws and whose size makes them even more noticeable.
This is especially true with diamonds whose clarity is graded SI2 or I1/I2/I3 as these stones usually have inclusions that can be seen with the naked eye.
And the bigger a stone, the more attention it attracts, and the more likely it is that someone will notice its imperfections.
When to Choose Smaller Diamonds
In general, if you are about to buy a diamond of clarity lower than VS2/SI1, it is best to go with a smaller stone.
As already mentioned, when you get in these clarity ranges, the diamonds are more likely to have visible inclusions.
There is another reason to go with smaller diamonds when shopping for low-clarity stones: You are more likely to find a smaller diamond with invisible inclusions that a bigger one.
This is because on average, smaller diamonds have fewer inclusions than bigger diamonds of the same clarity.
You are more likely to find a stone whose flaws are not visible or happen to be placed in a not-so-prominent location if the diamond is small rather than big.
Should You Choose Higher Clarity at the Expense of Carat?
In general, buying a higher-clarity diamond that is smaller is a better choice than getting a bigger stone of lower clarity. That is from a purely aesthetic standpoint.
It is most important to adhere to this principle when the only way to get a higher-carat diamond is to accept clarity that is so low that the stone has visible inclusions.
However, there are cases when lower clarity does not necessarily translate into a visible difference.
When Higher Clarity Does Not Matter
It is not necessary for a bigger diamond of lower clarity to look worse than a smaller stone of higher clarity.
This is because top-clarity diamonds do not differ visibly from mid-clarity stones in terms of how noticeable their flaws are.
They do differ, but those differences are only seen under magnification, not so much with the naked eye.
So, how low can you go in clarity before the difference starts to become visible?
Generally, if you go lower than the VS2-SI1 clarity range, the stones are more likely to have inclusions easily seen with the naked eye.
Keep in mind that every diamond is different, so you will need to examine each stone carefully to make sure it looks good to you clarity-wise.
Clarity vs. Carat: How to Choose
To get as big a diamond as possible that still looks clean and is as affordable as possible, look for eye-clean diamonds.
Those are stones that don’t have flaws visible with the naked eye from a reasonable viewing distance.
Look for such diamonds that are in the lowest possible clarity grade and still look clean – you will most likely find them in the VS2-SI1 clarity range (sometimes even in the SI2 grade).
Where to Buy Diamonds and Diamond Jewelry?
For diamond jewelry, we highly recommend James Allen because it shows real photos and videos for each diamond so you can take a 360-degree look at any stone before buying it.
For colored diamonds, we recommend Leibish & Co., which specializes in fancy color diamonds (use code JewelryNotes200 at checkout to get a 5% discount).