It is true that clarity is important for the appearance of your diamond, but this quality factor is not the only criterion you should look at when shopping. If we examine the 4 Cs (Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat), we will see that two of them are no less important than clarity: Color and Cut. These two characteristics can greatly affect how bright and brilliant a diamond looks.
Let’s see what role color and cut can play when it comes to diamond clarity and how they can affect the visibility of inclusions.
How Color Affects Diamond Appearance
Diamond color is graded by the G.I.A. (Gemological Institute of America) using letters from D to Z.
The less color a diamond has, the higher its quality is considered. For example, diamonds whose color is graded “D” are virtually colorless.
Stones lower on the color scale have a stronger yellowish tint, which becomes easily visible when looking at diamonds graded “J” and lower.
Generally, the stronger the color of a diamond, the less bright it looks.
While diamond color does not directly affect the clarity grade of a stone, a strong yellow tint can make diamond inclusions stand out more by making the stone seem darker.
Tinted diamonds can also look a bit dirty, giving the stone a less clear appearance.
The Importance of Diamond Cut
Diamond cut is an extremely important characteristic. Although it is sometimes overlooked by buyers, there are experts who consider cut the most crucial factor for diamond quality.
The reason cut is so important has to do with how it affects the brilliance and sparkle of a diamond. The way a diamond’s facets are arranged determines how light entering the stone will bend and be reflected back to your eye.
If a diamond is cut with certain proportions, its brilliance will be maximized. The further a stone deviates from this “ideal cut,” the less sparkle the diamond will have.
As it turns out, the more proportional the cut of a diamond, the more brilliance the stone will exhibit, concealing some of its inclusions.
Diamonds that have a poor cut, on the other hand, lack brilliance as light leaks out of them, and as a result, the flaws in these stones are more noticeable.
How to Decide on Cut, Color and Clarity When Shopping
When choosing a diamond, don’t focus on clarity to the exclusion of other factors. You should consider the three most important Cs (Color, Cut and Clarity) together.
As a rule, good color and cut can make a low-clarity diamond look better, but this effect is most prominent in stones with a clarity grade of SI2 and lower as they have inclusions that can be seen with the naked eye.
Diamonds with clarity of SI1 and higher have flaws that cannot be seen without a loupe or microscope, so the presence of inclusions in these stones is not such a big deal.
When choosing clarity, don’t look for the highest grade you can get on your budget, neglecting cut and color. A diamond with close to perfect clarity but with poor cut, for example, will look worse than a stone that has slight inclusions but an excellent cut.
A better approach is to look at diamonds in the lowest clarity grade in which inclusions cannot be seen with the naked eye (e.g., clarity in the VS-SI range) and spend more money on cut and color.
As a rule of thumb, try to get a diamond with a cut that is rated Good or higher on the G.I.A. scale.
For color, pick a diamond that doesn’t have a visible tint. Don’t go lower than the “J” color grade unless the stone will be set in a colored metal such as yellow gold, which will make the stone look tinted anyway.