Diamond Clarity Characteristics – Part 1

A Guide to ReadingGIA Clarity Plotting Symbols 🧐


Tough and brilliant as they are, diamonds are formed under extreme heat and pressure, which is why nearly every one possesses “clarity characteristics”, including internal features (called inclusions) and external features (called blemishes). Flawless diamonds are extremely rare and precious. We have previously introduced the GIA Clarity Scale, which is divided into 6 categories and a total of 11 grades. Read about it here in case you missed it.

Inclusions and blemishes would directly impact the clarity amongst the 4Cs of diamonds. To find out about a diamond’s clarity, besides obviously looking at the “Clarity Grade” listed on the GIA Diamond Grading Report, another important indicator would be the diamond clarity plotting diagram under the “Clarity Characteristics” section.


GIA Diamond Grading Report

Image credit: GIA.edu

The diamond clarity plotting diagram maps out, using specific symbols, the various clarity characteristics of a diamond, including inclusions and blemishes, their shapes, sizes and positions. It is an extremely useful reference when choosing and purchasing diamonds. The diagram below shows an example of a diamond with a high VS1 clarity grade on the left, which barely has any plotted symbols of inclusions, indicating excellent clarity. On the contrary, the diamond on the right is covered with red and green symbols illustrating plenty of inclusions and blemishes. These densely packed internal and external characteristics greatly lower the clarity of the diamond, even making it appear cloudy and hazy, which is the reason for its low I3 clarity grade.



What exactly do those squiggly red and green lines mean? The colours and markings represent each type of characteristic under the following main categories:

  • Red: most inclusions

  • Green: blemishes and/or naturals

  • Black: extra facets



In this blog entry, first of a 2-part series, we will introduce the various diamond clarity characteristics focusing on inclusions (internal characteristics or those that extend into the diamond from its surface) and their GIA plotting symbols, while we will share more about blemishes next time!






Image credits: GIA.edu

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