There are four basic parameters that diamond buyers must take into consideration when choosing a diamond, these are: cut, clarity, color, and carat weight. While all these factors affect a diamond’s appearance, most people don’t mind sacrificing one or two qualities in exchange for a bigger diamond.
For instance, some buyers might not mind a diamond that shows a visible tinge of color as long as it is bigger in size. However, when it comes to clarity vs. carat weight, the decision might be harder to make. This is because visible inclusions can tarnish a diamond’s overall appeal especially if it is a big stone.
When cutting diamonds, diamond cutters try their best to conceal any inclusions and blemishes. Inclusions are tiny defects or imperfections found inside the diamond. Some diamonds might also have some imperfections on the surface; these are called blemishes. Both inclusions and blemishes affect a diamond’s brilliance (i.e. how much light they reflect).
When it comes to diamond clarity, the size, number, and position of inclusions are all taken into consideration and affect a diamond’s value. This is why diamond cutters make it a point to hide them in strategic areas like the girdle or under the facets in the bezel where they won’t do much to affect a diamond’s visible appearance.
How Much Clarity Can You Sacrifice for Carat Weight?
If there were no budget constraints, anyone would be happy to receive a flawless diamond that is bigger than 1 or 2 carats in size but since diamonds in the flawless range can be incredibly expensive, sacrifices must be made to suit one’s budget.
Ideally, you shouldn’t settle for a diamond lower than VS2 (very slightly included). Diamonds in the VS1 to VS2 range normally have several inclusions that are visible under 10x magnification. Since you won’t be staring at your diamond under a magnifying glass all the time anyway, you’ll hardly notice the existence of these inclusions at all. It usually requires a skilled observer to view these inclusions even with magnification. Most diamonds sold in the market are of the VS1 to VS2 range.
However, if you are very particular about clarity, you might want to go a little higher by getting a diamond from the VVS1 to VVS2 (very, very slightly included) range. Diamonds in this range often appear flawless to the naked eye and even under 10x magnification, only a skilled observer should be able to notice the inclusions.
If you prefer a bigger carat size and you don’t mind sacrificing a bit of clarity to get the size you want, diamonds in the SI1 range should be ideal. Diamonds in this range have inclusions that may be visible upon close inspection even without magnification but the defects aren’t severe enough to affect the diamond’s overall appearance.
If size is your priority and your goal is a diamond that is bigger than 1 carat, a clarity value of SI1 should be your limit. This is because diamonds in the SI2 range tend to have visible inclusions for stones that are 1 carat and above. SI2 clarity is only ideal for stones that are less than 1 carat in size.
You should keep in mind that inclusions become mush more visible the bigger the diamond is. This is why it’s challenging to get a good balance between clarity and carat weight.
Most diamonds in the market are priced on a per-carat basis. The price of diamonds that are of the same cut, clarity, and color tend to double as you go up a carat. If for instance, the price of a diamond is $2,000 per carat, then you should expect to have to pay $4,000 for a 2-carat diamond of the same quality.
It’s okay to sacrifice clarity for carat weight just as long as you still find a good balance between the two. Diamonds, after all, are meant to be admired and it would be a shame if you cannot fully appreciate its beauty because you sacrificed too much clarity for size.
On the other hand, clarity is still a subjective matter. So if you do not mind a lower clarity range, then by all means go for that bigger stone. It’s your diamond to enjoy after all.