Clarity is an essential aspect of a diamond’s appeal. The most flawless diamonds are the rarest and costly. The cheapest jewellery diamonds are those that have the lowest clarity grading.
Clarity is not about transparency, but the internal flaws, called inclusions and surface marks called blemishes.
The GIA, the leading gemological grading laboratory grades diamond clarity on an 11-point scale from FL (flawless) to I3 (heavily and visibly flawed). IF, meaning Internally flawed, is the second-highest grade.
What Is An IF Diamond?
A diamond with an IF clarity grade will have no visible inclusions, even under 10x magnification.
Because both FL and IF are internally perfect the differentiator between the two grades is the external finish; the polish. An IF graded diamond will have very slight surface blemishes visible under 10x magnification.There is no way that a buyer could tell the difference between an FL or IF diamond without magnification. Even then, it is difficult to see the blemishes without high-quality magnification equipment, good lighting and a high level of expertise.
Less than 1% of all diamonds used for jewellery are graded as FL or IF; their rarity makes them costly to buy.
The surface blemishes in an IF diamond, even though they are almost invisible can often be polished away without affecting the grade. Given that these blemishes are invisible in typical situations, it might be that they are not removed. Removing very slight surface imperfections will remove diamond material, reducing the weight and thus the value of the stone.
The grading report for an IF stone may carry additional comments, as shown in the image below. These describe the polish of the diamond and are nothing to be concerned about.
Carat Weight And Clarity Grade
Diamonds, being a natural material are usually imperfect, so finding an internally flawless one is very rare. The larger the diamond is, the less the chance that there is no imperfection whatsoever. This means that the price of an IF diamond increases exponentially with size.
Do IF Graded Diamonds Have The Best Sparkle?
Many people think that to get the best sparkle and brilliance for a diamond that it should have perfect clarity. That's not the case. There is little or no difference between FL/IF diamonds and SI diamonds when it comes to the optical performance. Of course, any tiny improvement between the grades will come with diamonds with a flawless interior!
The greatest difference between diamonds and their sparkle is attributable to the skill of the diamond cutter.
A skilled diamond cutter can align the facets of the gem to optimise the reflections of light within the stone to give the greatest effect. For this reason, make sure that when you buy an IF diamond that its cut is perfect. A lower clarity diamond with a better cut than an IF diamond can have a better optical performance than the IF stone and thus look brighter.
Why Should You Buy A Diamond Graded IF?
Buy an IF clarity diamond because you are a perfectionist; you want the best, even if it can’t be seen. Choose an IF graded diamond because you want the satisfaction that the diamond in the jewellery that you give is as pure as the love with which it was given.
There is no reason to buy an IF graded diamond to get the best sparkle, the most brilliance. You will be unable to see a difference between an IF diamond and a VVS diamond that have both been cut to the same standard.
When given as a gift, an IF diamond is a symbol and reflects an attitude and, although that is not a money matter, it can still be very real!
Some people collect high-quality diamonds as an investment. Historically diamonds are not a good store of value, but they have the advantage of being very small and very portable. These are benefits that may be worth having!
If you are choosing an engagement ring and it is essential that you show the purity of your love; if your purchase is an emotional as much as financial choice, then an internally perfect, IF graded diamond is a great choice to make!