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Gemstones Clarity & Inclusions

The attractive sheen, the vibrant colours, and the sparkling beauty of gemstones mesmerize us in every way each time we look at them. And nowadays, gemstone jewellery is not only for the riches and royalty. Anyone can wear them without worries. From statement jewellery for weddings to trendy everyday wear jewellery pieces, gemstones find their place in various categories of affordable luxury at present. However, when it comes to buying gemstone jewellery or gems for any purpose, one needs to check the quality of these stones. While most gemstones are found naturally, extracted from the earth's surface, many of them are treated and enhanced to look like other or more valuable. A consumer must not make the mistake of paying more for a gem than its actual value.

Although the colour is the most critical factor while checking the quality of a gemstone, there is one more crucial factor that affects the value of a gem – clarity. Gemstone clarity is the presence (or lack) of inclusions (materials trapped inside the gem) that can affect the stone's appearance. Clarity is considered to be one of the Four Cs of gemstone grading. The clarity grade in a gemstone indicates the relative absence of inclusions, fractures, and blemishes that affect its appearance and structural integrity. Other factors can also impact a gem's appearance and structure, like the cut. However, clarity is the part of the physical makeup of the gem itself while a poor cut or polish is something that is done to the gem by a jeweller.

Gemstone Clarity Grading

Most gem dealers often grade the clarity of a gemstone based on how much visible the inclusions are, and whether they can be seen with ordinary eyes or only under magnification. Since different gemstone varieties have certain natural features related to clarity and inclusions, some of which are desirable, there is no official grading system that can be fairly applied to all gemstone types or varieties. Hence, it is essential to understand how gemstone clarity is estimated.

Transparent and faceted gemstones are clubbed into different clarity levels based on their type or variety even before they are evaluated and assigned an overall grade. This is because every gemstone type and variety has a diverse range of 'normal' concerning clarity and inclusions. Moreover, GIA, one of the leading international gemological labs, doesn't even have an internally flawless (IF) grading for coloured gemstones.

GIA classifies coloured stones into three clarity types as below:

Type 1: Gemstones that are often found without any inclusions.
Type 2: Gemstones that usually have inclusions but cannot be seen through a clean eye without the loupe.
Type 3: Gemstones that almost always have visible inclusions that are noticeable without magnification.

Cabochon gemstones that display optical phenomena such as asterism (the star effect) are graded separately than faceted gemstones. The clarity for these types of gems is described as follows:

Transparent: Gems that transmit light without serious diffusion; may have rutile or other inclusions.
Translucent: Gems that allow some light to pass through.
Opaque: Gems that do not allow any light to pass through.

GIA Gem Clarity Grading Codes

Coloured gemstones are graded using the following clarity grades:

VVS: Very, very small inclusions
VS: Very small inclusions
SI1, SI2: Small inclusions
I1, I2, I3: Included
Note: The numbers for SI and I grades specify the increasing degrees of inclusion visibility and structural impact.

Gemstone Clarity Grading Chart

The grades mentioned above mean different things according to the three gem clarity types.


Type 1

Type 2

Type 3


Minute inclusions, hardly visible under 10X magnification. Eye-clean.

Minor inclusions, somewhat visible with 10X magnification. Usually, eye-clean.

Noticeable inclusions, visible under 10X magnification. Usually,   eye-clean.


Minor inclusions, somewhat visible with 10X magnification. Usually, eye-clean.

Noticeable inclusions, visible under 10X magnification. May be eye visible.

Obvious inclusions with 10X magnification. May be eye visible.


Easily noticeable inclusions with 10X magnification. Slightly visible to the naked eyes. Usually low relief.

Obvious inclusions, large or numerous under 10X magnification. Apparent to the naked eyes.

Inclusions prominent to the naked eyes.


Easily visible inclusions to the naked eyes. Usually low relief.

Obvious inclusions, large or numerous under 10X magnification. Very apparent to naked eyes.

Inclusions very prominent to the naked eyes.


Included. Medium effect on appearance or durability.


Included. Severe effect on appearance or durability.


Included. Severe effect on both appearance and durability.


Not transparent.

Gemstone Brilliance

So now that you know clarity is essential, you would go for a gemstone with high clarity for your jewellery. And excellent clarity is achieved in a gem when there aren't any noticeable flaws or inclusions that affect its appearance. Moreover, a gemstone's clarity can also be affected by its brilliance. Brilliance of a gem is the amount of light that it reflects or returns defining its brightness and sparkle. A gemstone achieves more brilliance by the process it is cut. Hence, when a stone is cut, it is done not only vital to get rid of any possible inclusions but to maximize its brilliance as well.

If the stone has proper depth, brilliance can be accomplished most successfully. The depth of a crystal is its height divided by its narrowest width. The ideal depth for a gemstone is anywhere from 60% to 80%, so gemstones with a 50% depth are considered shallow, and are unable to maintain good saturation. Likewise, stones with a high depth such as 90% can end up appearing too dark, especially if it already has a dark tone.

Like the other factors of a gemstone, it is smart to go with the stones that have middle-range levels of the above features, as they are the best value. Gems that possess the highest clarity levels available can be overpriced. It is also important to remember that each gemstone type has its own acceptable and typical clarity levels, and that should be considered accordingly while purchasing any gem.

Also, explore our pure gold coins collection online in 22K and 24K if you wish to invest more in gold. And, before making any purchase don’t forget to cross-check the live gold rates online in India for a safer shopping experience.