Diamond Clarity Influences Buying at Pawnshops?

February 12, 2020 - Jewelry & Luxury Items

Lots of people want your diamond jewelry.

Using diamonds as an investment also makes great collateral against a pawn loan. If you are looking to buy a diamond at a pawnshop, it’s recommended you use PawnGuru! This site’s affiliate network can establish a relationship between you and a reputable pawnshop. Whether you’re pawning, buying, or selling—you’ll find a shop that you can trust!

There are a variety of industry protections in place to ensure consumers are getting fair deals on diamonds. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) provides diamond dossiers, certifications, and laser engraves each gemstone. This ensures diamond dealers can trace a stone’s grading report back to the GIA. Also, dealers can identify if a diamond has undergone chemical treatment to enhance clarity. 1/3 of all diamonds are chemically enhanced. The GIA also trains and certifies diamond dealers. Many owners of reputable pawnshops that deal with high-end jewelry will have their staff trained and certified.

Even with protective measures in place, it’s always a good idea to know the basics of diamond grading. Knowing the fundamentals can get you attuned to the vocabulary of diamonds. You’ll know what diamond appraisers are talking about when they show you inventory. One of the most easily understood of diamond terminology is clarity. The GIA has an industry standard diamond clarity grade chart and diamond plot that explains each diamond.

What is Diamond Clarity?

Every white diamond mined from the Earth goes through an inspection from the GIA. The institute relies on four standards to evaluate each diamond called the 4Cs: cut, carat, color, and clarity.

Diamonds form after 3 billion years from carbon being exposed to heat and pressure. Each precious gemstone grows in an unstable environment deep in the Earth. During their formation, different organic variables lead to flaws occurring in their structure. Essentially, all diamonds have flaws with small surface characteristics called blemishes and internal characteristics called inclusions. Inclusions stem from crystals forming in the interior of the diamond as it forms. Blemishes often occur during the manufacturing process.

Evaluating diamond clarity involves identifying the number, size, relief, nature, and position of these characteristics. Each diamond is observed under 10x magnification in an ideal environment. Once these characteristics are established, gemologist consider how these blemishes & inclusions affect the overall composition of the diamond. A GIA specialist will take the diamond’s composition into consideration, then rank the diamond on an 11-point clarity scale. This scale ranges from FL (flawless) to I3 (included). The further a diamond is graded from FL the lower its rarity, quality, and value will be. Factors like diminished transparency, number of inclusions, and visibility all affect a diamond’s clarity grading.

Larger diamonds will have inclusions that are more apparent. Diamonds under a carat in weight will have inclusions that are much harder to perceive.

Diamond Clarity Scale


FL — No visible inclusions or blemishes under 10x magnification from the perspective of a skilled grader. Less than 1 in 5,000 diamonds meet the qualifications for an FL clarity grading.

Internally Flawless

IF — Only blemishes are visible under 10x magnification. No internal inclusions from the perspective of a skilled grader are visible. Only 3% of jewelry-grade diamonds meet this criterion.

Very, Very Slightly Included

VVSI — Inclusions are difficult to perceive by a skilled grader under 10x magnification. Inclusions are typically only visible from the pavilion of the diamond for a VVS1 grade.

VVS2 — Inclusions are visible at the crown of the diamond under 10x magnification from a skilled grader.

Very Slightly Included

VS1 — Inclusions are visible by a skilled grader under 10x magnification from various perspectives on a diamond. These are characterized as minor flaws.

VS2 — Inclusions cannot be seen by the naked eye. For diamond buyers seeking a diamond without visible imperfections, VS2 diamonds should be the bottom line. Diamonds graded with a lower grade than VS2 can be seen without magnification.

Slightly Included

SI1 — Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader under 10x magnification and also visible to the naked eye.

SI2 — Inclusions are visible to the naked eye under close inspection and scrutiny.


I1 — Inclusions are noticeable and obvious under 10x magnification and can affect transparency and brilliance. Flaws are visible to the naked eye.

I2 — Inclusions are noticeable to the naked eye and can affect durability. Some jewelers do not carry I2-grade diamonds.

I3 — Inclusions are noticeable to the naked eye and affect durability. Many jewelers do not carry I3-grade diamonds.

GIA Diamond Plot

The GIA diamond plot makes visualizing diamond clarity much easier for those who do not have training using 10x magnification to evaluate a diamond. A diamond plot is a graphic representation of the characteristics that lower a diamonds’ grade. As each diamond is graded, skilled graders mark the placement of blemishes & inclusions in the diamond plot. Flaws are marked by symbols expressing crystal, cloud, feather, or natural flaws.

A diamond plot is used to pinpoint the location of flaws but it’s difficult for a flaw’s severity to translate using the plot alone. This is why it’s always good practice to cite the diamond clarity grade itself.

Use the diamond plot to identify to specific characteristics and number of flaws. However, the diamond plot can be misleading. Some diamonds will have a diamond plot that appears to be heavily marked but the inclusions are only minor and do not diminish the overall quality. At the same time, there can be a diamond with a plot of only one or two inclusions that are major flaws which severely lower the diamond’s grade.

David Stiebel

David Stiebel is one of the cofounders of PawnGuru. David was educated at MIT, where he studied Math. He subsequently worked at Bain as a data scientist before starting PawnGuru in 2015. He started PawnGuru to build a better tool for pawn shops and consumers to connect.

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