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Loose Diamond clarity is graded by using a microscope or diamond loupe, examining loose diamonds with a magnification of 10x power, and assigning it a clarity grade. There is no other gem that is graded as strictly.
To properly grade a loose diamond one must consider both the number of inclusions and how noticeable the inclusions are.
In fact a professional grader takes the following six factors into consideration when grading loose diamonds: Position, Size, Color, Number, Nature (the type of inclusion), Relief (the thickness of the inclusion).
On a loose diamond laboratory certificate, clarity is usually marked on a diagram that is called a plot (see certificates...). The chart below shows the full range of clarity grades from very imperfect (I3) to flawless (FL).
This choice depends on your budget, the carat weight, the color and what jewelry type the loose diamonds are intended for.
For example, diamond earrings generally require a lower clarity grade of loose diamonds since they are worn on the ears and can't be seen from close up. Engagement rings should have a higher clarity loose diamond since they are more likely to be held to the eye. With a 3 stone diamond anniversary ring, you would probably do better with loose diamonds with ahigher clarity center stone and lower clarity side stones; they are usually smaller so inclusions are more difficult to spot.
Why Pay Extra for Clarity? Let's face it; people will never notice imperfections with the naked eye that a jeweler notices by using a diamond loupe or microscope.
If you have reached your budget, but want a larger loose diamond, better cut or color, then clarity is a good place to save. You can get a loose diamond with lower, but very fine clarity and still stay within your original budget.