What is the meaning of Eye-clean in diamond grading?
Eye-clean is an expression used to describe the clarity of a diamond that is visibly clear to the naked eye. This is an important consideration when it comes to purchasing a diamond. So many diamonds sold online disappoint with noticeable and visible inclusions apparent when viewed with the naked eye.
Most diamonds are graded for clarity using a 10x magnification loupe. Natural clarity characteristics or inclusions are easier to view with the lens.
What is the best clarity grade for an eye-clean diamond?
This can vary depending on whether you choose a step-cut (easier to see inclusions) or a brilliant-cut diamond. We recommend SI1 clarity for brilliant-cut diamonds – often described as eye-clean. For step cut diamonds (Emerald-cut, Asscher-cut, Baguette-cut etc.) we recommend VS1 clarity to ensure the diamond is visibly clear to the naked eye.
Are SI1 and SI2 clarity diamonds eye clean?
SI1 clarity diamonds are eye clean, especially when assessed by GIA certification. Depending on your level of certification, SI2 clarity diamonds might or might not appear clear of marks to the naked eye. Both of the diamonds below are SI2 clarity but the image (right) is GIA certified and appears far clearer owing to stringent and consistent diamond grading.
Does clean-to-the-eye vary by diamond size?
The clarity of an eye-clean diamond does depend upon diamond size. A small 2mm diamond will appear eye-clean at SI2 clarity, sometimes lower. Clarity characteristics are harder to detect within tiny diamonds. By contrast, a large diamond weighing 2, 3, or 4 carats with SI1 clarity characteristics will naturally show inclusions more easily owing to the large table size. This is especially true of small inclusions directly below the table facet.
How to ensure eye-clear really is eye clean – the importance of GIA certification
This really is an important detail. Many diamond laboratories grade more leniently than the Gemological Institute of America. Buyers can often expect to pay a premium for GIA certified diamonds, but the resulting clarity grade will be strict. Look at the above images, both certified SI2 clarity. The diamond clarity photograph on the right really is eye-clean compared to the IGI certified diamond on the left. For this reason, we choose GIA certified diamonds for clients over any other diamond grading laboratory reports.