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The appeal of a quality diamond goes beyond its beauty; wrapped up in status, scarcity and rarity, there are no gemstones which represent these ideals more so than flawless (FL) and internally flawless (IF) diamonds. These diamonds are the embodiment of purity – a beauty that epitomizes the wonder of nature and the skill of man.
These diamonds carry big premiums. If you are considering a flawless or internally flawless diamond for your jewelry, or are simply curious about these exceptional gems, this guide will take you through the all the details.
A diamond clarity grading is given based on the number of inclusions and their impact on a diamond. I only recommend considering diamonds that are GIA or AGS graded – only these two laboratories offer accurate and consistent grades and are respected by diamond experts the world over. The GIA created the diamond clarity scale and it has now become the international standard.
The diamond is scrutinized at a 10x magnification and experts consider the type of flaws and their positioning. Once these details have been assessed, the diamond is given a grade from FL – I3.
The difference between flawless and internally flawless diamonds comes down to blemishes. While inclusions are found within a diamond, blemishes are external marks on the surface of a diamond. Characteristics such as polish marks, extra facets, naturals and surface graining would all result in a diamond being deemed internally flawless as oppose to flawless.
If you are looking for the pinnacle of diamond perfection, the idea of a surface mark may be off-putting, however it is impossible to tell a IF diamond from an FL diamond by eye. In fact, even the skills of diamond experts are put to the test when looking at FL and IF diamonds under a loupe.
This 1.348ct D-IF round brilliant diamond is part of Whiteflash’s esteemed A CUT ABOVE® collection – it is a knockout. You will notice on the diamond certificate, there are no marks on the inclusion plot. There is a note reading ‘minor details of finish not shown’ – the blemish is so negligible it is not significant enough to be marked on the plot. Again, this is not a cause for concern. These additional comments on IF stones are simply what differentiates them from a FL grading. The most common comments are:
It is a truth universally acknowledged in the diamond world that cut has the biggest impact on both beauty and price. The cut of a diamond unlocks the potential for fire, scintillation, brilliance and all the other desirable qualities that we so covet. Even when we are looking at the top end of the spectrum for other quality factors, without an exceptional cut, even a flawless diamond will appear lacklustre.
Both of these diamonds are internally flawless. Does this translate into excellent light performance in both instances? No. The diamond on the left is fairly average but clearly lacking the precision of the diamond on the right. Even when all the other specs are the same, the beauty of a diamond begins and ends with the cut.
These crucial differences will have a great impact on price, so to make a comparison we must attempt to compare like for like.
This 1.18ct D-FL round brilliant by James Allen has the following specs:
The price is $17,390. I would suggest that we could do better on the cut, but for the purpose of comparison, this is a good diamond to use.
The second diamond is a 1.20ct D-IF round brilliant with these specs:
The price is $14,490, so it is $2,900 cheaper than the flawless diamond. Would you see where this additional money had been spent? Absolutely not. Generally speaking, a FL diamond will cost around 20%-30% more than an equivalent IF diamond. Prices also increase exponentially as you move up quality grades in others areas (i.e. a G-FL/ D-FL VS D-IF/D-FL).
You may hear FL and IF diamonds referred to as ‘collectors diamonds’ or ‘investment diamonds’ – this is a smart way of saying they carry big price tags for a quality level that simply cannot be appreciated by the human eye. A FL or IF diamond is more about status than appearance. A beautiful diamond is a beautiful diamond, and there are many more factors at play than clarity alone.
However, diamonds are an emotional purchase (the whole diamond market hinges on this fact). If you have the money to spend and want to own a flawless diamond, you must decide if you can justify the premium.
For most buyers who contact me, I encourage them to use their budget to get the best-looking diamond possible. This decision is based on prioritising cut, and understanding the visual impact of other quality factors to result in a stunning diamond. A focus that is too heavy on color or clarity will likely neglect the important balance that must be found when shopping for a diamond on a budget.
If you’re looking to purchase the highest quality diamonds then look no further than Whiteflash and their A CUT ABOVE® diamonds (which I’ve reviewed in more detail here.) – these are the best of the best. If you’re looking for fancy shapes then I’d suggest James Allen or Blue Nile. Please get in touch directly however for free, expert advice.