Curious about diamonds and what their clarity grade indicates?
In this helpful Twirl Weddings guide, I’ll provide you with all the essential information about IF diamonds, including:
- Understanding IF diamonds
- What the IF clarity grade signifies
- The value of lab-grown IF clarity diamonds
- Deciding between VS and IF clarity options.
What Does IF Diamond Mean?
An IF diamond is a special kind of diamond that has been evaluated and assigned a clarity grade of “internally flawless.” This means that when experts examine the diamond, they find no visible flaws or inclusions with the naked eye. Even when viewed under 10 times magnification, an internally flawless diamond will still appear free from any noticeable imperfections.
Understanding IF Diamond Clarity
The clarity characteristics of IF diamonds exist but are extremely difficult to detect without magnification. Even under 40 times magnification, it can be challenging to spot any flaws. Internally flawless diamonds are the highest clarity grade attainable before reaching the flawless category.
The Clarity Scale and Its Importance
Diamond clarity is one of the important factors used to assess diamond quality. It is part of the well-known 4Cs of Diamond Quality established by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The purpose of the clarity scale is to differentiate diamonds based on the presence and severity of flaws.
The GIA Clarity Scale includes various grades:
Different gemological laboratories use specific criteria to assign diamond clarity grades, considering factors such as natural inclusions and surface blemishes. It’s important to note that all diamonds have inclusions, and even diamonds categorized as flawless still contain tiny imperfections.
Determining Clarity Grades
The clarity grade of a diamond is determined by examining specific details about its inclusions:
- Relief (how it appears in relation to the rest of the diamond)
Although most inclusions are visible features of a diamond, certain blemishes can present potential issues if the diamond’s surface is accidentally impacted.
However, if you choose an IF diamond, you won’t have any concerns about that matter. Internally flawless diamonds of superior quality are exceptionally scarce, particularly in larger sizes. It is estimated that commercially mined diamonds with internal flawlessness make up less than 0.5% of the total.
IF Clarity Diamond vs FL Clarity Diamond
When it comes to diamond clarity, a flawless diamond ring represents the highest grade achievable. Just below them on the clarity scale are internally flawless (IF) diamonds. Both of these grades are characterized by their lack of visible inclusions, whether observed with the naked eye or under 10x magnification.
The criteria used to differentiate between these two grades are quite minimal. The primary distinction between IF and Flawless (Fl) diamonds is that IF diamonds may possess tiny external characteristics or blemishes. Flawless diamonds, on the other hand, should be free from both external and internal inclusions.
Personally, I find it difficult to distinguish between these two categories. Even when viewing them in real time, I can’t detect any clarity characteristics, even at 40x magnification.
Most surface blemishes typically occur during the cutting and polishing process. These blemishes can include surface graining, small nicks, scratches, polish marks, burn marks, and naturals. Naturals refer to parts of the rough diamond that haven’t been cut and may appear uneven under high magnification.
An IF-grade diamond is unlikely to have any major blemishes but may exhibit some polish marks, nicks, scratches, or naturals when viewed under high magnification.
Due to their rarity and prestigious status, flawless diamonds often come with a price difference of around 5% to 15% compared to internally flawless diamonds. This price difference tends to increase rapidly as you move up in carat weight for an engagement ring.
IF Diamond vs VVS1 Diamond Clarity Grade
A Very Very Slightly Included (VVS) diamond falls just below the IF clarity grade, but they belong to separate tiers. IF diamonds have their own distinct tier, while flawless diamonds reign at the top. VVS clarity diamonds are divided into two grades: VVS1 and VVS2. Among these grades, VVS1 diamonds are considered higher and rarer.
Both VVS1 and IF diamonds are classified as eye-clean diamonds. VVS1 diamonds may have very, very slight inclusions that are barely noticeable under 10x magnification. On the other hand, IF diamonds do not exhibit any inclusions at this level of magnification.
In the case of the VVS1 diamond mentioned above, there is a minuscule white inclusion beneath the crown facets that cannot be seen in the photograph. However, both diamonds appear clean to the naked eye.
A VVS1 diamond is expected to have no visible dark inclusions and is regarded as a high clarity grade. Although VVS1 diamonds can have both internal and external inclusions, they are likely to be very small and light-colored.
In terms of cost, you can anticipate a VVS1 diamond to be approximately 5-15% relatively cheaper than IF clarity diamonds.
What’s The Price of IF Clarity Diamonds?
Diamonds are not solely valued and priced based on how clear they are, but it’s likely that diamonds with flawless clarity will have a higher price. Flawless clarity is the second highest grade available for diamonds.
When determining the price and value of a diamond, there are other important factors to consider along with the 4Cs. These factors include the shape of the diamond, whether it is certified or uncertified, the grading lab that certified it, the brand and retailer, whether it is a lab-grown or mined diamond, the type of cut, the color (colorless or fancy), the proportions, fluorescence, and any treatments applied.
On average, a 1-carat internally flawless (IF) diamond can range in price from approximately $5,000 to over $50,000. However, I recommend purchasing IF diamonds online rather than from chain retailers like Kay’s.
Save Money on Internally Flawless Diamonds with Lab-Grown Diamonds
Internally flawless diamonds of high quality can be quite expensive, and not everyone can afford them.
If you truly desire an internally flawless diamond, lab-grown diamonds can be an ideal option for you.
The popularity of lab-grown diamonds has increased for good reasons. Many customers appreciate the fact that lab-grown diamonds offer a discount of 20-60% compared to naturally mined diamonds.
Lab-created diamonds are often viewed with suspicion due to the lower prices. People sometimes compare them to cubic zirconia and moissanite. However, lab diamonds are not mere alternatives; they are genuine diamonds.
They adhere to the same grading standards as mined diamonds and are created by simulating the natural conditions required for diamonds to form deep within the Earth, but in controlled laboratory environments.
How Can You Tell if Your Diamond Is Internally Flawless?
Not all jewelers or diamond sellers can guarantee that they have an internally flawless diamond. To ensure that you’re getting what you’re paying for, it’s important to have your diamond certified.
However, not all diamond certificates are equal. Some gemological laboratories have stricter and more consistent grading standards than others. If you want to find reliable and consistent diamond grading labs, you should read our Diamond Certification article.
During my time at Kay’s, only a few diamond engagement rings came with a grading report. And these rings were nearly twice as expensive as buying loose diamonds and ring settings separately with accompanying grading reports.
For example, a simple 1-carat diamond ring with a clarity grade of SI2, a GIA certificate, and an H color grade could cost you around $8,000. Stores like these don’t offer internally flawless diamonds. You won’t find any IF diamonds there. If you want one, you’ll have to place a special order or attend their quarterly diamond events with Dana Augustine.
Furthermore, the salespeople will only mention diamond certification if you specifically ask about it. Since their most expensive rings are certified, they assume you have a larger budget and will try to persuade you to buy their overpriced GIA engagement rings or lower quality GSI graded diamonds.
However, if you don’t have a big budget, they won’t mention diamond certification during their sales pitch at all.
As for me, I don’t care about your budget. I’m not a salesperson.
As a professional in diamonds and gemstones, I want to give you the best advice possible, which means buying a certified diamond, whether it’s internally flawless or not.
You deserve the reassurance of knowing that you’re getting the diamond clarity that matches the value of your purchase.
Are IF Clarity Diamonds Suitable for Engagement Rings?
An internally flawless diamond ring can be a great option if you prioritize clarity in a diamond. It’s the second highest clarity grade before flawless diamonds. However, don’t solely base your diamond choice on it being internally flawless. There can still be unattractive internally flawless diamonds with low-quality cuts that are cheaper than other internally flawless diamonds with better cuts.
Personally, I don’t recommend buying an internally flawless diamond for an engagement ring. There’s nothing wrong with purchasing a diamond with internal flawless clarity. But if you want to save money and achieve a similar effect, I suggest buying diamonds with very slightly included (VS) clarity instead.
I understand that VS diamonds are two clarity grades lower than internally flawless diamonds. However, when you compare the clarity of a VS1 or VS2 diamond to an internally flawless diamond with the naked eye, you won’t notice a difference.
Both types of diamonds appear clean to the naked eye. Under 10x magnification, VS diamonds may have very slight inclusions, while internally flawless diamonds won’t have any inclusions visible under 10x magnification.
Unless you’re purchasing a diamond with a large carat weight (3 carat or more) for your engagement ring, a VS2 clarity diamond looks just as beautiful as an internally flawless diamond, but at a lower price.
Remember, a diamond’s clarity is not the only or most important factor when buying an engagement ring. If you have to choose between an internally flawless diamond with a lower cut quality due to your budget, I would prioritize lower clarity grades.
Never compromise on diamond cut quality because it determines the sparkle and brilliance of your diamond. Without a very good or excellent cut quality, your internally flawless diamond may appear dull and lackluster.
In other words, don’t focus only on one aspect of diamond quality. Some factors deserve more of your budget, while others offer opportunities to save money.
If saving money isn’t a concern and you value rarity, a naturally mined internally flawless diamond would be a suitable option.
I would personally choose internally flawless diamond jewelry over flawless diamond jewelry as well. Both types of diamonds are clean to the naked eye and have no visible inclusions, even under 10x magnification. However, flawless diamonds are rarer and more expensive.
Whether you choose an internally flawless diamond or another clarity grade that suits your budget, there’s no doubt that an internally flawless diamond engagement ring is an excellent choice.