When shopping for diamonds, you’ve probably come across all sorts of terms that describe their clarity. One of these terms is LC, so the question is: What does LC mean in diamond?
In essence, LC is short for loupe clean, and it’s sometimes used to refer to diamonds with the best clarity grade – IF or internally flawless.
But what is diamond clarity? How are clarity grades determined?
Don’t worry; we’ve covered these – and many more – questions in this article, so read on!
What Is Diamond Clarity?
Diamond clarity refers to a qualitative metric that, in essence, grades the diamond’s overall visual appearance. In short: The fewer internal flaws a diamond possesses, the better its clarity grade will be.
The diamond’s clarity can significantly impact its price. However, many internal flaws that affect the clarity grade aren’t noticeable to the naked or untrained eye.
Natural diamonds are formed deep below the Earth’s crust at extreme heat and pressure. And considering that their creation takes between 1 billion to 3 billion years, it’s understandable that the diamonds that emerge in perfect condition are the rarest.
Most often, diamonds are imperfect and contain various amounts of inclusions and blemishes.
To provide diamond buyers with knowledge of each clarity level, grading labs like GIA and AGS assess diamonds based on their overall appearance and give each gem a clarity grade based on their findings.
These diamond clarity grades range on a scale from I to FL. Each has subgrades that give more information about the visibility of flaws within the diamond.
How Are Diamond Clarity Grades Determined?
When evaluating the diamond’s clarity, experts will note its appearance when it’s face up, with a 10x magnification.
However, to identify any inclusions within a diamond, they will use a higher magnification power than 10x. Otherwise, they may be challenging to determine.
Five aspects play a notable role in assessing the diamond’s clarity grades. These five roles in grading include size, nature, location, number, and the relief of the inclusions.
The size of the inclusions within a diamond is an essential factor when it comes to determining its clarity grade. That is because the larger the inclusions, the more significant the impact they’ll have on the appearance of the diamond.
Nature refers to the type of internal flaws that they can detect within the diamond as well as the depth of these flaws. This factor also covers other aspects of the inclusions visible within the stone.
When flaws are situated on the surface of the diamond and don’t penetrate the stone, they’re usually referred to as “blemishes.”
The location of flaws, as the name implies, refers to where the flaw is located on the stone.
If the flaw is closer to the table’s center, the defect is more noticeable to the eye; thus, the clarity grade will be more significantly affected.
But if the inclusion is closer to the girdle, then it might be more challenging to see it. Inclusions found near the diamond’s pavilions can be reflected by the facets, meaning the inclusions will be noticeable.
Finally, if you can detect the inclusions when you look past the culet, there will be much less of an effect on the clarity grade. However, certain clarity features may also be obscured and even emphasized because of the stone’s shape, facet arrangement, and proportions.
Grading labs also take into consideration the number of inclusions inside a diamond.
If a stone has a high number of inclusions, it can significantly impact its clarity and overall appearance – even if these inclusions are generally minor in size.
In simple terms: The higher the number of inclusions, blemishes, and other flaws, the greater the effect on a diamond’s beauty.
The relief refers to how visible the flaws are compared to the gemstone. In other words, relief describes the contrast between the diamond and the inclusions.
The greater the relief, the darker the color of the stone may seem, which can impact diamond grading.
Related Read: Why Does My Diamond Look Dark?
Diamond Clarity Grading Scale By GIA
GIA grades diamond clarity on the following scale:
- IF (Internally Flawless) – Diamonds with this clarity grade have no internal or external flaws and are extremely rare.
- VVS1 (Very Vert Slightly Included 1) – Diamonds with this grade have inclusions that aren’t detectable at all under 10x magnification.
- VVS2 (Very Vert Slightly Included 2) – These precious stones have inclusions that are occasionally just barely visible even under 10x magnification. If they’re visible, it’s pretty challenging to locate them.
- VS1 (Very slightly Included 1) – These diamonds have inclusions that are just barely noticeable under 10x magnification. When looking at a VS1 clarity diamond, it could take some time until the inclusion is located.
- VS2 (Very Slightly Included 2) – Inclusions in diamonds with this grade are almost always easily visible at 10x magnification. Sometimes, the inclusions are located in a difficult-to-see location, but otherwise, it’s large enough to be detected quickly under magnification.
- SI1 (Small Included 1) – Diamonds with this clarity grade have inclusions that are easily found using 10x magnification. SI1 clarity inclusions are, in most diamond shapes, almost always clean to the naked eye, though.
- SI2 (Slightly Included 2) – Inclusions within these diamonds are seen clearly with the help of a jeweler’s loupe. SI2 inclusions will probably be visible to the naked eye with step-cut diamonds such as Emerald and Asscher cuts.
- I1 (Included 1) – These inclusions are even more apparent and easily seen. Most I1 clarity diamonds have inclusions that are visible to the naked eye.
The Most Common Mistake Regarding Diamond Clarity
When purchasing a diamond, we can’t stress enough how important it is to spend the majority of your diamond-shopping budget on the aspects you’ll see the most – then pay only as much as required on the other factors.
The most common mistake diamond shoppers make is buying a stone with a clarity grade that’s just too high to appreciate. The results in overspending on a factor that looks good in theory – but has minimal effect on a diamond’s appearance in reality.
The truth about diamond’s clarity is that many of the flaws that make the difference between IF and VVS1 clarity grades are pretty much invisible to the naked eye.
What this means is that by focusing on the clarity grade instead of on the gem’s appearance, you’ll end up spending cash that could otherwise be put towards a bigger stone, for example.
Different Types Of Inclusions In Diamonds
Even though the term “inclusion” is typically used to refer to any kind of imperfection within a diamond, there are actually several different types of diamond inclusions that can impact the stone’s appearance.
Down below, we’ve covered some of the most common diamond inclusions.
A cloud isn’t one internal flaw in a diamond but rather a group of very small inclusions clustered together. Clouds can impact a diamond’s brilliance; these gemstones often have a dull and hazy look.
If there are plenty of big clouds in a diamond, it’s often called a cloudy diamond.
Feathers are tiny cracks with a feathery appearance when viewed from certain angles. Some feathers are apparent – while others are barely visible.
Feathers within a diamond can appear clear, or they could capture light, giving off a white appearance.
Graining is a type of inclusion that develops due to irregular crystal growth. Diamonds with graining appear to have white, colored, or reflective lines that give the stone a very hazy look.
Cavities are surface cracks or dents in a diamond. They can look colored or colorless depending on the type of minerals that are contained within the diamond’s body.
If the cavity crystal inclusions are colored, they will be much more noticeable and can be seen by the naked eye.
You might be thinking, what is a clarity plot?
In essence, it’s a figure that exhibits the position and type of all imperfections within a diamond. The defects are identified by a professional using a 10x magnification.
When you buy a diamond and receive a certificate along with it, the report often comes with a clarity plot.
Each plot is different and provides you with the precise location of every inclusion and blemish of your diamond. Seeing the clarity plot can aid in examining the stone to see if the flaws are visible to the naked eye.
While reviewing a clarity plot can be incredibly helpful, it’s not the only tool you should rely on when assessing a diamond’s clarity. Not every flaw is listed on a clarity plot – and you still want to examine the stone to ensure that it’s eye-clean.
What Is The Best Diamond Clarity Grade?
The highest diamond clarity grade is IF or internally flawless. Some refer to these stones as LC diamonds, short for “loupe clean.”
The GIA only ever grades a stone as flawless when it has 0 inclusions or blemishes that can be observed by a skilled diamond expert – even when viewed under a 10x magnification.
Now, as for the best clarity grade for each shape of diamond and budget, things get a bit more complicated and subjective.
Because diamonds come in numerous shapes, not all diamonds will have the same best clarity grade. That is because different types of diamonds exhibit inclusions in different manners. For instance, Asscher cut diamonds are more likely to show inclusions than round brilliants.
The diamond’s size can also impact its chance of displaying inclusions: As the diamond’s carat weight increases, so do the table’s width, which, in turn, increases the likelihood of inclusion being noticeable.
It’s best to choose a clarity grade based on the shape of the diamond you’re considering instead of relying on a one-size-fits-all grade of clarity for all stones.
That usually means a VS2 or SI1 for a round brilliant cut diamond under 1 carat is optimal – and VS1 or VS2 for stones of 1 carat or more is good.
Some diamond shapes – such as oval cut, radiant cut, cushion cut, and marquise cut – can hide inclusions quite well. For these diamond shapes, you can usually find a stone that’s eye-clean in the SI1 or SI2 clarity grades.
The princess cut is somewhat trickier since you have to be careful not to have any inclusions in its corners. Otherwise, the diamond can easily get damaged if it gets hit in these sports.
For step-cut diamonds, like baguette cuts, Asscher cuts, and emerald cuts, it’s crucial to go with a VS2 or better clarity grade.
Above all, the most important thing you should look for when purchasing a diamond is that it’s eye-clean. Be sure to examine the stone, and if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask a jeweler or professional gemologist for help.
So, what does LC mean in diamond?
LC is actually short for “loupe clean,” which is a term that refers to diamonds that have internally flawless clarity grade, IF for short.
Diamond clarity describes the visual appearance of the stone. As most diamonds have internal flaws known as inclusions and blemishes, there are varying clarity grades – but the general rule is: The fewer flaws a diamond has, the better clarity grade it will receive.
While clarity is an essential aspect of the diamond, it shouldn’t be your main focus here. The difference between two clarity grades regarding inclusion visibility can be minimal, but the price difference can be substantial.
So, if you want to save some money on clarity grade and spend it on some other factor such as carat weight, we strongly recommend you do so. That said, remember to examine the diamond you’re considering and see if it has any visible flaws.
The goal should be an eye-clean stone!