Someone offered to sell me a diamond with clarity of SI3, which is supposed to be the best in the market. Are they telling me the truth?
To determine clarity, all gems, such as those sold by Sunny Diamonds, have different grading scales. In the industry, one of the most prevalent scales is from the Gemological Institute of America. Among the various classifications used are:
- FL or Flawless: As the name suggests, the diamond does not contain any flaw, even at 10x magnification.
- IF or Internally Flawless: You will find some imperfections and blemishes under the microscope. However, the flaws are not significant enough to upset the grade.
- VVS or Very Very Slightly Included: A diamond with this grade is still excellent. Its value will appreciate over time, which makes it a worthy investment. They have inclusions, but you cannot see them unless with 10x magnification, and even then, only a trained eye can spot these inclusions.
- VS or Very Slightly Included: Just like with the VVS, there are inclusions in the VS. The only difference is that they are more pronounced than others. With that said, you cannot spot the difference between the VVS and the VS.
- SI or Slightly Included: Slightly Included is the lowest grade, apart from Included. The blemishes are visible to the naked eye.
You may notice that the Institute does not include SI3 in this grading scale.
Is the SI3 Grade a Scam?
Supposedly, the SI3 is a component of the Slightly Included grade. However, the Institute only classifies the subdivisions of the SI as SI1 and SI2. After the SI2, you move directly to the I1. But the SI3 grade is being used by the European Gemological Laboratory or EGL. It means that the clarity measurement is legitimate.
You may encounter some US jewelers using the term when the diamond is stuck in between. The gem does not pass the criteria to be labeled SI2, but the imperfections are not enough for a grade I.
The EGL also makes this distinction. The diamonds with SI3 clarity belongs to a vague spectrum. They could be labeled as SI2 or I1. The small gray area leads to confusion. For instance, the diamond is graded SI3 by the EGL, but the Gemological Institute of America classifies it as an I grade.
The problem is the I grade has visible imperfections that can be observed by the trained eye. So, it results in a difference in the price of the gem. Also, some dishonest sellers may take advantage of this confusion.
For example, the diamond is rated as I by the G.I.A., which pretty much determines the retail price. However, the seller will try to classify it as SI3 to jack up the price. Technically, if you are going by the EGL rating, they might have some basis. These sellers can even legitimately claim they did not do something illegal. You would be hard-pressed to disprove their claim.
That is why you only work with distributors like Sunny Diamonds that do not engage in underhanded marketing tactics. Also, you should insist on getting only the G.I.A. scale, which is the most commonly used industry gauge, anyway. Through this method, you lessen the chances of confusion.