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Gemstone Clarity Grades
The best loupe for inspecting jewelry is a 10 power (10x) maginier with 3 lenses (a triplet) to correct for distortion and color problems.

Clarity is a key factor in determining a gems value. It describes the number of flaws on the surface or internally in the jewel. Various rating systems have been devised to quantify the flaws. One of the most commonly used is that of the the GIA (Gemological Institute of America). The one illustrated above for diamonds has six categories (the Flawless category is so rare, it is not shown). The determinations should be made by very experienced specialists. Different gemstones have different grading systems, but they are all basically the same format. For a detailed listing of grades for other jewels, such as tanzanite, zircons and emeralds, go here. Except for the imperfect categories, the flaws cannot be seen by the unaided eye. The categories are based on observations using a ten power hand magnifier called a loupe (pronounced 'loop').

Internal flaws are referred to as inclusions, and surface flaws are called blemishes. Inclusions may take the form of tiny spots, cracks, or crystals. Almost all diamonds have some inclusions. In some cases these tiny flaws act as fingerprints that can be used to identify property. These inclusions also help seperate natural from lab created gems. Lab cerificates and appraisals should detail these minute flaws. Blemishes include scratches, pits and nicks, many of which are left from the polishing of the stone. Most of the retail market stones fall into the middle grade ranges.

Clarity enhansed jewels have been treated to reduce or remove these naturally occuring flaws. Typical treatments are removal of incuded specks by laser, or the filling of surface cracks with a colorless substance. Treated gems should cost less.

When selecting a diamond, typically its cut, carat weight and color are more important issues than clarity. Most flaws are so small they cannot be seen with the unaided eye and do not affect brilliance.

Jewelry sales & specials

Sources and Resources
About Clarity Enhanced Diamonds -    About.com
About Diamond Clarity-
    SunJewelry.com

Clarity - GIA

Diamond Clarity - Wikipedia.org
Gemstone Flaws - NitaCreations.com
How to Choose a Wedding Ring
    (A delightful video)- VideoJug.com

Jewelry Lab Certificates and Appraisals -
    Novori.com

The Difference Between a Jewelry Appraisal
    and a Lab Certificate - About.com
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