Cut vs. Clarity: Which is More Important

Sharif Khan
Sharif Khan
Last Updated    EST 
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The cut quality of a diamond holds greater significance than its clarity, although both quality factors deserve equal attention. While natural forces shape the clarity grade of a diamond, the cut is the sole human-driven factor influenced by the expertise and artistry of a diamond cutter.


  • Cut is considered the most important of the 4Cs when evaluating a diamond's scintillation, fire, and brilliance.
  • Clarity is also critical because it can impact the perceived brilliance of a stone. 
  • Both factors play a significant role in determining the value of a diamond.
  • Follow our guidelines on how to prioritize the 4Cs to understand the 4Cs better and make an informed decision.
  • Follow our article on is diamond cut important to understand why cut matters and to what degree.
  • Follow these diamond proportions to maximize your chances of buying a genuine ideal cut loose diamond.
  • Use James Allen's ultra HD video technology to assess the cut and clarity of a diamond before purchasing it.

Diamond Clarity

A diamond's clarity grade establishes the count of inclusions and blemishes (flaws) present within the diamond. These internal characteristics emerge due to the diamond's formation as pure carbon deep within the Earth's core, subjected to immense pressure. Consequently, it's not uncommon for many diamonds to harbor solids, liquids, and gases trapped within, resulting in imperfections in most cases.

Instances of diamonds devoid of imperfections are exceedingly rare and, consequently, command higher prices. The grading process aids in ascertaining the nature of inclusions and blemishes within the stone. Many purchasers lean towards VVS diamonds instead of flawless ones, as the presence of detectable inclusions authenticates the diamond's natural origin. A comprehensive understanding of clarity can also lead to cost savings.

The latitude amplifies the significance of clarity it offers buyers concerning the other 4Cs. For instance, diamonds possessing minimal inclusions, like those classified as VS2 and SI1, are often preferred for diamonds below 2 carats. However, imperfections become increasingly perceptible once the diamond size surpasses 2 carats.

A proficient grader meticulously examines the stone under 10x magnification to ascertain the nature of blemishes and inclusions. As specific inclusions can solely be perceived with the naked eye, the preference often veers towards diamonds that exhibit minimal imperfections.

Clarity Grades

Flawless (F): No inclusions or blemishes are discernible under 10x magnification by a grader.

Internally Flawless (IF): Inclusions are absent under 10x magnification.

Very Very Slightly Included (VVS): Inclusions exist, yet identifying them even under 10x magnification proves challenging for a professional grader.

Very Slightly Included (VS): Inclusions are elusive but detectable under 10x magnification.

Slightly Included (SI): Inclusions can be readily observed under 10x magnification.

Diamond Clarity Chart

Diamond Cut

The cut is a stylistic and design standard for grading diamonds, revolving around their proportion, polish, and symmetry. It's imperative to differentiate this from the diamond's shape.

ideal diamond cut

Cut attributes, defined by design standards, hold immense importance in quantification as they significantly influence quality. The physical characteristics of the stone are thoughtfully considered before settling on a particular shape.

As extracted from mines, diamonds naturally appear rough and unappealing. Their external surface is lackluster and concealed by unattractive, clumpy, and cloudy deposits. Therefore, jewelers endeavor to unveil the stone's most brilliant potential by expertly cutting away facets.

A jeweler must thoughtfully contemplate the diamond's shape, symmetry, and other physical features. The arrangement of facets within a stone governs the amount of light reflected to the observer—the greater the number of facets, the more luminous the stone. Notably, the round brilliant cut boasts 58 facets and is the most radiant among various styles.

Polish also occupies a significant place in a jeweler's considerations when mulling over the cut for a raw diamond. It delineates how precisely and seamlessly the facets are aligned within the stone. The proportion and symmetry must be factored in to determine how light dances within the stone.

Cut vs. Shape

Because rough diamonds vary in size and characteristics, cut types exhibit considerable diversity. The round brilliant cut is among the most common. Its symmetry yields more brilliant diamonds compared to most other shapes. However, it's worth noting that this cut might lead to higher costs due to substantial material wastage during shaping.

The industry showcases an array of fancier cut types that can bestow a distinctive style upon your stone. Conversely, excessive shaping can constrain the stone's capacity to scatter light. Consequently, fancy styles find more prevalence in larger stones; the size of the stone directly influences its capacity for light dispersion.

Diamond Clarity vs. Cut

There exist various cutting styles, and notably, the cut of a stone can influence its clarity. Given that these factors significantly contribute to the diamond's cost, numerous buyers ponder them before finalizing their purchase.

5 carat round diamond

Beautiful 5 Carat K Color Diamond.

When a diamond's clarity is less than optimal, the chosen cut can impact its brilliance. This arises from how internal light dispersion can accentuate blemishes and imperfections. As an illustration, an emerald stone characterized by lower clarity is prone to appear lackluster.

To make the most informed decision,  scrutinizing these two factors' correlations is essential. Here are some of the prevalent cutting styles, along with how this relationship influences each:

Round Brilliant: The Round Brilliant is one of the most prevalent styles. Approximately two-thirds of all diamonds sold are fashioned in the brilliant round cut. This style boasts more facets than other variations, enhancing its luminosity. Its brilliance possesses the advantage of rendering inclusions more challenging to detect, even under magnification. However, its widespread popularity might have impacted its perceived value.

Emerald: Emerald diamonds feature edges that create a captivating "hall of mirrors" effect. This style offers the perk of potentially making the stone appear larger. However, it's worth noting that this cut does not inherently offer the highest level of brilliance. Opting for a diamond with a high clarity grade, such as VS1, is advisable to mitigate the visibility of inclusions.

Asscher: The Asscher cut mirrors the step cut style akin to the emerald cut. The arrangement of facets generates internal light dispersion, yet it doesn't attain the same brilliance as the Round Brilliant. For this style, selecting a stone with a clarity grade of SI1 is recommended to minimize the visibility of inclusions, which may be more noticeable at lower clarity grades.

Cushion: Named "cushion" due to its square or rectangular shape with rounded edges, this style emerged in the late 19th century. During that era, technological constraints limited cuts to round and cushion. However, it regained prominence in the early 21st century and is now one of the top four popular choices for engagement rings. For this cut, considering a clarity of at least SI1 is suggested.

Marquise: This style echoes the elongated oval shape of a football, leading to its distinctive appearance. It's recognized as a fashionable choice for diamond engagement rings, as it imparts an elongated look to the fingers. Nevertheless, potential issues lie in its symmetry and bow-tie inconsistencies. Symmetry is crucial, with the endpoints requiring alignment; otherwise, a sense of imbalance emerges. Bow-tie inconsistencies manifest as black spots or lines, common in this style.

Princess: The princess diamond reigns as the favored style for engagement rings. It can take on a square or rectangular shape and resembles a pyramid from a top view. The princess style's structure minimizes wastage, akin to half of a round diamond. Consequently, it offers enhanced value per carat compared to other cuts. Although it doesn't attain the brilliance of a round brilliant, it boasts heightened sparkle when contrasted with different fancy styles.

In summary, many cutting styles exist, and their selection intricately interacts with clarity. Given that these aspects wield significant influence over a diamond's cost, many buyers factor them into their purchasing decisions.

When a diamond's clarity is less than optimal, the chosen cut can markedly impact its brilliance. This phenomenon arises from how internal light dispersion can accentuate blemishes and imperfections. For instance, an emerald stone exhibiting lower clarity is prone to manifest a dull appearance.


Before selecting a diamond, grasping the interconnected nature of the 4Cs is important. For instance, a stone could possess a commendable clarity grade, but its coloration might lead to a lackluster appearance. Likewise, certain cuts might boast ornate designs, yet their clarity could contribute to a cloudy appearance or amplify flaws. Thus, having a distinct vision aligned with your preferred style or budget is essential. Deliberate over and strike a harmonious balance among the 4Cs, and you'll undoubtedly find satisfaction in your choice.