Clarity is one of the essentials in selecting diamonds, but in colored stones, this characteristic can be considerably less important... but not always. This is especially true when it comes to emeralds because of what is often referred to as the garden. A garden is a natural feature internal to the stone that may appear like a silky web trapped within. Gardens are as varied as snowflakes and fingerprints and should be thought of in much the same way. Dense gardens may have an affect on clarity, but clarity alone should not sway one's opinion of a particular stone. The degree to which clarity affects a stone's appeal and value is a very subjective consideration. Many emerald buyers will often place greater emphasis on color.

While the term clarity is somewhat subjective, there are a number of grading scales available that are used when certifying a stone, and are dependent on the certifying agency. By far the two most common and accepted are from the Gemological Institute of America, and the American Gem Laboratories?. In either case, grading of color gemstones in general, and emerald in particular, still remains far more subjective than it is for diamond. As such, many retailers choose not to use grading scales at all, unless it already documented as a result of certification by an accredited laboratory. Embassy Emeralds does not use a grading scale for their emerald selection, and instead relies on quality photographs to allow the purchaser to make their own assessments on clarity. In order for you to better make your determination, we provide the two scales used by the GIA and the AGL are shown below.

The GIA scale is more detailed, and more complicated to understand as it incorporates observations made under magnification; not just the naked eye. Their grading scale is as follows:

GIA Clarity Grading Scale
VVS Very, Very Slightly Included; Inclusion may be visible only under 10x magnification, but are usually invisible to the naked eye.
VS Very Slightly Included; While easily visible under 10x magnification, they are only slightly visible without magnification.
SI1Slightly Included; Inclusions are visible to the naked eye.
SI2Slightly Included; Inclusions are obvious to the naked eye.
I1Imperfect; Inclusions are significant enough to moderately impact either appearance or durability.
I2Imperfect; Inclusions are significant enough to severely impact either appearance or durability.
I3Imperfect; Inclusions are so severe that they impact both appearance and durability.
Dcl Déclassé; the stone lacks any level of transparency all together.

By comparison, the AGL scale is easier to use for the layperson:

AGL Clarity Grading Scale
FI Free of inclusions to the unaided eye.
LI1-2Lightly included.
MI1-2Moderately included.
HI1-2Heavily included. Inclusions are obvious.
EI1-3Excessively included; severe effect on appearance and/or durability.

An important consideration in the grading of of colored stones is that higher grades do not necessarily correlate with higher prices; for example, in the case of emeralds inclusions are often a desired characteristic. Further, flawless or nearly flawless emeralds are sometimes initially suspect due how infrequently they are encountered in nature.

The original document is available at