IF Diamonds: Discovering the Internally Flawless Standard

Last Updated on June 27, 2023 by Juli "Jewels" Church

Wondering about IF diamonds and what this clarity grade means?

In this Learning Guide, I'll tell you everything you need to know about IF diamonds, such as: 

IF diamond
  • What does an IF clarity grade mean?
  • Are lab-grown IF clarity diamonds worth anything?
  • Should I get VS or IF clarity?

What are IF Diamonds?

An IF diamond is a diamond whose clarity grade has been determined as an internally flawless diamond. IF diamonds have been assessed by a gem grader and are determined to have no visible inclusions to the naked eye. Even under 10x magnification, an internally flawless diamond will not have visible flaws.

GIA Graded Internally Flawless Diamond, Excellent Cut, 1 Carat with no visible inclusions at 40x magnification

The clarity characteristics in IF diamonds are there, but impossible to see with the naked eye. Even under 40x magnification, it can be difficult to spot any flaws. After all, internally flawless diamonds are the last clarity grade before flawless diamonds.

How Diamond Clarity Grades Work

Diamond clarity is one of the 4Cs of Diamond Quality created by the Gemological institute of America. They created an industry-used clarity scale to separate the diamonds with many flaws from the diamonds with few flaws.

The GIA Clarity Scale consists of the following grades:

GIA Diamond Clarity Scale

Different gemological laboratories assign diamond clarity grades based on the details of natural inclusions and surface blemishes within the diamond. All diamonds have inclusions. Even flawless diamonds aren't truly void of inclusions.

Clarity grades are determined by these details of your diamond's inclusions:

  • Size
  • Location
  • Relief (how it looks in relation to the rest of the diamond)
  • Type
  • Number

Inclusions are typically a visual aspect of your diamond, but some blemishes can present a problem if the diamond's surface is accidentally struck.

An SI2 Diamond with many dark inclusions, but still doesn't compromise the durability of the diamond

But if you're going with an IF diamond, you won't have to worry about that at all. High quality internally flawless diamonds are extremely rare, especially in larger carat weights. It is said that internally flawless diamonds represent less than 0.5% of diamonds mined commercially.

IF Clarity Diamond vs FL Clarity Diamond

A flawless diamond ring is the highest clarity diamonds available. Internally flawless diamonds fall right beneath them on the clarity scale. Both clarity grades are have no eye visible inclusions with the naked eye OR under 10x magnification.

The clarity grading standards that divide these two grades are minimal. The main difference between IF and Fl diamonds is that IF diamonds are likely to have tiny external characteristics (blemishes). Flawless diamonds shouldn't have external or internal inclusions at all.

IF Clarity Diamond

FL Clarity Diamond

I don't know about you, but I don't see much of a difference in these two pictures. And when viewing them in real time, my eyes can't see clarity characteristics even at 40x magnification. 

Most surface blemishes happen during the cutting and polishing process. Some blemishes include surface graining, small nicks and scratches, polish marks, burn marks, and naturals. Naturals are portions of the rough diamond that hasn't been cut and may appear uneven under high magnification.

A diamond with an IF grade isn't going to have any major blemishes but is likely to have the polish marks, nicks/scratches, or naturals at high magnification.

Because of rarity and status, flawless diamonds tend to be at 5-15% price difference when compared to internally flawless diamonds. That range increases quickly as you go up in carat weight for your engagement ring.

IF Diamond vs VVS1 Diamond Clarity Grade

A Very Very Slightly Included clarity diamond lies just below the IF clarity grade, but they are on separate tiers. IF diamonds have their own tier and flawless diamonds are the top. VVS clarity diamonds consist of two grades: VVS1 and VVS2 diamonds. VVS1 diamonds are considered the higher and rarer of the two clarity grades.

Both clarity diamonds are eye clean diamonds. VVS1 diamonds have very, very slight inclusions when viewed under 10x magnification. IF diamonds don't have any inclusions under this magnification.

IF Clarity Diamond

VVS1 Clarity Grade

The above VVS1 diamond has a very small white inclusion beneath the crown facets unable to be seen in the photograph. However, both appear eye clean. 

You shouldn't see any dark inclusions in a VVS1 diamond and its regarded as a high clarity grade. VVS1 diamonds will have both internal inclusions and external inclusions, but they're likely to be very, very small and light colored.

As for the cost, you can expect a VVS1 diamond to be around 5-15% less expensive than IF clarity diamonds.

How Much Do IF Diamonds Cost?

Diamonds aren't valued and priced by clarity alone, but you can be pretty sure internally flawless clarity diamonds are going to send you upwards on the price chart. It's the second highest clarity grade available for diamonds.

The 4Cs are major factors in price and value, but they aren't the only ones that are attributed to diamond prices. Some other major and minor details include:

  • Diamond shapes
  • Certified diamonds vs uncertified diamonds
  • Certifying grading lab
  • Brands
  • Retailer
  • Lab grown diamonds vs mined diamonds
  • Specialty cuts
  • Colorless vs fancy color diamonds
  • Proportions
  • Fluorescence
  • Treatment

On average, it's been said that a 1 carat IF diamond can range from around $5,000 past $50,000. However, it's my recommendation that you buy IF diamonds online rather than from a chain mall retailer like Kay's.

Save on Internally Flawless Clarity Grades with Lab Grown Diamonds

A high quality IF clarity diamond can be pretty expensive. Not everyone has the cash to cover it.

But if you really have your heart set on an IF diamond, lab grown diamonds may be a perfect option for you.

The popularity of lab grown diamonds has risen and it's easy to see why. Many customers love the fact that lab grown diamonds give you a 20-60% discount from naturally mined diamonds.

Lab created diamonds usually get the suspicious eye because of the discounts. Oftentimes they're compared to cubic zirconia and moissanite. Lab diamonds aren't simply diamond alternatives, they're real diamonds.

They follow the same grading standards as mined diamonds. They have been created by simulating the same conditions it takes for natural diamonds to form in the ground — but in a secluded lab chamber.

How Do You Know You Have an Internally Flawless Diamond?

Any old jeweler or diamond seller can say they have an internally flawless diamond, but the best way to ensure you're getting what you pay for is with diamond certification.

But not any diamond certificate will do. Certain gemological laboratories grade diamonds more strictly and consistently than other grading labs. For a list of diamond grading labs that are consistent and legitimate, you should check out our Diamond Certification article.

When I worked at Kay's, only a handful of diamond engagement rings came with a grading report. And these engagement rings were almost double what it is to buy loose diamonds and empty ring settings with accompany grading reports.

A simple 1 carat SI2 diamond ring with a GIA certificate and H color grade can run you around $8,000. In these types of stores, they don't provide you with internally flawless diamonds. You won't see an IF diamond in sight. You'll need to either make a special order request, or they'll urge you to attend one of their quarterly diamond events with Dana Augustine.

Plus, those salespeople will only tell you about diamond certification if you go in asking about it.

Because some of their most expensive rings are certified, they know you have the budget so they'll encourage you to get one of their overpriced GIA engagement rings or some of their lackluster GSI graded diamonds.

But if you don't have that sort of budget, you won't hear a peep about diamond certification the whole sales pitch.

Me? I don't care what kind of budget you have. I'm not a salesperson.

As a diamond and gemstone professional, I'm going to give you the best diamond advice I can — and that means buying a diamond that is certified, IF diamonds or otherwise.

You deserve the comfort in knowing you are getting the diamond clarity you're paying for.

Are IF Clarity Diamonds a Good Choice for Engagement Rings?

An internally flawless diamond ring can make a fine choice for clarity grade in a diamond. It is the last clarity grade before flawless diamonds. That being said, don't choose your diamond just based on it being an IF clarity diamond. You can still have an unappealing IF diamond with low cut quality that come out cheaper than other IF diamonds with better cut quality.

Personally, I don't recommend buying an IF diamond for engagement rings. There's absolutely nothing wrong with buying a diamond with IF clarity. But if you're wanting to save money and get the same effect, I would buy VS clarity diamonds instead.

I realize that VS diamonds are a whole two tiers below IF diamonds. But when you compare a VS1 or VS2 diamond's clarity with the naked eye compared to an IF diamond, you won't notice the difference.

Both clarity diamonds are eye clean diamonds when viewed with the naked eye. Under 10x magnification, VS diamonds may have very slight inclusions. IF diamonds won't have any inclusions under 10x magnification.

Unless you're buying a diamond in a large carat weight (3 carat diamond rings+) for your engagement ring, a VS2 clarity diamond looks just as beautiful diamond as an IF clarity diamond. And at a lower price.

Keep in mind that a diamond's clarity isn't the only factor nor the most important factor when it comes to buying a diamond engagement ring. If it comes down to a choice in your budget for an IF clarity diamond with a lower cut quality, I'd go for lower clarity grades.

Never compromise on diamond cut quality, because it's the foundation of your diamond and it controls the sparkle and brilliance in your diamond. Without Very Good or Excellent cut quality, your IF diamond could appear dull and grayish.

What I'm saying is don't put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to a diamond's quality factors. Some factors are worth dedicating more of your budget to while others have some neat tips and tricks to utilize in order save on other factors.

But if saving money isn't relevant to your purchase of an IF diamond and you're interested in the rarity, a mined IF diamond would be a suitable option.

I'd choose IF diamond jewelry over FL diamond jewelry too. FL and IF diamonds are both eye clean diamonds. Neither of them have visible inclusions. Even under 10x magnification, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. However, FL diamonds are more rare, and expensive.

Whether you choose an IF diamond or another clarity grading to suit your budget. there's no doubt in my mind that an IF clarity diamond engagement ring is a fine choice.

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