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Flawless vs Internally Flawless

~ IF vs FL Explained ~

What is the difference between a diamond that is graded as Flawless, as opposed to a diamond that has a clarity grade of Internally Flawless? It's all about the polish.

Both diamond clarities are amazing, and extremely rare. You will likely be making a substantial investment in either case, so it’s best to learn about it’s other qualities, as well.

This is a question that we hear often and it appears that there is some confusion on this topic. The first thing to know is that there is not much of a difference at all. Although these 2 terms are used to determine a diamond’s clarity grade, the difference that exists is often due to a diamond’s polish. A flawless and internally flawless diamond will actually have the same number of inclusions (natural imperfections) and that number equals zero inclusions.

In other words, both diamonds are completely free of any inclusions. Another way to say it, is that they both have a perfect clarity grade.

Grading The Inside and Surfaces Of The Diamond (Facets)

Let’s first examine how they are referred to on a grading report.

  • FL is the abbreviation for a Flawless Diamond.
  • IF is the abbreviation for an Internally Flawless Diamond.

If you think about the terms thoroughly, you can see that the “IF” grade is stating that the “internal” portion of the diamond is perfect. If only the internal portion of the diamond is perfect, then the external portion (surface of the diamond) must not be perfect. The external portion, or surface of the diamond, are the facets. This means that the facets of the diamond have some type of imperfection(s) that prohibit it from being graded as completely “flawless”

What It Boils Down To

A Flawless diamond has the same clarity grade as an Internally Flawless Diamond. The only difference is in the polishing of the facets.

Typically if a diamond only makes “IF” clarity grading, it means that polishing lines are visible on the exterior of the diamond, or the facet(s). It is still essentially a flawless diamond in terms of it’s clarity grade, meaning that it has no inclusions. But it can’t be called flawless because it isn’t, it has polishing lines.

Do Polish Lines Affect Brilliance?

This will have a lot to do with the diamond cut. If the cut is excellent to very good there's a great chance your diamond will have lots of fire and brilliance. If the cut is fair to poor then you could see a drastic difference in brilliance.

However, if you just focus on the polish lines themselves, the answer is yes and no. If the diamond polish on the certification says Excellent to Very Good, it won't make much of a difference at all. If the polish is rated good to poor, it will make a slight difference.

Another way to look at it

Take your finger and run it across a mirror. You see that smudge line you just made, think of that as the polish on a diamond except the lines aren't really smudges, but actual tool marks left from the diamond cutter as he/she cut the diamond.

If you look at the mirror with the smudge you'll notice it's harder to see your reflection, this is because it's reflecting light oddly, and not efficiently enough to see a crisp image. The same can happen on a diamond.

Polish lines on a IF clarity diamond

Polish lines on a IF clarity diamond

The microscopic lines can reflect the light coming in and out of the diamond in an unfavorable way. If you have an excellent to very good polish you won't see much difference. If you have a fair to poor polished diamond your diamond will be less brilliant. If you have no polish lines like you would in a Flawless diamond then there's absolutely nothing to stop light from reflecting in the best possible manner, assuming it has an excellent cut.

Is Flawless More Expensive Than Internally Flawless?

This can be a very difficult question to answer because there are so many different factors that make up the price of a diamond. Generally speaking if 2 diamonds were exactly the same in every other aspect, then it would be more expensive. However diamonds that fall in to this exceptionally high category are very rare. And the chances of finding 2 diamonds that are identical in every other aspect, are virtually zero.

It is extremely likely that something else will be different such as the table, depth, Girdle, Culet, or any number of other factors. Then you also factor in things like current “supply and demand”, a diamond wholesaler that sells for a lower profit margin, a Diamond retailer that works on a lower profit margin, and so on. There are just too many extenuating factors to answer that question definitively.

Should I Buy A FL Diamond Instead Of An IF Diamond?

That is a question that only you can answer for sure. You will have to compare all of the different factors that we mention above and make that decision. I will mention however that both clarity grade diamonds will be extremely impressive. And if a diamond cutter has a diamond with no internal flaws, they are more than likely going to cut it to the best of their abilities.

It is more likely that the diamond will be cut for maximum brilliance, as opposed to maximum carat weight. In other words, the diamond will probably also have an “Excellent Cut Grade”. But the word of caution is to check all of the diamonds characteristics thoroughly, before making this type of purchase. Neither diamond will be cheap.

Which Grade Is More Beautiful?

Sorry to sound like a broken record but you have to look at all of the diamond’s characteristics to know for sure. For Example: If an Internally flawless diamond has a better cut grade or better color grade, it may be more beautiful than a Flawless diamond. Or, one may have a better cut grade while the other one has a better color grade. One person may think the better color grade is more beautiful, while the other person thinks the diamond with a better cut grade sparkles more. You will have to decide which factors are the most important for you.

Summary

Both Flawless and Internally Flawless diamond grades are amazing, and extremely rare. You will likely be making a substantial investment in either case, regardless of which grade you buy. Take your time to learn about all of the other aspects of diamond grading, before getting caught up solely on the clarity grade. A beautiful diamond is created by the sum of all it’s parts, not just one.