When diamonds are formed deep in the earth, they develop natural birthmarks – slight irregularities and features which are visible to a skilled grader under 10x magnification. These are collectively known as “clarity characteristics” or ‘“inclusions”.

Inclusions are natural, tiny imperfections that form either naturally or during the diamond cutting process. The majority of inclusions are naturally found within diamonds and are used to identify and distinguish diamonds. Here are the diamond inclusions you may find in a diamond or on a GIA grading report. All natural diamonds will have inclusions. It is immensely rare to find a diamond with no inclusions, and these diamonds carry a premium.

Below you can see examples off the most common inclusions on real diamonds. Remember that diamonds viewed under magnification will always appear to have displeasing inclusions. Always check with a With Clarity gemologist to see the impact of the inclusion on the actual beauty of the diamond.


Hair-like lines that often occur during the cutting of a diamond and extend from the girdle into the surface of the stone. If a girdle is heavily bearded, its appearance will look a grey and fuzzy fringe, almost as if it has been scratched


A clarity inclusion that describes a break in the surface of a gemstone that extends inside. It is a common clarity characteristic that can occur naturally. Feathers can look transparent and almost be invisible. Or in certain angles and lights have a greyish or white appearance. Feathers that are more visible detract from the clarity of the diamond. Try to avoid very large feathers that are near the surface or girdle of the diamond, as those can be more visible.


A clarity inclusion that forms during the diamond growth process within a diamond. It is used to determine the clarity grade. Crystals can exist in different colours within the diamond. Most commonly, they are found in black and white. White crystals are not always very distracting or visible. However, be careful if your diamond has black crystals, especially larger ones. These are obvious, even without magnification at times. Black crystals are the result of embedded carbon. Other coloured crystals are far less common within diamonds.


clarity inclusion that describes a group of tiny pinpoints within the diamond too small to individually distinguish under 10x magnification. A cloud can give a slightly hazy appearance where it is located within the diamond. When clouds cover a majority of the diamond area, they can cause an undesirable veil of haze that diminishes the sparkle. This is often hard to spot, however when looking at two magnified diamonds, one that is cloudy and another that is not, it is easier to see the difference.


These are very small white or black crystals that are embedded inside a diamond. These internal crystals look like a small dot, visible at 10x magnification. Pinpoints are usually quite small and require magnification to view.


An area of the rough diamond’s surface, which dips below the polished diamond’s surface. An indented natural is a part of the rough diamond that was left untouched during the polishing process and is usually found at the girdle. Typically indented natural can happen when a portion of the rough diamond is left unpolished during the cutting process. Indented natural can be found near the girdles of diamonds.


A thin crystal that is visually needle-like and found inside the diamond. It is often as thick as a pinpoint but longer like a feather. Needles are typically white or transparent. Single needles are not as noticeable. However, in clusters or close together, needles can affect the clarity of the diamond negatively.


A white or transparent crystal which reaches the surface of a polished diamond. A crystal inclusion that extends to the surface of a diamond. Larger knots are not desirable as they are very visible even without magnification.


Small, shallow openings on the surface of a diamond often found near the girdle, culet or facet junctions. A small break on the diamond surface, typically located on your near facet junctions. It is usually man made and caused by wear and tear.


A cavity inclusion is a large or deep opening in the diamond’s surface. In most cases, cavities are created during the polishing process when an internal inclusion is breached or gets dislodged from the diamond, leaving an opening on the diamond’s surface. They tend to trap dirt and oil which soon turns dark and more visible. Small cavities are not typically a problem, however you should avoid larger cavities.


A clarity inclusion formed by a series of cloud, pinpoints or crystals. Twinning wisps are the result of irregularities in the crystal structure of the diamond that occur as it is forming. Typically when diamonds are forming, specific environmental conditions are needed. When a diamond stops and starts re-growing the twinning wisps can form. Twinning wisps are essentially a series of different inclusions such as pinpoints, crystals, feathers and clouds, that form a chaotic pattern.


Lines sometimes visible under 10x magnification that result from irregular crystallisation. Internal graining lines cannot be polished away and follow no particular pattern. They cross facet junctions. Graining is typically caused by uneven crystal growth within the diamond and can look like white or coloured lines. When larger, they can also appear like bigger creases.


Transparent line-like formations on the surface of a diamond caused by crystal structure irregularities. Surface Graining can be difficult to identify even under magnification. Caused by irregular crystal growth, internal graining may appear milky or hazy, like faint lines or streaks. Depending on their severity, they can also appear like creases or reflections.


This is a narrow and small tunnel that is found on the diamonds surface and goes into the body of the diamond. This is a natural inclusion but can look similar to a internal laser drill treatment. This inclusion forms when diamonds are coming up to the surface of the earth. When judging the impact of the etched channel, look at the clarity grade of the diamond. This will help you understand how much of an impact the inclusion has on the diamond.

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