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Frank Darling’s Inclusion Guide

By Lead Gemologist Erica Hirsch, GIA GG

Inclusions. They sound like a good thing, but, they’re small naturally occurring blemishes inside of diamonds. Inclusions can block light from bouncing around inside your diamond, making it less brilliant.

The size, type, location and number of inclusions determine a diamond’s clarity grade. Diamonds with higher clarity grades are more rare, and more expensive.

If inclusions are large enough, they can be seen by the naked eye. You may hear a stone described as “eye clean,” to which most gemologists would reply, “who’s eyes?”. Generally, this means a stone’s inclusions ”cannot be seen with normal vision within a distance of 6-12 inches”.

Diamonds are reflective by nature — that’s why they sparkle. But, that reflectivity also means a single inclusion can be reflected many times, multiplying it’s appearance, like a Hall of Mirrors.

With a little care, this can be avoided. The best way is to look closely at the diamond and examine the certificate. We’ll explain how here.

If you’re still unsure, our concierge gemologists are here to help. See that window in the bottom right? Send us a note and we’ll walk you through it. No pressure, diamonds have enough of that.

Rules worth following

Images courtesy of the GIA


Needles are typically small and undetectable.


Pinpoints are acceptable in small numbers.  

Twinning Wisps

Twinning wisps are ok when there are just a few.  


Feathers are colorless and OK if they do not reach the girdle.  

Inclusions you want to avoid

No if’s, and’s or but’s about it


A hole in the diamond


A crystal inclusion which is generally visible.

Laser Drill Hole

Indicates that the diamond has had its clarity artificially enhanced.

Indented Natural

A visible piece of the rough diamond’s original surface.

Certain Feathers

A twisted, or separated plane within the diamond


A chip in the diamonds surface

Etch Channel

A worm like tunnel


A small hole

These inclusions could impact the integrity of the diamond leaving it vulnerable. Diamonds are hard, not tough. You wouldn’t think twice about cutting something with a sharp knife on a ceramic plate but think how careful you are when placing it in the sink.

Still not sure? See our complete glossary of inclusions and key to reading an inclusion plot map below. Ready to find the one? Visit our diamond selector to begin your journey.