Colored Gemstone Clarity Grading Systems - Stop Bluffing Everybody


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Colored Gemstones are not plain Jane Diamonds - This atrocious joke needs to stop!

At the very outset I would like to clarify that I am writing this article in the capacity of a Certified Gem Professional and an Accredited Jewelry Professional from the GIA-Gemological Institute of America and not as a Vedic Guru (Teacher), Astrologer (Jyotishacharaya), or Planetary Gemologist (Ratna Visheshyag) for I want to present factual information which can be tangibly interpreted and used for benefit, and although this portion sounds clichéd- it’s true.

It seems now that the issue requires clarification. And six things have acted as key motivators/ pushers for me address colored gemstone clarity grades are namely:

  1. An exasperated Planetary Gemologist who incidentally also happens to be my disciple (Shishya).
  2. A very confused and an over-informed customer/ avid ‘googler’ who wanted everything to be too perfect but misses out on gross reality that life is. He needs to read my article Gems Don’t Work.
  3. An atrocious question posed to me which only God can answer. Or maybe even the almighty will give this one a pass!
  4. Establishing some amount of Standardization in the field of colored gemstone grading.
  5. Desire to save precious time of my disciples and my qualified staff. I take pride in the fact that each query which a customer/ patron puts to us is addressed by a Certified Astrologer or a qualified Planetary Gemologist and not a regular kind of customer service. In a single day we receive close to 22,000 visitors( Data as on 29th November 2009) and 1% of these visitors( nearly 200 odd) have some question/ questions regarding Colored Gemstone Clarity. I hope that we will save a lot of time just by having this information right on the website.
  6. Google- Yes the global information or the great agent of confusion.

The Situation/ Situations:

Situation A

On a fine Monday morning I have this exasperated Planetary Gemologist who is a senior staff coming into my chamber with an expression that explanation. “Guruji, you have taught us everything related to Gems and Gemology but you have missed out on one thing.” And what could that be? “You didn’t teach us how to put a clarity grade to a Natural Pearl.” He kept a printed e-mail message on my table from a customer to whom we had recommended a Natural Pearl of 2-3 carats after his chart analysis. This officious looking message with some fancy terms said-

Hi, thanks for your recommendation. I am interested in procuring the Natural Pearl, however I want to procure a stone which has a minimum clarity grade level of VVS1 or VVS2 and is very pure. I see that on your website there are no clarity grades. Seriously, I would like more information on clarity grades of the Natural Pearl which I want to purchase.

“Guruji how does one respond to this?” I said - “My dear I have two messages for you from this situation. Number 1, you need to work on your spiritual progression.” This one left him stumped and more confused. Why - Because my own Guru gave the first lesson- always remember you respond and listen from the heart and give help as the Divine mother would give; for you don’t know how confused a creature is due to the power of Maya-Disillusionment and what is the external environment or the circumstances that have led him/ her to ask something which you might classify as downright foolish or something that tests your patience. This one is a painful lesson but you need to learn this if you want to work your way to anything that can be regarded as spiritual. The response – “Guruji, point taken”.

Number 2, you need to send him factual information that Natural Pearl is an opaque gemstone that does not have a clarity grade for you cannot see anything inside the Natural Pearl. You need to perform an x-ray radiography to assess whether a pearl is nucleated or not. Just send him this information. The response- “Guruji, point taken”.

I will not reveal the response from the customer to this mail message. You can guess. I was not even expecting a response but he did respond and was gracious enough to admit his unreasonable demand which came after hours of research on the global information dispenser-Google!

His suggestion/ response- Please write an article which addresses this issue. I am still not quite spiritual as you would like me to be. I am trying. Please pray for me. I really would like to add some lines to the factual information that you have stated but somehow I will control myself.

Situation B

This one happened in the 2nd week of November 2009. We received an e-mail from a customer which stated – “I am interested in purchasing a Ruby. The one I am particularly interested in costs $495/- on your website. However I have a quotation from a very reputed Gemmologist who is quoting me $3000/- for a lesser weight gemstone. What is the difference even though the gemstones look quite similar? What is the clarity level for your gemstone? His is VVS2.”

Seriously, we don’t know how to respond to this one either. This one is a googly for everyone. Number 1 – how can I comment on pricing of a gemstone till that physical specimen is in front of my eyes. Number 2, there is no concrete basis for pricing. Number 3, we have a strict policy here not to comment on any third vendor’s product or pricing. We can talk about own goods and services and then there is nothing to talk about because all factual information regarding a gemstone is already on our website. This was the exact response we sent our friend along with an attachment which gave some more information on gemstones clarity grades.

If we follow GIA clarity grade system for colored gemstones each single piece of Gemstone from our online inventory at would return from the LAB as VVS or VS but we don’t attach these grades to our gemstones for this system that does not carry a universal sanction.

Colored Gemstones Vs Diamonds- A big challenge

Today the majority of diamonds traded across the world are for jewelry purposes. The 99% of the diamonds traded are basically white or associated shades. At the top end is snow white or absolutely white and at the lower end are Diamonds which slightly have a yellowish shade which have been given a fancy classification term as Champagne Diamonds. After nearly 100 years of sustained diamond marketing and advertising the diamond as a Girl’s Best Friend and an absolute symbol of love, this industry is bleeding today. I understand the GIA system of clarity grading of diamonds; for really it is a big help in trading large volumes of diamonds in the jewelry industry with speed as the color shade is basically white. A Jeweller would typically place an order to his supplier stating that he requires 100 diamonds of 10 pointers size of VVS1 or VVS2 grade. Now this is very functional as most of these diamonds would be put in a single necklace and conveys the basic requirement. Well, that’s why I classify the diamonds as Plain Jane as compared to colored gemstones where the range of color shades is so myriad that it is really mind-boggling.

The essence of a colored gemstone like ruby, sapphire or emerald is basically color and color is again an arbitrary thing. The preference of shades really is very diverse and differs from country to country and culture to culture. Please see the picture below which will describe the tone and saturation of a colored gemstone. Mind you, this does not describe color, just the tone and saturation:

Pale - almost colorless to 15% tone
Light - 15% tone to 30%
Light/Medium - 30% tone to 45%
Medium - 45% tone to 65%
Medium/Dark - 65% tone to 85%
Dark - 85% tone to 100%

Moving on to the latest scientific research, the way color is interpreted by human eye also depends number of cones in the retina of the eye. So one individual may classify an emerald as Green, other individual might classify it as Bluish Green whereas yet another individual might classify it as Greenish Blue. Is someone at the Gem Labs listening?

So we arrive at one conclusion that due to the tremendous diversity of color in colored gemstones the subsequent grading of clarity is going to be a very difficult task. I have given this example just to give you an insight how difficult this game of colored gemstone clarity is going to be for even the system for diamonds grading is quite debatable but functional for traders.

Now add to it some more fun. These are two certificates done for the same diamond by two reputed gem labs. Watch the clarity parameters and the entries for polish and symmetry:

Certificate 1

Certificate 2

What seems to be happening here? It is in front of your eyes. This ambiguity gives lot of space for unethical operators to take customers for a ride. GIA lists the clarity grade as I1 which is as bottom end of the GIA clarity scale. EGL rates the clarity as SI2 which is some grades higher than the I1. Difference in price - a few thousand dollars on a carat to carat basis. So if an unethical operator wants to make some more money you will be furnished the EGL certificate in such a case as the clarity grade is higher. Nobody can be really blamed in this case. I have here certificates in which reverse has happened. GIA has given a higher grade to a gemstone whereas EGL has given a lower grade to the same stone. Also see the columns for symmetry and polish.

When such a thing is happening in Plain Jane white Diamonds the bigger challenge lies in Colored Gemstones.

And more confusion prevails...

Cat’s Eye the beautiful and potent colored gemstone of Ketu is in heavy demand in the astrological market. Now how will a Gemstone Lab attach clarity to this gemstone where Cat’s Eye gemstones range from opaque to near transparent.

Opaque Cat’s Eye

Near Transparent Cat’s Eye

If these two samples were sent to the Gem Lab I would love to see the expression of the Gemologist. He cannot put opaque in the clarity grade for such classification does not exist in his standard scale. I wonder what happens to the second lot.

The beautiful optical phenomena known as Chatoyancy is the moving line which resembles the opening and closing of a Cat’s Eye is due to the minor thread-like inclusions also known as Silk. If these thread-like inclusions would not be there in this miracle gemstone it would be a grey colored stone not a beautiful mystical Cat’s Eye.

The Generalized Scale - Fancy terms, pretending to be Rocket Science, but its pure nonsense

The standardized Gem Clarity Rating Scale of a major Lab is given below:

Type 1 - Gemstones Type 1 - Clarity
VVS - Very, Very Slightly Included (the best) Minute inclusions that are difficult to see using 10X, and are not visible at all to the naked eye.

VS - Very Slightly Included Minor inclusions that are easier to see using 10X, but still not visible to the naked eye.

SI1 - Slightly Included I The inclusions are easily seen using 10X, and are noticeable with the naked eye.

SI2 - Slightly Included 2 The inclusions are more easily seen using 10X, and are quite visible with the naked eye.

I1 - Included 1 The inclusions are very obvious and they have a moderate negative effect on the over-all appearance or durability of the gemstone.

I2 - Included 2 The inclusions are very obvious and they have a severe negative effect on the over-all appearance or durability of the gemstone.

I3 - Included 3 The inclusions are very obvious and they have a severe negative effect on both the over-all appearance and durability of the gemstone.

Type 2 - Gemstones Type 2 - Clarity
Andalusite All
All colors (i.e. Sapphire and Ruby)
All species and colors
Iolite - All
Peridot - All
Spinel - All
Multi-colored (except watermelon color)
Red Yellow
VVS - Very, Very Slightly Included (the best) Minor inclusions that are somewhat easy to see using 10X, but still not visible to the naked eye.

VS - Very Slightly Included Noticeable inclusions that are easier to see using 10X, and may be slightly visible to the naked eye.

SI1 - Slightly Included I The inclusions are easily seen using 10X and are large or numerous, and are noticeable with the naked eye.

SI2 - Slightly Included 2 The inclusions are easily seen using 10X and are large or numerous, and are very noticeable with the naked eye.

I1 - Included 1 The inclusions are very obvious and they have a moderate negative effect on the over-all appearance or durability of the gemstone.

I2 - Included 2 The inclusions are very obvious and they have a severe negative effect on the over-all appearance or durability of the gemstone.

I3 - Included 3 The inclusions are very obvious and they have a sever negative effect on both the over-all appearance and durability of the gemstone.

Type 3 - Gemstones Type 3 - Clarity
Watermelon (green transitioning to pink or red)
VVS - Very, Very Slightly Included (the best) Noticeable inclusions that are easy to see using 10X, but usually not visible to the naked eye.

VS - Very Slightly Included Obvious inclusions that are easy to see using 10X, and usually visible to the naked eye. SI1 - Slightly Included I The inclusions are large and numerous using 10X, and prominent with the naked eye.

SI2 - Slightly Included 2 The inclusions are large and numerous using 10X, and very prominent with the naked eye. I1 - Included 1 The inclusions are very obvious and they have a moderate negative effect on the over-all appearance or durability of the gemstone.

I2 - Included 2 The inclusions are very obvious and they have a severe negative effect on the over-all appearance or durability of the gemstone.

I3 - Included 3 The inclusions are very obvious and they have a sever negative effect on both the over-all appearance and durability of the gemstone.

By now you should be able to see the futility of this exercise. These terms are not rocket science but these officious sounding terms that serve the purpose of maybe giving a psychological comfort to the customer that He/She is making a right choice and that hard earned money is being spent in something worthwhile. I have written to All major Gem Labs about the drawbacks of these systems and the need to arrive at a universal grading system (Even though I know it is not possible in colored Gemstones). I receive a standard bureaucratic reply that states how my opinions as a professional are appreciated and respected. “We understand the limitations associated with this system but we are working to bring in uniformity and unanimity in this system.” Most of the replies are on these lines. I first wrote to a major Gemstone Lab in 2001. It is 2009 and response remains almost the same.

I will accept Colored Gemstone Clarity Scale only if all major Gem labs have one single uniform system. Till then, I will not play along and accept this system just for the sake of business. It may risk loss of business but conforming to this charade is nothing short of madness and i refuse to be a part of this sham. A gem lab would do well to certify a colored gemstone as Natural or Synthetic but should refrain from attaching a clarity grade to it till two labs arrive at the same clarity grade.

Come to think of it I have got an emerald certified from a same chain of Gem Labs in Bangkok, Amsterdam and Japan. Two of these labs classified the Emerald as SI2 and one of them classified it as VS. It’s the same chain of Gem Labs not two different labs but yes the staff Gemologist examining the physical specimen was different.

Another thing, what’s this VS and VVS. VS very slightly(Less guilt), VVS Very Very Slight (Lesser Guilt), SI- Slightly included (I am doing a crime but still I have less guilt)!!! Just roll these fancy rocket science terms on your tongue and send me some mails how your expression / emotion was when you actually uttered these terms. What is Very slightly or Very Very slightly it should just be included or not included. Period!

Tangible Information Presented – Let’s move on to our domain which is Jyotish Quality Gemstones or Gemstones which will work as potent Gem Talisman and bring about the effects of healing, wealth creation, new opportunities etc.

Who Wants the Clarity Grade

In my 15 years as a Gemologist I have never encountered a single

  • Miner
  • Mine Owner
  • Wholesaler
  • Distributor
  • Salesman
  • Collector
  • Supplier
  • Cutter
  • Facetter
  • Gemstone Instructor
  • Exhibitor

who has ever asked me a clarity grade for a colored gemstone. And believe you me, I have been directly/ indirectly involved in appraisal, evaluation, valuation, education, sale, cutting, polishing or determination of antiquity or genuineness around 10,000 physical colored gemstones specimens which include but are not limited to loose gemstones, whole lots, crystals rough and raw specimens. Yes I have 10,000 beautiful stories in my memory bank associated with the Karmik unfolding of events and individuals who got connected in these transactions but that is for yet another day. I can recall this many but there are many more!

This question is never asked by the insiders of the industry as they are well aware of the facts that I have presented to you in this article. This clarity question is generally asked by an individual who is no manner connected with the Gemstone industry or has not even examined 10 physical gemstone samples and whose only solitary source of information is the Google Search Box. Yes, I love Google too. It sometimes gives me quality information at an amazing speed but it also serves up a lot of trash because for Google everything is Algorithm strings. Yes, I love Google very much because it sometimes serves some humorous stuff too. It will serve everything. You need to pick up the right thing. I appreciate intellectual curiosity and the drive to do the right thing but sorry again I don’t understand overzealous research leading to hours of time wastage, delaying of therapy and ultimately a confused state of mind.

Again it’s my Request to you go through the following link to get the best out of your gemstone therapy:

Jyotish Gemstone Clarity - The clarity grading system in the Sacred Texts (Shastras)

Our Domain is Jyotish Gem Clarity and not intellectual facts associated with Clarity Grading etc etc. But seriously, it is here that things become very complex. Here is a Shloka (metered and often rhymed poetic verse or phrase) in one of the Sacred Texts for a Yellow Sapphire

Nishprabham Karksham Ruksham PithShyamam Natonattam
Kapisham Kapilam Pandu Pushpragam Parityjet

Translated in English It means that a Yellow Sapphire whose luster does not emanate a pleasing and brilliant Yellow Shade, whose surface feels like sand upon touching, which has a blacking hue mixed with the Yellow Shade, that which is not well proportioned, having a mixture of red and yellow shades or having a mixture of yellow and white shades should be completely discarded.

Another Shastras says about the evaluation of Blue Sapphire. It says that if a Blue Sapphire has a white mesh like structure or white matrix like structure then it should be avoided as it is bad for the eyes. A milky Blue Sapphire destroys wealth and brings poverty. Accidents will occur if a cracked Blue Sapphire is used. A stone which is doubly colored will cause enemy troubles and court cases. The Blue Sapphire which gives an optical illusion of having a depression or a valley becomes the cause of health problems specifically boils and ulcers. The sapphire which is dull and non transparent causes distress to near and dear ones.

These are just two examples. The Sacred texts are very clear about the desirable characteristics and the avoidable ones in each gemstone. I wonder how many individuals are aware of these but for us this is the first cornerstone by which we evaluate a Gemstone. As they say a picture speaks a thousand words here are some specimens for you to ascertain acceptable Gemstone Clarity:

Exhibit 1 (Flawed and Clear Ruby)

Flawed Non Transparent Ruby that should be out rightly discarded

Near Flawless clean ruby with good luster. Acceptable Jyotish Quality

Exhibit 2 (Sample of Emerald Quality)

Picture Courtesy: Shri Richard Shaw Brown of the PGA, Thailand. - Thanks Richard!

The Emerald classified as clean is Jyotish Quality; the second one may get classified as Jyotish Quality but requires a closer physical examination to assess other parameters. The third one should be completely discarded.

Conclusion & Suggestions


Colored Gemstones are beautiful mystical wonders of a beautiful God. Each colored gemstone is different from another just as each human being id different from one another. Clarity Grading is a statistical sham, I believe inclusions are handwriting of nature and prove that the Gemstone was created in the lap of Mother Nature and not in a Gem Manufacturing facility. Accept Gems with good handwriting and leave the ones with illegible handwriting.

Love your gemstone, love its mystery and it is capable of giving you much more. So much more that cannot be quantified.

And to my dear friend to who wanted the clarity Grade for the Natural Pearl, I have to say, My Dear I cannot answer this question and neither can Google or any gem lab. If you do find an answer do let me know:). And to my Shishya/ Disciple I have to say well I have written the article as per your suggestion. I hope God gives you more patience and makes you truly spiritual.


Please go through the article Gems don’t work and see the checklist to get the best out of gemstone therapy. Each time you read that article you will get a new message. You will not only get benefitted by Gemstones but also would know the secrets of the Karmic Life Map.

External research Links

The following Links will shed more light on Gemstone clarity grades in case you would require more information:

God Bless.

Guruji Shrii Arnav

Guruji Shrii Arnav - Vedic Guru is also an internationally acclaimed planetary gemmologist. An Accredited Jewelry Professional from the Gemmological Institute of America at present he is the chief mentor of and He is also the chief Horoscope columnist of Deccan Herald- A leading Indian English daily.