Diamond Clarity – VS1 , VS2 , SI1 , SI2

 

Diamond clarity complete guide about VS1 , VS2, SI1 and SI2 diamonds that are the most common clarity grades. Yes it is long, but hey…there are some good pictures here…enjoy :)

 

Diamond clarity is a major aspect out of the 4 C’s of diamonds. Clarity measures how clean a diamond is from inclusions and is determined according to GIA by 11 different grades.

Out of these grades four of them are the most popular in the market and are the most desired. Those are the: SI2, SI1, VS2 and VS1. The reason why these clarity grades are popular is because they are mostly eye-clean. The flaws are not as obvious as the I (Imperfect/included) clarity grade while the price is not as high as VVS, IF or FL clarity diamonds.

 

The main question that many shoppers encounter, is what are the differences between these four clarity grades in terms of:

  1. Price difference
  2. Visual difference

In terms of price it is very simple and straight forward. Diamonds are priced according to the Rapaport price list. This is an international trade diamond report for polished diamonds based on carat weight, color, clarity (higher the grade, higher the price is), and shape (round shaped diamonds are more expensive than the rest of the shapes). It is used widely by both wholesalers and retailers to verify diamonds prices. As a shopper it is difficult to have an access to this report (since it is industry oriented), but knowing about it will assist you finding the right price for the diamond you are looking for.

In visual terms, on the other hand, things are more complicated since there is no certain answer for a non-professional diamond person to necessarily find the differences between the four clarity grades. Even among the professionals there could be uncertainty at times. This issue can be explained very informatively in writing but instead, I will show you pictures to ease things.

As you will see in the next few pictures not all diamonds are the same even between the same clarity grades. There are many explanations for each case and a picture does not reflect a diamond’s real look, but when grading a stone the standards are equal.

 

VS1 diamond clarity: As you can see no inclusions are visible even in a 40X magnifying pictures .

VS1 diamond clarity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VS2 diamond clarity: The left diamond has a small dark flaw right in the center. The middle one has a very small flaw at 6:30 o’clock. The right diamond seems to be clear of flaws.

 

VS2 diamond clarity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SI1 diamond clarity: As you can see, inclusions in the top left diamond are most visible and the bottom right is the best looking. SI1 diamonds can look amazing if chosen right and can actually look like VS clarity diamonds.

 

SI1 diamond clarity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SI2 diamond clarity: SI2 clarity diamonds can visually look very bad and on the other hand can look great, as you can see in this collection. It all depends on your patient finding the perfect one.

SI1 diamond clarity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The most popular clarity grades, as mentioned above, are SI2, SI1, VS2 and VS1. Shoppers love these GIA grades since they are given to diamonds that are mostly eye-clean, meaning they look perfect when seen with the unaided eye. But as you observe them with a 10x magnifying loupe, inclusions can be detected (especially with the SI clarity grades) easily.

 

The different grades consequently affect the price of the stone. SI2 clarity diamond is much cheaper than a VS2 clarity. So how are you supposed to choose your diamond? They look flawless anyway and most of your friends don’t take a 10x magnifying glass around to examine the diamond your wife is wearing.

 

It always comes down to the initial budget for the diamond you are looking for. What grade are you planning to shop? Remember that there are other 3C’s that you need to consider apart from Clarity; i.e. Cut, Carat and Color. In terms of Clarity, if you can get an SI1 diamond looking like a VS2, why bother paying more for the higher grade? Let’s go over the visual differences of these grades.

Diamonds

VS Clarity Grades

VS or Very Slightly included grades are awarded to diamonds that have very small imperfections. There are only one or  few of these inclusions and a grader won’t find them the very second he lays eyes on a stone through a 10x loupe. In other words, VS clarity diamonds are visually a very safe purchase. Even if you were in the circle of diamond professionals who perhaps – although unlikely – have the habit of carrying loupe around, VS diamonds have bragging rights.

 

VS clarity grades are divided into two categories: VS1 clarity (click for even more info) and VS2 clarity (click for more info), with the second one is having slightly more easily detected inclusions. What is to note on GIA’s determination in clarity grade is that it is not only the number of the inclusions that matters in a diamond, but also the size, the position and the color of the said inclusions. A diamond might have more inclusions in number, but is graded higher than another diamond with fewer inclusions that are larger in size and are located on the table facet (the largest part on the surface of the diamond).

 

Between VS1 and VS2 clarity grades, the differences might not be easily spotted with an untrained eye. They might be not that easy either for experienced graders. However, what separates them are the factors explained above; size, location and color of their inclusions. With VS1, you can be sure that you get a clearer diamond than VS2. As a result, you will be paying more for it than the other lower clarity grades. If clarity is that important to you and budget is not a problem, VS1 diamond makes a great choice. VS2 diamonds, on the other hand, are less expensive than VS1, but their imperfections are perhaps larger, less strategically located or darker in color. Still, VS2 diamonds feature very clean look even when viewing them with a 10X magnifying loupe.

 

SI Clarity Grades

While VS means Very Slightly Included, SI grade drops the word “Very,” and stands with Slightly Included. GIA describes SI clarity diamonds as having several small inclusions that can be easily detected under a 10x microscope but can hardly be seen with a “naked eye” (no magnifying aids). That makes SI clarity diamonds a smart choice for those who want eye-clean diamonds with more affordable price.

 

Like VS diamonds, SI diamonds are divided into two: SI1 clarity (click for more info) and SI2 clarity (click for more info). The latter is considered less clear than the first. The differences between the two are more easily explained than the differences between the VS diamonds. SI1 has inclusions that can be immediately seen with a 10x loupe, and almost spotless when observed with naked eyes. The SI2 diamonds, on the other hand, have one or several small inclusions that are also easily noticed through a loupe, but can also be spotted with a “naked eye”. In other words, when seen without magnifying aids, SI1 diamonds are mostly clean from inclusions while SI2’s inclusions are a bit more visible to the eye (see SI1 and SI2 pictures above).

 

Both SI1 and SI2 diamonds provide great value for money especially when they are GIA certified. When clarity is not your main concern, SI clarity diamonds are a great choice as they look clear and stunning to the normal unaided eye. They are also significantly less expensive compared to VS clarity diamonds.

 

Conclusions

VS1, VS2, SI1 and SI2 diamonds are beautiful, stunning diamonds. They look mostly flawless to the eye and at the same time they don’t cost a fortune. They are also more available than the rarer, higher clarity grades like VVS, IF and FL diamonds.

 

VS1 and VS2 diamonds are considered safe options. It’s guaranteed that VS clarity inclusions are invisible without using a magnifying loupe. And even with the loupe, they still look quite clear from imperfections. The VS clarity range comes with an expensive price tag, but for buyers who appreciate clarity, they should be an excellent choice.

 

SI1 and SI2 clarity diamonds also have clean appearance. SI1 diamond inclusions are mostly invisible to naked eyes, while SI2 diamonds imperfections are barely noticed. Both are more affordable than diamonds graded with VS1 or VS2, making them favorite choices among buyers who want not only clean look, but maybe also larger carat weight, better cut and/or color grade.

 

Inclusions directly affect diamonds with step cuts, such as emerald, ascher, etc. more than brilliant (round and oval for example) cuts. Step cuts are aimed to give recipients beautiful mirror-like shape and appearance, which unfortunately will display any visible inclusions that the diamond has. Brilliant cut diamonds tend to hide these inclusions in their facets and the sparkle it creates helps cover them as well. Therefore, it’s advised that you should take a diamond higher than SI1 for step cut diamonds.

 

When buying VS1, VS2, SI1 or SI2 diamond, one should make sure that the diamond’s inclusions are acceptable for its grade, or better. This takes  time for inexperienced buyers to know, but it’ll be worth the . The secret is to compare diamonds and know the advantages that each diamond carries. Based on this research, you should get a great diamond with the best value.

 

Buying Guide for VS and SI clarity Diamonds

Buying diamonds with clarity grade ranging from VS to SI can be quite tricky if you are new to it. Since there are no two diamonds with exactly the same inclusions in terms of size, location and colors. Therefore, you will need to make your own assessment, apart from GIA’s reliable grades.

For example, an SI1 diamond can look better than a VS2 diamond. That SI1 diamond could have more inclusions that are larger and darker than the normal VS2 diamonds and therefore it was graded as such. But if these inclusions are well-hidden, while the VS2 diamond small inclusion is placed in the center of the table, obviously the SI1 diamond is a better purchase for its looks  and for the money. So make sure you always check your diamonds’ clarity through at least a 10x loupe, or viewing a magnified high quality picture of the chosen diamond.

There are a few options where you can buy your diamond. There must be some physical jewelry stores nearby where you can check out the diamonds on your own. If this is your choice, you must ask to the attendance for a loupe or a microscope. See the diamond up close and make sure the diamond’s clarity is as you expect from its grade.

Another way to do it, is by purchasing online. You’ve got to make sure that the diamond you are interested to buy has a REAL picture with no less than 20x magnification. Most reputable online shops will provide you with a real diamond picture of at least 20x up to 40x magnification. Very few websites provide a real magnified high quality picture which allows potential customers observing the diamond closely.

An important fact: Viewing a real high quality magnified diamond picture is the most important aspect in terms of clarity if shopping your diamond online. Now, when buying a diamond with a clarity grade lower than VS2 it has double the importance, since not all diamonds are equal visually in terms of clarity. James Allen diamonds is one of the only websites that offers true pictures of each diamond they sell and that is a huge advantage when shopping for diamonds. They also have very high scores in terms of customer service.

 

Last but not least, you should always buy certified diamonds. Natural diamonds must be accurately graded to ensure their quality. You don’t want to spend thousands of dollars for an uncertified diamond.

 

If needed I am here to assist. You can address me with any diamond question you might have.  I will be glad to answer.

 

Actual Diamond Photos from JamesAllen

 

 

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author Dan Greenberg (38 Posts)

Dan Greenberg, founder of Diamonds Geek, is a skilled diamond expert. He started his way in the diamond business as a travelling salesman for a few large diamond houses, among them are Dalumi and Novel Collection.


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