VS and SI Diamond Clarity: What is the Difference?

Sharif Khan
Sharif Khan
Last Updated    EST 
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While VS1 and VS2 diamonds fall within the category of suitable investment-grade options, SI1 and SI2 diamonds offer excellent choices for those on a budget.

GIA-graded VS1 and VS2 diamonds receive exceptionally high clarity grades and are usually visually clean to the naked eye. However, the size of the diamond plays a role; larger diamonds tend to make inclusions more noticeable. Therefore, we recommend caution when considering VS2 diamonds above the 2.5-carat threshold, as closer inspection may be necessary.

As for SI1 diamonds, those in the 1-carat range should typically appear clean to the naked eye, while in the 2-carat range, this depends on the location and type of inclusions. Following our diamond clarity guide closely is recommended for a thorough assessment.

SI2 is a decent clarity grade for diamonds weighing around 1 carat; however, for diamonds exceeding 1.5 carats, one should not necessarily expect them to be free of visible inclusions.

Steer clear of diamonds featuring large black crystals at the stone's center. Additionally, we recommended avoiding diamonds, the clarity grade of which is based on clouds. To determine this, refer to the comments section of a GIA report, where it will clearly state "clarity grade based on clouds." Regular clouds are acceptable inclusions and are not the same as clarity grades based on clouds. 

Finally, refer to our guide on how to prioritize the 4cs for more insights. Additionally, consider leveraging James Allen's Ultra HD 3D Technology to meticulously examine inclusions' placement, size, and color before purchasing.

Watch HD Videos of James Allen's True Heart Diamonds and Astor Ideal Cuts by Blue Nile.

Diamond Clarity

The clarity of a diamond pertains to its cleanliness. Almost all mined and lab-grown diamonds contain inclusions of some kind. These inclusions are imperfections that contribute to the unique character of each diamond. The presence of noticeable inclusions can result in a lower clarity rating for a diamond, potentially affecting its value and overall quality.

James Allen Diamonds

Inclusions within a diamond can encompass various types, such as crystals, clouds, trace minerals, or feathers. While these inclusions are typically small, they can be quite prominent if positioned conspicuously.

When acquiring a diamond, those with higher clarity, often called flawless diamonds, hold the greatest value and have a higher price tag. Conversely, as we move lower on the clarity scale, the cost of the diamond decreases. Hence, if budget considerations are paramount, opting for a diamond with lower clarity might be a practical choice. However, it is important to remember that if an inclusion or blemish is highly pronounced, it can adversely impact the diamond's brilliance and sparkle.

All loose diamonds are assessed on a clarity scale considering the size, quantity, and type of inclusions. This scale was established by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and comprises six categories with eleven distinct diamond clarity grades. The scale spans from FL and IF, signifying Flawless or Internally Flawless, to I3, indicating Included. FL and IF diamonds exhibit no observable inclusions or imperfections when examined under 10x magnification. On the other hand, I1 diamonds possess inclusions that are easily discernible to the naked eye.

Striking a balance between these two ends of the grading spectrum allows buyers to find a diamond that aligns with their budget while maintaining its visual appeal and enchanting sparkle.

VS vs. SI diamonds

Opting for a diamond graded as SI (Slightly Included) or VS (Very Slightly Included) is a smart strategy to maximize our diamond budget. These grades indicate that the diamonds have minimal visible differences to the naked eye.

VS2 Diamond

Beautiful VS2 Diamond with G Color and Ideal Proportions (Watch in HD).

VS diamonds fall into two categories: VS1 and VS2. These are diamonds with Very Slight inclusions that are perceptible under 10x magnification. Positioned third on the clarity scale, VS diamonds are considered good quality. When setting these diamonds, avoiding any noticeable blemishes or inclusions is advisable.

SI diamonds can be classified as SI1 or SI2. They rank fourth on the diamond clarity scale and are characterized as Slightly Included. While these inclusions are readily visible under 10x magnification, they are often not discernible to the naked eye through the diamond's crown. However, in some instances, the inclusion's visibility might depend on its location, making it slightly noticeable to the naked eye. Purchasing SI diamonds presents an opportunity to save significantly while obtaining a fair-quality diamond that fits our budget.

Typically, it is best not to go below the clarity grade of VS. However, if we come across an SI diamond that appears clean to the naked eye, it can offer excellent value. An SI1 visible to the naked eye will appear nearly indistinguishable from a VS diamond but at a more affordable price point. Consequently, choosing an SI1 diamond that is visibly clean can be a wise decision.

Engaging in a thorough search to find an SI1 diamond that meets our criteria is a worthwhile endeavor. It's important to note that not all SI diamonds share the same visual similarity. Some might exhibit visible haziness under magnification, while others could display slight haziness perceptible to the naked eye. Comparing multiple diamonds side by side will assist in making an informed choice.

Diamond Clarity Chart

GIA utilizes the following diamond clarity scale to grade diamonds:

diamond clarity scale

Flawless (FL): No signs or flaws are visible under 10x magnification. Flawless dіаmоnds аrе ехtrеmеlу rare stones. Approximately one in every thousand gem-quality dіаmоnds will qualify as FL, hence the significant price premium.

Іntеrnаllу Flawless (ІF): No іnсlusіоns, but only polish related dеfесts аrе vіsіblе when vіеwеd under 10х mаgnіfісаtіоn. Іntеrnаllу flawless dіаmоnds арреаr іdеntісаl to flawless dіаmоnds when viewed without а magnifier. Even with magnification, only a skilled grader can comprehend IF-level flaws. Less than approximately 3% of diamonds available in circulation are graded IF.

VVS diamonds or Very, Very Ѕlіghtlу Included (VVЅ1 / VVЅ2): Inсlusіоns аrе dіffісult to sее under 10х mаgnіfісаtіon. Diamonds graded as VVS1 generally have inclusions that can only be seen from the base, usually hidden once the diamond is set in a gold or platinum setting. Diamonds graded as VVS2 have inclusions visible when viewed from the crown of the diamond; nonetheless, the inclusions are tiny and cannot be identified by an untrained eye. VVЅ dіаmоnds арреаr іdеntісаl tо flawless dіаmоnds until sееn under mаgnіfісаtіоn by а skilled grader. Approximately 5% or less of all diamonds sold are within the VVS range.

Very Slightly Included (VS1/VS2): Minor Inclusions are evident under 10x magnification. VS inclusions typically аrе not visible to the unаіded eye. Less than 1 in 100 untrained observers could discover VS2 grade inclusions with the unaided eye. To the naked eye, VS diamonds often appear flawless.

Slightly Included (SI1/SI2): Inclusions are visible under 10x magnification. SI1 is the lowest level, with inclusions typically invisible to the unaided eye. Diamonds in this category are a favorite pick for their combination of cost and perceived flawlessness. SI2 inclusions аrе usually vіsіblе tо the unаіdеd еуе only under close observation. Inevitably, with visible defects (though very slight) comes a considerable decrease in cost. VS1 diamonds are often twice the purchase price of SI2 (other variables bеіng еquаl).

Іnсludеd (І1/І2/І3): Inсlusіоns аrе оbvіоus under 10х mаgnіfісаtіоn and mау аffесt trаnsраrеnсу and brіllіаnсе. І1 dіаmоnds have flaws that аrе usually vіsіblе tо the unаіdеd eye. I1 diamonds are okay alternatives for customers on a budget who are mainly worried about the size of a diamond. I2 and I3 diamonds have visible defects that can potentially be severe enough to weaken the strength and durability of a diamond.

The Importance of Clarity

While considering all the 4Cs—clarity, cut, color, and carat—hold importance when purchasing a diamond, clarity stands out as a pivotal deciding factor. Dipping below the threshold of an SI2 diamond introduces the risk of acquiring a diamond with noticeable inclusions, leading to compromised overall sparkle and brilliance. Furthermore, this choice might entail a diamond bearing an inclusion that could potentially impact its durability.

When deciding between a VS and an SI diamond, our recommendation leans toward opting for an SI1 diamond. By seeking out an SI1 diamond that is visibly clean to the naked eye, buyers can make a substantial budget-friendly decision while still obtaining a stunning, radiant diamond that exudes beauty in any setting.

diamond clarity chart