Generally, we recommend seeking a diamond with a clarity grade of VS1 to SI2. With a beautiful VS1 or VS2 diamond, your stone will look identical to a flawless clarity diamond assuming all else is equal (yet will cost far less).
As you increase your carat weight, and inevitably the size of your diamond, more inclusions and blemishes may be visible to the naked eye. For diamonds greater than 2.01 carat, we recommend looking for diamonds within the VS1 clarity grade. For VS2 diamonds greater than 2.01 carat, you may need to bump up to a VS1 or VVS2 clarity grade. Review all potential diamonds closely to ensure that no blemishes or inclusions are noticeable by the naked eye. Most importantly, review all potential diamonds closely to ensure that they're eye-clean.
What Is VS1 & VS2 Clarity?
To understand what VS1 and VS2 is, it's important to know what clarity is (one of the 4Cs of diamonds). A diamond's clarity refers to the visual appearance of inclusions and blemishes. By definition, VS1 and VS2 diamonds are those that are Very Slightly Included. These inclusions, however, are rarely noticeable to the naked eye.
In fact, diamond imperfections are almost inevitable. Diamonds are formed in the earth's mantle at a depth of 80-120 miles. They face extreme heat of up to 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit. While their growth takes between one to three billion years, only the rarest diamonds emerge in perfect condition. Most often, diamonds are imperfect and contain varying amounts of internal inclusions and surface blemishes.
The GIA grades diamond clarity on the following scale:
Flawless: No inclusions under 10x. A stone that is completely flawless. This is an extremely rare find.
Internally Flawless: No internal imperfections. A stone that has no internal flaws at all but does have surface flaws. Also, an extremely rare find.
Very Very Slightly Included: A stone with very minute internal inclusions that are extremely difficult to see under a 10X magnification.
Very Slightly Included: A stone with very minor internal inclusions that range from difficult to somehwat easy see under a 10X magnification.
Slightly Included: A stone that has imperfections visible under X10 magnification and may be visible with the unaided eye.
Included: A stone that has significant inclusions most often visible with the naked eye. Inclusions of this level drastically bring down the diamonds value.
Global Diamond Clarity Scale.
VS1 diamond inclusions are barely visible under 10x magnification (a standard jeweller's loupe). When looking for VS1 inclusions using a loupe, it can take several seconds until the blemish spot is located. This also means that inclusions at the VS1 level are hardly ever noticeable to the naked eye, especially in diamonds that are less than 2.0 carat.
VS2 diamond inclusions are almost always easily noticed under 10x magnification (a standard jeweller's loupe). In some cases, the inclusion is in a difficult to spot location. Most often, though, the inclusion is large enough that it can be spotted quickly under magnification. VS2 inclusions are hardly every noticeable to the naked eye, especially in diamonds less than 2.0 Carat.
VS1 means smaller inclusions in number, size and location than VS2. The size of the inclusions tends to be small in nature, the location can be anywhere (center under the table or on the sides near the diamond girdle. The number of VS2 and VS1 inclusions can vary. It can be a single inclusion or several at a time. Typically, you can expect that there will be 1 grade setting inclusion rather than many smaller ones.
The most common VS1 inclusions are crystal (white or black), feather, indented natural, knot, needle. Common VS2 inclusions are crystal (white or black), feather, indented natural, knot, needle and cloud. Because VS diamonds are only below VVS2 (Very, very slightly included2), they have a premium but are also a good value for the budget conscious buyer. Less than 20% of all of the world's gem quality diamonds are in this range. VS diamonds can be 10%-20% less expensive than a VVS diamond. This makes them desirable and very much in demand.
VS1 Clarity Diamond.
VS2 Clarity Diamond.
Buying VS Diamonds
VS diamonds are very popular because no eye visible clarity characteristics are generally present, except in rare occasions. To the naked eye, diamond sparkle is not impeded and light performance is high. This means the diamond will sparkle unimpeded by large inclusions that distract the eye. There are no structural problems that would cause chips or cracks in the diamond when set in jewellery, even if the inclusions are closer to the girdle. The pricing is well below VVS diamonds as well, offering a great value. While it's not perfect, it's certainly very respectable and valuable to have a VS clarity diamond. The value of VS diamonds appreciates over time. This is mainly due to their rarity and increase in diamond demand. Preference has generally shifted to quality over time, meaning consumers prefer quality over plain carat weight. If you're having trouble budgeting the 4Cs, consider dropping clarity comfortably into the VS2 or VS1 range.
You can purchase VS diamonds from online and offline jewellers; however, the types of VS diamonds may differ for each jeweller. It's important to purchase only GIA certified VS diamonds to ensure the clarity is in line with your expectations. You can identify the grade on the GIA report. Clarity grading is subjective so you can never be too sure. If the diamond weighs above 1.00 ct, you'll also find the grading plot that maps the location, size and type of imperfection. Like everything else, clarity is something you should balance and determine how important it is for you.
Diamond Inclusion Plot On A GIA Certificate.
Key To Inclusion Symbols.
VS1 and VS2 diamonds offer both excellent beauty and value. We generally recommend our readers look for VS1 and VS2 diamonds when searching for diamond rings and other fine jewellery. Most importantly, though, you want to be looking for a diamond that's eye-clean. SI1 and SI2 diamonds can be eye-clean as well, but you need to inspect them (or high quality photographs) with great care.
The most common error people make when buying diamonds is that they purchase a diamond with a clarity grade that's simply too high to appreciate. An eye-clean VS1 & VS2 diamonds will look identical to a flawless graded diamond assuming all else is equal, but will cost significantly less.
For example, a round cut 0.8 carat diamond graded at a VS1 clarity with F color and costs around $3,300. A round cut 0.8 carat diamond graded with a VVS2 clarity and F color but costs around $3,800. The VVS2 diamond costs 15% more than the VS1 diamond. Both diamonds are eye-clean meaning you can't see any inclusions or blemishes. Purchasing the VS1 clarity will get you the same result as far as beauty, but again, will cost 15% less.
Diamonds Of 2.0 Carat Weight Or Greater
As you increase in carat weight, and inevitably the size of the diamond, there's a possibility that inclusions will be more visible to the naked eye.
Some larger diamonds even those with a high clarity grade like VS1 and VS2 may not be eye-clean. In these larger carat weights, you may want to include VVS2 diamonds in your search as well.
With 1.0 carat diamonds, you can feel secure with a VS1 or VS2 grade. As you increase in carat, be sure the diamond is clean of imperfections when you look at it with your naked eye. Without using any magnification aids, you shouldn't be able to see any flaws or inclusions.
Diamonds With Step Cuts
Asscher cuts and emerald cuts are diamond shapes that contain step cuts. Diamonds with step cuts are either rectangular or square, and have many parallel facets. It's important to know that step cut diamond shapes show inclusions the clearest.
For asschers, emeralds and baguette shapes. You may have to bump up to a VVS2 to get an eye-clean diamond with step cuts.
Examples of undesirable VS diamonds:
Note: For key to inclusion symbols, see Key to Inclusion Symbols above.
Inclusion plot from GIA report shows a concentration of clouds in the same vicinity.
As you can see in the images above, an eye-clean diamond isn't always guaranteed with the VS1 clarity grade. Having an eye-clean diamond is largely dependent on a few factors: color of the inclusions, cut quality (better light performance helps conceal imperfections), as well as the nature of the flaws.
Here's another questionable example of a 1.0 carat princess cut graded with Very Slightly Included clarity. This inclusion may be visible to your naked eye depending on the type of lighting conditions and your eye's orientation to the diamond and the lighting conditions.
Note: For key to inclusion symbols, see Key to Inclusion Symbols above.
Princess cut with dark inclusions under table facet.
Overall, just be sure to review any diamond closely (no matter the clarity grade) to ensure there are no noticeable inclusions and blemishes.
Difference Between VS1 And VS2
VS diamonds rank just below VVS2 (very, very slightly included 2), they are of high quality, remember, any VS inclusions are difficult to see with the naked eye and therefore good value if you're trying to figure out how to buy an engagement ring on a budget. Only 20 percent of diamonds are grade VS2 and above, and a VS diamond can cost 10 to 20 percent less than a VVS.
To the naked eye, a VS diamond's sparkle is unimpeded by large inclusions, and light performance is high. There are no structural problems that would cause chips or cracks in the diamond when set in jewellery. Although a VS diamond isn't flawless, it's very respectable and valuable, VS diamonds appreciate in value over time because of their rarity. Over time, consumer preference has shifted away from sheer carat weight and more toward quality. When budgeting the 4Cs, you can feel comfortable about choosing a clarity in the VS2 or VS1 range.
A VS1 diamond is a high clarity grade with no visible inclusions and only small, hard-to-identify inclusions under 10x magnification. These diamonds represent the top 5% of all gem-quality stones. The most common VS1 inclusions are crystal (white or black), feather, indented natural, knot or needle. A VS2 diamond will have eye-visible inclusions only 5% or less of the time, and only in larger diamonds above 1 carat. Common VS2 inclusions are crystal (white or black), feather, indented natural, knot, needle or cloud.
The Difference Between VS1 & VS2 Diamonds In Weights of 1.0-2.0 carats
It's often difficult to tell the difference between VS1 and VS2 diamonds, especially in weights of 1.0-2.0 carats.
As mentioned, VS1 is a clarity rating where minor inclusions are some what easily detected by a trained professional under 10X magnification. Without using any magnification aids, you shouldn't be able to see any flaws or inclusions with your naked eye.
VS2 clarity inclusions, on the other hand, are almost always easily noticeable at 10x magnification (a standard jeweller's loupe). Occasionally, the inclusion will be in a difficult to spot location. In most cases, though, the inclusion is large enough that it can be spotted quickly under magnification.
While VS2 diamonds are usually eye-clean, some outliers exist, especially in larger sized stones like 3, 4 and 5 carat diamonds. These outliers often barely make it past the SI1 grade and contain inclusions visible to the naked eye. This is why we continue to stress the importance of reviewing magnified photographs and videos before any purchase on online websites. Reading a lab report will tell you the clarity grade, but it won't tell you if the diamond is eye-clean.
Because the difference between VS1 and VS2 is slight, we recommend looking for eye-clean VS2 diamonds with a carat weight less than 2.01. You won't sacrifice any of the beauty, but you'll save some of your budget for other important factors like cut quality. As you increase in carat weight, you may want to consider VS1 diamonds or even VVS2 diamonds to ensure you get one that's eye-clean.
How Much Do VS Diamonds Cost?
We generally recommend VS1 diamonds over VS2 when the price differential isn't too great; that's a good way to ensure you're getting maximum value, as VS1 diamonds will appreciate more over time.
Because inclusions are more visible in diamonds with larger, open facets, you should pick VS1 over VS2 when choosing diamonds in shapes other than round (particularly in step-cut diamonds such as emerald cut or Asscher cut, as shown above.)
Consider VS diamonds with inclusions that are off center, or not directly under the table facet of the diamond. Some of these inclusions can be covered by a strategically-placed prong. And always purchase diamonds that come with Gemological Institution of America (GIA) grading reports, so you can confirm their quality.
Difference Between VS2 And SI1 Clarity
Buying a diamond engagement ring is all about priorities. To stay within budget, which of the 4Cs, are most important to you? And which are you willing to de-emphasize so you can spend more of your budget on the other? When making those decisions, or if you've already made a decision about clarity, it's helpful to know the difference between SI and VS diamonds. They're best-sellers because of their affordability, and they mostly look "clean" to the naked eye.
You might want to consider a VS2 or SI1 diamond if clarity is not your absolute priority, and you're looking to stretch your budget a bit, to go up in carat weight, perhaps.
VS2 & SI1 Diamonds.
A VS2 or SI1 diamond might also be an ideal option if you've decided on a diamond shape that hides inclusions well. Round diamonds, as well as other brilliant cut diamonds, tend to camouflage inclusions within their many facets and resulting sparkle. Step cut diamonds, such as emerald and asscher, have fewer facets and more flat surface area, making inclusions potentially more visible.
VS2 & SI1 Difference
SI1 is a good clarity grade. But it depends on the individual stone. We suggest working with an expert gemologist who can factor in your priorities and budget. If you're opting for a smaller diamond, you have more working room for clarity grades. It's harder to spot inclusions in smaller stones. But if you're set on a step cut diamond, it's not a good choice as there are fewer facets to hide inclusions in the stone.
Theoretically, the difference between SI1 and VS2 diamonds is that SI1 diamonds are more included than VS2 diamonds. But sometimes an SI1 can be a better choice than a VS2 diamond, because the inclusions are less noticeable or they're in a place that's hidden by your setting or the prongs holding it. Again, it's all about the individual stone.
Even between those two grades, diamond prices can vary widely. But generally speaking, choosing a SI1 over a VS2 diamond could save you 5 to 10 percent on the total cost.
When it comes to clarity, you want to take a close look at the diamond before making a decision. You need to see if the diamond has any inclusions and blemishes at the naked eye level.