When it comes to diamonds, everyone wants the best. Before making this major purchase, people typically check every aspect of their diamond on the accompanying grading report. One of the specifications on such a report is how clear a diamond is, or the clarity. Two grades you often hear about are VS1 (Very Slightly Included 1) and VS2 (Very Slightly Included 2). It may be difficult to choose between these two clarity grades, so let’s explore the similarities and differences in hopes of making that decision a little bit easier for you.
Before digging into the differences between VS1 and VS2 clarity for diamonds, let’s make sure that we completely understand the concept of diamond clarity. Diamonds come with a language of their own, one aspect of which is often puzzling to the consumer: clarity. But with a few key points explained, you’ll be well on your way to choosing the perfect diamond for you.
Diamond clarity refers to how clear or flawless a diamond is when examined under magnification. This is examined by gemologists at many different organizations (GIA, EGL, etc.) to identify tiny imperfections (called inclusions) and external blemishes. The scale of diamond clarity ranges from Flawless (no visible imperfections) to Included (imperfections visible to the naked eye).
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) grades diamond clarity on a scale ranging from Internally Flawless (IF) to Included (I3). The goal is to find a balance between clarity and budget, since the higher clarity grades typically fetch a higher price tag. The location of the inclusions is also important, since they can sometimes be covered by a bezel or prongs if they are located towards the outer edges of the stone. These inclusions may be eye visible (I1, I2, I3) or only visible under 10x magnification, (SI2 grading through VVS1). If there are no inclusions visible under 10x magnification the diamonds will be graded IF for internally flawless or F for flawless. IF diamonds are very rare and highly valued, and for the most part not necessary for the typical engagement ring. Without the necessary tools, it’s almost impossible to discern the difference between an IF diamond and an SI diamond.
While it is true that clarity affects the beauty of a diamond, it's not the only factor you should consider. A diamond with an ideal cut grade, yet lower clarity, can still sparkle brilliantly. Sometimes, imperfections can be strategically placed, which wouldn’t impact the overall beauty of the diamond. Understanding clarity helps you to select a diamond that matches with your preferences. It could be a diamond without any imperfections that you can see, or one with tiny, natural features that make it special. The best part about inclusions is that they make your diamond unique, as there are no two diamonds that are formed exactly alike.
Now that we understand clarity as a whole, we can examine VS1 and VS2 clarity individually before discussing the similarities and differences between them.
VS1 Clarity: When a diamond is given the clarity grade of VS1, it means that it has very slight inclusions that are difficult to see, even under 10x magnification. These inclusions are typically incredibly subtle imperfections that would not be visible to the average person, but may be able to be seen by a trained gemologist. They are not visible to the naked eye and the diamond has the visual appearance of a flawless stone.
VS2 Clarity: When a diamond is given the clarity grade of VS2, it means that it also has very slight inclusions under 10x magnification, but these might be just slightly more noticeable than the inclusions in a VS1 diamond. Under 10x magnification, a trained gemologist would be able to see the inclusions, but they still would not be visible to the average person. The inclusions in a VS2 diamond would likely not be visible to the naked eye and the visual appearance of the diamond is clear and beautiful.
Now, to note the differences between VS1 and VS2 clarity diamonds.
Appearance: The main difference between VS1 and VS2 is the visibility of the inclusions under 10x magnification. As previously noted, in VS1 diamonds, the inclusions are tiny and difficult to detect. This means that to the naked eye, VS1 diamonds generally appear flawless. On the other hand, VS2 diamonds may have slightly larger or more visible inclusions, though they still remain minor and require magnification to see.
Since the difference is so minor and is difficult to imagine without looking through a jeweler’s loupe yourself, let’s think of a way to compare this to something more familiar–music. Diamond clarity can be compared to accuracy of musical notes. A VS2 diamond can be compared to a skilled musician playing in a large orchestra. While this musician may sometimes make small errors on random notes, it is not noticeable when playing with the crowd of musicians, and the sound blends together seamlessly. Whereas a VS1 diamond can be compared to a musician playing a solo, with precise notes and no errors, the sound is heard clearly.
Price: Any slight differences between diamonds can influence the price. For example, a 0.99ct diamond and a 1.00ct diamond have only a slight difference in size that no one would be able to discern visually, but they would have a difference in price since the 1.00ct mark is a benchmark size goal and as such will fetch a higher price. This price difference will quite obviously extend to diamond clarity. The subtle differences in inclusions between VS1 and VS2 diamonds translates into a difference in price. As long as all other aspects of the diamonds remain the same, VS1 diamonds will be priced slightly higher than VS2. VS1 diamonds may be preferred by those with a higher budget, willing to invest in a more rare diamond, whereas a VS2 diamond offers a balance of quality and affordability, making it an excellent choice for those seeking a high-quality diamond without stretching the budget. The question to be answered for each individual is: are the differences between VS1 and VS2 great enough to justify the difference in price? That is entirely up to you.
Brilliance: The brilliance of a diamond is determined by several factors, one of which is clarity. Each individual aspect (color, cut, etc.) impacts the brilliance of the stone, but here we will just discuss the clarity. Inclusions can take many forms, and it’s important to be able to notice some of the more common ones:
1. Pinpoints: Small transparent crystals that can be scattered throughout a diamond, which usually have minimal effect on the appearance of a diamond.
2. Feathers: Small fractures in a diamond that can resemble tiny feathers. They can be any size and may or may not be visible to the naked eye. Depending upon the size, they can affect the appearance and durability of a diamond.
3. Clouds: Clusters of small pinpoints that create a cloudy appearance. Depending upon how large the inclusion is, the appearance of the diamond may be affected.
4. Crystals: Small mineral spots within a diamond, which can affect the appearance of a diamond depending upon the location and size.
5. Needles: Long, thin crystals that resemble needles. These are typically not visible to the naked eye, in which case they wouldn’t affect the appearance of a diamond.
Depending upon the type of inclusions present in a diamond, the brilliance is affected due to the amount of light that's able to pass through the stone. Diamonds with fewer and less visible inclusions allow light to pass through more easily, which enhances the brilliance. Diamonds with more or darker inclusions will block the light from passing through, making a stone appear less vibrant. In VS1 diamonds, which have less or smaller inclusions, the brilliance of the diamond is not typically affected. In VS2 diamonds, the inclusions may be slightly more visible and could possibly impact the amount of light that passes through the stone, affecting its brilliance.
When it comes to picking the perfect diamond between VS1 and VS2, there are a few things to think about. Whether you go for the almost invisible imperfections in a VS1 diamond or the slightly more noticeable ones in a VS2, both are great choices when it comes to clarity, and an untrained eye wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. The trick is to find a balance that matches what matters to you. Remember, both VS1 and VS2 diamonds are incredible options, and the difference in clarity is usually very small. Regardless of which stone you’ll choose, no doubt you’ll end up with a beautiful diamond.