Diamond clarity and the VS2 grade...
While diamond cut and color are important characteristics of the 4Cs, they’re closely followed by clarity. Whether you choose an Excellent cut D color or a Good cut I color, the clarity can dictate how much each stone sparkles. Finding a diamond with VS2 clarity is a good way to balance the expense of high-clarity stones with the lackluster shine of low-quality gems.🕵🏻♂️
But, are VS2 clarity diamonds a good option for everyone? Let’s dive into clarity grades and the differences between them, what sets VS2 clarity gems apart, and how to shop smart for these beautiful gems.
Diamond clarity is the mapping of a diamond’s imperfections. As diamonds form in the earth, the intense pressure and heat create tiny variations within a diamond’s carbon structure.
Gem cutters do their best to cut around these flaws, but they often have to leave a few intact to preserve the polished gem.
About 99% of diamonds sold have inclusions or blemishes. Inclusions are flaws within a diamond, such as clouds, feathers, cavities, graining, etc. Blemishes are imperfections on the diamond’s exterior, and they include scratches, abrasions, pits, nicks, etc.
A diamond may have only inclusions, only blemishes, or both. Very rarely, diamonds have neither!
The GIA has a scale for grading diamond clarity, and it ranges from FL to I3. Here is a brief overview of the clarity grading scale used by gemologists:
|VVS1||Very, Very Slightly Included 1|
|VVS2||Very, Very Slightly Included 2|
|VS1||Very Slightly Included 1|
|VS2||Very Slightly Included 2|
|SI1||Slightly Included 1|
|SI2||Slightly Included 2|
Experts grade diamond clarity by first inspecting a diamond from varying angles with 10x magnification. They use their findings to denote any blemishes on the diamond’s surface.
Then, they use microscopes to search for internal flaws they should note on the diamond report. However, gemologists don’t just mark down every imperfection they find. Instead, they limit their search to “grade setting inclusions”, which means flaws that impact scintillation, face-up appearance, or value.
Finally, they mark all noted inclusions and blemishes on a “diamond plot” or map of where one can find these imperfections within each diamond. Doing so makes it easier for buyers to search for imperfections themselves and figure out whether they are bothered by them.✅
Diamond professionals use 5 criteria to grade diamond clarity: size, nature, number, location, and relief. These factors cover each flaw’s size relative to the diamond, type, place within the diamond, and color or visibility as well as how many inclusions or blemishes the diamond has overall.
A diamond with VS2 clarity has inclusions that are visible to an observer under 10x magnification, which is the standard magnification of a jeweler’s loupe.
However, without magnification, the diamond is eye-clean. The inclusions are very small, and observers would not be able to identify them even under bright lighting. In turn, this means they do not impact face-up appeal. Because the inclusions in a VS2 diamond are well hidden, these diamonds are ideal for individuals who can’t afford FL or IF quality but don’t want any visible issues.
There are some exceptions to the typical inclusions that are difficult to see in a VS2 clarity diamond. For instance, certain flaws may show up at the edges of the diamond. However, these imperfections are considered “prongable”, which means a jeweler can hide them under a prong in a ring setting.
So what’s the difference between a VS2 clarity diamond and a VS1 clarity stone? Let’s run through their main distinctions and break down why they’re graded separately.👇🏻
It’s true that VS1 and VS2 diamonds have similar characteristics. Both are characterized by minor inclusions that can’t be seen without at least 10x magnification. So what exactly is the difference between these two grades?
In short, the location and size of inclusions are the main differences. While both diamonds have inclusions that are difficult to spot without magnification, VS2 imperfections are closer to the table and darker than VS1 flaws.
Because the VS2 diamond can mask flaws effectively, it’s the recommended clarity grade for any diamond less than 2-carats. However, for larger stones, at least VS1 clarity is necessary to keep inclusions hidden!✍🏻
The lack of visible flaws in a VS1 diamond creates about a 10% difference in price, and shoppers are often left wondering whether this extra money is worth it.🧐 Let’s look at two diamonds from James Allen and compare their inclusions to better understand why these differences are important.
Take a look at these two diamonds. Both are 1-carat, Excellent cut, and G color:
From these images, it would be difficult to know which diamond has VS1 clarity and which one is VS2, as they’re very similar!
However, when looking at their diamond plots, the differences become clearer:
The first thing to note is the number of inclusions in the VS2 diamond when compared to the VS1 stone. The VS2 diamond has about 9 inclusions, and the VS1 stone has about 5-7.
Aside from the number of inclusions, the VS2 diamond’s series of crystals, naturals, and indented naturals are more visible than the VS1’s cloud, needle, and minor crystals.
Crystals are small portions of other minerals stuck within the diamond, and they can be large. The VS2 stone has quite a few, and they’re spread a bit further across the gem’s surface. In contrast, the VS1 diamond has a cloud of minute pinpoint imperfections, which are concentrated in a small section of the stone and do not spread like the VS2’s crystals.
The VS1 also has some minor needles, which need at least 10x magnification to be visible. However, the VS2 diamond has some naturals and indented naturals, which are unpolished portions of the diamond. These can be more visible to viewers than the tiny needles!
So what if we decide to step down a clarity grade and go with an SI1 diamond? Let’s take a look at these two clarity grades and their differences.
Taking one step down in clarity can’t change that much about a diamond, right? Well, it depends! The step from VS2 to SI1 is actually one of the places you can see more visible issues with your diamond.
Unlike the low visibility of VS2 inclusions, SI1 diamonds have imperfections that are always visible under 10x magnification. They may still be eye clean, but it’s not a guarantee!📝
VS2 clarity is always the safest bet for a diamond under 2 carats. SI1 diamonds are visibly more included than VS2 stones, and it’s difficult to find one that has an Excellent cut and colorless color to bring out the brilliance you expect from a diamond.
So just how visible are these non-eye clean inclusions in SI1 diamonds, and how do they stack up to those typically found in VS2 diamonds? The short answer: it can be pretty easy to identify the differences between these two clarity grades under showroom lighting.
Let’s take a look at the same VS2 stone before and compare it to an SI1 diamond of equal cut, color, and carat:
Immediately, you probably saw the darker inclusions scattered around the table of the SI1 diamond.
While the VS2’s crystals, naturals, and indented naturals are somewhat visible, the SI1 stone’s are plentiful, varied, and on full display in this face-up image.
When looking at the diamond grading reports, it’s clear the SI1 diamond has a few more issues than the VS2 stone:
In addition to the same inclusions the VS2 stone has, the SI1 diamond also contains feathers, needles, and clouds. These inclusions cover a decent amount of the stone’s table, and the “Comments” section of the report notes that there are even additional clouds and pinpoints that aren’t shown.🔍
Unlike the VS1’s clouds which aren’t visible to the naked eye, SI1 clouds can be an issue because they may cause hazy white sections to form if there are enough points within them.
Furthermore, feathers are small fractures within diamonds that can leave your gem susceptible to chipping and cracking. Any inclusion that can impact the structural integrity of a diamond is something to watch for!
Again, while you CAN find eye-clean SI1 diamonds, you still have to worry about whether their inclusions could cause structural damage a few years after purchase.
A diamond with VS2 clarity sits at the intersection of quality and cost-efficiency. Overall, expect to pay about 10% less than a VS1 clarity diamond and almost 50% less than a top-quality IF clarity gem. However, prices are always subject to availability, brand, and the other 3Cs!
So how does the price of a VS2 diamond stack up against other clarity grades? Let’s look at 1-carat round diamonds with Excellent cuts and G color to compare:
|Updated: May 8, 2021|
|Calculated QTY||Average Price||Calculated QTY||Average Price||Calculated QTY||Average Price||Calculated QTY||Average Price||Calculated QTY||Average Price||Difference (USD)||Difference (%)|
While VS2 diamonds are our recommended clarity grade, there are a few other factors to consider when it comes to a diamond’s overall beauty. Here are 3 other factors you should take into account when selecting a diamond:
A VS2 clarity grade is recommended for any diamond less than 2 carats. However, if you’re looking for a larger gem, increase that clarity grade if you can afford to do so!🎈
The larger the diamond, the more difficult it is to find eye-clean gems. These stones have large tables that cause imperfections to come front and center within the diamond.
As such, expand your search to VS2, VS1, and VVS2 clarity grades when searching for diamonds that are 2 carats or higher. Overall, just make sure the gem is eye clean, which you can still find at the VS2 grade in larger gems if you’re diligent.😎
Balance color and clarity to find the right mix of eye-clean appeal and icy color.
For diamonds less than 2 carats in the G to I color range, a VS2 diamond can be an excellent choice. These grades appear colorless in most settings, meaning they require a decent-quality clarity to avoid visible flaws.
👉🏻If you’d prefer to look at gems in the D to F Colorless range, put more money down for clarity. Because these stones are so clear, their flaws are on display. As such, a VS2 grade may not be eye-clean at this color, and you’ll need a VS1 diamond or higher instead.
Did you know your diamond’s shape can impact how many inclusions you can see? Make sure you choose the right diamond shape for the clarity grade you can afford to assure an eye-clean look!
Diamonds with larger tables, such as emerald, Asscher, and radiant shapes, comparatively show off inclusions more readily. Additionally, step-cut stones have wider facets that can reveal inclusions. If you crave these broad shapes, consider increasing your clarity grade to at least VS1.
Overall, the round brilliant diamond is always a surefire way to get beautiful fire and appeal. Round brilliant diamonds look excellent with VS2 clarity, and they’re the most popular shape sold!🌟
How can you get the best bang for your buck when it comes to diamond clarity? Here are a few tips on finding the right diamond for your needs as well as your budget:
💡Buying a diamond doesn’t come down to just one of the 4Cs! You need all four to find a balanced diamond that sparkles effectively.
Always prioritize cut and look for diamonds with Excellent or Ideal grades. That way, you know your diamond’s brilliance should be top-notch.
For color, opt for the G to I range to prevent a yellowish diamond. Balance this color with a VS2 clarity grade for an affordable yet scintillating stone.
Finally, make sure these 3Cs you need can fit into the carat size you desire. Larger stones are more expensive, but a 1-carat gem looks amazing in any shape. If you want a smaller gem, you can downgrade your clarity to SI1 to save some extra cash.
If you prefer larger diamonds, you may need to increase your budget to bring your diamond’s clarity grade to at least VS1. Always look for a diamond that is eye clean and balance the 4Cs around this metric.
Sometimes, how many inclusions a diamond has or what type they are matters less than where they are located. Always inspect diamonds closely and follow their diamond plots to see exactly where all inclusions and blemishes are hiding!
Diamonds with inclusions below or near their table are less likely to be eye-clean. On the flip side, diamonds with inclusions outside of the table or close to the edges of the diamond are typically eye clean, and so these are the diamonds you’d want to pursue.
However, the location of the inclusions doesn’t necessarily take into account their effect on the diamond over time. If there are feathers or other flaws that could impact how long your diamond can withstand daily wear and tear, then you should reconsider whether that stone will work for you long term.
Different diamond shapes and their cuts can either mask or enhance inclusions, so be careful when choosing the right one for you.
Shapes with larger tables—emerald, radiant, and Asscher—require a higher clarity grade to remain eye-clean. Step cut stones also suffer the effects of wider facets, which can amplify inclusions. While a VS2 clarity diamond may work, you might also have to upgrade to a VS1 or higher to keep inclusions hidden from the naked eye.
On the other hand, oval, marquise, pear, heart, and princess-shaped diamonds can mask inclusions better than other shapes. You may even be able to get away with SI1 clarity if you can balance it well with the right diamond color!
👉🏻If you want a gem that can look amazing in any setting, a round brilliant diamond is the best way to ensure your diamond will be eye-clean with a VS2 clarity grade.
Depending on the metal you like best, you may be able to downgrade your diamond’s clarity and color grades to save money!
Yellow and rose gold settings require lower clarity and color grades because both metals tend to make yellowish diamonds appear whiter. They also mask inclusions well, meaning you can spend less on your diamond and more on a stunning setting.
In contrast, stick with VS2 clarity for white gold and platinum settings, as these white metals tend to make diamonds look even whiter and clearer. These whitening effects mean more visibility for inclusions!
There are several settings that can alleviate the negative effects of inclusions. You can find a setting that will show off your personality while masking inclusions easily!
For those who prefer simple silhouettes, solitaire prong and bezel settings are excellent for hiding inclusions. Additionally, both settings are great for concealing any flaws near the edges of the diamond, hiding them under prongs or a strip of metal.
If you like more sparkle in your setting, halo and vintage settings mask inclusions by amping up the brilliance. With plenty of accent stones—such as in the band or around the center stone—these settings draw attention away from distracting inclusions and help divert focus to the sparkling display of diamonds.🎯
When searching for the right retailer for your diamond purchase, consider our recommendations below to make your buying journey a smooth one:
When it comes to diamond buying, we recommend shopping online for VS2 clarity diamonds. Although this seems counterintuitive, online shopping tools have come a long way and offer buyers a deeper look into some of the more important aspects of diamond buying.
High-resolution images are typically a requirement with online retailers nowadays, and most sites offer extensive images of your chosen diamond so you can anticipate what your gem looks like under bright lighting. For example, James Allen offers up to 40x magnification in their diamond images, which gives you an intimate look at the inside of a diamond.🥁
Another impressive tool available online is 360° videos and viewing, which allow you to move your diamond around and watch how it performs under lighting. Doing so can help you see any flaws that may be visible to the naked eye!
While these tools provide options for inspecting diamonds more closely, they also make it much easier for shoppers to compare stones on their own time.⚖️ Furthermore, there’s no pressure from a salesperson to make a choice or select a more expensive stone.
Finally, diamonds sold online are usually cheaper than those sold in stores, so you’ll save money while utilizing better tools to make an informed decision. Plus, if you still need assistance, some retailers allow you to speak to a diamond professional during your shopping journey free of charge!
Finding an online retailer that can offer you a healthy balance of quality diamonds, decent prices, and excellent customer service is a tall order. Here are a few online brands we recommend, as they’ve proven themselves to be purveyors of top-notch products and champions of customer needs:
Clarity can be a tricky subject, and this criteria often depends on the other 3Cs for clarification. While some diamond shapes and colors require VS1 or higher, others have characteristics that can easily mask SI1 clarity and save you money. However, VS2 clarity diamonds are an excellent compromise for a mid-range budget to ensure your diamond looks bright and brilliant.
Looking for more information on the 4Cs or other features that can impact a diamond’s appearance? Read our individual, in-depth work on clarity, cut, color, and carat, and learn more about the bow-tie effect!