In-Depth Buying Guide to VVS Diamonds
A diamond’s clarity grade describes the amount of foreign material or ‘inclusions’ visible within the stone. This includes any blemishes or imperfections on its surface.
‘VVS’ is a diamond clarity grade that stands for ‘very very slightly included’. It is divided into two subcategories: VVS1 and VVS2, with VVS1 connoting a slightly higher clarity grade than VVS2.
This means that VVS diamonds are exceptionally clear diamonds. They rank right below the Flawless (FL) and Internally Flawless (IF) clarity grades. As a result, VVS diamond prices are exceptionally high.
In this guide, we cover everything you need to know about VVS clarity diamonds so you can make an informed decision when it comes to buying a diamond ring.
Let’s begin with a brief overview of the diamond clarity scale.
Diamond Clarity Scale
Clarity is one of the famous 4Cs (Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat Weight) used in diamond appraisal. When gemologists grade natural diamonds for clarity, they examine the inclusions that are present in each stone. These inclusions are the result of foreign substances like nitrogen that get trapped inside the stone when it forms.
A diamond grader will also look at the following factors to determine clarity:
- Size: The size of the inclusions influences how visible they are. The more prominent the inclusions, the lower the clarity grade.
- Number: Graders treat the number of inclusions in a diamond in the same way as their size. In other words, the higher the number of inclusions, the lower the clarity grade.
- Location: Some inclusions are less noticeable than others depending on where they are. For example, flaws that are located directly under the diamond’s table will be more apparent than those in the crown.
- Color: Inclusions can be either dark or light. In general, diamonds with light or white inclusions are preferred.
Below is a breakdown of the standard clarity grades as set out by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA):
Flawless diamonds contain no visible inclusions when viewed under 10x magnification. Only one in every thousand gem-quality diamonds will qualify as FL. This is why these stones command premium prices.
Internally Flawless (IF)
An internally flawless diamond has no imperfections except for some polish-related defects that are visible under 10x magnification. Thus, an internally flawless diamond will appear identical to a flawless diamond to the naked eye. Only around 3% of all diamonds on the market are graded IF.
Very Very Slightly Included 1 and 2 (VVS1/VVS2)
These two clarity grades are applied to diamonds with very slight imperfections. Finding inclusions in VVS diamonds is not easy, even for trained professionals with a jeweler’s loupe or microscope.
The difference between VVS1 and VVS2 diamonds is even harder to distinguish. A general rule of thumb is that if a diamond has inclusions that can only be seen from the base, it is graded VVS1, whereas diamonds with inclusions that are visible from the crown are graded VVS2. Both VVS1 and VVS2 diamonds will appear flawless to the naked eye until they are viewed under a microscope by a skilled grader.
Diamonds graded VVS are highly sought-after, and many dealers in the industry prefer them over flawless diamonds. This is because they are easy to verify as natural due to their inclusions.
VVS diamonds account for approximately 5% of all diamonds in circulation.
Very Slightly Included 1 and 2 (VS1/VS2)
VS diamonds often appear flawless to the unaided eye, with only around one in 100 untrained observers being able to distinguish between a VS and FL diamond without a magnifier or jeweler’s loupe.
VS1 is close to VVS2 and is considered an eye-clean clarity grade. VS2 is also considered eye-clean, especially in under two-carat diamonds. In diamonds larger than two carats, the location and type of inclusions will influence whether the stone is eye-clean in the VS2 range.
Slightly Included 1 and 2 (SI1/SI2)
Diamonds in this category of clarity grades are on the lower end of the price range. This makes them a popular option among customers with a budget of four to eight thousand US dollars.
SI1 diamonds are often eye-clean when they are under one carat, making them a good option to consider when buying diamonds. SI2 diamonds, on the other hand, usually have some visible inclusions. However, it is possible to find SI2 stones with inclusions that are closer to the girdle. In other words, they appear eye-clean when viewed from the top.
Included 1, 2, and 3 (I1/I2/I3)
Diamonds graded in this category are not eye-clean. They are the cheapest diamonds money can buy and are not considered good investments. However, an I1 diamond could be a reasonable option if you are on a tight budget. As long as you can find one with inclusions that do not affect its overall brilliance, that is.
Now that you are familiar with the diamond clarity scale, we will continue our discussion on VVS diamonds.
VVS1 Diamonds vs VVS2 Diamonds
According to the GIA’s diamond clarity scale, a VVS1 diamond is closer to flawless than a VVS2 diamond. This is because the inclusions found in VVS1 diamonds are not visible under 10x magnification. Only a trained eye, with the help of a powerful gemological microscope, can identify these inclusions. VVS2 diamonds, by comparison, have inclusions that are just barely visible under 10x magnification.
In other words, there is hardly any difference in quality between VVS1 and VVS2 diamonds since both will appear flawless to the naked eye.
VVS Diamonds vs VS Diamonds
VS or Very Slightly Included diamonds are divided into the VS1 and VS2 clarity grades. These diamonds tend to have more inclusions than VVS diamonds, but they are still hard to see under 10x magnification. Thus, all other factors being equal, a VS diamond would still be as brilliant as a VVS diamond.
That being said, there is a significant price difference between VS and VVS diamonds, with the former being far less expensive. This makes VS diamonds a great option for anyone looking for an eye-clean stone at a fraction of the price. However, if budget is not an issue, then, by all means, buy a VVS diamond.
Tips For Buying a VVS Diamond
A common error that buyers make when shopping for diamond engagement rings and other jewelry is that they focus on only one diamond quality factor. To avoid making this mistake, keep in mind that clarity should not be the only thing taken into account when you buy VVS diamonds. Consider the rest of the 4Cs of diamond appraisal as well: color, cut, and carat weight.
Let’s look at these in more detail below:
- Color – Prioritizing color over clarity grade is recommended when choosing a VVS diamond. This is because color is visible across the entire body of a diamond, whereas clarity is often not visible to the naked eye.
- Cut – A high-quality diamond is also a well-cut diamond. This is because a diamond’s cut affects its brilliance. Thus, the extra money spent on a VVS diamond can be put to good use on one with an ideal cut.
- Carat weight – A diamond’s appearance is affected more by its carat weight than its clarity grade. For example, a diamond will look much smaller if it is 0.8 carats instead of 1 carat.
To summarize, a high-quality VVS diamond is well-cut, colorless, and at least a carat in weight.
Final Thoughts on VVS Diamonds
Given that flawless diamonds are extremely rare in nature, VVS diamonds may be considered the next best thing. These diamonds look flawless to the naked eye and are often favored by jewelers. This is because their tiny inclusions make them easier to verify as natural.
However, it should be pointed out that most of the other clarity grades discussed above are also considered eye-clean. In other words, their inclusions can only be seen with a jeweler’s loupe. This means that buyers with budget constraints are still able to buy a high-quality diamond at a fraction of the cost.
Other important factors to note when buying a diamond are the color, carat weight, and cut quality of the stone. Together with clarity, these factors make up the 4Cs of diamond appraisal. These often take preference over high clarity when it comes to grading since they can have a much bigger impact on the visual appearance of a stone.
To illustrate, a VVS1 diamond with a yellow tint, small carat weight, and poor cut is not much better than an SI1 diamond with similar qualities. Yet, if you can find a 1-carat, colorless VVS1 diamond with an ideal cut for the same price as an SI1 diamond, the obvious choice would be to buy the VVS1 diamond.
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