Confused by which is better, SI or VVS clarity diamonds?
In this Learning Guide, we'll compare and contrast Sl and VVS diamonds to answer questions such as:
- Are SI clarity diamonds bad?
- Do I need VVS clarity diamonds?
- Can SI diamonds be eye-clean?
What are SI DIamonds?
SI diamonds are those whose clarity grades have been determined to be either SI1 or SI2 diamonds. SI stands for Slightly Included Diamonds. Slightly included diamonds may have visible clarity characteristics that can be seen both with the naked eye and under magnification.
What are SI3 Diamonds?
If you’re shopping for diamonds online in the SI clarity tier, you may come across a rare SI3 diamond. But avoid these, because this is not the type of rarity you want.
The Gemological Institute of America set industry-recognized quality charts and scales for all diamonds. Most people know these as the 4Cs of Diamond Quality. Diamond clarity grades are one of the 4Cs.
Within the GIA clarity scale, the SI clarity tier only consists of SI1 and SI2 diamonds. Other gemological laboratories and retailers may carry what they call “SI3 diamonds”.
The GIA has looked at some of these diamonds and concluded their clarity is the same as an I clarity diamond. I clarity diamonds are the lowest clarity tier of clarity grades, right below SI diamonds.
So basically, you want to avoid SI3 clarity diamonds because unreliable labs and retailers use them to promote a “discounted diamond” or may charge more than they should for a lesser clarity diamond if a reliable laboratory like the GIA were to grade it.
What are VVS Diamonds?
Unlike SI clarity diamonds, VVS diamonds are eye clean diamonds. Eye clean diamonds have no inclusions visible with the naked eye. Under 10x magnification, they will have very very slight inclusions or surface blemishes.
The GIA Clarity Scale
Here are the official GIA clarity grades as per their Diamond Clarity Scale
Diamond Clarity Explained in Short
If the word “inclusions” or “blemishes” is lost on you, don’t worry.
Diamond inclusions is a term used to describe the internal and external characteristics of a gemstone. External inclusions are called blemishes while internal inclusions are just called inclusions.
Overall, inclusions affect the visibility of your diamond rather than the durability. Still, some surface blemishes in lower clarity grades could leave your diamond vulnerable if accidentally struck. Fortunately, these types of blemishes aren’t usually found in commercial diamonds.
Clarity grades are awarded based on the observation of inclusions and blemishes in a diamond. The GIA laboratory team gives clarity grades according to these details:
- Size: The size of inclusions and blemishes present.
- Location: Inclusions and blemishes located in the center table facet of the diamond tend to be more noticeable than inclusions located on the outer edges or in the pavilion.
- Color: Majority of commercial diamonds sold will either have white inclusions or dark inclusions. Dark inclusions are more noticeable than white colored inclusions. Diamonds are even capable of having bright colored inclusions caused by other gem materials, like garnets or emeralds. These are not sold in stores.
- Nature: There are many types of inclusions and characteristics. Some types can affect durability and others only visibility. Some inclusions happen as a result of the growth process and others happen during the cutting and polishing process.
- Relief: The appearance of an inclusion or blemish in relation to the surrounding area. Basically the way an inclusion appears according to the facet cuts around it.
Similarities between SI Diamonds and VVS Diamonds
Both SI and VVS Diamonds Have Inclusions
Neither SI Diamonds or VVS diamonds are flawless and inclusion-free. In fact, even flawless diamonds aren’t completely void of blemishes. The tiniest specks can be seen at a very high magnification.
So if someone pushes you toward VVS diamonds by saying they’re inclusion-free, make sure you know that they still have inclusions under magnification. All VVS diamonds will have inclusions. Anyone who tells you otherwise is misleading you. T
Both VVS Diamonds and SI Diamonds Can Be Beautiful Diamonds
Despite the different clarity aspects between VVS diamonds and SI diamonds, both clarity tier are capable of producing beautiful and stunning diamonds for your engagement ring.
After all, clarity isn’t the only thing that affects your diamond’s beauty. The cut quality of your VVS or SI diamond essentially control the beauty.
Cut quality is one of the 4Cs of Diamond Quality-and the most important in my opinion. Cut grades are assigned to round brilliant diamonds while excellent cut quality for fancy shaped diamonds (other shapes) maintains a range of different measurements and proportions.
Each diamond shape has its own recommendations for superior cut quality. Though excellent cut quality is more expensive, it’s worth it. A diamond with beautiful cut quality can hide some inclusions and make diamonds appear a little whiter and brighter if you selected lower grades.
Differences Between SI Clarity and VVS Diamond Clarity
SI Clarity Diamonds Usually Have Dark Inclusions
It’s not common to find eye clean SI clarity diamonds, but they are out there. If you take your time pouring through an online catalog of loose diamonds with narrowing filters, you could a find an eye clean SI diamond among the rough.
More often than not, SI clarity diamonds may have small dark inclusions on the outer edge of the diamond, not smack in the center like many SI2 diamonds.
You don’t necessarily have to pick an eye clean clarity grade though it makes searching a whole lot easier. If you’re trying to utilize every money saving tip when buying a diamond, finding a “You-Clean” diamond is the goal.
That’s my own term by the way. What I mean is that you want to pick the clarity diamond that looks eye clean to you. There are many SI clarity diamonds whose visible inclusions are on different areas of the diamond.
My advice when choosing SI clarity diamonds is to take your time to find an SI clarity graded diamond that has no visible inclusions found in the table facet of the diamond. These are the most detracting inclusions in SI clarity grades.
VVS Diamonds Are More Expensive Than SI Clarity Diamonds
If you’re wanting to go the simple route to buying a high clarity diamond, a VVS diamond might be the obvious choice over an SI clarity diamond. It’s difficult to find eye clean SI diamonds and super easy to find eye clean VVS diamonds.
If you choose to go for VVS diamond clarity, you should be prepared for the price. The VVS clarity tier is two tiers above SI clarity, with VS diamonds right between them.
On average, VVS diamonds can be up to a 30% increase in cost from SI diamonds. And if you’re looking for VVS diamonds in higher carat weights, that increase rises pretty quickly.
Lab Grown VVS Diamond Prices
Maybe your heart just really wants a VVS clarity diamond but your wallet just can’t swing it. Lab grown diamonds may be a great alternative for you.
Before you object, know that lab diamonds are real diamonds, not diamond imitations like cubic zirconia. They have all the same structural, visual, and quality factors as diamonds mined from the ground.
But lab grown diamonds come at a heavy discount from mined diamonds of the same quality. They’re easier and cheaper to produce than diamond mining, and better for the environment too.
They say that lab grown diamonds run about at 20-40% decrease in price when compared to mined diamonds of the same quality and grades. However, I’ve seen them be more.
SI clarity diamonds are also less expensive as lab grown diamonds. The types of inclusions found in lab grown diamonds is limited due to their isolated laboratory environment.
Unlike mined diamonds, SI clarity lab diamonds don’t have large mineral inclusions. They will still have inclusions that may be seen with the naked eye. But some types of inclusions are less noticeable.
Lab diamond sellers often use SI clarity grades as the minimum clarity grades for their diamonds. It’s much easier to find eye clean or “You-clean” diamond if they’re lab created diamonds.
A VVS Diamond Is More Rare and Valuable Than an SI Diamond
If rarity and resale value are important to you, you’ll probably prefer VVS diamonds over SI clarity diamonds. There are more SI clarity diamonds mined and graded than there are VVS diamonds.
And if we’re talking VVS diamonds higher than 2 carats, the percentage becomes even less. It’s much harder for a diamond cutter to facet a diamond with minimal inclusions, especially in larger carats.
VVS diamonds are considered rare, but not as rare in smaller carats. For example, a ½ carat VVS diamond is less rare than a 2 carat VS1 diamond. Even though VS diamonds are lower clarity, the carat weight is what makes it more rare.
A 2 carat SI clarity diamond isn’t too rare though. SI clarity diamonds are common in any carat weight since they’re lower on the clarity scale.
Lab Grown VVS Diamond Worth and Value
You may have heard that lab grown diamonds are worthless. There’s more to it than that.
Diamonds in general don’t make great investments unless you’re purchasing high quality diamonds in larger carat weights or fancy colored diamonds.
Even though mined VVS diamonds are technically rare, the resale of colorless diamonds in general is usually ⅓ of what you purchased it for unless you can heckle a better price.
Most official diamond channels don’t do trade-ups or reselling of lab grown diamonds. You can sell your lab diamonds on marketplace sites and possibly get a better price.
That being said, more and more lab grown diamond retailers are offering trade-up for lab diamonds.
Which is Better: SI Clarity Diamonds or VVS Clarity Diamonds?
VVS clarity diamonds are better than SI clarity diamonds if you’re judging based on the GIA’s clarity scale. A VVS diamond is eye clean, whereas SI diamonds have visible inclusions.
Overall, VVS diamonds have better clarity with less prominent inclusions, better value, and are more expensive.
On the flip side, SI clarity diamonds have more noticeable inclusions ad some of them can be dark colored. However, with extra effort and patience, you can still find a beautiful SI diamond with minimal clarity detractors.
If you do this, you can get a more beautiful diamond for less than you would if you bought a VVS diamond. And furthermore, even if your diamond has a noticeable inclusion, it’s unlikely anybody else will see it unless you point it out.
If I had to choose between SI Clarity diamonds and VVS clarity diamonds, I wouldn’t choose either.
That’s right, I’d cheat.
I’d much rather choose VS diamonds over VVS clarity or SI clarity diamonds. VS1 and VS2 diamonds are the first clarity grades to be considered eye clean.
They’re slightly more expensive than SI clarity diamonds but not as expensive as VVS diamonds. And if you go the lab diamond route, they’re even less expensive.
VS diamonds are Very Slightly Included and have inclusions visible under 10x magnification, just like SI and VVS diamonds. They shouldn’t have dark inclusions but there might be darker inclusions in VS2 diamonds under magnification.
But here’s why I’d choose VS over VVS clarity. With the unaided eye, neither VS or VVS diamonds have visible inclusions. No one’s going to be looking at your engagement ring under magnification. So why pay more for the same visual appearance.
After all, only you and the magnifying glass or gemscope know the truth.
I hope that I’ve helped you sort the similarities and differences between SI clarity diamonds and VVS clarity diamonds. I may not have come to the conclusion you thought I would, but I’d only recommend the best value that I myself would go for.