VS-clarity diamonds are popular for a reason: They are some of the most affordable stones with no visible inclusions. Let’s take a closer look at what VS clarity is and how it compares with other clarity grades.
VS Clarity on the G.I.A. Grading Scale
VS clarity is the fourth highest grade on the G.I.A. (Gemological Institute of America) clarity scale. The abbreviation “VS” stands for “Very Slightly Included.”
The three grades above VS are VVS (Very, Very Slightly Included), IF (Internally Flawless) and FL (Flawless).
There are two grades below VS: SI (Slightly Included) and I (Included).
VS Clarity Defined
VS clarity diamonds have inclusions that cannot be seen with the naked eye.
Using a microscope or loupe, you can see flaws inside a VS diamond, but for the most part, they will still be hard to make out.
In rare cases, some inclusions may be visible if they are closer to the surface of the stone and if you look really hard for them.
The VS clarity range is further divided into two grades: VS1 (the higher grade) and VS2.
What Are VS1 and VS2 Clarity?
Stones graded VS1 have inclusions that are very hard to see, even under magnification. With the naked eye, you shouldn’t be able to see any black spots or other flaws.
VS2 diamonds have inclusions that are more easily seen with a 10x loupe, but they are still practically invisible to the unaided eye.
The difference between VS1 and VS2 is very slight, and most likely, you won’t able to spot it when wearing your diamond.
How Is VS Clarity Better Than SI and I Clarity?
Compared to SI-clarity diamonds, VS stones have inclusions that are harder to see under magnification.
Flaws in diamonds graded SI1 are still virtually invisible to the naked eye, so the difference between this grade and VS is that flaws in SI1 are relatively easy to see under a microscope.
The major difference between SI2 and VS diamonds is that SI2-clarity stones have inclusions that can be seen with the naked eye. These inclusions, however, are still hard to see and are mostly visible when the stone is looked at from the side.
I-clarity diamonds will have visible inclusions that can be seen without magnification, even when looking through the top of the stone, whereas in VS diamonds, you won’t be able to see flaws without a loupe.
VS Clarity and the Higher Clarity Grades
The distinction between VS and higher clarity grades is very fine and can be made only using magnification.
VVS diamonds, for example, have inclusions that are even harder to see with a microscope, and IF and FL stones don’t have inclusions that are visible with a 10x loupe.
To the naked eye, however, all these grades won’t have any easily visible internal flaws.
Shopping: How to Choose Between VS Clarity and Other Grades
Before you decide what clarity to buy, you should look at different diamonds from each grade and see for yourself which you like best.
Look at the stones not only when put next to each other, but also in isolation: After all, if you are going to buy only one of those diamonds, this is how it will be worn and seen by you and others.
For all practical purposes, VS-clarity diamonds don’t look much different from those that are graded higher.
If you are debating between VS clarity and a stone graded VVS or higher, ask yourself whether you want to spend more money for a difference that you will be barely able to see, if at all.
It might be better to just get a VS diamond and spend more money on color or cut, which is extremely important for how brilliant your stone will look.
To save even more money, you can go lower and buy an SI1 clarity stone if you cannot spot any visible difference between it and a VS-clarity diamond.
An SI2 diamond may also do as long as it will be set in a mounting that will hide its sides and conceal any visible inclusions there.