Both VS and VVS diamond clarity grades are popular, but what is really the difference between them? Let’s see how these two grades are defined and which you should buy.
VS and VVS Clarity on the Grading Scale
According to the G.I.A. (Gemological Institute of America), there are six main diamond clarity grades. The top one is called Flawless (denoted by “FL”), followed by the next best grade, Internally Flawless (IF).
VVS (Very, Very Slightly Included) and VS (Very Slightly Included) are the next two grading ranges. (You should remember that VVS denotes higher quality than VS.)
The bottom two grades on the scale are Slightly Included (SI) and Included (I).
What Is VVS Clarity?
Diamonds of VVS clarity have very slight imperfections that even trained professionals cannot easily see with a loupe or microscope.
The VVS grading range is divided into two sub-grades: VVS1 and VVS2, with VVS1 being the higher grade.
What Is VS Clarity?
VS-clarity diamonds have inclusions that are usually hard to see under 10x magnification. A small number of these imperfections may be more readily visible, but they are still tiny. Like VVS clarity, the VS grade is divided into VS1 and VS2.
Difference #1: VVS Diamonds Have Smaller Inclusions
The main difference between VVS and VS clarity is the size of inclusions: VVS diamonds have smaller and less visible flaws. Usually, even when you look at these stones under a microscope, it is hard to make out any inclusions.
VS diamonds, on the other hand, will have some inclusions that will be easy to spot under magnification. Most of the flaws will still be microscopic, but at least one or two of them will be bigger and easily visible with a jeweler’s loupe. Keep in mind that we are still talking about inclusions that are not visible with the naked eye.
Difference #2: VS Diamonds Have More Inclusions
Another difference between these two grades is the number of inclusions: VS diamonds will have more of them than VVS ones.
This “numbers” rule does not always hold, though: It is possible for a VS and a VVS diamond to have the same number of flaws. In such a case, the diamond graded VS will have gotten its grade because it has some inclusions that are bigger and more visible.
In most cases, however, VVS diamonds have fewer inclusions than VS ones.
Similarity: Inclusions in VS and VVS Are Usually Peripheral
We saw that the number and size of inclusions is what makes the VS and VVS grades different.
Both, however, are very similar when it comes to where their visible flaws are located: closer to the periphery of the stone.
This means that when you look at these diamonds from the top, you most likely won’t be able to detect any readily visible flaws around the center.
The Advantage of VS Clarity
So, if VVS is a better clarity grade, where does VS clarity have an edge?
The answer is simple: price. A VS-clarity diamond will usually be cheaper than a comparable VVS-clarity one, and the difference can be as big as a couple of thousand dollars.
Of course, a superior cut or color can make a VS diamond more expensive than a VVS stone, so you should also evaluate other quality characteristics. But all else being equal, in terms of affordability, VS clarity is the clear winner.
So, what should you buy?
If money is important, go for VS clarity. Remember that the differences between VS and VVS are only detectable using a microscope or a 10x loupe. You won’t be able to distinguish them with the naked eye.
It would make a bigger difference if you spend additional money on cut, which can greatly affect the sparkle of your diamond, than if you pay for slightly better clarity.