VS Diamond Clarity

Basics

VS diamond clarity is divided into levels VS1 and VS2. Diamonds with these grades fall into the upper half of the diamond clarity range and are usually completely clean to the unaided eye. Here is useful information when considering a diamond in the VS range.

PriceScope Pointer: VS1 is always eye clean. VS2 is reliably eye clean for round brilliants, but certain shapes may have eye visible inclusions.

Before going on: Check out the PriceScope Diamond Buying Guide

Basics-1 | VS Diamond Clarity Described

The diamond clarity grade describes a stone’s relative freedom from internal characteristics, classified as inclusions, and surface characteristics, classified as blemishes.

VS diamond clarity describes diamond with inclusions considered minor by a gemologist when using 10X magnification. The VS diamond clarity range spans two levels. A VS1 diamond has less noticeable clarity characteristics than a VS2 diamond.

The most typical inclusions in VS diamonds are small crystals, feathers, or distinct clouds. If the grade setting inclusion or inclusions are close to the very very slightly included (VVS) range the diamond will receive the VS1 grade. If the inclusion or inclusions are closer to the slightly included (SI) range the diamond will become VS2. Generally speaking, VS2 is considered the grade where a diamond begins to show inclusions which are somewhat easy to find but not blatantly noticeable when the stone is placed under 10X magnification.

Basics-2 | Let’s get practical

Is a VS diamond always eye-clean?

Diamonds graded VS1 should be completely eye-clean by the definition below. In rare cases a VS2 diamond may contain visible inclusion. This is more likely in step cut diamonds such as emerald, square emerald and Asscher cuts, where the long flat facets serve as windows looking into the stone. The possibility of a visible inclusion also becomes more likely in VS2 diamonds at carat weights higher than 2.00 carats.

There is no laboratory definition for eye-clean, but a PriceScope survey of gemologists resulted in this consensus:

Eye clean diamond
Photo courtesy of PS member Soxfan
Eye-clean = No inclusions visible to the unaided eye when viewed from the face up position in daylight equivalent or fluorescent lighting from approximately 6-12 inches from the eye using 20/20 vision.

Basics-3 | Real World Information

A VS diamond may be the best choice for people who want to reach the higher levels of clarity without breaking the bank. Buying an eye clean VS diamond gives the wearer a diamond which will look identical to diamonds with VVS and Flawless clarity to the naked eye.


Intermediate VS Diamond Clarity

Analysis

Analysis-1 | Where does a VS diamond rank?

The internationally accepted grading scale and terminology for diamond clarity consists of 11 grading levels. Grading is traditionally performed using 10 power (10X) magnification. A VS diamond falls into the “slightly included” range, atop the bottom five grades.

diamond clarity chart - vs range diamond clarity - low clarities

A clarity grader will also consider the location, number, color, size and nature of the characteristics present at 10x magnification when deciding the clarity grade.

Analysis-2 | Standards, Subjectivity and Value

While the descriptive scale above is universally applied, standards can vary between individuals and organizations that decide i1 diamond clarity.

Subjectivity

Variance between reputable graders and organizations may be attributable to standard deviation. Color and clarity judgments are matters of opinion and diamonds often sit on the border of two grades. The only time this becomes an issue is when a buyer and seller disagree about which set of grades establish the diamond’s value.

Value and Over Grading

Intentional over grading has been a historic issue in the diamond trade. Over grading is a willingness to purposely deviate from internationally accepted standards to inflate the perceived value of a diamond. Certain locations of the EGL (now closed) became infamous for over-grading loose diamonds, by 3-4 grades in some cases, permitting unscrupulous sellers to overcharge consumers.

Value and Under Grading

Under grading occurs when a jeweler examines a diamond and claims it was over graded to create fear-based doubts in the diamond owner’s mind. The most frequent example of under grading is when one jeweler implies a consumer overpaid a competing jeweler, hoping the consumer will return the diamond and purchase there, instead.

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