An Easy Guide to Understanding VVS Diamonds
Ah, the endless lexicon of diamond-related acronyms. VVS diamond is another term jewelers throw around that can be a source of confusion when you are shopping for diamond jewelry.
But never fear – Love and Lavender is here with another diamond education post to demystify this occluded topic. (Get it? Diamond pun!)
Understanding Diamond Grading
When shopping for diamond jewelry, there are four quality factors that you need to be concerned about:
- carat weight
The most important factors that we give the most attention and make the highest priorities are up to the individual buyer.
Do you care most about getting an enormous diamond on your finger like Kim Kardashian, even if some of the other factors fall behind? Or maybe color is your diamond shopping focus, and you’re willing to get a smaller stone with a lower cut grade if it means having one with a rare, brilliant D color?
Clarity grading gets a lot of attention, and some of the most hotly debated diamonds fall into the VVS clarity range. But why are they such a subject of contention? And what does this grade mean for our diamond? Let’s explore.
What does the VVS diamond acronym stand for?
VVS diamonds are those that fall into the category of “Very, Very Slightly Included.” You’ll sometimes see this used to mean “Very, Very Small Inclusions”, which comes down to more or less the same thing.
The most important thing to know about VVS diamonds is they have very minor inclusions or blemishes (those pesky little imperfections), and only under certain lighting conditions – usually magnification and direct sunlight – can these inclusions be seen. This is to say that they are almost always invisible to the naked eye.
Even under a microscope, it can be difficult for experienced graders to locate the stone’s distinguishing features. It is one of the highest clarity grades possible for a diamond, preceded only by F (Flawless) and IF (Internally Flawless).
What’s the Difference Between VVS1 and VVS2?
After F and IF, both singular clarity grades, we get into ranges.
VVS (Very, Very Slightly Included) is broken down into:
VS (Very Slightly Included) covers:
SI (Slightly Included) features categories:
Until we finally reach Included diamonds, in grades:
- I3 (Included).
VVS1 and VVS2 both refer to very, very slightly included diamonds with inclusions that are almost invisible. The difference is that in VVS2 diamonds, the inclusions are usually found on the crown (the upper, front-facing part of the diamond) where a keen-eyed diamond grader can spot them more easily.
Inclusions in a VVS1 diamond are more concentrated on the pavilion (the bottom half), where they attract less attention and interfere less with the way the light passes through the stone. Thus, A VVS1 diamond is awarded a slightly higher clarity grade.
It’s worth remembering that we’re talking about the teeniest, most unobtrusive clarity characteristics possible; to the naked eye, these two diamond grades will look virtually identical.
How Does VVS Compare To Other Clarity Grades?
As we discussed above, diamond clarity ranges from F (Flawless) down to I3 (heavily Included). VVS diamonds are in the upper tiers of this grading scale, and are often thought of by consumers as an excellent value. Jewelry retailers are happy to push this misconception, along with its higher price tag.
VS diamonds, the next level down, will either have slightly more inclusions, or their inclusions will be larger or in a more prominent area of the stone. These clarity characteristics can be spotted more easily under 10x magnification by a diamond grader.
The difference between a VVS and VS diamond is negligible, particularly to the layman consumer. Both are “eye clean”, or clear of inclusions and blemishes large enough to be spotted with the naked eye.
After VS we have SI, Slightly Included, which follows the pattern of inclusions that are larger and/or more prominent. Generally, SI1 diamonds will still be eye clean enough that most people won’t be able to perceive any imperfections or they will be in unobtrusive areas of the stone, or they might only have one or two more prominent ones.
SI2 is where we begin to get into readily visible inclusions that detract from the diamond’s beauty. This is even more apparent in I1 and 2 diamonds, where our inclusions are growing numerous and make the stone look crowded or uneven.
I3 diamonds are hovering around the cusp of industrial quality, heavily marked with salt-and-pepper inclusions that more people can see with a little focus. Anything below I3 is considered unfit for jewelry and is reserved for tools and other industrial uses.
As you can see, there’s a fair bit of space between our VVS diamonds and those with problematic clarity grades. Both VVS and VS diamonds are considered eye clean. Even SI1 diamonds can look beautiful face up, depending on the exact nature and location of the clarity characteristics.
Are VVS Diamonds a Good Value?
With so many comparable alternatives in the lower clarity grades selling for so much less, is it worth spending extra to get a VVS diamond?
Well, that’s the question that’s causing so much frustration among jewelers. Some put forward the idea that VVS diamonds are “investment quality”, virtually identical to a Flawless diamond without paying the high F-IF ticket prices.
And yet, others think this sort of marketing is dishonest, and that there is no reason for a consumer to spend so much on a VVS diamond for the same effect as an SI1. Going from a VVS1 to a VS2 or SI1 can mean a difference of at least a few thousand dollars.
Impact of Diamond Shape on Value
If you’re shopping for a standard round brilliant diamond, it’s almost always a safe bet to go one or two clarity grades down. The exquisite faceting and light display of this popular diamond shape do a good job of obscuring any minute clarity characteristics. In most cases, round brilliant diamonds will look eye clean down to about an SI1, as long as the inclusions aren’t in a very obvious place (such as the table facet on top).
For example, a diamond with a few internal fractures or dark spots near the pavilion may be pulled down to an SI1 grade, though the inclusions are out of the way and might even be hidden by the metal in the setting. This would make this stone an excellent value, since you would be getting the look of an eye clean diamond for a much lower price.
The exception to the clarity downgrading tip? Buying diamond jewelry online.
If you’re shopping online or by distance, it’s not a bad idea to lean a little higher in the clarity grades. This is because although they come at a premium, VVS diamonds are always a safe choice. You don’t need to compare different diamond reports and examine the exact type and placement of the inclusions to make sure you’re getting the best value. If you order a VS2 diamond or an SI1 without carefully examining it first, you’re playing a little bit of a gamble.
With a VVS diamond, you know you can rely on the diamond grader’s assessment to do the work for you.
This is especially important in larger diamonds, where even relatively small inclusions will be more obvious in the wider facets. If you’re considering a diamond over 2 carats in a lower clarity grade, make sure you get a good look at the grading report to check that whatever characteristics that contributed to the assessment are on the pavilion or in another unobtrusive place.
The other game changer we need to talk about is step cut diamonds. Unlike the round brilliant cut diamond, these stones are streamlined and unadorned, baring their innermost souls to the world. In step cut diamond shapes such as emeralds or asschers, even the smaller inclusions present in clarity grades like VS and the higher SI will be much more obvious.
If you’re considering the clean, architectural, vintage style beauty of a step cut diamond, a VVS clarity grade might be the best choice.
VVS Diamond FAQ
Using the word “investment” in the diamond industry is a shaky slope, as it gets overused and abused so often. Generally, diamonds are not an investment quality commodity in the sense of reselling at a profit later on.
VVS diamonds in particular cost quite a premium for the same face up appearance as some diamonds in lower, less expensive clarity grades. They are more rare, though, particularly in larger carat sizes, so having that on your diamond documentation will help you get a good price if you do decide to sell it further down the road.
To the unaided eye? Yes. VVS diamonds — like F, IF, and most VS1 diamonds — are eye clean, meaning their internal clarity characteristics (if any) are only visible under a microscope.
Up close and personal, however, every diamond is unique and even diamonds with the same clarity grade will show different distinguishing features. You can check out our guide to understanding diamond clarity here.
I totally get it! Even if you can’t actually see the inclusions in your stone, just knowing that they’re there can give you an unpleasant too-tight-new-shoes feeling in the back of your mind.
If you think that having a stone with a lower clarity grade is going to bother you deep down, then by all means go for a VVS diamond for your own peace of mind. Just know that, much like wearing luxury brand-name lipstick, nobody is going to be able to tell the difference but you.
The Eye of the Beholder
VVS diamonds get championed as some of the highest quality options for potential diamond shoppers. If you have some financial flexibility, there is no denying that they will always be a safe bet for a visually flawless stone. However, with some patience and some smart shopping you can almost certainly find an equally gorgeous stone for a lot less.
The exception? Our art deco diva, the emerald cut diamond, should always prioritize a high clarity grade.
When shopping for an engagement ring or other diamond jewelry, ask to look at detailed diamond grading reports and treat each stone as a unique individual, rather than an impersonal grab bag of letters on a gemological grading scale. Each one has its own beauty to offer as well as its own pitfalls, and no two diamonds are the same.
Maybe a VVS diamond will be the one you fall in love with. Maybe it will be a brief fling before you find the stone that really captures your heart. Either way, your perfect eye clean diamond is definitely out there waiting for you!
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