What Is the Best Quality Diamond? | Beware Before Making a Purchase

Ever since I can remember, diamonds have held a unique allure for me, symbolizing opulence, promise, and timeless beauty. However, I soon realized that not all diamonds shine the same. What is the best quality diamond, became a quest for me, leading me into the depths of gemology.

It’s the Four Cs—carat, clarity, color, and cut—that truly define a diamond’s brilliance and value. My journey to comprehend the essence of diamond quality was not just about the sparkle, but about making a knowledgeable choice and cherishing an everlasting treasure. Let’s explore this blog together.

Key Takeaways

  • Diamond clarity is an important factor in determining a diamond’s value and cost.
  • Clarity is graded based on the presence of imperfections and inclusions, with grades ranging from I (included) to FL (flawless).
  • Professional assessment and GIA certificates are crucial in accurately evaluating a diamond’s clarity and overall quality.
  • When buying a diamond, it is important to consider factors such as budget allocation, diamond shape, and the advice of professionals to get the best value.

What Is the Best Quality Diamond? – Diamond Clarity Chart Explained

I stumbled upon an invaluable tool while searching for the answer: the Diamond Clarity Chart. As I delved deeper, the chart became a beacon, illuminating the often-misunderstood aspect of clarity. Clarity refers to the internal and external imperfections, or inclusions and blemishes, found in diamonds. These can range from minuscule marks invisible to the naked eye to larger, more noticeable flaws.

The chart categorizes diamonds into several grades. At the pinnacle are Flawless diamonds, bearing no inclusions or blemishes under 10x magnification, a rarity in nature. As we move down the chart, minute inclusions emerge, labeled as VVS (Very, Very Slightly Included) and VS (Very Slightly Included). Further down, we encounter SI (Slightly Included) and I (Included) grades, where inclusions in diamonds become increasingly noticeable.

A person holding a magnifying glass above the diamonds

The clarity chart was a revelation for me, offering a nuanced understanding of a diamond’s intrinsic beauty and value. Through it, I learned that sometimes, it’s the imperfections that make things genuinely unique.

How Are Clarity Grades Determined?

Clarity grades in diamonds hinge on five pivotal factors. These factors guide jewelers in determining the precise clarity grades, offering insights into a diamond’s intrinsic character and value.

– Size: The dimensions of inclusions matter. Generally, larger inclusions negatively affect the clarity grade due to their visibility.

– Nature: This refers to the type and depth of inclusions. Varieties such as clouds, graining, cavities, or feathers differ in their effect on clarity based on their inherent visibility and impact.

– Number: It’s not just about the size, but also the quantity. Diamonds with numerous inclusions, even if they’re tiny, can have their clarity grade substantially lowered.

– Location: Where the inclusion is positioned in the diamond plays a vital role. For instance, inclusions near the center or table facet tend to be more noticeable, bringing down the clarity grade.

– Relief: This is about the contrast between the diamond’s inherent color and the visibility of its inclusions. A pronounced relief can make imperfections stand out more.

Closeup of the diamonds on the white background

Different Types of Inclusions in Diamond Clarity

This discussion will focus on different types of inclusions in diamond clarity, specifically:

– Internally Flawless (IF)

– Very Very Small Inclusions 1 (VVS1)

– Very Very Small Inclusions 2 (VVS2)

– Very Small Inclusions 1 (VS1)

– Very Small Inclusions 2 (VS2)

Grades of diamond clarity

Internally Flawless (IF)

Internally Flawless diamonds stand at the apex of diamond quality, distinguished by their complete lack of internal and external flaws. Such impeccable diamonds are a rarity, drawing the keen attention of diamond connoisseurs and collectors alike.

The label ‘flawless’ in the world of diamond clarity signifies the zenith of the grading scale. It denotes an absence of inclusions or blemishes even when scrutinized under 10x magnification. Clarity remains a cardinal trait influencing both a diamond’s overarching quality and its value.

These pristine diamonds captivate with unparalleled clarity, radiating exceptional light and brilliance. To many, they epitomize diamond perfection, symbolizing the very best in clarity grading.

Very Very Small Inclusions 1 (VVS1)

VVS1 diamonds boast minuscule imperfections, nearly invisible even under intense magnification. Their clarity grade stands testament to these “very, very small inclusions”, imperceptible even under 10x magnification. As a result, VVS1 diamonds captivate those yearning for near-flawless elegance and who prioritize clarity in their selections.

With no discernible inclusions, the emphasis naturally shifts to other vital attributes like diamond carat weight, diamond shapes, and overall aesthetics. Especially for those gravitating towards larger diamonds or distinct shapes that might amplify any flaws, VVS1 diamonds emerge as the top choice. They seamlessly marry quality with affordability, striking a harmonious balance between cost and near-perfection. Consequently, VVS1 diamonds remain a favored pick for those on a quest for the quintessential diamond.

Very Very Small Inclusions 2 (VVS2)

VVS2 diamonds, standing for Very Very Small Inclusions 2, have inclusions that are typically discernible under 10x magnification, sometimes positioned in harder-to-locate areas. Such imperfections influence the diamond’s clarity grade, meriting attention when gauging its worth. Here’s a concise breakdown of VVS2 diamonds:

1. Visibility: While the inclusions are generally evident under magnification, pinpointing them might require meticulous observation owing to their strategic placement.

2. Clarity Scale: Positioned just beneath VVS1, VVS2 diamonds display slightly more conspicuous imperfections, yet they’re esteemed for their high clarity.

3. Comparison to VS Diamonds: VVS2 diamonds outshine Very Small Inclusions (VS) diamonds in clarity, appealing to aficionados aiming for closer-to-perfect gems.

4. Overall Brilliance: Even with the presence of these inclusions, VVS2 diamonds’ allure remains largely unaltered. Their minor flaws seldom mar the stone’s radiant beauty or brilliance.

The diamonds

Very Small Inclusions 1 (VS1)

VS1 diamonds contain inclusions that are minimally noticeable under 10x magnification and might require a keen eye to identify. Such inclusions encompass clouds, graining, cavities, and feathers. While a jeweler’s loupe might pick up these minor imperfections, they’re typically invisible to the naked eye, maintaining the diamond’s overall splendor.

For those seeking diamonds that radiate brilliance without a hefty price tag, experts often recommend the VS1 clarity grade. By consulting the diamond clarity chart, potential buyers can discern the clarity levels of diamonds, empowering them to make choices that align with their aesthetic desires and financial limits.

Very Small Inclusions 2 (VS2)

In this context, I was particularly intrigued by Very Small Inclusions 2 (VS2) diamonds. Under 10x magnification, I observed that their inclusions are generally visible, yet at times, they’re nestled in spots that challenge even the most experienced eye. Unlike diamonds with a lower clarity grade, like SI1 or SI2, the inclusions in VS2 diamonds are more elusive and often demand just a fleeting glance to detect. As I delved deeper into the clarity grade scale, it became evident that VS2 diamonds, due to their superior internal quality, naturally fetch a higher price tag. To help fellow diamond enthusiasts navigate this clarity grade, I’ve outlined the attributes of VS2 diamonds below:

Clarity GradeDescription
VS2Noticeable under 10x magnification; occasionally challenging-to-spot locations
Closeup of and tweezers and diamonds

Small Inclusions 1 (SI1)

The Small Inclusions 1 (SI1) clarity grade signifies that, under a standard jeweler’s 10x magnification loupe, inclusions in these diamonds become discernible. Yet, to the unaided eye, SI1 diamonds often appear clean, although step cuts like Asscher and Emerald may present exceptions. Below are three salient aspects:

1. Origin & Uniqueness: Born deep within the earth’s mantle under intense heat and pressure, SI1 diamonds are genuine treasures from nature. Their minor inclusions add to their distinct identity, making each stone one-of-a-kind.

2. Grading Insights: The SI1 grade is pivotal in assessing a diamond’s visual appeal and overall quality. It offers clarity about inclusions, guiding potential buyers, especially when selecting engagement rings or other precious jewelry pieces.

3. Industry Perspective: SI1 diamonds hold considerable weight in the diamond sector. They strike a balance between affordability and visual allure, catering to those who value slight natural imperfections without sacrificing the diamond’s innate radiance.

Small Inclusions 2 (SI2)

The Small Inclusions 2 (SI2) clarity grade points towards inclusions that are more discernible, especially evident in cuts like Asscher and Emerald. With the aid of a jeweler’s loupe, these inclusions are unmistakably visible and can often be detected with the unaided eye. The SI2 grade suggests that the diamond bears external flaws influencing its overall allure. When observed under 10x magnification, these imperfections become undeniably distinct. 

Though SI2 diamonds might lack top-tier clarity, they offer a harmonious blend of quality and affordability. It’s pivotal to recognize that SI2 diamonds possess inclusions typically more pronounced than those in Small Inclusions 1 (SI1), a topic elaborated on in the ensuing section.

MagnificationProcess of enlarging an image for better visibilityExamining a diamond under a microscope at 10x magnification
Inclusions visibleImperfections or flaws within a diamond that can be seen with the naked eye or under magnificationClearly seen inclusions with a jeweler’s loupe
External imperfectionsFlaws or blemishes on the surface of a diamondSurface scratches or chips on the diamond
Diamond clarity gradeA rating system used to assess the presence of inclusions and blemishes within a diamondSI2 clarity grade indicating more noticeable inclusions
Best diamond clarity gradeThe highest level of clarity assigned to diamonds without any visible imperfections or blemishes under 10x magnificationFL (Flawless)
Diamond clarity inclusionsInternal or external flaws present within a diamond affecting its overall appearance and valueVisible cracks or spots on the surface of the diamond
Diamonds on the dark background

Inclusions 1 (I1)

Transitioning from our discussion on Small Inclusions 2 (SI2), let’s delve into the nuances of the Inclusions 1 (I1) clarity grade.

I1 clarity diamonds exhibit inclusions more prominent than those in SI2 diamonds. Typically, the majority of these I1 imperfections can be discerned with the naked eye, even in brilliant cut diamonds. These might include features like clouds, feathers, graining, and cavities.

Although I1 clarity diamonds might not mirror the pristine aesthetics of higher-graded stones, they can still showcase vibrant diamond colors. They present a compelling choice for those aiming to strike a balance between affordability and visual charm. Nonetheless, due to their position in the clarity spectrum, these diamonds might also bear noticeable blemishes.

Inclusions 2/3 (I2/I3)

Pivoting to the clarity grade of Inclusions 2/3 (I2/I3), these diamonds exhibit more pronounced inclusions than those of the I1 grade, evident even to the naked eye. Such clarity could influence the diamond’s overall aesthetic.

Here are some crucial insights about I2/I3 clarity diamonds:

– In white diamonds with I2/I3 clarity, inclusions are starkly evident.

– Surface blemishes are frequently associated with this grade.

– For jewelry pieces like diamond studs, where clear visibility is paramount, I2/I3 clarity diamonds might not be the optimal choice.

– The grading of I2/I3 diamonds stands lower in the spectrum due to their conspicuous flaws.

– Evaluating a diamond’s worth, these clarity insights play a pivotal role.

Armed with knowledge on diverse clarity grades, one can judiciously choose the diamond that aligns best with their aesthetic and budgetary parameters.

A diamond ring next to the jeweler's magnifying glass

The Best Clarity Grade vs. The Best Clarity Grade for You

In my quest to find the best clarity grade for a diamond, I’ve realized it’s not just about chasing the highest grade, like Flawless (FL). It’s a balance of factors – from discerning inclusions to my budget and expert opinions. Even after acquiring a pristine clarity grade, would I still see imperfections once the diamond adorns a ring? According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), many of these tiny marks are indistinguishable to the untrained eye. Thus, a diamond graded VS1 or SI2 might look just as flawless to me.

Budgeting is pivotal. Prioritizing aspects that genuinely augment the diamond’s allure, like its cut or size, might be wiser than stretching my budget for a high clarity grade that barely impacts its appearance.

Trusting experts has been invaluable. Seeking guidance from revered entities like GIA has illuminated the nuances of diamond clarity. It has equipped me to decide based on my unique desires.

For those comparing diamond retailers, here’s a glance at James Allen versus Blue Nile:

RetailerJames Allen Blue Nile
SelectionOffers a wide selection of lab-grown diamonds along with natural diamondsPrimarily offers natural diamonds
Diamond ShapesProvides various shapes including round brilliant cuts, princess cuts, cushion cuts, and moreOffers similar range of shapes as James Allen
Clarity OptionsOffers diamonds across all clarity gradesProvides options across different clarity grades
Surface FlawsEnsures detailed images and videos for customers to view surface flawsProvides high-quality images with zoom features
Colorless RangeOffers diamonds in the D-F colorless range, as well as other color gradesProvides a wide range of color options including the colorless range
Closeup of a diamond surface

Frequently Asked Questions

Is VS1 or VS2 better?

Yes, VS1 is better than VS2. Inclusions in VS1 diamonds are slightly fewer and smaller than those in VS2 diamonds. To put it another way, a VS1 diamond is marginally superior to a VS2 diamond.

Is VS1 better than VVS1?

No, VS 1 is not better than VVS1. VVS1 means very very slightly included 1, while VS1 means very slightly included 1 on the GIA Clarity Scale.

Is VVS the best diamond?

No, VVS is not the best diamond. Although VVS diamonds are among the highest grades available in terms of clarity, the best is FL meaning flawless. VVS diamonds, or a diamond with very very small inclusions, means that the inclusions could only be seen with a magnifying glass.

Is a VS1 diamond OK?

Yes, VS1 diamond is okay. All diamonds with VS clarity have imperfections that can be seen just under a magnification. The flaws in a VS1 diamond are less noticeable and smaller than those in a VS2. VS1 clarity-rated diamonds are always eye-clear.

What’s more expensive VVS or VS1?

VVS is more expensive than VS1. While eye-clean diamonds of the VVS1 clarity grade are always available, eye-clean diamonds in lower clarity grades can be had for far less money. As an illustration, the price difference between this VS1 1.4 carat H color diamond and this VVS1 1.4 carat H color diamond from James Allen is $10,290. The price difference between the VS1 and VVS1 diamonds is $1,210.

Diamonds on the dark background


Traveling on the voyage of diamonds, I’ve come to appreciate the delicate balance of clarity, craftsmanship, and individual taste. While GIA diamond quality chart provide a technical lens, discerning the “best” diamond transcends mere grades. Certainly, IF and VVS grades captivate with their pristine clarity. But the essence of a diamond’s beauty is multifaceted. It lies in its story, its interaction with light, its unique imperfections. 

While expert insights are crucial, it’s ultimately the diamond’s silent resonance with one’s soul that determines its true value. Amidst a myriad of choices, the most precious diamond is the one that feels perfect to its beholder.

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