Why Do Experts Love to Hate VVS1 Clarity Diamonds?

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VVS1 clarity diamonds are 'very, very slightly included in the first degree.' The '1' indicates that it sits at the top of the VVS clarity spectrum. Spotting an inclusion in a VVS1 diamond is like trying to find Waldo in a sea of red and white stripes.

It's extremely challenging, and even trained professionals burn their eyes out trying to do so using a standard jeweler's loupe. VVS1 and VVS2 are two subcategories in the VVS clarity classification. The '1' indicates that the grade is higher on the scale, nearing Internally Flawless.

VVS2 clarity diamonds have slightly more inclusions but are still difficult to locate using 10x magnification. Without this, it's practically impossible to see inclusions within round brilliant cut diamonds in the VVS-clarity range. That's because the brilliant facet pattern creates so much sparkle that it's difficult to see past the sparkle.

In contrast, emerald-cut and Asscher-cut diamonds' step-cut pattern doesn't hide inclusions to the same extent. In that case, seemingly minute inclusions in those diamond shapes may be visible to the naked eye.

In that case, VVS1 is an excellent choice for an eye-clean step-cut diamond. However, brilliant-cut diamonds do not require this level of clarity. The high volume of light return and blinding sparkle make it difficult to focus on minor clarity characteristics.

VVS1 Clarity Black by Brian Gavin Natural Diamonds.

Black by Brian Gavin Diamonds Keeping It Real.

Detailed Analysis of VVS1 Clarity

Understanding the Diamond 4Cs when buying engagement rings or jewelry is essential. Specifically, this is a reference to:

These factors significantly impact a diamond's appearance, quality, and price. However, we rank Cut-quality the most important because it impacts performance most. In other words, specific proportions and optical precision are more critical than diamond clarity.

A round brilliant cut diamond with specific proportions can outsparkle a higher clarity if poorly cut. Buying a Very, Very Slightly Included diamond is acceptable if you prefer higher clarity. However, there isn't a measurable impact on the diamond's performance.

In fact, once you cross the VS2 clarity threshold, there isn't much benefit to higher clarity grade diamonds. Buying a flawless diamond isn't going to make it any brighter or more brilliant. In contrast, buying a higher color diamond will make it look brighter and whiter.

However, the color grade does not affect the size or intensity of the sparkle factor. Under those circumstances, we recommend focusing on cut quality over clarity, color, or carat weight. Refer to our buying guide on performance by shape and focus on optical precision.

Pros and Cons of VVS1 Diamonds

VVS1 clarity diamonds contain minute inclusions that are extremely challenging for a skilled grader to locate using 10x magnification. Consequently, most gemologists evaluate higher-clarity diamonds using higher degrees of magnification. Then work their way back down to a lesser degree of magnification after locating the primary inclusions.

Being mind-clean is the significant advantage that VVS1 clarity diamonds offer over other grades. Their pristine appearance under magnification is mesmerizing, but we don't live under those conditions. A clarity grade higher than VS2 in the real world provides no measurable advantages in brilliant-cut diamonds.

At the same time, you cannot quantify peace of mind. Some people prefer the mind-clean assurance that VVS1 clarity provides. From our perspective, it makes sense to buy higher-clarity step-cut diamonds. Inclusions within an emerald-cut or Asscher-cut facet structure are easier to locate without magnification. 

VVS1 Clarity Diamond Characteristics

A VVS1 diamond is higher on the clarity scale. However, a VS2 or VS1 clarity diamond can provide the same visual appeal. They also cost considerably less; you can use that savings to afford a larger diamond or better color grade.

Many people see appreciable differences in diamond color easier than clarity. Especially given the difference between several grades, such as colorless to near-colorless and faint yellow. In that case, we're inclined to recommend a higher color grade over clarity.

That said, choosing the right combination of characteristics is a matter of personal preference. You should buy a D-color, VVS1 clarity diamond if those grades appeal to your sense of balance. It also makes sense for lab-grown diamonds, which are widely available in higher clarity grades at low prices.

Suffice it to say that lab-created diamonds cost less than their natural counterparts. The price of man-made diamonds decreases in direct proportion to technical advancements. Under those circumstances, combinations of higher clarity and color are extremely affordable.

Comparing VVS1 Diamonds with Other Grades

VVS1 vs VVS2 Diamonds:

VVS1 clarity diamonds are one degree higher than VVS2 within the same clarity spectrum. The difference is indiscernible without higher degrees of magnification. The inclusions are 'very, very slight' in both instances and require intense scrutiny to locate using a microscope or jeweler's loupe.

To find them, a professional diamond grader must carefully evaluate a VVS1 clarity diamond's imperfections under magnification. Simultaneously, the inclusions will be extremely minute and difficult to locate.

The difference between a VVS1 and a VS2 round brilliant diamond is not visible without magnification. It is true that inclusions in a diamond are not visible when viewed from the face-up position. However, these inclusions may be seen when viewed from the side profile. That's because a diamond's facets reflect the sparkle through the crown, not the side profile.

Considering the significant price difference between VVS1 and VS2 diamonds, opting for an eye-clean VS2 diamond offers substantial savings. In our experience, spending that difference on higher cut quality, carat weight, or color makes sense.

VVS1 vs Internally Flawless

Many prefer VVS1 and Internally Flawless clarity diamonds because of their position on the GIA clarity scale. Spotting inclusions within VVS1 and IF-clarity diamonds is difficult at best. If that last sentence seems odd, it's because 'Internally Flawless' only exists under 10x magnification. The inclusions might be visible at higher levels, such as 30-60x magnification.

In that case, knowing your preferences when buying a diamond is essential. Is an eye-clean diamond good enough? Or do you need the inclusions to be extremely difficult to locate using magnification?

Technically, VVS1 clarity diamonds contain slightly more inclusions than Internally Flawless. However, both clarity grades look identical to the naked eye, and VVS1 is more affordable. Similarly, VVS2 costs less than VVS1, and VS1 or VS2 clarity round brilliant cut diamonds look the same without magnification.

You should have noticed a consistent trend in our advice about diamond clarity by now. We have been giving the same advice throughout this article. Specific proportions and optical precision are more important than clarity in our experience. Especially beyond VS2 or SI1 clarity in round brilliant cut diamonds, depending on your personal vision.

Choosing the Perfect Diamond

It makes sense to buy the most perfect-looking diamond possible. However, that doesn't necessarily mean spending more for higher clarity or color. Focus on the overall cut quality and optical precision because that's what affects light performance.

Specifically, the pavilion angle dictates the volume of light return. While the crown angle determines the balance of brilliance and dispersion. Optical precision is the consistency of facet shape, size, and alignment. Ultimately, it determines the sparkling intensity of your diamond and the degree of light leakage.

While we could suggest looking for specific clarity grades when purchasing a diamond, the diamonds' sparkle factor holds the most importance. The clarity grade of a diamond on paper does not matter. What matters is how it looks under normal viewing conditions.

Since we don't live under magnification, the primary goal should be to find an eye-clean diamond. A diamond free of visible inclusions is more desirable. From our perspective, the goal is to pay the least amount for clarity beyond eye clean.

An Insider's Perspective VVS1 Clarity:

Obviously, you get what you pay for and must decide what matters most from your perspective. Decide if it is worth paying extra for a higher-clarity diamond beyond what's visible to the naked eye. Since VS2 clarity diamonds face-up eye-clean, that's what we consider the best value point.

Some people are willing to pay extra for increased clarity, knowing that even minute inclusions might concern them. While others aren't concerned with what can't be seen without magnification, out of sight, out of mind, and all that.

The secret to satisfaction is having reasonable expectations and knowing where to bend the parameters to find the middle ground. Given that everybody's eyesight is different, you might not need the highest clarity grade. You might be able to buy a lower-clarity diamond and still not see the inclusions without magnification.

Another person might require a higher-clarity diamond based on their personal vision and expectations. One scenario is not more correct than another. For the record, we tend to steer people toward VS2 because it's a cost-effective middle ground.

Is VVS1 Eye-clean?

As stated, VVS1 clarity diamonds are very, very slightly included under 10x magnification. In that case, the inclusions should not be visible without magnification from the face-up vantage point.

The industry relies on the following criteria to determine whether a diamond is eye-clean. An experienced grader glances at the diamond from a distance of nine to twelve inches. The diamond is deemed eye-clean if the inclusions are not readily and immediately visible.

The flaw in this methodology is that people have varying degrees of eyesight. Under those circumstances, one person might deem an SI1 or SI2 clarity diamond eye-clean. Whereas another person with sharper vision might find the inclusions more easily.

What Diamond Clarity Is Best?

Choosing the best diamond clarity is a matter of personal preference based on your expectations. We've got sharp eyesight and have always been able to find the inclusions within SI-clarity diamonds without magnification. In our experience, round and other brilliant cut diamonds face-up eye-clean in the following clarity grades:

  • VVS1
  • VVS2
  • VS1
  • VS2

In other words, they'll look similar to the naked eye, given that all other characteristics are equal. However, the clarity characteristics of a VS2 can be seen easily with a 10x diamond grading loupe. The inclusions are more difficult to identify in the higher grades, but you're also paying for a benefit unseen without magnification.

Consequently, most people will only be able to see the inclusions within SI-clarity diamonds while scrutinizing them closely. In that case, a VVS1 and SI1 clarity diamond cut to the same standard look identical from across the dinner table. Therefore, you can save money on clarity depending on your eyesight and preferences. 

Are VVS1 Clarity Diamonds Rare?

Approximately 1% of gem-quality diamonds are VVS1 clarity. From that perspective, they are rare, but they are also readily available from the following places:

Fewer than 1% of round brilliant cut diamonds meet our selection criteria. Approximately 0.001% fall into the hearts and arrows super ideal classification. In that case, a VVS1 clarity, hearts and arrows round super ideal cut diamond is rare indeed.

Super Charge Your Diamond Buying Skills:

Follow the Steps in The Nice Ice® Diamond Buying Blueprint™ and Unlock the Secret for Maximizing Sparkle Factor and Light Performance. These are the Tips & Tricks from the back office of Nice Ice Diamonds.