Of the 4Cs, clarity is often the most confusing, simply because there are many ways to grade diamond clarity. While the bottom line when choosing your clarity grade is to simply find an eye-clean stone, knowing the different grades can help you narrow down your choices.
Which brings us to the VS clarity grades.
Almost perfect except under magnification, VS1 and VS2 diamonds can offer the perfect balance between value and beauty.
Why Choose VS Diamonds?
Before going into detail about VS diamonds, let’s first take a look at how they stack up against other diamond clarity grades.
VS diamonds come in two grades: Very Slightly Included 1 and Very Slightly Included 2. The difference between these grades is that the VS2 has slightly more inclusions than a VS1.
Because of this, most people view VS1 and VS2 as the middle-of-the-road option when it comes to diamond clarity and the difference between VS1 and VS2 as the two sides of that middle road.
In reality, however, the two VS grades can easily be viewed as the perfect diamond clarity grade and the difference between them can often be insignificant.
VVS, IF, and FL clarity diamonds offer much fewer inclusions and much better clarity. However, in most stones, this difference will only be visible through 10x magnification. So, while the VVS, IF, and FL grades are still more “valuable” from a collector’s point of view, paying extra for them is often a waste of money if all you want is a pretty diamond for a ring.
This is where VS1 and VS2 diamonds shine both figuratively and literally. A beautiful and budget-friendly choice, VS diamonds are the smart choice in most situations. However, how do you choose between VS1 and VS2?
How Noticeable Is The Difference Between VS1 And VS2 Diamonds?
VS1 diamond vs. VS2. See them here.
For better or for worse, there’s no clear-cut way to choose between these two grades.
In theory, the choice between them is based on prioritizing between budgetary concerns (VS2) and slightly better clarity (VS1).
In reality, however, the monetary difference between the two isn’t really that high. What’s more, you can easily find many VS1 diamonds that are both more pricey than their VS2 counterparts AND may have more inclusions.
Why is that the case?
How Are VS1 And VS2 Diamonds Graded, Exactly?
The way most laboratories grade diamond clarity is by looking into two things above all others:
- The number of inclusions in the stone.
- The size of those inclusions.
The more inclusions a diamond has, and the larger they are, the lower its grade is going to be. So, the difference between a VS1 and a VS2 stone is often just some extra and barely-noticeable small inclusions in the VS2 stone. You can also have a VS2 diamond with fewer inclusions than a VS1 stone if the VS2’s inclusions are slightly longer or wider.
These are generally good criteria for the industry to use but they’re not perfect. By focusing on the number and size of the inclusions only, industry professionals ignore many other factors that are important for the consumer:
- The color of the inclusions. For example, a single medium-brown inclusion can have a much more significant impact on a diamond’s clarity than three or four colorless inclusions. And yet, because 4 is more than 1, the former stone can be graded as VS1 and the latter as VS2 despite it’s better eye-clarity.
- The location of the inclusions. An inclusion at the lower pavilion of a diamond is much less noticeable than one that’s right at the middle of the stone’s table (top part). And yet, both of these inclusions will get the same grade. So, it’s quite common for VS2 diamonds to have multiple inclusions near the pavilion of the stone and to look better than VS1 stones that have fewer but much more poorly-placed inclusions. The flip side of that is that if a VS2 diamond has more poorly-placed inclusions, it can look even worse than the lower SI1 grade.
- How easy it is to work around a diamond’s inclusion. The job of a jeweler isn’t just to pop diamonds into rings’ settings and sell them. A good professional will first examine the diamond’s blemishes and inclusions and figure out what’s the best setting to put the stone in so that its inclusions are as unnoticeable as possible.
So, you can have a VS2 diamond with multiple noticeable inclusions but they may be easy to hide with the right ring setting. On the other hand, a VS1 stone may have just a couple of inclusions but if they can’t possibly be hidden by the jewelry’s setting, they’ll stick out.
As you can see, the way diamond clarity is graded leaves a lot of space for ambiguity. This can be both a benefit and a drawback too.
On the one hand, if you just want to pick a diamond without thinking and researching too much, you can easily end up with a stone that “looks good on paper” but isn’t actually as pretty as its report card would indicate.
On the other hand, if you’re willing to put in the time and effort, you can find lower-graded diamonds that are both more affordable and look much better than higher-graded stones.
How To Choose Between VS1 And VS2 Diamonds?
In short, our recommendation would be to ignore the technical differences between VS1 and VS2 diamonds at first and focus on the other three Cs of the industry’s 4Cs – cut, carat weight, and color.
Choosing between a round cut and a radiant cut or between a 0.90 carat and a 1.4 carat diamond is much more important for the overall look and price tag of the stone than choosing between VS1 and VS2 clarity.
This doesn’t mean that you should ignore the clarity grade, of course. The difference between the VVS, VS, and SI grades is significant enough to keep in mind. And, for most people, the two VS grades are indeed the best choice.
However, as the difference between VS1 and VS2 is often so obscure, it’s usually beneficial to look at as many diamonds as possible of both the VS1 and VS2 grades and look for the best-looking stone regardless of whether it’s VS1 or VS2.
If you have enough time, you can easily find a VS2 diamond that both looks flawless to the naked eye and is more affordable than a similar VS1 and VVS2 stone.
Side note: All that being said, if you’re looking to buy a larger diamond (2 carats or more) you should pay even more attention to the clarity and the different clarity grades. It’s still true that the distinction between VS1 and VS2 stones is a bit murky even for large diamonds, but any small inclusion or blemish can be much more visible in a larger diamond than in a mid-sized or smaller stones.
The VS grades remain one of the most popular diamond clarity grades because they sit on the cusp between the Included grades and the more expensive yet unnecessarily perfect diamond grades.