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VVS vs. SI Diamonds (4 Differences to Know)

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VVS vs SI Diamonds

The clarity of a diamond refers to the presence and impact of inclusions located in its facets.

Clarity is graded on a scale from flawless (FL) to I (included), with several categories in between.

Two of these are VVS (very, very slightly included) and SI (slightly included).

The main difference between VVS and SI diamonds is VVS diamonds often have a fewer number of inclusions, and those blemishes are less impactful than ones found in SI diamonds. This results in VVS diamonds appearing cleaner and selling for a higher price than ones graded SI.

We’ll compare VVS versus SI diamonds, including an overview of each, the specific grades within those designations, and how they’re different from each other.

What is a VVS Diamond?

VVS diamonds are ones with clarity grades below internally flawless but above those deemed very slightly included (VS). It’s a scale used by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and many other organizations that assess the quality of diamonds.

This round-cut diamond earned a VVS grade.

VVS Round Cut Diamond

Check out the high-resolution image, and rotate it to learn how it appears at every angle.

Gemologists often have to scan the diamond multiple times before identifying small pinpoints, a transparent feather, or traces of a cloud.

Within the VVS designation, there are two levels: VVS1 and VVS2.

The difference is a subjective judgment by the gemologist that the VVS1 diamond’s inclusions are less impactful than ones in the VVS2 gem. This impact refers to how the imperfections affect its appearance, durability, and brilliance.

But the distinction is minor. 

For example, check out this VVS1 and this VVS2 diamond. Even with quality images, they’re difficult to tell distinguish because the inclusions are so minimal.

In that case, balance its other qualities with its price to learn which is the right choice for your ring.

What is an SI Diamond?

SI diamonds have inclusions that are easily visible with 10x magnification and often noticeable to the naked eye. 

Check out the high resolution image below on the vendor’s site.

SI Diamond

When you rotate it 360 degrees, many of the inclusions are obvious, though you still need to review the GIA grading report to learn specifics.

The SI clarity grade sits below VS and above I and features two subcategories: SI1 and SI2.

In the same way there’s a minimal difference between VVS1 and VVS2 diamonds, there’s also not a wide gap in clarity between SI1 and SI2.

To provide an illustration, the image of the SI2 diamond below appears cleaner than the one that earned an SI1 grade.

SI2 and SI1 Clarity Diamonds

But the technical distinction is SI2 diamonds have more impactful inclusions, so it’s considered less valuable than one that earned a higher clarity grade.

What matters most is how they appear to the naked eye.

An SI grade doesn’t indicate the specific type of clarity characteristic found in the diamond, but examples include:

  • Etch channels
  • Needles
  • Indented naturals
  • Cavities

In most cases, you’ll find a combination in various sizes and degrees of impact. They’ll be found in almost every area of the diamond, such as its table, crown, and pavilion.

How are VVS and SI Diamonds Different?

1. VVS Diamonds Have Fewer Inclusions

In almost every case, VVS diamonds have fewer inclusions than ones graded SI. This is a reference to both the number and size of blemishes, as well as how many different types are present.

Some VVS diamonds have only one type of inclusion.

For example, this 0.90-carat round cut earned a VVS1 grade from the GIA. 

On the report, you can view the inclusion plot and see the grader noted only one type of inclusion: a feather.

GIA Report of VVS1 Diamond

The feather is so small that it’s barely visible on the plot.

On the other hand, SI diamonds are often full of multiple kinds of inclusions. It’s rare to find one with a single flaw, unless it’s significant enough to warrant an SI grade by itself.

As an example, this one-carat diamond earned an SI2 clarity grade. Using the company’s high-resolution image technology, we can see crystals, needles, and feathers.

Some are dark, and others are white. But we’re confident all would be noticeable even without magnification.

The grading report for this diamond, pictured below, confirms their presence.

Grading Report for SI2 Diamond

There’s a large cloud that spans the table and a few crystals beside it. The needles are primarily on the pavilion view.

The higher number of inclusions in SI diamonds also has the potential to affect its fire and brilliance.

A diamond’s cut quality is what most impacts light return, but light hitting an imperfection can distort the way it’s sent back to the viewer.

This means VVS diamonds are often more brilliant than ones graded SI when all other traits are equal.

2. SI Diamonds Don’t Always Appear Eye-Clean

I recommend focusing on how the diamond appears to the naked eye instead of whether inclusions are visible with magnification. 

A diamond that looks flawless to the naked eye is called eye-clean. It’s one of the most effective ways to save money because ones with lower clarity grades sell for less.

SI diamonds aren’t always eye-clean, especially if it’s over one carat. As you move to a higher carat weight, those inclusions are more likely to show in its large facets compared to smaller ones.

SI1 diamonds are more likely to be eye-clean than ones graded SI2, but you should always view it in high-resolution or in-person before buying so you know what to expect.

For example, this lab-created diamond earned an SI2 clarity grade from the International Gemological Institute.

Lab-Created SI2 Diamond

Its black spots are easily visible with magnification, so we’d expect them to appear to the naked eye as well.

But with an SI1 clarity grade, its inclusions aren’t as visible with magnification. 

It often appears eye-clean.

VVS diamonds are almost always flawless to viewers. Unless it’s a dark inclusion on a massive diamond, it’s nearly impossible to see these blemishes. 

That’s why you’ll often see SI, VS, and VVS diamonds used as the center stone in an engagement ring. 

The goal for many buyers is to have their engagement ring look clean, and many achieve that without the flawless or internally flawless clarity grade.

To illustrate, here’s an image of an eye-clean engagement ring diamond.

VVS2 Diamond Engagement Ring

If you want certainty it’s eye-clean, VVS diamonds are a fitting choice. Just know you don’t need to go that high on the clarity scale to find one.

Whether it’s VS1, VVS1, or a grade in between, there are plenty of options.

3. VVS Diamonds are More Expensive

Buyers are willing to pay a higher price for diamonds with fewer inclusions, so VVS diamonds are more expensive than ones graded SI.

The best way to understand prices for VVS versus SI diamonds is to assess prices from a diamond retailer, where the diamonds have all the same qualities except for clarity.

And to further help the comparison, we’ll place VVS1 and SI1 diamonds next to each other, followed by VVS2 and SI2.

We examined VVS1, VVS2, SI1, and SI2 diamond prices from James Allen with the following traits:

  • Carat weight: 0.90
  • Cut: Very good
  • Color: G

SI2 diamonds had an average price of $3,691, with a range of $2,780-$4,130.

Prices of James Allen Diamonds

For VVS2 diamonds, the average price is $6,548, and the range is $5,440-$7,370.

That’s a 77 percent premium for a VVS2 diamond versus one graded SI2.

The average price of their SI1 diamonds with those qualities is $4,680, while their VVS1 diamonds sell for an average of $7,092. 

That’s a 51 percent increase for the diamonds with fewer inclusions.

These examples demonstrate how you’ll pay far less for a diamond with more impactful flaws. 

In general, you can expect the price to increase 10%-20% for every step up the GIA clarity scale. 

GIA Clarity Scale

The jump is toward the higher end of that range when it’s between two categories, such as from I to SI or VS to VVS.

You can put that savings toward a higher carat weight, a setting, or improved cut or color grades.

4. SI Diamonds are Less Durable

SI diamonds have a higher likelihood of chipping or fracturing because inclusions affect durability. 

They represent weak points on a diamond where a hit, drop, or too much pressure from the setting has the potential to break it.

These chips are more likely to occur in places with large inclusions like feathers or cavities and when it’s located in a position that’s already susceptible, like an extremely thin girdle or the pointed corners of princess and baguette cuts.

For example, notice the four sharp corners on the princess cut below.

Princess Cut with Sharp Corners

These areas are less durable than the rounded edges found on round-cut diamonds.

The way to minimize the chance of durability issues in SI diamonds is to choose one where the inclusions are small and in locations where the diamond is structurally sound. 

Flaws like twinning wisps, pinpoints, and black spots don’t often cause these problems, so you could also opt toward gems that feature these inclusions.

Another tip is to protect included areas with a strong setting. Prongs are the traditional style and sufficient in almost every case, but bezel settings offer the most security.

Notice how the metal surrounds the whole diamond on this engagement ring.

Diamond Ring with Bezel Setting

If you’ve chosen a prong setting for your SI diamond, avoid a prong placing too much pressure directly on an inclusion. Although it will hide the flaw from view, that area may be too weak to withstand the additional weight.

There are rarely durability issues caused by imperfections in VVS diamonds. The inclusions are miniscule and have little impact on its structure.

While you should still protect it with a quality setting, any chips it experiences likely aren’t the result of its inclusions.

How to Decide Between VVS and SI Diamonds

VVS and SI Diamond Infographic

Comparing VVS versus SI diamonds involves understanding clarity grades and how inclusions affect a diamond’s overall performance. Both can work as engagement ring diamonds, but here are some guidelines to help you choose.

Opt for a VVS diamond if:

  • You’re willing to pay a premium for a diamond where inclusions are barely noticeable with 10x magnification
  • You’re choosing a large diamond where even small inclusions could be visible within its facets
  • You want to avoid any chance of durability issues caused by heavy inclusions in vulnerable positions

Consider an SI diamond if:

  • You view it in-person or through high-resolution images
  • Three to five different types of flaws don’t concern you
  • You plan to put the savings into other traits or an improved setting

Explore a variety diamonds at online and traditional retailers. 

By pairing VVS and SI diamonds with multiple types of settings, you’ll create the perfect ring for you.

Devon Tyler

Devon Tyler

Devon Tyler is the founder of TeachJewelry.com.

He earned an Applied Jewelry Professional Diploma from the Gemological Institute of America and now brings you essential information about diamonds, settings, and more.

Devon has consulted with leading jewelry brands, and his work has been cited in Diamond Nexus and other industry publications.

He's also a member of the International Gem Society.

Devon enjoys discussing jewelry with readers, so contact him with any questions at tyler.devon@teachjewelry.com.

Learn More About Devon