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VVS1 vs. IF Diamonds: How to Decide

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VVS1 vs IF Diamonds

The clarity of diamond impacts its appearance, brilliance, and durability. It’s an important consideration in your selection, and you’re likely using the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) clarity scale as a guide.

The scale designates a diamond’s clarity from flawless to heavily included, and two grades in between those ends of the spectrum are VVS1 (very, very slightly included), and IF (internally flawless). 

Let’s compare VVS1 versus IF diamonds, including an overview of each, three ways they’re different, similarities between the two, and how to decide which is right for you.

What is a VVS1 Diamond?

A VVS1 diamond has inclusions visible at 10x magnification, but they have minimal impact on the diamond’s performance and quality. Examples of the inclusions found in a VVS1 diamond include:

1.00 Carat VVS1 Clarity Diamond

These same inclusions can be found in diamonds that earn a lower clarity grade, but in a VVS1 diamond, they’re smaller, more transparent, and in positions that don’t cause structural issues. 

The reason diamonds with similar types of inclusions earn lower grades is because they affect the diamond’s visible appearance and light performance.

On the clarity scale, these diamonds are one position above VVS2. Compared to VVS1 diamonds, VVS2 has inclusions that are slightly larger or more impactful, but to the naked eye, it’s almost impossible to tell the difference.

VVS1 diamonds are eye-clean. Its inclusions can only be seen with a jeweler’s loupe under magnification. 

This makes them a valuable find because you can avoid the premiums charged for diamonds of a higher clarity while still having one that appears flawless.

What is an IF Diamond?

IF diamonds have no internal inclusions visible at 10x magnification, but it will have blemishes on its surface. These blemishes are often minimal and invisible to the naked eye.

Internally Flawless Diamond

IF diamonds are one step below flawless (FL) on the GIA clarity scale and one above VVS1. 

The difference between IF and FL diamonds is the latter has no inclusions on the inside or surface visible at 10x.

The types of inclusions noted on an IF diamond include:

  • Polish marks
  • Extra facets
  • Surface graining

Each of these inclusions affects a diamond in a different way. For example, extra facets mean it lacks symmetry. 

This can diminish its brilliance because light can’t enter and exit the diamond’s facets properly. Surface graining appears as transparent or colored lines and also prevents optimal light performance.

Though there are inclusions present on the surface, IF diamonds are eye-clean and the impact of the inclusions often isn’t noticeable. 

Without magnification, most buyers couldn’t tell the difference between VVS1 and IF diamonds.

How are VVS1 and IF Diamonds Different?

Even though the differences aren’t noticeable to the naked eye, there are important distinctions between VVS1 and IF diamonds. Let’s explore each of these in detail to help you make the right decision.

IF Diamonds Have No Internal Inclusions

Inclusions refer to flaws on the inside or outside of a diamond.

IF Diamond

There are more types of inclusions found on the inside, and they’re more impactful. 

With an IF diamond, it’s free from internal inclusions when viewed with magnification.

That doesn’t mean there are no inclusions on the inside. It’s possible small pinpoints or needle inclusions could be found at 20x, 40x, or 60x magnification, but the GIA’s scale only takes into account 10x magnification. 

In fact, most gemologists agree no diamond is truly flawless on the inside.

Pinpoint

The most valuable ones have small inclusions that don’t impact the diamond in any way, so they earn the top grades of FL and IF.

VVS1 diamonds can have internal and external inclusions. 

Even though the inclusions are present, gemologists have determined based on their size, type, and location that they’ll have minimal impact on its quality. 

Whether it’s a transparent feather, a few pinpoints grouped together, or a white twinning wisp, you ignore these imperfections if it’s given a VVS1 grade.

IF Diamonds are More Rare Than VVS1

It’s rare for a diamond to develop without any inclusions on the inside. Diamonds are formed under such intense heat and pressure that none come out of the ground unscathed. 

IF Princess Cut

This results in less than a half percent of diamonds on the market selling as internally flawless.

VVS1 diamonds represent between three and five percent of diamonds sold. If you’re searching at any of the popular jewelry retailers, you’ll likely find far more options for VVS1 diamonds versus IF.

For example, James Allen is a popular online diamond retailer. They have 6,000 round IF diamonds available across all color, carat weights, and cuts. There are close to 12,000 round VVS1 diamonds to choose from.

Blue Nile, another online retailer, offers 10,000 options for round IF flawless diamonds and 26,000 round diamonds with a VVS1 clarity grade. At Brilliance, the IF category has 12,500 to select from, and that number increases to 27,000 for VVS1.

If you want the most number of options, explore the wide range available with a VVS1 clarity grade. You can modify the cut, carat, and color to find the right combination for you.

VVS1 Diamonds Sell for a Lower Price

For every step up the GIA clarity scale, the price of a diamond increases. This is also true of other criteria such as color, cut, and carat. 

The key to the right purchase is understanding the marginal price differences between VVS1 and IF diamonds and deciding if the benefits are worth the extra cost.

The best way to understand price differences because of clarity is to compare diamonds that have all the same qualities, except one is IF and the other is VVS1. For example, let’s compare the prices of diamonds with the following characteristics:

  • Carat weight: 1.00
  • Cut: Very good
  • Color: G

At James Allen, the average price of a round IF diamond with these qualities is $7,188, with a range of $6,340-$8,140.

Price of IF Diamonds

At Blue Nile, the average price is $7,468, and the range is $6,802-$8,698.

For a diamond with those qualities and a VVS1 clarity grade, the average price at James Allen is $6,765, with the lowest price at $5,970 and the highest at $7,840.

Blue Nile sells these VVS1 diamonds for an average of $7,090 and a range of $6,373-$8,370.

This demonstrates how you can expect to pay a 5-7 percent premium for an IF versus VVS1 diamond. 

This range can be the difference in hundreds of dollars for a one-carat diamond or more than $1,000 as the carat weight increases.

You’ll have to decide if the benefits of an IF diamond versus a VVS1 diamond are worth the price increase. 

You might choose to take the money you’d save on a VVS1 diamond and put it toward a higher carat weight or color grade.

Do They Have Any Similarities?

There are three similarities between IF and VVS1 diamonds.

The first is they’re both eye-clean, like VVS1 diamond ring.

VVS1 Diamond Ring

Eye-cleanliness is a coveted trait in diamonds because most buyers are only concerned about its appearance to the naked eye. 

They don’t want to look down at their diamond ring and see dark spots or white lines spreading throughout it.

With IF and VVS1 diamonds, this isn’t a problem. No matter the type of inclusions, they can only be seen with magnification and will look identical to anyone viewing them side by side.

Both diamonds could also have surface graining, minor polish marks, and additional facets. 

The flawless designation for IF diamonds doesn’t refer to its surface, so the same inclusions found on a VVS1 diamond’s surface are liable to appear on an IF diamond.

Surface Graining

In both cases, the blemishes have minimal impact on the diamond and often can’t be seen without magnification.

The final similarity between the two is they both hide color. 

Diamonds with a color grade of I and below often aren’t colorless to the naked eye. 

A lack of inclusions results in better light performance and brilliance, and these factors hide some yellow or brown tints

Is a VVS1 or IF Diamond Right For You?

If you’re deciding between a VVS1 or IF diamond, here are a few guidelines to help.

You should choose a VVS1 diamond if:

  • You want a high-quality diamond without the premium price of IF
  • You’re buying a large diamond and want to ensure inclusions aren’t visible
  • You want a higher number of options to choose from compared to IF

You should choose an IF diamond if:

  • It’s important to you there are no inclusions on the inside
  • You’re willing to pay the premium price these diamonds warrant
  • You can accept minor surface blemishes

VVS1 and IF diamonds are considered high quality, which is why the vast majority of diamonds sold have lower clarity grades. 

They’re both rare finds, so retailers charge top dollar for the lack of imperfections.

If your only concern in regard to clarity is inclusions aren’t visible to the naked eye, you don’t need to choose an IF or VVS1 clarity. You can instead opt for an SI1 clarity in most cases.

But if you want the pride of knowing your diamond has better clarity than more than 90 percent of others on the market, an IF or VVS1 diamond can be the right choice for you.fff

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

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