With so many different cuts, colors, carats, and clarity grades, it is hard to know which diamond is best for you. Truth be told, the best diamond is the one that catches your eye and keeps your attention without destroying your life's savings. You want a diamond to take your breath away, because of its brilliance, not one that leaves you hyperventilating because of the price.
Believe it or not, there is a grade of diamond that will take your breath away without giving you a price tag-induced panic attack. The clarity of a diamond is crucial for overall brilliance, and no diamond is as brilliantly priced as a VVS diamond.
VVS stands for very, very small inclusion and is a clarity grade renowned for being one of the best prices to quality ratios in the game. Don't get us wrong, a VVS diamond is a little more spendy than its SI and VS diamond counterparts. But, as far as quality/price ratio goes, a VVS diamond is hard to beat.
To fully understand how special a VVS diamond is, we’ll look at the clarity grades in context with one another. There are six different categories of clarity grade, and they are as follows:
These diamonds have multiple visible flaws that can be seen with the naked eye. The subgrades of included diamonds are I1, I2, and I3, with I3 being the best grade of the three. Typically, diamonds with small inclusions are not sold by themselves but instead serve as small accent gems.
This grade of clarity is the "worst" grade of diamond that is also acceptable for a diamond-centric piece of jewelry. Items like an engagement ring or diamond earrings might use diamonds with small inclusions, but they are more commonly used in necklaces and bracelets. The flaws of a slightly included diamond can be seen with an unaided eye, but only if you look closely. The subgrades for SI diamonds are SI1 and SI2, with SI2 being the higher clarity grade.
Diamonds take a noticeable clarity jump at the VSI level. These diamonds stand out as extra brilliant, and often the difference between VS and SI is noticeable in things like brilliance and sparkle. VS diamonds are sub-categorized into VS1 diamond and VS2 diamond, and much like SI diamonds, VS2 is the higher clarity grade. VSI diamonds have flaws that are very hard to see with the naked eye and often require a gem scope.
In a very, very slightly included diamond, or a VVS diamond, inclusions are no longer visible with the naked eye and are only slightly visible under 10x magnification. Even trained gemologists have a hard time seeing the flaws in a VVS diamond, which is why many savvy buyers prefer VVS to the higher grade IF, or internally flawless. All VVS diamonds still have some kind of small inclusions, but the inclusions cannot be seen with an unaided eye, and often it does not affect the quality of sparkle whatsoever.
Once you get to the upper echelon of diamonds (VVS, IF, FL), the difference between the top three grades is like splitting hairs. While the details and characteristics that make these stones are very minor, the presence of any defect whatsoever can have devastating consequences to the diamond's grade. An internally flawless diamond may have scratches or blemishes on the surface, but even then, these sorts of defects would only be visible under magnification. An internally flawless diamond is as close to perfect as you would ever want a diamond to be, as the stone itself contains no inclusions whatsoever.
Unless you have some serious cash, a flawless diamond may not be the most practical use of your capital. Aside from being incredibly rare and hard to find, these stones carry an elite price tag. Because diamonds are created under immense pressure, inclusions and flaws are a natural result of the process. In some respects, a flawless diamond is by its very nature, unnatural. If you are looking for a flawless diamond, best of luck, but if you are looking for a diamond that appears perfect IF is the way to go.
Color is crucial to diamond brilliance, especially as it pertains to a low inclusion diamond like a VVS stone. Contrary to the descriptor, a diamond's color refers to a diamond's lack of color. In the world of gems and precious stones, it’s widely accepted that a diamond is at its most perfect when it lacks any color. This criterion is widely accepted because color interferes with the way light interacts with the stone, and the whole point of a diamond is for it to sparkle.
The more color a diamond has, the less traditional sparkle you’ll get. This has everything to do with the fact that a diamond is a prism that refracts light. As white light enters the stone, the diamond mirrors and refracts the light in the same way a piece of glass or a droplet of water would.
The white light then separates into its respective colors throughout the color spectrum and what comes out is a sparkly rainbow of refracted light. Your diamond is an incredible scientific phenomenon, and the more color there is in the diamond, the less color can escape when the light refracts.
While it may be counterintuitive, the higher the grade of clarity, the more important a lack of color becomes. As you ascend through the ranks of clarity, the price ascends, too. Color in a diamond tends to hide inclusions, which is great if you paid for an SI2 diamond or VS1 diamond. However, when you are paying top dollar for a VVS2 diamond, the whole point is to admire the complete and total clarity of the stone.
The less color a diamond has, the more light can refract through it, and the more sparkle a diamond will have. Furthermore, the more sparkle a diamond has, the more inclusions will become obvious to the naked eye. A diamond as special as a VVS2 diamond needs to be as colorless as possible for the greatest amount of brilliance.
Still, some people prefer colored diamonds, as there is more character in these kinds of stones. Yellow and brownstones, also called chocolate diamonds, are specifically harvested to sell as alternative stones to the more classic colorless group.
Usually, jewelers will tell you that if you prioritize one thing about your diamond, prioritize color. A smaller colorless diamond will shine brighter and appear more brilliant than a bigger diamond of a lower color grade.
One of the biggest concerns about diamonds is the quality to price ratio. Most jewelers are very open about how some grades of a diamond are simply a better value than their counterparts. For example, purchasing a diamond that’s one grade less ideal can save you a lot of money, especially if you're willing to do it in more than one category.
This is especially the case with the difference between VVS2 diamonds and IF1 diamonds. The difference between VVS2 and IF is completely indistinguishable to the human eye, but you pay far more for the IF1. More often than not, internally flawless stones of the same cut, color, and carat weight are indistinguishable from their VVS counterparts.
Here are some notable facts about the appearance of diamonds from certain distances:
1) All diamonds appear to be the same color from any distance greater than three feet. Unless the diamond is a very vibrant yellow or some kind of chocolate diamond, the difference in color between the highest D grade colorless diamonds and the lower grades of K and L (faint color) are negligible—unless you are up close and personal.
2) Clarity is even harder to notice from afar. The difference between clarity grades often requires magnification and can't be seen with the naked eye unless you’re specifically looking for flaws within the stone. There is so much light that’s refracted within a diamond that it’s almost impossible to distinguish between a blemish and a sparkle without the use of a gem scope.
Unless you are unabashedly going to brag about how your diamond is internally flawless, the jump in price isn't worth it. As we've established, the inclusions present in a VVS1 diamond and VVS2 diamond are so small that they can only be seen under 10x magnification. This means that, to the naked eye, a VVS2 and an IF diamond of the same carat, cut, and color will look identical—even up close.
As such, a VVS diamond is one of the best values in jewelry. The close relation to its more expensive counterpart, the IF, is not reflected in the discounted price between the two. VVS stones are valuable not just for their standalone worth, but also because of the value they offer in comparison to other stones.
Yes, a VVS clarity diamond will cost you more, because you will have to spend upon clarity and color. However, the brilliance of a VVS diamond is unparalleled, and as far as the price/quality ratio is concerned, you might even be tempted to call it a diamond in the rough.