The VS Clarity Grades (VS1 & VS2)
While VVS is the abbreviation for “very very small” imperfections it doesn’t take much brain power to realize that VS is simply the abbreviation for “very small” imperfections. J In VVS1 those imperfections are considered “extremely difficult” for a skilled grader to locate under 10x, in VVS2 “very difficult” and as we hit the VS1 grade the imperfections as defined by GIA are now considered to just be “difficult” with them becoming “somewhat easy” in the VS2 grade.
The notable change in definition from “difficult” (VS1) to “somewhat easy” (VS2) also represents what is generally a more notable difference in what we see when comparing the average VS1 clarities to VS2 clarities under the gemological microscope. In the VS1 clarity, the inclusions are no longer the general pin points and minuscule feathers you may find in a VVS clarity but are now getting to crystals, feathers and other characteristics that are no longer the size of a “dot”.
Here are good examples of what you can expect to see under magnification in VS1 clarities.
This first diamond has a crystal, cloud and a needle inclusion under the table facet making it the VS1 grade. Under a standard 10x loupe this would be dificult to find. The darkfield illumination of the microscope "lights up" those "very small" characteristics making it easier for us to locate and also for you to see under the microscope.
To give you an idea of how this looks under a 10x loupe and not a microscope, here''s a picture under a loupe. Note how insignificant it really looks now!
Here is a picture more realistic to size. This is good for you to see because people tend to get spoiled by our photomicrographs thinking this is what they are going to see with their eyes when in fact you''ll never view the diamond in this lighting nor at this magnification in real life.
This VS1 has a white crystal under the table with an even smaller pin point to the left of it.
In this VS1 the primary graders are in the 7:00 position.
Next we hit the realm of VS2 where the introduction of the word “easy” is used in the description with VS2 imperfections being “somewhat easy” for a skilled grader to locate under 10x magnification and it is also at this clarity grade that things become a tad more notable to see under the microscope and even more variety characteristics within its grade. The VS2 grade is generally the lowest grade I recommend to a client who is looking for a particularly "clean" diamond under magnification. We do happen to give our clients 10x loupes with their purchase so if you are looking for "clean under a loupe", this is the last grade we''d recommend to you. Note however I didn't say it's the last grade I'd recommend *period*, just the last grade I''d recommend if you are very particular under a microscope or 10x loupe. Bear in mind the next grades, SI1 and SI2, while easier to see the inclusions than in VS can still be "eye clean" for those of you who are OK withe clarity as long as it isn't "eye visible". Here is an interesting first example to learn from in the VS2 grade.
Note the image looks pretty clean overall. The imperfection that perhaps grabs your eye first is that little white cloud in the center a little towards the right.
Here is the actual GIA plot of this diamond. Looks pretty messy doesn't it? A great example why I dislike plots. It can make a diamond look messy when in fact it really isn't as much as you might think.
Here are the inclusions pointed out for you. Note how faint, white and virtually transparent the majority of them are.
Truth of the matter, VS2 is still a pretty respectable looking diamond under the microscope and the imperfections are still considered "minor". Here are some other examples.
Note the feather at 12:00, the cloud under the table and the needle inclusions at 9:00. This is what the GIA and AGS consider "somewhat easy" for a skilled grader to locate under 10x.
Here is a VS2 under the microscope with a number of tiny embedded crystals.
And lastly an August Vintage European Cut with a very small feather and crystal comprising the VS2 grade.
In closing on the VS grades I''d just point out that if a person wants a diamond that will be particularly clean under a loupe with only very small or really minor imperfections visible under magnification I would recommend nothing lower than VS2.
Click here to learn more about the SI1 and SI2 grades.