When delving into the world of diamonds, clarity grades are often a focal point for buyers, and among them, the VS1 grade tends to hold a special place.
It’s not alone though, its close cousins, VS2 and SI1, are also frequently sought after.
The charm of these three particular clarity grades lies in the outstanding balance they strike between cost and quality.
They represent a sweet spot where you aren’t over-spending for features unnoticed to the naked eye, nor are you compromising too much on quality to save a buck.
To illustrate, let’s consider a 1-carat diamond showcased on James Allen, characterized by an excellent cut, a G color grade, and of course, a VS1 clarity grade:
Now, this image has been magnified 20 times, revealing minor inclusions or blemishes that, in reality, are virtually invisible even under a 10x magnification for those without a trained eye.
In this article, we’ll dissect the allure of the VS1 clarity grade, compare it with its neighboring grades, explore the price bracket it falls into, and offer our final thoughts on whether it’s a worthy investment.
What are VS1 Diamonds?
VS1 diamonds occupy a unique niche in the spectrum of diamond clarity.
They are renowned for their superior quality and nearly impeccable clarity. If you’re venturing into the sparkling realm of diamonds for the first time, you’ll come across the term ‘VS,’ which stands for ‘Very Slightly Included.’
This terminology is a nod to the inclusions, or the internal flaws within a diamond. In the case of VS1 diamonds, such inclusions are minimal.
Why knowing inclusions important?
The birth of a diamond is a dramatic affair, taking place deep within the Earth’s crust amidst extreme temperatures and pressures.
This long process often leaves behind certain identifiers, which can be internal -known as inclusions- or external (blemishes).
It’s natural for a diamond to have an inclusion or blemish, as they are the relics of its formation process.
However, the devil is in the details—the type, size, and location of an inclusion can significantly affect a diamond’s value and allure.
The VS1 grade is considered a high level of clarity, implying a diamond that’s relatively clean from imperfections—here, ‘cleanliness’ alludes to the scarcity of internal inclusions or flaws.
With VS1 diamonds, there might be very slight inclusions, and needs a trained grader to see them under 10x magnification. Yet, these inclusions are often so tiny and invisible to the naked eye, and even most jewelers without the aid of magnification can’t see them.
The size & location of these inclusions makes it a daunting task to differentiate a VS1 diamond from those of higher clarity grades without resorting to professional equipment and the trained eye of an experienced grader.
It’s this fine balance of quality and clarity that renders VS1 diamonds a favored choice among discerning buyers.
Where Do VS1 Diamonds Rank on the Clarity Grading Scale?
Diamond clarity is organized into distinct categories, each designated by a specific grade or two.
These grades are ascribed based on the nature, size, and location of a diamond’s intrinsic characteristics, often referred to as ‘birthmarks’.
On the clarity grading scale established by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), VS1 diamonds hold a prestigious position, surpassed only by Flawless (FL), Internally Flawless (IF), and Very, Very Slightly Included 1 & 2 (VVS1 and VVS2) diamonds.
The ‘1’ in VS1 indicates a nuance in clarity — these diamonds harbor slightly less noticeable inclusions than their VS2 counterparts when examined under 10x magnification, although such inclusions are imperceptible to the naked eye.
How popular are VS1 Diamonds?
They have a touch of rarity, with merely around 5% of all diamonds globally attaining this grade.
While exploring the vast inventory of a prominent diamond retailer like James Allen, with a treasure trove of over 300,000 diamonds, we found around 24,000 VS1 diamonds.
We ran the same exact search on Blue Nile, and we found 18,900 out of more than 250,000 diamonds.
This goes on to mirror the esteem and desirability associated with VS1 diamonds amidst a sea of options.
Yes these are not 5%, but here we’re browsing a selected portion (based on demand mainly) of diamond global market.
VS1 Clarity vs Adjacent Grades (VVS2 & VS2)
VS1 diamonds find their niche between VVS2 (Very, Very Slightly Included 2) and VS2 (Very Slightly Included 2) on the clarity grading scale.
Ascending one grade above VS1, VVS2 diamonds exhibit even fewer and smaller inclusions.
However, this superior clarity often carries a heavy price tag. Yet, the visual distinction between a VVS2 and a VS1 diamond is virtually unnoticeable without the magnification.
On the other side, going to VS2 diamonds reveals more inclusions compared to VS1.
Although these inclusions are typically only visible under 10x magnification, their placement might -rarely- affect on the diamond’s brilliance, that’s why VS2 diamonds tend to be more budget-friendly compared to VS1.
The core distinctions among these grades are nestled in the number, size, and positioning of their inclusions, which, in turn, play a significant role in determining their price points.
Despite these differences, diamonds within all three of these grades exhibit exceptional clarity, presenting a flawless facade to the naked eye, which is the most important thing about clarity after all, getting a diamond that is eye clean.
Visual Comparison between VS1 and Adjacent Grades
For a more vivid understanding, let’s peruse three images of very similar diamonds, with the sole variance being their clarity grade:
All these diamonds can be inspected using the super 40x magnification feature provided by James Allen.
Did the price disparity catch your eye? Let’s delve into this in greater detail.
VS1 Clarity Diamonds Prices
The three diamonds we examined earlier are situated on the lower price spectrum of their respective grades.
While not representing the average nor the pinnacle price points of these grades, but we saw a notable difference of around $800 between the VVS2, VS1, and VS2 grades.
VS1 diamonds, although stellar, don’t belong to the high-end echelon of clarity grades as they rank 5th in the clarity hierarchy and are grouped in the 3rd clarity tier.
Nonetheless, they stand tall when compared to the recommended clarity grade for obtaining an eye-clean diamond, specially when we’re discussing diamonds that are around 1.5 carat or less.
To have a better idea about VS1 diamonds prices, we’ll be harnessing the extensive inventories of James Allen and Blue Nile for our exploration, given their combined massive collection of over 500k diamonds.
Our search will be tailored to embody common attributes:
Polish & Symmetry: Excellent
We ran a filtered search on both sites for VS1 clarity grade.
Upon initiating a filtered search for VS1 clarity grade on both platforms, James Allen presented us with 150 diamonds with price tags oscillating between $5700 and $9100, when excluding edge cases.
But do these price points justify their worth, especially when juxtaposed against the average prices of 1-carat diamonds?
Let’s unravel this further.
Are VS1 Diamonds Worth it?
It’s essential to delineate between whether diamonds are worth their price tag and if they are overpriced.
In the case of VS1 diamonds, labeling them as overpriced may not be accurate, given the balance they strike between aesthetic appeal and cost, especially when their prices are compared with higher-grade diamonds like Internally Flawless (IF) diamonds.
So, are they worth it? The response hinges on what holds significance when selecting a diamond.
We’ve discerned that opting for an SI1 diamond often secures an eye-clean gem, particularly for diamonds under 1 carat.
Transitioning to a VS1 might not be the most cost-effective choice if you’re looking for the best value for your investment.
Even for more substantial carats like 1.5 or even 2, a VS2 diamond can -in most cases- assure absolute satisfaction.
Both SI1 and VS2 grades predominantly yield eye-clean diamonds for the carat sizes mentioned, so why someone needs to pay an additional $1,500 (or more) for a jump to VS1 instead of settling with an SI1 or VS2?
If you possess a more flexible budget, channeling your funds towards securing the finest diamond cut would be prudent, as the cut sits on the top of the 4Cs in order of importance.
Where to Buy Very Slightly Included 1 Clarity Diamonds?
VS1 diamonds are widely available; you’re likely to find them in any physical store you visit, and the selection is even more expansive in online stores.
If you’ve set your sights on getting a VS1 diamond, here are some recommended retailers known for their exceptional imaging technology, allowing you to inspect the minutest details of each diamond:
1. James Allen
James Allen emerges as a frontrunner in the online diamond retail space, with cutting-edge imaging technology and a vast array of hundreds of thousands of diamonds, James Allen is an ideal choice.
As of the time of writing, out of 300,000 round diamonds on James Allen, 24,000 boast a VS1 clarity grade as seen in this search.
Why do we vouch for James Allen?
- Superior imaging technology
- An expansive collection featuring hundreds of thousands of diamonds
- Very competitive prices that are at least 20% cheaper local stores.
- A unique collection of engagement ring designs
- Stellar customer support
And much more that you can learn in our dedicated article where we reviewed everything about James Allen.
2. Blue Nile
Being one of the largest online retailers, Blue Nile houses hundreds of thousands of diamonds and enjoys a solid reputation online.
Their catalog showcases 250,000 diamonds, 19,000 of which are VS1 clarity grade.
Blue Nile, with its user-friendly platform, enables you to browse, inspect, and customize your ring akin to an in-store experience, or perhaps even better. Dive deeper into what Blue Nile offers in our comprehensive review article.
Why do we vouch for Blue Nile?
- Expansive diamond selection
- User-friendly online interface
- Informative educational resources
- Competitive pricing model
- Reputable, trusted brand
While not as vast as James Allen or Blue Nile, Whiteflash zeroes in on offering premium and high-quality diamonds. They still boast a decent selection of VS1 clarity grade diamonds.
Whiteflash utilizes advanced imaging technology, which, although not as premier as James Allen’s, surpasses much of what’s available in the market.
Currently, they offer 230+ VS1 clarity grade diamonds in their in-house inventory and around 2,500 diamonds from their partnered collections.
- Quality-focused diamond inventory
- Advanced imaging technology
- Comprehensive educational resources
- Bespoke customization options
- Exceptional customer service
4. Brilliant Earth
Brilliant Earth has carved a niche for itself, especially in the domain of ethically sourced and lab-grown diamonds, alongside a hefty inventory of natural diamonds.
As of now, Brilliant Earth presents a collection of 7,500 VS1 clarity grade diamonds, making it a worthwhile stop on your diamond shopping expedition.
Why Brilliant Earth?
- Extensive diamond collection
- Ethically sourced diamonds
- Custom jewelry design
- User-friendly website interface
- Informative educational guides
Clarity Grades Quick Review
The Gemological Institute of America – GIA, the best diamond grading lab globally, has delineated a detailed grading framework to evaluate diamond clarity, spanning six categories from Flawless to Included.
Here’s a quick rundown of these six clarity classifications:
- Flawless (FL):
- Zero visible inclusions or blemishes, even under 10x magnification. An exceedingly rare find.
- Internally Flawless (IF):
- Free from visible inclusions, though minor surface blemishes may appear under 10x magnification by high skilled graders.
- Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2):
- Near-imperceptible inclusions under 10x magnification. VVS diamonds are highly cherished for their superior clarity, with VVS1 standing slightly above VVS2 in clarity.
- Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2):
- Inclusions visible under 10x magnification, albeit minor, with no discernible impact on the diamond’s overall allure. VS diamonds are revered for their high clarity, their inclusions typically invisible to the unaided & untrained eye.
- Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2):
- Noticeable inclusions under 10x magnification, possibly affecting brilliance or transparency. SI diamonds offer a more affordable option without compromising much on aesthetic appeal. They mostly appear clean to the naked eye.
- Included (I1, I2, and I3):
- Prominent inclusions under 10x magnification, potentially affecting durability, transparency, and brilliance. Though the most budget-friendly, the inclusions in I-grade diamonds may be visible to the naked eye, somewhat affecting the diamond’s overall aesthetics.
Summary on VS1 Clarity: Go or No Go?
Securing an eye-clean diamond usually entails not going beyond a VS2 clarity grade.
While VS1 diamonds showcase minor inclusions, mostly invisible to the unaided eye, yet steering towards a lower clarity grade (VS2 or SI1) can save you more money, while you guarantee an eye-clean aesthetic.
Opting for diamonds graded VS2 or SI1 could present a more budget-friendly alternative without forgoing visual charm.
There is no or yes for a whole clarity grade, whether SI1 or VS1, because it’s crucial to evaluate the particular diamond and its unique traits to ascertain the clarity grade that aligns with your tastes and budget, all while preserving an eye-clean look.
Still not sure where to buy your diamond?
We always recommend shopping diamonds online and created a Full guide to shop diamonds like a Pro.
Among online retailers, here are our favorite stores
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