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Are VS2 – SI1 diamonds always "eye clean"?


Nov 5

Are Your VS2-SI1 Diamonds Eye Clean?
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This is a continuation of the blog post, Brian Gavin Blue vs Hearts and Arrows. Within which Jason asked a series of questions, including whether all of our SI-1 and VS-2 clarity diamonds are eye-clean.

Whether or not a diamond is “eye clean” is somewhat objective given the individual nature of human vision. However, it will be helpful to better understand the general guidelines used to determine whether or not a diamond is eye-clean.

How diamonds are graded for clarity:

Let’s begin by shedding some light on the process of grading diamonds for clarity. The first thing to understand is that diamonds are graded for clarity under laboratory conditions. Wherein the intent is simply to identify the inclusions and determine the extent of the characteristics.

This means that a trained diamond grader evaluates the diamond using both their eyes and varying degrees of magnification. The industry standard for diamond clarity grading is 10x magnification. However, it is quite common for diamond graders to use higher degrees of magnification at the beginning of the analysis. This is especially true for higher clarity diamonds, such as those in the VVS-1 and VVS-2 spectrum.

Diamond clarity grading is done from the face-up position. This means that diamonds are evaluated from the top-down vantage point and not from the sides. The facet structure of a diamond is designed to reflect light out through the top, so this makes sense. The high volume of light return and sparkle factor of your Brian Gavin Signature diamond will make it more difficult to see inclusions with just your eyes.

The definition of “eye clean” diamond clarity:

As with most things in life, everything is a matter of perspective and subject to interpretation. This means that whether or not a diamond is “eye clean” is largely a matter of interpretation. With this in mind, it will be helpful to understand the industry's definition of eye-clean.

In the first place, any reference to diamond clarity is always assumed to be from the perspective of top-down because that is how diamonds are graded. This means that inclusions might be readily and immediately visible from a side profile, even in higher clarity diamonds.

Secondly, the process for determining whether a diamond is “eye clean” is to view the diamond from a distance of 9-12 inches. If the inclusions are not “readily and immediately visible” to a trained grader from that distance, then the diamond is deemed to be eye-clean.

Under those conditions, this 1.01 carat, F-color, SI-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature diamond is eye-clean. At the same time, the cluster of crystals, clouds, and needle inclusions are readily and immediately visible in the clarity photograph to the left.

In the first place, it’s important to realize that the diamond in this example has an average outside diameter of 6.42 mm, which is a little smaller than the diameter of the pink eraser on a standard #2 yellow pencil. The fact of the matter is that this clarity photograph shows the diamond at about 35x magnification. Needless to say, everything looks bigger than life under those conditions.

At the same time, it’s important to realize that the visibility of inclusions can vary depending on the viewing conditions. Slight differences in the lighting environment, or whether the diamond is wet or dry can have a major impact on our ability to see the inclusions within a diamond.

In addition, it’s important to account for differences in the individual vision of the person viewing the diamond. Of course, the inclusions might also be visible to some degree when the diamond is scrutinized at a closer distance, or if somebody has sharper vision.

With this in mind, it might be easier for some people to see the inclusions within SI-1 and lower clarity diamonds with just their eyes. However, other people might look at the same diamond and not be able to see the inclusions without magnification. If you want to play it safe, then we recommend buying a diamond which is VS-2 or higher in clarity.

Are VS-2 clarity diamonds eye clean?

The vast majority of VS-2 clarity diamonds are “eye clean” from a top down perspective. I think that I’ve seen four over the years that contained an inclusion or two that I was able to locate with just my eyes after very careful examination of the diamond.

As a matter of fact, it’s pretty rare to find a VS-2 clarity diamond that is not eye clean from a top down perspective. With that in mind, it’s a pretty safe bet that any VS-2 clarity diamond you select from Brian Gavin is going to be “eye clean” unless you have some kind of super-powered eagle vision.

At first glance, it’s clearly evident that the inclusions within this 1.051 carat, I-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature diamond are less apparent than they are in the SI-1 clarity diamond from above. Of course, this makes perfect sense because VS-2 represents a higher spectrum of clarity than the SI-1 clarity grade. With that in mind, the inclusions should be more difficult to locate.

Be that as it may, we’re happy to provide you with an in-depth analysis of the inclusions within any diamond from our inventory. We’ll be happy to look at the diamond under a variety of lighting scenarios and let you know the extent to which the inclusions are visible with or without magnification.

Are SI-1 and SI-2 clarity diamonds eye clean?

The clarity grade “SI” is an abbreviation for “Slightly Included” and is split into subcategories SI-1 and SI-2 on the GIA clarity grading system. Diamonds which are graded as being Slightly Included in clarity will contain inclusions that are readily and immediately visible when the diamond is examined using 10x and higher magnification. The inclusions may or may not be visible without magnification.

The inclusions within diamonds which are graded SI-1 in clarity will be immediately visible when the diamond is examined using 10x and higher magnification. However, the inclusions might not be visible to the unaided eye (without magnification). In addition, the inclusions might be visible sometimes if the diamond is scrutinized carefully. Especially if the inclusions are located first using magnification and then you look for them with the knowledge of where they are and what you are looking for.

At the same time, not all SI-1 clarity diamonds will contain inclusions that are visible to the unaided eye. The reality is that deciding whether an SI-1 clarity diamond is eye clean must be determined on a stone-by-stone basis and depends on the vision of the observer.

This is why we disagree with general statements made by some vendors who claim that all their SI-1 clarity diamonds are eye clean. If you would like to know whether a specific SI-1 clarity diamond in our inventory is “eye clean” simply ask us using the contact form or give us a call.

In a more specific instance, we might say something like: “We’re not able to see the inclusions within this SI-1 clarity diamond with just our eyes from a normal viewing distance of 9-12 inches. However, if we really scrutinize the diamond and tilt it back at 30 degrees, we’re just barely able to make out the inclusions. They’re kind of light grey and ghostlike, it’s not likely that you’re going to be able to see them with just your eyes in the face-up position.”

By the way, practically all SI-2 clarity diamonds contain inclusions that can be seen without magnification if you look closely enough. However, this does not mean that the inclusions are always going to be glaringly obvious. As a matter of fact, inclusions can be somewhat difficult to see within ideal cut diamonds that tend to be brighter and exhibit more sparkle than non-ideal cut diamonds.

Understanding the SI-1 and VS-2 clarity range:

What most people don’t seem to understand is that every clarity grade represents a spectrum of possibilities. In other words, there is a range that encompasses the concentration of inclusions that comprise each clarity grade.

Without a doubt, the SI-1 clarity grade represents the broadest range of possibility of all the diamond clarity grades. Keep in mind that you will see SI-1 clarity diamonds that are on the lower end of the spectrum towards SI-2. At the same time, you will see SI-1 clarity diamonds that are practically VS-2 in clarity. In addition to seeing SI-1 clarity diamonds that might be described as a textbook example of the clarity grade.

Consequently, the nature of the SI-1 (or the inclusions responsible for the clarity grade) will be taken into account when pricing the diamond. Obviously, an SI-1 clarity diamond which is “sitting on the fence” between SI-1 and SI-2 will be less expensive than an SI-1 that is almost VS-2 in clarity. This is something that most people fail to account for when comparing diamond prices. Although this may be true, it does not negate the fact that the nature of the inclusions within a diamond are always going to factor into the price.

There is perfection in imperfection:

As a matter of fact, not everybody wants their diamond to be eye clean. After all, there is perfection to be found in the imperfections or natural inclusions within a diamond. From one perspective, the clarity characteristics represent the unique nature of each diamond crystal.

It is said that no two diamonds contain the same inclusions, in the same location, to the same extent, and as such, each diamond is as unique as a snowflake. Quite a few of our clients have expressed a desire to purchase SI-2 clarity diamonds, either because they don’t mind a few inclusions which might be visible with close scrutiny, or because they actually like being able to see the inclusions within their diamond.

Other people prefer not to see any inclusions within a diamond when they look at it, they simply want to see the brightness and sparkle created by the facets and proportions. Regardless of what your preference is with regards to the visibility of the inclusions within the diamond which you purchase from Brian Gavin, just know that we’re happy to help you select the perfect diamond for your preferences.

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