VVS stands for ‘Very Very Slightly included’. This grade comes above VS (Very Slightly Included) and falls below the grades FL (Flawless) and IF (Internally Flawless), with Flawless being the highest possible grade. What differs between the grades is clarity, and, perhaps more importantly, price. VVS diamonds are a popular choice for many rings, particularly engagement rings. Understanding how the GIA determines clarity grades will help you understand what VVS diamonds are and the benefits of choosing them.
How does the GIA determine clarity grades for diamonds?
The FIA uses 10x magnification in order to determine the clarity of a diamond, and therefore its grade. A diamond grader will use increased magnification to examine the diamond overall, but what grade it falls into depends on what is visible at 10x magnification using a standard jeweler’s loupe.
There are five properties that affect clarity grade:
The size of an inclusion or blemish is considered in reference to the size of the diamond. The more visible an inclusion, the lower down the clarity grade ranking it will slip.
A greater number of inclusions will likely mean a lower grade. This only includes flaws visible at 10x magnification.
Where the inclusion is situated on the diamond greatly effects inclusion. The closer to the center a flaw is, the more it affects clarity rating.
Relief refers to the distinction between the inclusion and the rest of the diamond, so how much brighter/darker it is or how much the color differs to the surrounding unblemished area.
Nature involves weighing up multiple factors to determine how great an effect any flaws have on the overall appearance of the diamond, as some will be much more noticeable than others and therefore will cause the ranking to drop.
Following the GIA grader’s inspection, a diamond will fall into one of the below categories based on how it performed in the five areas:
|Clarity Grade||Visibility at 10× Magnification|
|Flawless (FL)||No inclusions and no blemishes visible at 10× magnification|
|Internally Flawless (IF)||No inclusions and only insignificant blemishes visible at 10× magnification|
|Very Very Slightly included (VVS1 and VVS2)||Minute inclusions that range from extremely difficult (VVS1) to very difficult (VVS2) to see at 10× magnification|
|Very Slightly included (VS1 and VS2 )||Minor inclusions that range from difficult (VS1) to somewhat easy (VS2) to see at 10× magnification|
|Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2)||Noticeable inclusions that are easy (SI1) or very easy (SI2) to see at 10× magnification but usually are not eye visible|
|Included (I1, I2 and I3)||Obvious inclusions visible at 10× magnification – and often seen with the unaided eye|
So a VVS diamond contains only very small inclusions that are either extremely difficult or very difficult to see. They will likely not be near the center, and may show as internal grading, clouds or pinpoints that are not visible from the top of the diamond when looking under a 10x microscope. To the naked eye, a VVS diamond will look flawless.