You thought buying a diamond is just looking at the size and how good it will look on your ring fingers. That isn’t how it works. There are many things you need to look at and consider before picking one. One of which is clarity.
This article tackles the clarity grade that has become one of the very controversial topics in diamond clarity – SI2. We will provide a balanced approach to explain why it is one of the most debated diamond grading areas.
If you are looking at getting a diamond with SI2 clarity, this is the guide you need.
Table of Contents
Diamond Clarity Grades
Before going into full details with SI2 clarity, how about going through the basics of diamond clarity in general?
Within a diamond’s crystal structure are imperfections during the stages that the gemstone took to form. This stage in diamond formation runs a period of between 1 and 3 billion years to form.
Although diamonds have unique structure and composition, they are inevitable when it comes to acquiring flaws and imperfections along the way. These imperfections occur in the majority of diamonds. While there are flawless diamonds, they aren’t as common. They become exceptionally rare once it gets above 2 carats.
The classification or the grading of diamonds is based on the number of flaws the diamond has and how visible they are. This conformity means, the more imperfections and the lower the clarity, the lower the resulting classification a diamond gets.
Flaws in diamonds appear in several forms. There are internal ones that class as inclusions. Others are surface flaws that are often human-made and are classed as blemishes. Diamond clarity grades make a big difference in its value. Here’s a list of different diamond clarity grades to give you a brief idea:
- Flawless – FL
- Internally Flawless – IF
- Very Very Small Inclusions First Degree – VVS1
- Very Very Small Inclusions Second Degree – VVS2
- Very Small Inclusions First Degree – VS1
- Very Small Inclusions – Second Degree – VS2
- Small Inclusions First Degree – SI1
- Small Inclusions Second Degree – SI2
- Inclusions First Degree – I1
- Inclusions Second Degree – I2
VVS down to SI clarity grades are broken down into subgrades. For instance, VS is broken into VS1 and VS2. The same subgrade applies to SI, dividing it into SI1 and SI2. Gemologists look under intense magnification from all angles to establish the grading of a diamond.
SI2 Clarity Grade
Like most of 4Cs except weight, SI2 clarity has a protocol that GIA (Gemological Institute of America) determined. There is a specific subjectivity to determining a diamond’s clarity, just like how it is scaled for colors.
SI2 being “Slightly Included” means there is a likelihood that some internal flaws are visible when examined purely visually. However, by and large, they can still be invisible except if seen under extreme magnification.
This is why flawless diamonds come with a hefty price tag. While the diamonds further down the classification level are a lot more affordable even when they are slightly larger.
But, how does it differ from SI1 – you might ask. The difference between the two boils down to the visibility of its inclusions. SI1 flaws are more often than not seen only under magnification and are practically invisible to the naked eye. With SI2, inclusions can be seen sans loupe or microscope.
The majority of visible flaws in SI2 diamonds are commonly situated towards their sides. Note that diamonds should have no prominent or apparent inclusions detected centrally when looking through the top of the stone.
Be that as it may, does it spoil SI2 diamond, and is it less desirable? Not as much as you might think. See, when a gemologist examines and grades a diamond, he scrutinizes it through 10x magnification from all sides and angles.
Once the diamond is set, in a ring, for instance – the view is usually available only from the top. It is very seldom that the sides are even visible. Most diamond cuts have the inclusions often hidden by the facets on the crown of the cut.
Another good example is the modern round, brilliant cut. This cut makes up about 75% of diamond sales in recent years and has about 57 facets. Many of these cuts are above the girdle or the widest point of the diamond resulting in less visible inclusions.
From its substructure, looking through the dome, the inclusions are easier to see. Yet, if you are buying loose diamonds, that’s totally different since that viewpoint will never be an issue.
Buying Tips for SI2 Diamonds
Before making any purchase, you may want to request a picture of the diamond. Some SI2 clarity diamonds look a lot better than others, and it can be seen through images, too. Shops like James Allen usually have a ready close up pic on their website.
If you have another ring you can compare it to, like one that higher up in the scale, you will have an idea of whether it has a tangible difference. If after matching and you can’t see inclusions, nobody else will. Don’t get too hung up on the clarity grading of the diamond. No one in your family nor your circle of friends will have a readily available loupe to examine the stone you are wearing.
But, just because your people around you can’t tell whether it is flawless or not, it would still be nice if you know what you should look out for when getting SI2 diamonds. After all, you are spending your hard-earned money on it. Here are a few things you need to consider doing, especially for SI2 diamonds:
Closely Check The Diamond
Anything smaller than our palm is so hard to examine without looking at it closely – the same goes for diamonds. It can be impossible to see if an SI2 diamond is eye-clean if you don’t look at it thoroughly and closely.
Jewelry shops usually let you use the same high-tech imagery they have so you can look at the diamonds from all angles. If after you’ve done your share of careful examination and you aren’t sure whether it is eye-clean, consult an expert for knowledgeable advice.
Evaluate The Clarity Plot
GIA certificates have a section solely intended for the prospective buyer to see the clarity plot, especially diamonds above one karat. Clarity plot is your map for all the inclusions there are in a diamond. If you know where to find the imperfections on the stone, the better you’ll be able to study it.
SI2 clarity diamonds have imperfections. Therefore, one that has a clean clarity plot is a huge red flag. If that is the case, ask why it has an SI2 grade despite being flawless.
Look For Inclusions On the Edges
Inclusions sitting on the edge of the diamond’s table are likely to be covered by the ring’s setting or prong. These inclusions won’t be as noticeable as those in the dead center of the diamond’s table. SI2 diamonds with imperfections near the edges are almost perfect. Plus, your budget will agree!
Aim For Inclusions That Are Spread Out
Imperfections that are clumped in one spot are more evident than those that are spread out. Look for stones that may have multiple flaws but are scattered across the diamond’s table. They won’t be as noticeable.
Consider The Shape
Diamond shapes aren’t just aesthetics. Some forms serve the purpose of being good at hiding inclusions. It is possible to find an SI2 round cut diamond under one carat without visible inclusions. Take note that the larger the diamond, the more visible the inclusions are. Therefore, if you are going over a carat, you may want to go for SI1 or VS2.
You can get eye-clean SI2 in an oval, cushion, and radiant cuts, as well as marquis and pear shapes. These shapes conceal inclusions a lot better than round diamonds.
GIA or AGS Certificates
Look for diamonds that have either GIA or AGS (American Gem Society) certificate. These two are the most reliable and consistent laboratory entities worldwide. If they say it is SI2 grade, you can be sure it is indeed SI2.
Certificates from less consistent labs like IGI (International Gemological Institute) may say a diamond is SI2 when it is more likely to be an I1 or an I2. Go for institutes that you can rely on a truthful grading from.
Pros and Cons of SI2 Clarity Diamond
Like any diamond clarity grade, SI2 diamond has pros and cons. If you are still on the fence between clarity grades, here is a list of pros and cons to help you decide.
SI2 Are Often Eye-Clean
What matters most about diamond clarity is if it has apparent imperfections once mounted on a ring. SI2 diamonds, as we have repeatedly reiterated, have flaws. But, not all are naked-eye visible except to an expert viewing it under magnification.
Easy On The Budget
One of the most appealing aspects of SI2 clarity diamonds is their appraising. Diamonds graded in this clarity are a lot more affordable than those with higher clarity grades. This facet allows you to go for a higher carat diamond or one that has an even more intricate setting.
Tedious to Find a Great One
It takes a lot of time to find an eye-clean SI2 diamond. Few of these diamonds will have easily visible imperfections. These flaws are those that are dark and near the center of the stone. Some may also have surface-reaching inclusions, which could make your diamond very likely to break.
Finding the perfect SI2 diamond will require you to allot some more time for shopping.
Clarity Too Low For Some Cuts
SI2 clarity isn’t for all diamond shapes and cuts. Emerald and Asscher cuts turn into a hall of mirrors that inclusions in this cut will go reflected repeatedly. Therefore, if you wish to get these cuts, you may want to choose anything lower than the VS2 clarity grade.
Although inclusions are well at concealing themselves in most circumstances, there are exceptions. Cuts and shapes must be well thought of since they do an excellent job in concealing or revealing these imperfections.
Sure, there are SI2 clarity grade Emerald cut. They are not cuts to avoid but one that may warrant a closer inspection. Be sure to have a perfect look at it.
Either way, an average person won’t be able to tell whether your diamond is flawless or not. It doesn’t matter if it is 70% cheaper than flawless diamonds. You also don’t need to be worried about buying an SI2 diamond. All you need to do is understand what SI2 is.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: Is an SI2 diamond a good buy?
A: An eye-clean SI2 diamond is a great value. Since the price drops from SI1 to SI2, you are getting a huge chunk of savings this way. SI2 diamond would be a good buy, especially if you took time to scrutinize and examine it since most SI2 clarity is not eye-clean.
Q: How is SI2 better than I1 clarity?
A: I Clarity range has subgrades, and one of them is I1. I1 is the first subgrade out of the three. I1 diamonds won’t require you to use a loupe to look at their inclusions, and they can be viewed directly from the top of the diamond.
On the other hand, SI2 diamonds’ imperfections aren’t usually visible from the top, and they are generally smaller and less numerous.