For the shoppers looking for better value, SI clarity ranges represent the best grades to purchase diamonds in provided you know what you are doing. While SI2 diamonds contain inclusions that are easily identified under a loupe, you can still find stones that face up eye clean.
So, if you want to maximize your budget with cut and carat weight, the slightly included diamonds can help you achieve that because they are significantly cheaper than stones in higher clarity grades.
No two SI2 diamond looks the same. Click to view larger image…
Technically speaking, the characteristics of the inclusions/blemishes found are similar to those found in a VS stone. Here are some commonly found inclusions within this grading: pinpoints (carbon particles), crystals, clouds, feathers, graining and twinning wisps. The difference lies in the nature of the inclusions such as size, location and density and the “severity” sets the grade for an SI2.
First of all, I want to address some common misconceptions many people have prior to reading this article. Some consumers had been misled by their jewelers into believing that SI diamonds are always eyeclean while some others had been reading misinformation online that SI diamonds always have major clarity problems.
Both camps of people aren’t totally wrong but they aren’t totally correct either! Now, I would say that the biggest mistake a consumer would make is to buy a diamond blindly without seeing it. Think of BlueNile and the majority of other online jewelers where people shop solely based on certificates and numbers.
When choosing slightly included diamonds, it is really important to see the diamond physically or have access to magnified pictures/videos of the stone. As you had already seen above, there are unlimited possibilities of how an SI2 diamond may look like!
SI2 diamonds are NOT created equally. In some SI2s, you could see inclusions with the unaided eye. While in many others, they simply look like a VVS or VS diamond to the naked eyes.
Check out the following diamonds from James Allen; a vendor who offers magnified pictures and HD videos of every stone in their inventory. I highly recommend them because you can SEE and know exactly what you are getting.
The diamond above has a feather at 8’oclock on the girdle area. To the naked eye, this inclusion is eyeclean. However, if you do require a peace of mind, you can also cover it up with a prong and you will never be able to see the inclusion again.
In the SI2 clarity grade, I tend to look out for diamonds with well distributed inclusions since they usually result in an eye clean appearances. Here’s another example that I think is a great choice for a value-buy.
Don’t be scared by the numerous crystal inclusions in this diamond. The fact is, they are colorless and you are only looking at them in a zoomed in view. In normal viewing conditions with your naked eye, there’s no way you can see them.
Test it out for yourself by sliding the zoom-in zoom-out bar in the listing and you will be able to do this experiment yourself.
The black inclusions are reflected by the pavilion facets and are obvious to the naked eye!
Clearly, the two examples above show the importance of having magnified photographs to view the diamonds before purchase. If inclusions get reflected by the facets of the diamond, it doesn’t get shown in the grading report. If you bought the diamond blindly, you might just receive a nasty shock. Who would have expected the diamond to face up that way based on the inclusion plot?
The next diamond fares even worse as multiple reflections show up!
0.80 Carat H Color Ideal Cut Diamond
The circled inclusion is reflected multiple times due to its location!
I know that many shoppers often try to game the GIA/AGS grading system. They think that by choosing a diamond with the cleanest plot, they will get an eye-clean diamond. Well, it’s not and it is a DANGEROUS mistake to choose SI diamonds in this manner.
0.57 Carat E Color Slightly Included Ideal Cut Round
The plot doesn’t tell you the details like color or intensity of the inclusions!
– It is impossible to accurately represent a 3D object onto a 2D diagram without leaving out some details. You should never rely solely on an inclusion plot found in the grading report. This is because the 2-dimensional diagram doesn’t tell you anything about the nature of the inclusions in real life.
– Always loupe the diamond or view it under magnification. Could you live knowing that there are inclusions in your stone? Does it not matter at all as long as it is eyeclean? For most consumers, it is harder to find a “mind-clean” diamond than it is to find an eye clean stone because of psychological issues.
– NEVER buy an SI2 diamond with a super clean inclusion plot without consulting a private appraiser or eye-balling the stone first. When a grade is assigned to a diamond, it is done for a reason. Having a diagram that looks like a VVS1 or IF clarity plot is always a red flag for huge underlying problems.
Sometimes, it could be due to multiple reflections of inclusions as seen in the example above. Sometimes, it could be due to the color of the inclusions. Make sure you find out exactly what caused the SI2 rating to be assigned to the stone.
Beware of clean plots in SI clarity grades! Such diagrams are the perfect recipes for disasters…
Cloudy looking diamond
Most of the times, these diamonds look hazy and milky due to the huge amount of inclusions that cannot be plotted on the diagram. As a result, the diamond’s sparkle and luster will be negatively impacted as seen in the image above.
You need to be smart. Nothing is too good to be true.
On a closing note, I hope this article clears up the common misunderstandings people have about the SI2 clarity grade. If you need help or advice on diamond selections, I suggest you read this guide that shows you a step by step approach to buying diamonds. Alternatively, you can bump me an email if you need personalized advice.