My wife wearing a stunning SI1 princess cut diamond ring that only cost $2000!
When it comes to buying a diamond engagement ring, the slightly included grades (comprising of SI1 and SI2) are some of the most misunderstood aspects of diamond clarity.
Very often, people wrongly assume that a slightly included diamond will always cause durability issues or that they would always be able to see inclusions with their naked eyes.
If you are thinking about buying a slightly included diamond, you’ve come to the right place. In this write up, you will find out how to shop for lower clarity diamonds and see real life examples of slightly included diamonds.
Let’s get started!
The grading definition of slightly included refers to diamonds that have easily noticeable inclusions when viewed under 10X magnification by a trained grader. Here, I want to emphasize that grading is performed in a controlled environment and the keyword is “10x”.
Just because a diamond has inclusions that can be seen under magnification doesn’t mean that you will be able to see inclusions in day-to-day environments with an unaided eye.
Here’s one such example of an SI1 graded princess cut diamond. As you can see below, the crystal and cloud inclusions can be seen clearly under the table facet.
Click this link to view the full diamond details and interact with it for yourself.
Now, would it surprise you if I told you this is the SAME exact stone I picked for the engagement ring you’ve seen earlier?
Under magnification, the inclusions look obvious but that’s the point isn’t it? You want to see every single detail to understand what you are buying and the magnified videos are a useful tool to do this.
In reality, these inclusions are invisible to the naked eyes and you won’t see any inclusions in the diamond ring when it is worn on the hands. Don’t believe me? Watch this video for yourself and look out for any signs of the inclusions as I review the diamond ring.
In my opinion, buying a slightly included diamond is one of the best ways to getting more value for your money. If you are working with a limited budget, buying an eyeclean SI diamond allows you to maximize carat weight without compromising on the diamond’s appearance.
However, the caveat here is that you need to put in some extra effort to select the ones which are eye-clean (no visible inclusions with the naked eye) and never shop blindly.
Before I go further, I want to point out that individual clarity grades can fall within an “acceptable band”. For example, a graded stone could be on the higher band of SI2 (closer to SI1) or on the lower band of SI2 (closer to I1).
Ultimately, it is the amount and type of inclusions which causes a diamond to be placed in a particular clarity grade. Very often, the locations of flaws will play a big role in defining whether a diamond is eye clean or not.
Do note that your game plan might have to change if you are considering SI diamonds that are larger than 1.50 carats. When it comes to bigger stones, a higher clarity grade is usually required for the diamond to stay eye-clean.
For educational purposes, I am going to show you some examples of diamonds you should look out for and those that you should avoid. First of all, let’s take a look at the following emerald cuts which are both graded with an SI2 clarity rating.
This SI2 emerald cut diamond has inclusions well spread out across the gem and is eye-clean.
This H SI2 diamond has big black crystal inclusions under the table facet which are obvious to the naked eye. To make things worse, the inclusions are also reflected multiple times by the pavilion facets.
Due to the nature of the brilliant cut, round diamonds can be more forgiving with lower clarity grades. With better optical performance, the fire and scintillation of an ideal cut round diamond can help mask inclusions compared to step cuts like the emerald or asscher.
However, that’s not to say we can just go out and randomly pick the first ideal cut round diamond we see. You still need to exercise caution! Check out some examples of slightly included diamonds below and you’ll understand why.
This K color SI2 round diamond has super obvious black crystal inclusions which stands out like a sore thumb.
This H SI2 round diamond has a large feather extending dangerously from the girdle into the body and the unsightly knot inclusion kills it for this example…
Here’s an eye-clean G SI2 diamond even though the grading report shows a scary looking plot. The twinning wisps in this diamond is nicely scattered around the stone.
From these examples, you can see that a grading report only grades and maps the diamond’s inclusions. Without seeing the actual diamond, there’s no way you can determine how the inclusions will impact a diamond’s beauty.
By now, I hope I had driven home the point that viewing a magnified photo or video is mandatory in helping you make educated selections. I need to remind you that the images you’ve seen so far had all been magnified many times. In real life, the inclusions are not as noticeable as you think they are.
When browsing through diamonds, you can make use of the clarity plot as a reference to compare images and also as a tool to orientate yourself to the locations of the flaws.
To complete this round up, here are some examples of slightly included diamonds (SI1) which aren’t eye clean. I will start with a “bad” example of an L color SI1 diamond with a cluster of crystal and cloud inclusion that spoils the overall appearance.
One other mistake that consumers make is the assumption that twinning wisps are the “best” kind of inclusions to have as they are usually whitish or transparent. As you can see in the I SI1 diamond below, the twinning wisps are stark black!
Surprise! This F SI1 round diamond actually yielded an eye clean diamond even though the plot is relatively messy.
For people who want to maximize their budget for a bigger and better cut stone, clarity is an aspect you can compromise on. You don’t really need a VVS1 diamond when an SI1 diamond can look just as good in person. The only catch here is that you need to do your homework and shop at the right places before making a purchase.
Remember, diamonds are not created equal. Even if 2 stones look very similar on a piece of paper, they might look very different in real life. As you can see above, inspecting a diamond with magnified pictures or videos will reveal a lot of details about the stone.
Finally, don’t be afraid of buying diamonds in the lower clarity grades. It is perfectly OK for a diamond to have inclusions! As long as you are clear about what you are doing and had examined it under magnification, you won’t have a shocker when you receive the stone.
With that, I hope you found the insights in this article useful. If you haven’t yet, make sure you check out our step by step guide on choosing a diamond. As always, feel free to ask questions or leave us a comment below.