When you’re shopping for a diamond, it’s essential that you can see its clarity features. Otherwise, there’s no way to tell what the diamond will really look like. You’ll need to see the diamond up close. This is also the only way to assess the stone’s color and cut.
If you’re shopping at a brick-and-mortar store, make sure the jeweler shows you the diamond under magnification in its intended setting as well as from different angles.
If you’re shopping online, we recommend James Allen or Blue Nile. Their magnified viewing tools will let you examine the diamond and assess its clarity for yourself. You can also try seeing what your stone will look like in various settings.
On the other hand, there’s nothing like getting an engagement ring designed to suit your particular style. CustomMade specializes in making jewelry that’s perfect for both your personality and budget. Their experts can also help you through the process of finding the best diamond for your ring.
What Do Diamond Clarity Grades Mean?
A diamond’s clarity grade doesn’t simply refer to its transparency. It also specifies the type, size, and number of imperfections in the crystal. Larger or more numerous flaws will result in a lower grade.
Clarity letter grades range from “Flawless” (F) to “Included” (I), with several grades in between as well as some with numbered sub-categories: 1, 2, or 3, such as SI1 and SI2. A higher number means a higher level of clarity.
What is an SI2 Clarity Diamond?
SI stands for “Slightly Included.” Just below SI1 and above I diamonds, SI2 clarity diamonds are on the lower end of the clarity scale. However, that doesn’t mean you should avoid them. These diamonds offer an affordable price point, and their flaws are often not visible to the naked eye. Still, SI2 clarity diamonds can have their downsides.
SI2 Clarity Diamonds: Pros and Cons
Like any diamond of any clarity grade, an SI2 clarity diamond has pros and cons. If you’re on the fence between clarity grades, read these to help you decide.
Pro: Often Eye-Clean
Ultimately, what matters most about diamond clarity is whether you can see any imperfections once it’s mounted in a ring. In other words, whether the diamond is “eye-clean.” SI2 clarity diamonds have flaws that are visible to an expert viewing the diamond up close but without magnification. Despite this, you may not necessarily be able to spot these flaws, especially if your hand is more than six inches from your eye!
With a flaw front and center, this diamond isn’t quite eye-clean. However, this flaw isn’t readily noticeable when viewing the diamond in a ring. Take a look at the video on the James Allen site.
Con: Takes Time to Find a Great One
It can take some time to find an eye-clean SI2 clarity diamond. Some of these diamonds will have readily visible imperfections, especially ones that are dark and near the center of the stone. Others could have surface-reaching flaws, which could make your diamond more likely to break. To find a great SI2, you’ll have to put in some shopping time.
Pro: Easy on the Budget
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of SI2 clarity diamonds is their pricing. These stones are much more affordable than diamonds with higher clarity grades. That lets you choose a higher carat diamond or a more intricate setting.
Con: Clarity Too Low for Emerald and Asscher Cuts
However, SI2 clarity isn’t great for all diamond shapes. Emerald and asscher-cuts act like a hall of mirrors. If there’s any flaw in the diamond, you’ll see it reflected over and over again. For these types of diamond shapes, we don’t recommend going lower than a VS2 clarity grade.
Buying an SI2 Clarity Diamond
Buying an SI2 clarity diamond isn’t so straightforward. You’ll need to read up on different clarity features and how they can impact your diamond’s beauty and durability. This will help you choose the best diamond you can afford.
Types of Clarity Features
Diamonds can have several different types of flaws. Some are inclusions, such as other minerals that grew inside the diamond, or internal fractures. Others are surface imperfections from the polishing process.
In an SI2 clarity diamond, inclusions will usually have more effect on beauty. Large, numerous, and dark mineral inclusions near the center of the stone will affect appearance the most. In addition, cloudy formations can make the diamond less brilliant.
Reading a Clarity Diagram
To understand the types and placement of the clarity features in your diamond, you’ll have to look at the clarity diagram or plot in the laboratory report. This diagram will show a schematic of your diamond with symbols showing you the location of inclusions and imperfections.
Compare this diagram to the magnified video of the diamond and try to locate the features. Keep in mind that the diamond might be rotated from the view shown in the diagram.
Clarity and Durability
Although diamonds are famous for being extremely hard, that only means they have great resistance to scratching. They’re still brittle and can chip or break. Because certain features can cause durability problems, you must check your diamond’s clarity features closely.
Large inclusions have the greatest impact on durability, since they interrupt the diamond’s strong crystal structure. This can make your diamond more likely to break. Any surface-reaching clarity features also pose potential problems. A bad knock on one of these weak points could split your diamond in two.
Since clarity can raise so many issues, you absolutely should consult with an expert before you buy a diamond with a low clarity grade like SI2.
Durability and Diamond Shape
In addition to large or surface-reaching inclusions, certain diamond shapes have specific areas that are more prone to break. If you’re shopping for a diamond shape with corners, such as princess, pear, marquise, trillion, or heart shapes, check the location of any inclusions. Since prongs put pressure on these corners, they’re particularly likely to break or chip. So, any weakness in a corner can spell disaster for your diamond.
Another major problem in SI2 clarity diamonds is inclusion reflection. Diamonds take in light and reflect it back to your eye. Any dark inclusion will affect that light return, and the facets will also reflect the image of that inclusion throughout the stone. Even one dark inclusion will easily look like a dozen.
Fortunately, a closeup video of the diamond will make this readily apparent. As the diamond moves in the video, you should be able to identify the inclusion and, at certain angles, you’ll see a cluster of dark reflections. Since this will impact the brightness of your diamond, we recommend finding one without reflected inclusions.
SI1 vs SI2 vs I1
Since buying an SI2 clarity diamond can get pretty complex, going up a clarity grade can make your diamond shopping experience simpler. SI1 clarity diamonds are a great option. They’re less likely to contain inclusions that will have a big impact on beauty and durability, and you can still find them at attractive prices.
On the other hand, if you’re considering dropping down to an I1 grade, you may face some even tougher decisions. We don’t generally recommend an I clarity diamond because you’ll often encounter a loss of durability, beauty, or both.
If your budget allows it, stick to an SI2 or higher clarity grade.
For an SI2 clarity diamond, limit your search to diamonds with grading reports from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or the American Gem Society (AGS). These labs hold the strictest standards, which is very important for low clarity grades. For example, a diamond that would get a grade of I1 from the GIA may receive an SI2 from a different grading lab. The difference between an SI2 and an I1 is significant.
If you’re interested in diamonds graded by a different lab, nudge your preferred clarity grade up to SI1, just to be safe.
Zooming in and Zooming Out
Although the closeup videos provided by James Allen and Blue Nile are absolutely essential for assessing a diamond’s clarity, they can also be misleading. Under a magnified view, SI2 clarity diamonds often look, quite frankly, ugly. So, when you’re trying to determine if the diamond is eye-clean, remember to zoom in and zoom out.
First, watch the video at full magnification and identify the locations of the most worrying inclusions. Then, keeping these locations in mind, zoom out so that the diamond looks about as big as it would on your hand. Can you still see those inclusions? If you can see it, the diamond is certainly not eye-clean. If you can’t, you should still chat with the experts to make sure it’s eye-clean.
Questions to Ask a Gemologist
When you’re buying an SI2 clarity diamond, you’ll want some assurance that your stone is a good choice. Both James Allen and Blue Nile let you chat with diamond experts. If you’re buying a stone in person, most brick-and-mortar jewelry stores have a gemologist on staff. Here’s what you should ask before making your final decision:
- Is this diamond eye-clean?
- Are any of the inclusions near the surface?
- Do any inclusions make the diamond more likely to chip or break?
- Is it possible to hide the inclusions under a prong? Will this make the diamond more likely to chip?
Learn More About Clarity
If you’d like to learn more about diamond clarity, check out our complete consumer’s guide.
Working with a custom jeweler like CustomMade is another great way to ensure that your diamond will suit you perfectly. They can help you pick out a great diamond and also set it in a unique and stunning ring.