Buying a quality diamond is selecting which characteristics are most important to you and balancing that with any budgetary constraints. There are dozens of factors that determine a diamond’s value, but one of the foundational aspects to consider is its clarity.
Flawless and VVS (very, very slightly included) diamonds both score on the high end of clarity grading scales but do have significant differences.
The primary difference is flawless diamonds have no visible inclusions, and VVS diamonds have inclusions, though they’re small and aren’t noticeable by the naked eye.
Let’s compare flawless versus VVS diamonds in areas such as inclusions, price, and popularity and also explore their similarities.
What is Flawless Diamond?
A flawless (FL) diamond has no visible inclusions or blemishes under 10x magnification. It’s the highest clarity grade a diamond can earn.
Diamonds are formed below the earth under intense heat and pressure, which results in the vast majority developing inclusions. Inclusions are imperfections in a diamond that can diminish its durability and brilliance, so fewer inclusions mean it’s a higher quality diamond.
No diamond is created without any inclusions. What distinguishes a flawless diamond from others is the gemologist would need 60x or 100x magnification to see them.
Flawless diamonds differ from internally flawless (IF) because IF diamonds have visible blemishes on its surface.
They don’t extend into the stone, and to the naked eye, you cannot tell the difference between flawless and IF.
Internally flawlessis the second highest grade on the clarity scale and still represents a small fraction of diamonds on the market — less than one percent.
What is VVS Diamond Clarity?
VVS diamonds are almost flawless but often have a few inclusions such as pinpoints scattered throughout the diamond.
The inclusions are almost always invisible to the naked eye, so if you placed it next to a flawless diamond, you couldn’t tell them apart.
VVS diamond clarity means the gemologist identified small inclusions at 10x magnification, but the flaws have no impact on the structure, appearance, or brilliance of the stone.
This grade is broken into two subcategories:VVS1 and VVS2.
VVS1 clarity is a higher grade than VVS2. It often means the inclusions are on the pavilion of the diamond.
The imperfections cannot be seen with the naked eye, and even the gemologist using magnification has a difficult time spotting them.
In addition to pinpoints, the most common inclusions in a VVS1 diamond are internal graining, clouds, and feathers.
VVS1 diamonds are priced slightly above VVS2, but they’re similar enough in appearance and quality to both earn the VVS grade.
VVS2 diamonds sit right below VVS1 in price and presence of inclusions.
The difference is the easiness of seeing the inclusions at 10x magnification.
Their inclusions are most often located on the crown of the diamond, which means they’re in a more prominent position.
But they’re so small the naked eye cannot see them, even when looking at a VVS2 diamond from the top down. Their invisibility is also a result of the types of inclusions, which are the same minor ones found in a VVS1 diamond.
What are the Differences Between Flawless and VVS Clarity?
Though flawless and VVS clarity diamonds look similar to the naked eye, there are important differences you should consider in your purchasing decision.
The minor distinction in their quality can significantly affect the price, so knowing how to compare flawless versus VVS clarity diamonds helps you make the right choice.
Flawless Diamonds Have Fewer Inclusions Than VVS
Flawless and VVS are designations of a diamond’s clarity, so the primary difference between the two is the number, type, and visibility of inclusions. The inclusions in a flawless diamond are invisible at 10x magnification, while a trained gemologist can identify them in aVVS diamond.
All else being equal, a flawless diamond has better brilliance than a VVS diamond.
That’s because any inclusion prevents light from properly entering and exiting the diamond, so whether it’s a pinpoint or feather in a VVS diamond, it will distort light performance.
That being said, most buyers should not be concerned about diminished brilliance because of these inclusions. The most important quality to consider for strong light performance is cut, so a few minor inclusions is less of a factor.
But for someone wanting the highest quality diamond with maximum cleanliness, you should choose a flawless diamond over VVS because of fewer inclusions.
Flawless Diamonds are More Expensive
If all the other qualities about the diamond are the same, a flawless diamond is more expensive than a VVS diamond. There’s a corresponding price increase for every level higher a diamond scores across the four Cs of color, clarity, cut, and carat, so better clarity comes with a higher price.
The best way to compare the prices of flawless versus VVS diamonds is to examine the prices for diamonds that have the same characteristics except for clarity.
For example, let’s compare diamonds that have the following grades:
- Cut: Excellent
- Carat: 1.01
- Color: D
The average price of a flawless diamond with these qualities from James Allen, a leading online diamond retailer, is $14,094. The range is between $11,360-$17,220.
The average price of VVS diamonds (VVS1 and VVS2) is $10,388. The range is from $7,260-$13,390.
The average difference in price between a flawless and VVS diamond is 36 percent. The difference between the lowest priced VVS diamond and most expensive flawless diamond is 58 percent.
That means you could earn more than half off your purchase by opting for a VVS diamond over a flawless one.
These price comparisons are true across almost all diamond retailers. The average price of a flawless diamond with those qualities at Blue Nile is $16,948, and the average price for VVS is $10,934.
So regardless of your retailer, you can expect to save between 30-40 percent by choosing a VVS diamond versus a flawless one.
Flawless Diamonds are More Rare
If you want the most number of options to choose from, you should consider VVS diamonds instead of flawless ones. It’s estimated less than half of one percent of diamonds on the market earn the flawless grade, like this diamond from Ritani.
It’s the most rare type of diamond clarity because so few survive the formation process without visible inclusions penetrating it along the way.
You’ll find this to be true when searching for a diamond in any online or in-person retailer. There will be far fewer diamonds available with the flawless grade, which is part of the reason they demand a higher price.
VVS diamonds are still rare, but it’s estimated seven to 10 percent on the market earn that grade. You’ll have a much easier time exploring a range of diamonds that earn a VVS1 or VVS2 clarity, and they’ll come with varying carat sizes, cut grades, degrees of fluorescence, and shapes.
The number of VVS diamonds on the market do result in a premium price but well below the increase seen with flawless ones.
VVS Diamonds Diamonds May Have Graining
Flawless diamonds have no inclusions on the inside or surface, but with VVS clarity, you may encounter graining. Graining can either be on the surface or internal.
Surface graining shows as colored or transparent lines on the diamond caused by defects in its crystal formation. It’s a naturally-occurring flaw when some parts grow faster than others. It’s often invisible to the naked eye but is enough to prevent a diamond from earning a flawless grade.
If surface graining is the only issue present, it may be given an IF grade.
Internal graining is enough to take a diamond from flawless to VVS. Because the blemish is within the diamond, it wouldn’t earn an IF clarity grade.
Most instances of graining have minimal impact on the diamond’s brilliance and appearance, but it’s best to avoid ones where the primary reason for its lower clarity grade is graining.
Do Flawless and VVS Diamonds Have any Similarities?
Comparing flawless versus VVS diamonds showcases their many differences, but the two categories also share similarities.
Both flawless and VVS diamonds are considered eye-clean. This is a valuable trait in a diamond because most buyers aren’t concerned with its appearance under a microscope. Instead, they don’t want to see inclusions when viewing it on a day-to-day basis.
The exception for VVS diamonds is for large diamonds (more than two carats) that are given a VVS2 grade. It’s possible minor inclusions could be visible, so it’s best to view it in person or through a high-resolution photo online.
Secondly, each type can be found in multiple shapes.Maximize the brilliance of a diamondby choosing a round cut, but if you opt for a princess, Asscher, or pear-shaped diamond, you can still find them in flawless and VVS clarities.
You also won’t experience any issues related to durability with a flawless or VVS diamond. One reason diamonds with higher clarity grades are more valuable is because inclusions can diminish its durability.
Chips and cavities place the diamond at further risk of breaking, but these are never present in a flawless or VVS diamond. Instead, the inclusions are ones that won’t affect the structure of the stone, eliminating any concern about durability.
Is a Flawless or VVS Diamond Right For You?
Clarity is a key consideration in any diamond purchase, and two options are flawless and VVS. They look identical without magnification, but it’s a decision that accounts for 30-40 percent of the price.
If you want the pride of knowing your diamond is as perfect as they come, a flawless diamond is right for you. You’ll have the confidence it’s free of inclusions, even if someone examines it with 10x magnification. Paired with an excellent cut and strong color grade, it’ll have maximum brilliance as your twirl it around.
But if a tighter budget plays a role in your decision, you should explore VVS diamonds — both VVS1 and VVS2 options. It’ll lower the price compared to flawless, and you can use that money toward a higher carat weight or a more luxurious setting.
If you’re looking at overall value, you should choose a VVS diamond versus a flawless one. Its appearance and brilliance will be nearly identical but you’ll save significant money.
The most important aspects of clarity are eye-cleanliness and durability, and VVS diamonds earn a passing grade in both of these categories.
So, the difference between VVS-1 and Internally Flawless is the visibility of the inclusions. The important thing to realize is that the difference between a diamond which is Internally Flawless and VVS-1 in clarity, will only be visible while examining the diamond using 10x magnification.
VVS (Very Very Slightly Included) diamonds are a grade better than VS (Very Slightly Included) diamonds. VS diamonds (both VS1 and VS2) contain a small number of inclusions when the diamond is viewed under 10x magnification.
Diamonds categorized as VVS are visually flawless to the naked eye but include microscopic imperfections. Yes, VVS Diamonds are 100% real diamonds. VVS is a classification of clarity grade that stands for “very, very slightly included.” Inclusions are naturally occurring flaws that affect a diamond's overall value.
The top one is called Flawless (denoted by “FL”), followed by the next best grade, Internally Flawless (IF). The main difference between VVS and VS clarity is the size of inclusions. VVS (Very, Very Slightly Included) and VS (Very Slightly Included) are the next two grading ranges.
Flawless Diamonds Have Fewer Inclusions Than VVS
All else being equal, a flawless diamond has better brilliance than a VVS diamond. That's because any inclusion prevents light from properly entering and exiting the diamond, so whether it's a pinpoint or feather in a VVS diamond, it will distort light performance.
Probably not, so it's simply not worth the price tag. You're far better off spending more of your budget on Cut quality. The quality of the diamond's cut impacts the beauty and brilliance of your diamond more than any other aspect.
The best diamond clarity is Flawless (FL). In essence, a Flawless diamond features no internal or external blemishes. Similarly, the Internally Flawless (IF) grade means the diamond has no internal flaws but might have external blemishes.
The highest clarity grade for a diamond is FL, or flawless. The GIA only ever grades a diamond as flawless when it has no inclusions or blemishes that can be seen by a skill grader, even if it's viewed under 10x magnification.
No. VVS is a measure of clarity, not sparkle. The diamond's cut determines how it sparkles. While inclusions can impact sparkle if they obstruct the light, this really only occurs in very low clarity diamonds with very large inclusions.
A flawless (FL) diamond shows no inclusions at 10x, and they're very rare—fewer than 1% of all diamonds receive an FL clarity rating. Flawless diamonds are incredibly rare, because most diamonds feature naturally occurring inclusions.
Just beneath FL/IF is the category known as VVS, or 'very, very slightly included' a category defined as diamonds that have inclusions so minute that they are difficult to locate and see when viewed by experienced graders at 10x magnification.
While VVS diamonds are rare compared to lower clarity grades, they're still, ultimately, not a good investment. Diamond resale prices are low, and you're unlikely to sell any white diamond for more than its sticker price. Although certain fancy colors may have investment value, this isn't due to clarity.
Because diamonds reflect white light, colorless diamonds produce the best sparkle and fire. In fact, the more color a diamond has, the less likely it is to reflect white light. And as a result, will produce less sparkle. A D-color diamond is the highest quality, and will offer the greatest sparkle.
A 1.00 ct G-H color, VVS1 diamond can be 15%–20% more expensive than a comparable VS1 or VS2 diamond. If you're buying a diamond of this quality, the difference in price can be significant.
VVS1 Diamond Price
The “VVS1” designation just refers to the Clarity grade. The average price of a round 1 Carat VVS1 diamond with an H-I color is $5,500.