I bet the word “eye clean” is no stranger to you by now. And having read about SI1 diamonds, you also know that with sharp hunting skills, you can indeed find a stunning diamond even up to this grade!
I am a big fan of not overpaying on diamond clarity and I always aim for getting the best bang for the buck. So, if we’re on the same page, here’s how you can get an eye clean SI1 diamond so mesmerizing, you’ll think it’s a flawless stone.
Why SI1 Clarity Diamonds?
According to GIA's definition, SI1 stands for “slightly included” and officially means that inclusions are noticeable under 10x magnification. This also means that they might be noticeable to your bare eyes, and other times, not. Just have a look at the two SI1 diamonds below:
In my post about diamond clarity, we talked about how VS2 diamonds also offer great value for money. And this is absolutely true! However, they are virtually always eye clean and this is why they constitute a very secure option.
If you want to save even more, I recommend having a look at SI1 diamonds. Now, where do we start?
How to Score an Eye Clean SI1 Graded Diamond
If being ‘not eye clean’ means seeing inclusions, then ‘eye clean’ must mean there are no flaws at all, right? Well, not really. An eye clean diamond can possess visible inclusions, but depending on the three major factors that affect the diamond’s face-up appearance – size, color, and location.
Pick One with White or Transparent Inclusions
I always prefer SI1 diamonds with white or transparent inclusions to ones with stark black flaws. The reason is that both GIA and AGS grade diamonds according to the size of the inclusion and not the color. However, some smaller white imperfections will not be visible to your naked eye whereas black inclusions with the same size will be:
The diamond on the left with the stark black inclusion will unfortunately not be eye clean because the color is too concentrated on one spot. The diamond on the right, however, also has a black inclusion in the center but it seems like a transparent cloud. In cases like this, it’s much more likely that the diamond will be eye clean if the cloud is not too big.
Location is Key – Well-Hidden Flaws
Another important rule to follow is that you should always prefer a diamond that has an inclusion somewhere hidden beneath the crown facets and not directly under the table. This is because inclusions under the crown facets can easily be hidden by a prong.
In fact, any good jeweler or online vendor will set the prong in such a manner that it masks the inclusion as well as possible. Furthermore, inclusions under the crown facets just don’t strike the eye that easily and are more prone to being hidden by crown facet reflections.
Have a look at these two examples:
The SI1 diamond on the left has a white feather inclusion at the center. It’s more likely that such inclusion will be noticed by the bare eye. While, the SI1 diamond on the right has white clouds and a smaller feather inclusion under the crown facets. In this case, the imperfections will be barely noticed by the naked eye. In fact, this particular diamond is eye clean.
Now, there is one little thing you have to bear in mind when buying SI1 diamonds with larger inclusions that are near the girdle of the diamond: Such inclusions might pose a durability issue!
A larger feather should never reach the surface of a diamond and touch the outer facet. Especially not with extremely thin girdles. In such a case, a well-placed blow to the diamond could potentially cause diamond chipping.
The picture above is from an I1 diamond and not a SI1 diamond. Although such potentially harmful feathers are pretty rare in SI1 diamonds, I still want you to be conscious of that. Admittedly, diamond chipping is a rare occurrence but it’s smart to try to avoid any fault windows as much as possible. Better safe than waste thousands of dollars!
The Right Diamond Size and Shape for an Eye Clean SI1
Double check if your stone has the right carat weight and shape to suit a SI1 grade. Truth be told, not all diamond shapes can be eye clean SI1s. Round, princess, and radiant cuts can hide inclusions with their brilliance, but asscher and emerald cuts bear large tables that can illuminate flaws.
Same thing with 2-carat diamonds or larger as they have bigger facets that make it more difficult to hide inclusions. In short, you won’t get away with SI1 if your diamond is a step cut or considered big by average women like a 3-carat diamond. You’re better off with a VS1 or VS2 clarity grade in that case.
Backed by GIA or AGS
Now, I would always recommend the only reliable labs in the US – GIA and AGS. It’s good to make sure your pick is graded by a reputable lab because they will tell it like it is.
If they grade your diamond as SI1, then no other labs, companies, or vendors can change this rating. They’ve spent millions of dollars to assure the quality and accuracy of their equipment, so you can bank on their reputation.
Some would argue that IGI and EGL are also legit, I’m not saying they aren’t, it’s just that they rate a diamond 2 to 3 grades higher than what it should be. So, when you see a SI1 diamond by EGL, it could probably be an Included diamond when graded by GIA, and you will most likely see inclusions.
Although being graded by GIA or AGS doesn’t necessarily ratify that your diamond is eye clean. It’s just a safety seal that what you have is indeed a SI1 stone!
The Best Way to Know if Your SI1 Diamond is Eye Clean or Not
With this platform, people often turn to me because they can make out an inclusion under 20x magnification (or even 40x at James Allen). Now, anyone can spot flaws with a super zoom! And with a 40x magnification, you will even be able to see tiny inclusions in IF diamonds.
It’s given that gradings are always done with a 10x jeweler’s loupe. But how do we discern in real life? How can the magnified images really assist you in knowing whether a diamond is eye clean or not?
After all, this is the only thing that matters when it comes to clarity. Well, it’s actually quite easy! Let us, for instance, take two SI1 diamonds from James Allen. With the usual 20x magnification, both diamonds show visible inclusions:
The diamond on the left has dark crystals under the table which are clearly visible under 20x magnification. The diamond on the right, on the other hand, has a large and stark black inclusion that’s easily visible. Now, in order to find out whether a diamond is really eye clean or not, I recommend the following technique.
Simply turn down the 20x magnification to 2x magnification:
Why 2x and not 1x which would be no magnification at all? Well, this is still a computer screen. Even if you are able to view the diamond from all angles on a screen, there’s still a difference if you see it in real life from a very short distance from your eyes. It’s like a security margin that you want to have in order to make a good decision.
My experience is this: Any diamond where you can’t see any inclusion at 2x magnification at James Allen will be eye clean in real life. Just please make sure that you are really turning down to 2x and not 3x zoom. Basically, you want your setpoint to be directly on the second line like on the picture on the left.
If you turn down to 2x zoom, you’ll see that the left diamond has no visible inclusion while the right diamond has a black dot. Now we know which diamond you should avoid buying. Of course, there are cases that might be trickier than this. But you get the point. 🙂
Some diamonds can be eye clean but others may include visible inclusions. So, it's crucial to not buy SI1 diamonds blindly. In a nutshell, find one with very small inclusions that blends with its body color and are well-spread out because inclusions at the center tend to be the most evident.
Watch out though because there are specific inclusions under the crown facet that you cannot make out if you just see the diamond from one static angle. Fortunately, diamond vendors like James Allen offer you the possibility to view their diamonds from all sides in magnified HD.
If you have any question, I will be more than happy to help you out. Just drop a comment below or write to me. My advice is free!