The Diamond Pro

SI2 Diamonds: Proceed with Caution

By Michael Fried
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A diamond that’s graded an SI2 will undoubtedly have inclusions. Sometimes those imperfections will visible to the naked eye, and sometimes they can only be seen under magnification.

We estimate that about 70% of SI2 diamonds will not be eye-clean. That’s why the goal is to find one of the 30% of SI2s that indeed are eye-clean.

With an eye-clean SI2 diamond, you can save hundreds or thousands of dollars instead of paying for a better clarity grade. While you can get incredible value with an SI2 diamond, you have to be extra careful to choose one that’s eye-clean.

SI2 clarity diamond ring
Marquise SI2 Diamond Ring from James Allen

What does SI2 mean in diamonds?

SI2 diamonds are slightly included to the 2nd degree, meaning they have inclusions that are easily seen under 10X magnification. Some SI2 diamonds are eye-clean. A larger portion, however—approximately 70%—are not eye-clean. That’s why you need to carefully examine SI2 diamonds.

If you can find an eye-clean SI2 diamond, you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck. Instead of paying for a higher clarity grade, you spend much less while still getting an eye-clean stone. This is more challenging with SI2 diamonds, but it’s still possible.

Clarity grades – a brief overview

Every diamond should come with a lab certificate. We only recommend a GIA or AGS certificate because they’re the most reliable lab entities.

The GIA grades clarity from best to worst:

  • Flawless (FL)
  • Internally Flawless (IF)
  • Very Very Small Inclusions 1 (VVS1)
  • Very Very Small Inclusions 2 (VVS2)
  • Very Small Inclusions 1 (VS1)
  • Very Small Inclusions 2 (VS2)
  • Small Inclusions 1 (SI1)
  • Small Inclusions 2 (SI2)
  • Inclusions 1 (I1)
  • Inclusions 2 (I2)

When diamonds are formed, their structures pick up small imperfections along the way. A diamond’s clarity grade depends on the size, type and location of the imperfections. In general, diamonds with more inclusions, bigger inclusions and darker inclusions will have a lower grade. A gemologist looks at the diamond under magnification from all angles to determine the grading.

Every diamond has imperfections, so it’s a matter of whether you can see them.

SI2 Diamond Prices

A well-cut 1 carat round SI2 diamond with an I-K color will cost between $2,400-$3,500 from a reputable online vendor like James Allen or Blue Nile. Shopping in bricks and mortar stores will be approximately 40% more expensive. A round cut SI2 diamond with I-K color would probably cost between $3,080-$4,760 in the store.

sI2 diamond ring
Round Cut SI2 Diamond Ring from James Allen

The price of a diamond depends on a variety of factors including cut quality, color, carat weight and clarity. In general, SI2 diamonds are less expensive than SI1 diamonds, but more expensive than I1 diamonds—if all other characteristics are the same.

Prices also depend on your diamond shape. In general, round cut diamonds are the most expensive shape per carat. Choosing an Oval Cut or Cushion Cut with SI2 clarity, for example, will save you a little bit over a Round Cut diamond.

Which is better – SI1 or SI2?

SI2 diamonds have more noticeable inclusions than SI1 diamonds. An SI2’s imperfections also tend to be darker or more obvious. That’s why more SI1 diamonds are eye-clean. In general, SI1 diamonds will be the best value for an eye-clean stone in most diamond shapes. Sometimes, though, you can find an eye-clean SI2 diamond—saving you hundreds over an SI1 diamond. For example, this eye-clean SI2 Marquise diamond costs $2,160 per carat, while this SI1 Marquise diamond costs $2,520 per carat. That’s nearly a 15% difference. The price jump from SI1 to SI2 is significant, and that’s for good reason. There are more SI1 eye-clean stones, while SI2s tend to have more noticeable flaws.

SI1 clarity marquise for SI2 clarity example
SI1 Clarity Marquise from James Allen
SI2 Clarity Marquise
SI2 Clarity Marquise from James Allen

If you cannot find an eye-clean SI2 diamond, the extra cost for an SI1 diamond is worth it. Having a diamond with noticeable blemishes detracts from its beauty. It’ll be something you notice for the life of the engagement ring. That’s why it’s important to look closely at each diamond to make sure that you can’t see imperfections.

Is SI2 diamond clarity good?

SI2 diamond clarity can be a smart purchase, depending on if the diamond is eye-clean. All diamonds have imperfections due to their formation beneath the earth’s surface. Your goal is to find out if the inclusions are visible. SI2 diamonds tend to have more imperfections and more noticeable inclusions than better grades like SI1 and VS2, but sometimes you can find an eye-clean stone. If you can find an eye-clean SI2 diamond, you’ll get the most for your budget.

Is an SI2 diamond bad?

Approximately 70% of SI2 diamonds are not eye-clean, making it tougher to find a good SI2 diamond, but it’s still possible. Review the diamond with detailed, up-close imagery like the HD photos offered by James Allen. You’ll be able to evaluate each diamond to see if it’s eye-clean. Not all SI2 diamonds are the same—some are beautiful and some have glaring blemishes.

Buying Tips – SI2 Diamond Rings

When it comes to evaluating the Clarity of a diamond, there are a few tips to keep in mind. For SI2s specifically, here’s what to watch for.

1. Check the diamond closely

It’s impossible to know if an SI2 diamond is eye-clean without looking at it closely. With high-tech imagery and HD video, you can look at the diamond from all angles. If you can’t tell if a diamond is eye-clean, ask an expert to give you their opinion.

2. Review the clarity plot

With a GIA certificate, you’ll usually see a clarity plot—at least for diamonds over 1 carat. The clarity plot is a map of all of the inclusions in the diamond. Knowing where the imperfections are will help you examine the stone. If an SI2 clarity diamond has a clean clarity plot, that’s a huge red flag and you should look for the reason for the SI2 grade (e.g. check out comments below diamonds specifications). All SI2 diamonds will have imperfections.

3. Aim for inclusions on the edges

If inclusion is sitting on the edge of a diamond’s table, it’s likely to be covered by a ring setting or prong. At the least, it won’t be as noticeable as an inclusion that’s in the dead center of the diamond’s table. An SI2 diamond with imperfections near the edges is a great find for beauty—and your budget.

4. Look for inclusions that are spread out

A clump of imperfections will be more obvious than spread-out inclusions. Aim for small inclusions scattered across the diamond’s table, because they won’t be as noticeable.

5. Consider your shape

Some diamond shapes hide inclusions better than others. For Round Cut diamonds under 1 carat, you can sometimes find an SI2 without visible inclusions. If you’re going over 1 carat, you’ll want to look for an SI1 or VS2. That’s because the larger the diamond, the easier it is to see inclusions.

Pear Shaped SI2 Diamond Ring
Pear Shaped SI2 Diamond Ring from James Allen

For Oval Cuts, Cushion Cuts, Radiant Cuts, Marquise and Pear Shapes, you can more easily find an eye-clean SI2 because these shapes hide inclusions better than Round diamonds. For Emerald Cuts, Asscher Cuts, Princess Cuts, Baguettes and Heart Shapes, you’ll want to look for a VS2 (sometimes an SI1) for the best value. These shapes don’t hide inclusions as well, and it’s typically very challenging to find an eye-clean SI2 (if some inclusions are located in the corners of a Princess Cut, they can make a stone more prone to chipping).

6. Select a GIA or AGS certificate

AGS and GIA are the two most consistent and reliable lab entities in the world. In other words, you can trust the SI2 designation when they give it out. If the certificate is from a less consistent lab, like the IGI, an SI2 diamond is likely to be more like an I1 or I2 stone. You can’t rely on the grading, which defeats the purpose of the certificate.

7. Focus more on cut quality

The number one aspect that impacts a diamond’s beauty is its Cut. We recommend narrowing your search to only Excellent and Ideal cut diamonds. While you don’t want a diamond with an obvious imperfection, you should look for the lowest Clarity grade that will give you an eye-clean stone. You’ll then be able to put more of your budget toward a beautifully Cut or larger diamond.

Is it OK to buy an SI2 diamond?

It can be a great value to find an SI2 diamond if it’s eye-clean. Because the price drops from SI1 to SI2, you can save a good chunk of money this way. However, you need to be extra cautious with SI2 diamonds. The majority are not eye-clean, and therefore, not a good buy.

Take your time or get expert help to find a beautiful SI2 diamond. With the savings on Clarity, you’ll be able to put more of your budget into Cut quality (the most important aspect).

About the author
Mike learned the diamond business from the ground-up at Leo Schachter Diamonds - one of the world's top diamond manufacturers. He has been recognized as a diamond industry expert by Time, PeopleMoney, The Daily Mirror, NerdWallet, The Times Herald, Yahoo Finance Australia, The Art of Charm, The Washington Diplomat, The Next Web, and more. See more
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