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Understanding SI2 Clarity Grade

How to potentially save big with an SI2 clarity diamond

By Mike Fried,

Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:

What is the difference between SI1 and SI2 diamonds?
Should I focus on SI2 clarity when buying a diamond?
What tips should I follow to get a beautiful SI2 clarity diamond?
Where is the best place to buy an SI2 clarity diamond?

Buying an SI2 clarity diamond is an opportunity to find some incredible value. As we will discuss below, as long as a diamond is eye-clean, there is no need to spend more on a diamond’s clarity.

Think You’re A Diamond Pro?

These are great eye clean diamonds.
The VS2 costs $5,950 the SI2 $5,110
Which diamond do you think will save you over $800?

Here is a lovely SI1 clarity diamond from James Allen that we would recommend which is $5,730. But if you were looking for better value, this SI2 clarity diamond from James Allen should be eye-clean and you can save 30%. But if you go too far, you may end up with an SI2 like this one. True it saves you 37%, but it’s horrific looking and not worth spending any money on.

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

SI2 clarity diamond ring
Marquise SI2 Diamond Ring
To help you with the diamond buying process we lean on our expertise and experience. The author of this article, our CEO, Mike Fried has over 20 years of experience in the diamond industry. Mike started from the bottom, sorting and evaluating hundreds of thousands of diamonds to learn every facet (pun intended) of diamond quality and value. Mike followed that up by spending years buying and selling diamonds on the wholesale market as well as selling tens of millions of dollars worth of diamonds to diamond retailers.

Mike Fried has written hundreds of articles and helped answer more than 30,000 emails from our readers. This has given him a unique perspective on what information truly helps our readers in their quest for finding the perfect diamond engagement ring or piece of jewelry.

Mike is recognized as an industry expert and has been quoted in publications such as Us, People, Page Six, The Next Web and more.

To read more about our process for secret shopping and reviewing companies and additional details about how we operate, check out this article.

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.

Deal Alert: Save 10% off Lab Grown Diamonds at James Allen!

What Are SI2 Diamonds?

The GIA lab (the world’s pre-eminent diamond grading lab defines SI2 diamonds as “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% to 95% (depending on the size of the diamond)—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.

SI1 vs SI2 Diamonds

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 from James Allen costs $1,830, while this SI1 Marquise diamond costs $2,150. That’s a 16% 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
SI2 Clarity Marquise
SI2 Clarity Marquise

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.

SI2 vs VS2

The difference between SI2 clarity and VS2 is just two steps on the diamond clarity chart. However, the true difference between SI2 and VS diamond clarity is immense, as most VS2 (or VS1) diamonds can be expected to pass as eye-clean.

The gap between an SI2 and VS2 is also reflected in pricing, as a VS2 clarity diamond can be more than two times the price of an SI2, with all other grades being equal. 

Take these two 1 carat, J color round diamonds as an example. The first, SI2 clarity, is $4,730. While a similar diamond with a VS2 clarity grade will cost you $5,320. 

This massive difference in cost means you can save a lot by picking out a diamond with an SI2 clarity grade. But it’s only worth it if you are able to find an SI2 diamond that is truly eye-clean and free from obvious imperfections.

SI2 Clarity Grade

To understand what you’re looking at with an SI2 clarity diamond, you first need to know where it stacks up on the diamond clarity grading scale.

Every diamond should come with a lab certificate. We only recommend a GIA 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.

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.

Look for Eye-Clean Diamonds

You can spend a lot of time stressing over clarity grades, but its actual appearance is the only thing that matters. Not all SI2 diamonds are the same—some are beautiful and some have glaring blemishes.

Instead of focusing on whether a diamond has a certain clarity grade, look for one that is eye-clean. We use the term “eye-clean diamond” when a diamond looks clear and free of imperfections to the naked eye.

Experts may be able to see inclusions using a magnifying glass, a microscope, or a loupe, but it’s more important that a typical person can’t see anything under normal viewing conditions.

While approximately 70% of SI2 diamonds are not eye-clean, you may still be able to find a beautiful SI2 diamond where any inclusions it has are easily hidden or in positions where they are difficult to notice.

We recommend finding the cheapest (in regards to clarity; other factors matter as well, such as diamond color and cut quality) eye-clean diamond you can. This will allow you to get the best value possible, as you’ll avoid overspending on a clarity grade that is too high.

Test Eye-Cleanliness for Yourself

Sifting through hundreds of diamonds and assessing each one for clarity is an arduous task, which is why we developed Ringo.

Ringo is a patented artificial intelligence model, designed to examine videos of diamonds to tell whether or not they are eye-clean. Ringo can also filter for other parameters, such as making sure the diamond is well-cut,  that there are no issues with fluorescence, and that it matches the style setting you choose.

Ringo Approved Eye Clean Diamonds

What is Ringo?

If you want to select a diamond specifically for your personal needs (budget, shape and setting style), check it out here

Buying Tips for SI2 Diamonds

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

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 certificate

GIA is the most consistent and reliable lab entity 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 quality. 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.

SI2 Diamond Price and Where to Buy

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. Shopping in brick 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

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.

As mentioned above, the best places to buy an SI2 diamond are online retailers with high quality imagery. In particular, James Allen has the best 360 degree images you can find.

Aside from being significantly cheaper, James Allen and also offer a large inventory of loose diamonds, increasing the chances that you’ll be able to find a suitable eye-clean SI2 diamond that fits your style preference.

The high-quality imagery and virtual inspection tools available on these two sites are particularly crucial for assessing diamond clarity, as they allow you to get a close look at any imperfections, so you can be sure the diamond you’re getting will look stunning and free from any major flaws.

Need Help With SI2 Clarity? Contact Us Today

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. With the savings on Clarity, you’ll be able to put more of your budget into Cut quality (the most important aspect).

You need to be extra cautious, however, with SI2 diamonds. The majority are not eye-clean, and therefore, not a good buy. Never buy an SI2 diamond blind; you should always inspect it to ensure the diamond’s inclusions are not overwhelming, and that it will appear clean to the naked eye.

Take your time or get expert help to find a beautiful SI2 diamond. Our experts are on hand to advise you during your search and help you pick out the perfect eye-clean diamond for your budget.

Here are more specific clarity topics to browse:

James Allen James Allen is the leader in online diamond sales. Their imaging technology is the same as inspecting a diamond with a jeweler's loupe. They have the largest exclusive loose diamond inventory online and fantastic prices. They also have the nicest collection of lab created diamonds online.
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. James Allen will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
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  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisals
  • One free resizing within 60 days of purchase
  • Free ring inscriptions
  • Best-in-class high quality imagery of all diamonds in stock
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • Best-in-class packaging
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Blue Nile Blue Nile is the largest and most well known internet jewelry seller. They have a very large exclusive online inventory. Their high quality images are catching up to James Allens' and their prices are amazing. Blue Nile have generously offered our readers an exclusive one-time use coupon. (Click Here to save $100 off $1000 purchase)

Please enter your email address to receive your personal one-time use unique coupon code:

What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. Blue Nile will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisal
  • One free resizing within the first year of purchase
  • High quality images of about half of their diamonds
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • 100% credit towards future upgrades (must be at least double in value)
  • Best in class fulfillment
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About the author

Mike Fried Mike Fried Mike Fried has over 25 years experience in the diamond industry working with Leo Schachter Diamonds, Moshe Namdar Diamonds, and joining The Diamond Pro in 2007. He is recognized as an industry expert and has been quoted in publications such as Us, People, Page Six, The Next Web and more.

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