Eye-Clean Diamonds: Out of Sight, Out of Mind.
In case you missed it, here’s the lowdown on what diamond inclusions and clarity grades mean. Eye-clean diamonds are cut diamonds that, you guessed it, look clean to the naked eye (the eye-clean test only works if you’ve got 20/20 vision, so put on those glasses!). If you can’t see those inclusions, then they don’t matter.
What is an Eye Clean Diamond?
Eye-clean diamonds have no visible inclusions. It’s basically a layman’s way of measuring clarity: no fancy microscopes—just your eyes (plus contacts) and the diamond. Don’t see weird spots in the diamond? Then congrats, you’ve got an eye-clean diamond! (If the spots move while the diamond doesn’t, it’s time for a visit to the optometrist).
But say you’re buying your engagement ring diamond online—cause that’s what savvy, hustling millennials do—how do you know without seeing the diamond in person whether the stone is eye-clean?
Which Clarity Grades are Eye Clean?
The majority of VS2 (very slightly included) stones will be eyeclean. A few SI1 (slightly included) stones will also be eye-clean.
Stones with SI2 clarity and below, however, will not be eye-clean. They’ll probably have visible inclusions. Look carefully at the pictures or 360-degree diamond view that the company provides to see if the diamond you’re interested in is relatively free of glaring inclusions (an explanation of how to do the eye-clean check for a physical diamond later).
So why does this matter? I mean, why bother figuring out what stones are eye-clean when we’ve got clarity grades to work with?
Cause eye-clean diamonds in the SI1 clarity range, my friend, are where the best deals are found.
Diamond inclusions in the VS1 and higher range are invisible to the naked eye and are only visible at 10x power under the loupe or microscope. It’s only when you get to VS2 and SI1 diamonds that the inclusions start to become visible to the naked eye.
If you buy a VS2 diamond that has eye-visible inclusions, that means you’re getting a very bad deal, cause you’re basically buying the worst quality diamond in that price range. But if you get an eye-clean SI1 diamond, you’re getting a great deal, because you’re buying an eye-clean diamond for an SI price.
SI1 diamonds are much more affordable than VS diamonds and much much much more affordable than anything in the VVS, IF and F ranges. So, if you want a good bargain, and you’re not the attic-cleaning type of perfectionist, buy an eye-clean SI1 diamond. Your fiancée won’t know the difference, but your wallet will.
Plus, keep in mind that even flawless diamonds have inclusions. All diamonds have flaws, even flawless ones. What a life lesson, right? A Flawless clarity grade just means that the diamond has no visible inclusions at 10x magnification. But you can bet that any diamond will have inclusions if you look closely enough. So the thing about choosing an eye-clean SI1 diamond is finding one that shines despite its imperfection (in case you don’t get enough diamond-related inspiration as it is).
How to Tell if a Diamond is Eye Clean?
Finding an eye-clean diamond: easier said than done? Not really, actually. Checking is pretty simple. To find out whether a diamond is eye-clean, put on those glasses, hold the diamond (preferably a loose diamond) six to ten inches from your face and look at the diamond face up (If you’re whipping out a ruler right now, you might be a VVS, IF, F kind of person).
Rock the diamond back and forth, pun intended. See any cloudy white areas, black spots, cracks, white spots, strange lines? No? Then you’ve got an eye-clean diamond. Resist the impulse to check the back (the back is not considered for eye-cleanliness). Cause, I mean, no one looks there unless there’s a huge crack or something. If you find yourself obsessing over a spot in the back that’s not visible from the top—again, you might be more of a VVS, IF, F kind of guy.
Easing up on clarity lets you invest more in diamond color or clarity (or in your bachelor party, or a new sports car—we won’t judge).
Eye Clean Diamond Buying Bonus Tips
One thing to keep in mind though: diamond size matters. The larger the diamond, the more clarity matters. If you’re going all out to impress and buying that 1+ carat ring, maybe go for VS or higher, cause the more surface area there is, the more visible the inclusions will be. Less than one carat, VS or SI1 clarity should be fine.
Also, shape matters. I mean, we love you the way you are, but with diamonds, some shapes just show inclusions more than others. It’s almost like picking out an outfit. Some flatter; some are unforgiving. Round brilliants and other brilliant cut diamonds are the best at disguising flaws.
Cushion cuts and step cuts (such as the emerald cut or the asscher cut) are like those department store fitting room mirrors—clean and brightly lit, there’s no hiding a single pore. Basically, the larger the table and the fewer the facets the diamond cut has, the more visible the inclusions will be.
Want to be all unconditional-love about it? Forget eye-clean. Diamonds have flaws; just accept it. And I mean, if you’re a diamond nerd (like we are), some inclusions are pretty cool.
But if you’re all about pure bling on a budget, go for an eye-clean SI1 diamond. This way, you’ll get a stunning but budget-wise centerpiece for your diamond ring.