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Diamond Clarity Treatments

Not All Diamond Clarity Enhancements Are Permanent

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Diamond clarity is an important diamond characteristic you'll hear about when you shop for an engagement ring or other diamond jewelry, but clarity isn't always natural--it can be altered by mechanical treatments--and clarity enhanced diamonds may be among the gemstones offered to you.

The terms used to describe diamond clarity focus on the absence or presence of inclusions inside or blemishes on the surface of the diamond. A perfect natural diamond with perfect clarity--clearness--is very rare, but many flaws that exist in jewelry grade diamonds cannot be seen without looking at them through a microscope or jeweler's magnifying loupe.

Diamond Inclusions

  • Imperfections inside a diamond, such as tiny spots of white, black, or other colors; large or small cracks; colored and uncolored crystals.

Diamond Blemishes

  • Flaws on a diamond's exterior surface, such as nicks and scratches.

  • Naturals, leftovers of the rough, uncut and unpolished surface of a diamond.

Clarity Enhancing Treatments

Diamond Laser Drilling

A tiny laser beam is used to drill into the diamond, tunneling-in to remove inclusions. Some inclusions are dissolved by chemical solutions that are placed in the tunnels.

Signs of Laser Drilling

Laser drilling typically leaves lines that resemble tiny jet trails, visible under side-view magnification. You'll see a tiny white dot when viewing the trails from the top of the diamond.

A newer type of laser enhancement creates cracks around inclusions near a diamond's surface. The imperfection is removed, and the marks left behind look more like natural flaws than laser trails.

Laser drilling removes inclusions permanently and does not alter the strength of a diamond. Normal cleaning and the heat produced during setting repairs won't change the appearance of the stone.

Laser drilled areas that are filled-in with a clear substance are more difficult to detect, but the filler should not be considered permanent.

Fracture Filling

Fracture filling is a treatment used to fill-in tiny cracks with a clear, glass-like substance. The cracks don't disappear, but the film creates an optical illusion that makes them invisible to the naked eye.

Fracture filling is not a permanent treatment. Heat from repairs, cleaning, and sunlight can erode the filler or darken its color.

Signs of Fracture Filling

Some signs of fracture filling can be seen using a 10X jeweler's loupe and others require a microscope.

  • With magnification, you might see flashes of color where cracks have been filled. The flashes aren't like the typical brilliant colors you see when rotating a stone. Instead, they follow the lines and shapes of the filled cracks.

  • Trapped air bubbles are a sign of fracture filling, either singly or in groups that create a cloudy appearance.

Unfilled cracks in diamonds can also produce color flashes. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) advises that unfilled cracks are easiest to detect when looking at them from a perpendicular angle, while filled breaks are more obvious when looking at them from a parallel perspective.

If you're buying a diamond engagement ring or other diamond jewelry that will be worn continuously, a fracture filled stone may not be the best choice, since the treatment is not permanent.

The Term "Enhanced"

Be wary if someone insinuates that the word enhanced is a positive gemstone feature. It does sound more desirable than the term treated, but it means the same thing. Find out which treatments were used and how those treatments affect the value of the diamond, its long-term appearance, and the care you should give it.

Treatments allow us to own a diamond that appears to be of a higher quality than it truly is, and there's nothing wrong with buying a treated diamond if those treatments are disclosed and you pay an appropriate price for the stone.

Jeweler Disclosure

Knowledgeable, reputable jewelers always disclose that treatments were made to the diamonds they offer for sale, but let's face it, not everyone is knowledgeable or reputable. The solution is to arm yourself with as much information as you can before you shop for diamonds. You won't become an expert overnight, but you will have a better understanding of what you're looking at and you'll know which questions you should ask before you make an important purchase.
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