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.
Imperfections inside a diamond, such as tiny spots of white, black, or other
colors; large or small cracks; colored and uncolored crystals.
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
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 is a treatment used to fill-in tiny cracks with a clear,
glasslike 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
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
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.
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
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