Diamond Treatments - Clarity Enhancements
Treatments that Improve Diamond Clarity
Clarity is one of the terms you'll hear when you
shop for an engagement ring or other diamond jewelry. Before you
choose a diamond, it's important to understand what clarity is
and how it can be manipulated.
grading designations describe the absence or presence of flaws
inside or on the surface of a gemstone. A perfect natural stone
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
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 are leftover matrix, the natural
surface of the diamond before it was cut and polished.
Laser Drilling Removes Inclusions
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.
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. The filler should
not be considered permanent.
Filling Fills Cracks
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.
Some signs of fracture filling can be seen
using a 10X jeweler's loupe, but 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 another sign of
fracture filling, either singly or in groups that create a
Unfilled cracks may produce color flashes,
too. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) offers helpful
advice that unfilled breaks 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.
Fracture Filling Not Permanent
If you're buying a diamond engagement ring or
other diamond jewelry that will be worn continuously, a filled
stone may not be the best choice, since the treatment is not
"Enhanced" is Not a Positive Term
Be wary if someone insinuates that the word
enhanced is a positive 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.
Jewelers Should Disclose
Knowledgeable, reputable jewelers will
disclose that treatments were made to 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.