You have probably heard that the clarity of some diamonds sold in jewelry stores has been enhanced, but do you know what such treatment entails? Let’s take a look at the difference between clarity-enhanced diamonds and untreated diamonds.
What Are Clarity-Enhanced Diamonds?
Clarity-enhanced diamonds are stones that have been treated with heat or certain substances to make these diamonds look clearer than they naturally are. Stones that have undergone such treatment are real diamonds, but some of their most visible flaws have been removed or masked.
How Is Diamond Clarity Enhanced?
There are two main ways to enhance the clarity of diamonds: laser drilling and fracture filling.
Laser drilling is a method that involves making a small hole in the diamond and drilling a very thin tunnel from the stone’s surface to an inclusion inside the stone.
This tunnel is then used to remove the inclusion by using heat or acid. For example, a black spot inside a diamond can be burned out with laser and vaporized. This enhancement method improves clarity permanently.
After the clarity of a diamond has been enhanced through laser drilling, the channels and the empty space that’s left after the removed inclusion are filled with a glass-like substance.
This treatment is called fracture filling.
The goal is to make the traces from laser drilling less visible. However, the results of fracture filling are not permanent, and they can be reversed.
How Are Clarity-Enhanced Diamonds Different from Nontreated Diamonds?
In general, clarity-enhanced diamonds are cheaper than stones of similar clarity but without any treatments.
There are also some other differences in appearance and durability.
Laser-Drilled vs. Untreated Diamonds
The channels in a laser-dilled diamond can make its structure weaker compared to that of an untreated stone.
If only a small number of inclusions are removed, the resulting channels won’t be numerous and are unlikely to cause problems.
However, if the stone is heavily included and a lot of tunnels are drilled in it, the diamond may become easy to crack.
Not all vendors disclose that a diamond has been laser-drilled.
However, the tiny channels can be seen if you look at the stone under a microscope.
If the diamond has been certified by the G.I.A. (Gemological Institute of America), the grading report of the stone will contain information on whether it has been drilled.
Fracture-Filled Diamonds vs. Untreated Diamonds
Laser-drilled diamonds whose channels have been filled do not look much different from regular diamonds at first glance.
However, since the crystalline filling has different refractive properties from those of diamond, the sparkle and color of the stone can be somewhat altered, especially if the filled channels are numerous.
A more important difference is that fracture-filled diamonds are more vulnerable to high temperatures, which can destroy the filling.
This is why repairing jewelry with such stones can be tricky if the jeweler needs to use heat.
In addition, fracture-filled diamonds should not be cleaned in ultrasonic cleaners because they can damage the filling of these stones.
Note: Because of the impermanent nature of its results, fracture filling has to be disclosed by the vendor for diamonds sold in the U.S.
Where to Buy Diamonds and Diamond Jewelry?
For diamond jewelry, we highly recommend James Allen because it shows real photos and videos for each diamond so you can take a 360-degree look at any stone before buying it.
For colored diamonds, we recommend Leibish & Co., which specializes in fancy color diamonds (use code JewelryNotes200 at checkout to get a 5% discount).