If you’ve ever taken a close-up look at a diamond, you may have noticed its internal structural flaws called “inclusions.” However, do you really know which of these imperfections affect just the appearance of the stone and which can be more harmful?
Chips: Visible and Weakening
Chips are surface flaws and they are always annoying as they can be seen easily. The problem with chips is not only visual, though – once the integrity of the stone’s surface has been damaged, the diamond is more likely to chip again in the same place if hit.
You should avoid diamonds with chips around the edge (the girdle) as such flaws can significantly weaken the diamond’s structure.
Needless to say, chips also lower the value of your stone. That’s why when buying a diamond, you should inspect it using a loupe and feel its surface and edge with your finger for irregularities.
Be especially careful if you are buying used jewelry as the diamonds in it are more likely to have chips.
Also, you should always look at the diamonds you are about to buy when they are taken out of their setting, which can conceal some of their defects.
If you have a chipped diamond and you want to get rid of the chip, you can have the stone re-cut by a jeweler.
This means that the cutter will remove some material from all sides of the stone until the chip disappears. Of course, the diamond’s carat weight will go down in the process, and your stone will lose value (and size).
Cracks: More Insidious than Other Inclusions
The cracks or cleavages in a diamond are usually visible as lines inside it.
These inclusions are particularly dangerous because they weaken the stone’s internal structure. As a result, the diamond is more vulnerable to stress, and a stronger blow can cause the stone to split along the cracks.
Usually, diamonds with cracks will have a low clarity grade and will be a lot cheaper than stones of higher quality. However, paying less money for such a stone is hardly worth the risk of ending up with a broken diamond at some point in the future.
In general, avoid diamonds with long cracks inside them, and be especially wary of stones with lines that reach the surface of the stone – such inclusions make the stone more prone to damage.
Black Dots: Just a Visual Defect?
The black dots you can sometimes see in a diamond are simply areas where carbon hasn’t crystallized and has thus remained black.
Take a look at these I1-clarity diamonds — many of them have black spots, and you can see what they actually look like.
If there are too many of them, these spots can stand out and detract from the visual appeal of the stone, especially if they are larger.
Apart from being an optical nuisance, black spots do not present any real danger to the structure of a diamond.
In general, avoid stones with too many and too large black spots because apart from being annoying, they can block the light entering the stone, causing it to lose its sparkle.
To avoid black spots, it is best to select from diamonds of higher clarity and pick a stone that doesn’t have such inclusions. For example, these VS1/VS2-clarity diamonds are much less likely to have black spots than lower-clarity stones.
Our tip: If you are choosing among lower clarity diamonds that all have black spots, pick a stone whose dots are concentrated in places where they will not be visible when you wear it, i.e. on the sides or deep inside the stone. Avoid diamonds with spots closer to the top of the stone.
Where to Buy Diamonds and Diamond Jewelry?
If you're looking to buy diamond jewelry, we recommend that you consider James Allen, which has some of the best prices for diamonds as well as real pictures and 360-degree videos to help you examine their quality. Click here to read our review of James Allen and see why it is our preferred diamond retailer.