We know that visible flaws can make a diamond look less clean and are a visual nuisance. But did you know that diamond inclusions can also make a stone more prone to damage? Let’s see which flaws are the most problematic and how you can make sure the diamond you buy is not at risk.
What Kinds of Diamond Inclusions Are There?
Diamond inclusions are internal flaws that developed within a diamond at the time of its crystallization, millions of years ago.
Once formed, inclusions don’t grow or change; they can sometimes be removed through clarity enhancement techniques.
The most commonly seen inclusions are in the form of black spots (carbon that hasn’t crystallized), lines, small crystals (visible as pinpoints or clouds), and cracks.
The bigger, more numerous, and more visible these internal flaws are within a stone, the lower its clarity is graded.
Although inclusions are constant in size and shape, they can make a stone weak and more likely to crack if pressure is applied to it at the time of repair, mounting, or when hit or bumped accidentally.
Which Inclusions Can Weaken Your Diamond?
Whether the inclusions present in a certain diamond will weaken its structure depends on how many of them are there, how big they are, and where they are located.
Let’s take a look at each of these factors:
Number of Inclusions
Each inclusion makes the structure of a diamond less uniform, compromising its integrity.
However, a couple of inclusions here and there won’t make much of a difference. It is when these flaws are too many that the diamond becomes weak. To create real problems, though, the inclusions also need to be big enough.
Size of Inclusions
Your diamond can have lots of tiny inclusions that you may never notice with the naked eye, and many of them may not be visible even with a microscope.
Such imperfections are too small to be problematic, even if they are numerous. It is large inclusions that can seriously affect the integrity of a stone.
Location of Inclusions
Where an inclusion is located plays an important role in how much harm it can do. Flaws that are deep inside a diamond pose less risk than those closer to the stone’s surface.
For example, a small line buried within your diamond is not as dangerous as one that reaches the top of the stone as a hit on its surface can cause it to crack along the inclusion.
In sum, to pose a real threat to your diamond, the inclusions inside it need to be reasonably big. Once these inclusions are large enough (usually, enough to be seen with the naked eye), the more there are and the closer they are to the surface, the weaker the stone will be.
Which Diamond Clarity Grades Are at Risk?
Diamonds whose structural integrity you shouldn’t worry about are those that don’t have a lot of big and visible inclusions.
This means that the safest clarity grades are in the SI range and higher: SI1 is a grade that doesn’t have inclusions big enough to be seen with the naked eye; SI2 stones can have some visible inclusions close to the edge, but they are too small to be cause for concern.
The problematic stones are in the I-clarity range, which contains the I1, I2 and I3 grades. I1 diamonds have inclusions that are easily visible, but for the most part, they are not as numerous or big to cause serious problems.
Stones start to get risky in the I2 grade, and once you get to the I3-clarity diamonds, structural weakness becomes a real problem.
Avoiding Brittle Diamonds When Shopping
I-clarity diamonds are attractive because of their relatively low prices.
However, before you decide to buy such a stone, you should ask yourself whether you are comfortable with the risk of ending up with a cracked or chipped diamond after an accidental hit.
While I1 stones may not be so risky, if you are looking at I2 or I3 diamonds, it is recommended that you think twice about the tradeoff between price and safety.
To avoid any potential problems with inclusions weakening your diamond’s structure, stick with stones of clarity SI2 and higher.