What Is a Diamond Feather?
Feathers are tiny cracks within a diamond and usually look like uneven, jagged lines or fissures. They can vary in size and can most easily be spotted with a 10x jewelry loupe, although they are not always visible from all angles.
Diamond feathers are usually white or transparent but can also have other colors.
Feathers are flaws that most likely occurred in diamonds at the time of their formation.
This type of inclusion is unlikely to originate from damage caused by pressure applied to the stone while cutting it or setting it in jewelry.
Is a Feather a Threat to a Diamond’s Durability?
Whether a feather poses a risk to the integrity of a diamond depends on the location and size of the inclusion.
Feathers that are small and located deep within the stone are not dangerous.
On the other hand, those feathers that reach the surface of the diamond can make it less durable and more prone to chipping or cracking if hit.
Feathers you should be especially careful about are those that not only reach the surface but are also close to vulnerable parts of the stone such as its edge (girdle) or its pointed ends.
Such areas are easy to damage, and a feather in proximity weakens them further.
Be wary of diamonds where the feathers that reach the surface also go deep inside the stone, especially if there are multiple such inclusions.
Can a Diamond Feather Become Bigger?
Feathers are unlikely to grow bigger as a result of normal wear and tear or even if you bump your diamond accidentally.
These flaws can extend in the process of cutting the diamond into a certain shape, but this happens before the stone even reaches the store.
Unless the feather is big and touches the diamond’s surface, it is unlikely to worsen with normal wear.
How Feathers Impact Diamond Clarity
How a feather will affect the clarity of a diamond depends on the position, size, and shape of the flaw.
In general, the bigger and more visible a feather is, the more of an impact it has on a stone’s clarity grade.
Feathers that are placed in more prominent locations of the diamond have a greater effect on its clarity than do those located in less noticeable positions.
Diamonds with clarity graded I1/I2/I3 often have big and visible feathers that are easily seen when the stone is worn.
In higher-clarity stones that have feathers, these flaws are smaller and often not readily visible without magnification.
If you want to make sure that your diamond will not have a feather that affects negatively the stone’s appearance or durability, stick with stones of SI1 clarity and above, and take your time to pick a diamond whose feathers are not visible with the naked eye.
Clarity-Enhanced Diamonds and Feathers
Some vendors hide larger feathers by filling them with a crystalline substance.
While this clarity-enhancing treatment can mask such inclusions, if the feather poses a threat to the stone’s durability, this risk does not go away after the enhancement.
What’s more, the filling used to conceal the feather may be destroyed by high temperature if your diamond jewelry happens to be repaired using heat.
The clarity-improving substance may also impact the brilliance and color of the stone.