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Diamond Clarity Treatments: Are they for Me?

Natural diamonds have been prized and sought after for thousands of years, so it’s no wonder with the burst of technology in the turn of the 20th century & after WWII that diamond treatments became available. The function of diamond treatments is to improve clarity and/or color of a lower quality diamond to give one a different price option. In this week’s blog, I will be focusing on two major clarity treatments. It’s important to note that not all treatments are permanent, and they do require special care to keep it lasting.

· Laser Drilling: As you may have read in one of my previous blogs,, inclusions (internal characteristics) can be clear, white, or dark. It is generally the dark inclusions that draw our eye, similar to an ink stain on a white shirt. To improve the view of the diamond, laser drilling may be used to lighten the appearance of an inclusion that is an eye sore. From the surface of a diamond, a laser is used to drill a thin and long hole to reach the inclusion inside. Then, bleach or acid is used to lighten the dark inclusion. Sometimes, the laser drill is used to vaporize the dark inclusion leaving a white or clear inclusion in place. Since the hole cannot be removed, laser drilling is considered a permanent treatment, although, dirt and oils can fill the drill hole so that it is more visible. The drill hole plays a part in deciding the clarity grade of a diamond as well.

· Fracture Filling: By definition, inclusions are internal characteristics of a diamond, but some of those internal characteristics can break the surface with a small opening. A molten, leaded, glass-like filler is infused into the diamond’s fractures which travels down to the main part of the inclusion inside the diamond. The filler has similar optical properties to a diamond, so instead of seeing an offending inclusion, you might see a clear ripple. A trained Graduate Gemologist like myself can see a flash effect from the filler when looking at the diamond under a microscope at multiple angles.

*** Care: Fracture filling diamond treatment needs to most care! Common jewelry repairs using heat, ultrasonic cleaning, steam cleaning, and acid cleaning can cause the filler to break down and leak out. There are some companies in the industry that will refill a diamond’s fractures, but if the filler turns dark, it cannot be made colorless again.

It is REALLY important for you to disclose to your jeweler of any treatments so that your diamond comes back to you as you left it. I have worked with clients who didn’t know that their diamond was laser drilled or fracture filled, and we caught it at take-in, but an untrained counter person can easily miss it.

The other thing that is REALLY important happens when you are purchasing your diamond. A diamond seller, whether online or in person, MUST disclose any and all of the diamond treatments. It should be verbal or written into the description online and put on the sales receipt. Ideally, the diamond should come with an independent grading lab report from The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or the American Gem Society (AGS) which will disclose any treatments. It’s also important that the salesperson or website educates the consumer on the treatments as well.

A laser drilled or fracture filled diamond will cost less than a diamond not treated which is a bonus to your bank account, but it is also important to know that they require special care. As a Graduate Gemologist with 23 years of experience, I can help you navigate the waters of buying a diamond ring. I offer one-on-one appointments where you can relax and ask all your questions. I also offer Zoom appointments if you are more comfortable, or a combination of in-person and online! Book your private appointment today!

(Photo Credit: The Gemological Institute of America)

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