In your search for the best diamond engagement ring or diamond earrings, you will come across some rather confusing terms. And though you will be tempted to buy the first diamond piece that has an enticing name, it’s important to take a step back and research the name and why the diamond has that descriptive name. Alternatively, if you are shopping or thinking about buying diamond jewelry, you might want to take the time to learn all you need to know about diamonds.
Not sure where to start? Read this article on clarity-enhanced diamonds. Here, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about the clarity-enhanced diamonds and what it means to have these words ‘clarity enhanced on a diamond.
What does clarity enhanced mean on a diamond?
A clarity-enhanced diamond can be defined as a natural diamond whose natural inclusions that were previously visible to the human/ naked eye have been filled, making the inclusions completely invisible to the naked eye or barely visible. These diamonds go through a chemical enhancement process that involves the use of elements with the same optical properties as the diamonds, meaning that light travels through the enhanced stones as it would in the natural diamonds without the inclusions. Thanks to the enhancement, the enhanced diamonds will scintillate and sparkle in the same way as the certified diamonds that fall in the same or a comparable diamond (clarity) grade.
Oftentimes, the clarity-enhanced diamonds are, as mentioned above, the diamonds that had quite visible imperfections. In other words, the enhanced stones fall under the I1, I2, and the I3 clarity grades – all with visible inclusions or imperfections. Since no one wishes to buy or wear diamond-bearing ‘eye visible’ inclusions, the jewelers get these inclusion-riddled diamonds treated, getting rid of the inclusions or making the inclusions inviable to your naked eye.
The treatments needed to enhance the clarity of the diamonds are a lot like the filings used by repairmen when you crack your car’s windscreen. Think of the enhancement as a repair of the problem rather than a much-needed replacement. As a result, the clarity-enhanced diamonds are also commonly referred to as fracture-filled diamonds. Once the inclusions or imperfections are corrected, you will be left with a diamond whose imperfections are no longer visible to your eyes, unassisted.
How is clarity enhancement of the diamonds done?
Before we look at the advantages and the disadvantages of getting diamonds’ clarity enhanced, how about a look at how this ‘plastic surgery for diamonds’ is done.
Clarity enhancement for diamonds is most often performed on the lower-clarity diamonds graded I2 or I3, and the main reason why this is done is that it offers an easier way of hiding the inclusions in the diamonds less visible. This is done in either of two ways – fracture filling or laser drilling.
Laser drilling can be done internally or externally to improve the clarity of the diamonds and to get rid of the inclusions.
1.External Laser Drilling
External laser drilling is one of the methods or treatments that’s used to enhance the clarity of diamonds. To do that, laser drilling removes the inclusions present on the gemstone’s body. Laser drilling will often be applied on the larger carbon inclusions, as well as the dark or the colored crystals that are embedded in the crystalline structure of the diamonds.
The process starts with the drilling of a very tiny, perhaps a microscopic tunnel on the surface of the diamond. Drilling is done using laser beams which will consequently create a simple but accurate route leading to the target inclusion. Strong acidic chemical solutions are then poured into the target inclusion via the drilled tunnel, where it dissolves and bleaches the inclusions. The most common mix of chemicals needed to bleach the inclusions is a mix of highly concentrated HF or hydrofluoric acid that mixed with H2SO4 or concentrated sulphuric acid.
Won’t drilling affect or weaken the diamond’s structural integrity? Well, technically, it will not cause much damage. The reason for this is that the drilling and the chemical bleaching process is efficient and it will eliminate all foreign materials in the diamond, and as long as the right drilling methods are used/ employed, the only sign of drilling seen is only the microscopic tunnel extending to the target inclusions from the diamond’s surface.
2.Internal Laser Drilling
This is the newest method used in diamond clarity enhancement. It is different from external laser drilling, where tunnels are drilled to reach the inclusions. In internal laser drilling, the diamond is treated through processes that involve the drilling of small cleavages that feature patterns that aren’t discernible. These tunnels are created to bridge the inclusions from deep in the diamond out to the stone’s surface, but without using the beams from the direct beam. The resultant tunnels will, therefore, resemble and pass for natural flaws.
Internal laser drilling is often used for the enhancement of the diamonds with darker inclusions. After drilling, strong bleaching solutions are poured in the stone where it dissolves all the dark, unsightly inclusions.
Clarity enhancement for diamonds could also be done through fracture-filling – a process that was pioneered by the renowned Yehuda Diamond Company. This process involves the repair of the ‘cracks’ in the diamonds. Note that although the cavities and the feathers in the diamonds could be removed by polishing, polishing would result in a significant loss of the diamond’s carat weight. Fracture-filling doesn’t create the same effect.
Fracture-filling diamonds for clarity enhancement involves the insertion of glass or, in other cases, glass-like materials that work as filler materials. These fillings go onto the cracks, and the surface scratches in and on the diamonds. It’s also worth noting that the material used for fracture filling boasts the same optical properties as the diamond’s – that is, the refractive index. Therefore, the flaws in the diamond would be almost invisible after the filler liquid is solidification of the filler.
The downside of fracture-filling has to do with the resultant enhanced diamond no longer a diamond made of uniform materials, which means a huge change in the properties of the diamond.
The main reason for this change has to do with the effects of the treatment on chemically unreactive and highly stable diamonds – properties that are made possible by the unique crystalline structure of the diamonds. Despite fracture filling, the sparkle fades over time, and in extremes, the filling could also fall out, especially when exposed to strong chemicals or harsh temperatures.
Are clarity-enhanced diamonds bad?
A diamond is forever, and the scintillating sparkle of the diamond is what makes the gemstone the most desirable stone in the world. This sparkle is also the reason for the high price tag associated with the diamonds. Unfortunately, most of us cannot afford the price of the best quality diamonds. So, when the opportunity to buy what seems like the best sparkling diamond but at a much lower price comes knocking, we are often tempted to rush forward and take it. Well, this is what happens to the enhanced diamonds. Through clarity enhancement, the garbage-tier diamonds that are not only unsaleable but also unwanted are transformed through the clarity enhancement processes above, leaving you with the most sparkling and cheap diamonds.
Of course, you would easily jump at the opportunity to own such a diamond, but before you do, read this: the enhanced diamonds are sore disappointments, and a clarity-enhanced diamond is not a good buy – never will. Despite the polishing, the cut quality of the stones is poor. Then there is the fact that these diamonds are already structurally weak, however minimal the alteration was. Therefore, you will enjoy the clarity of such diamonds for a very short time. Finally, these diamonds aren’t the best investment option for you because they don’t come with the right certification from the certification bodies like the GIA, which means that they are not regarded as authentic diamonds.
Take into consideration the risk associated with fracture-filling above – fading/ dulling, and degradation of the fillings and clarity enhancement doesn’t sound like the best idea anymore
Pros and cons of enhanced diamonds
- The enhancement diamonds look as good as the real thing
- These diamonds are quite affordable
- Unwanted diamonds turn more desirable
- Not long-lasting
- No authentic certification from GIA
- Repairs and other fixes become visible after some years
- The structural integrity of the diamond is lost
- Not always easy to identity
Are clarity-enhanced diamonds worth it?
If you don’t mind buying enhanced diamonds that come with the risk of breakage, dulling, and the loss of sparkle after some time, then you can buy them. But if you wish to live up to the diamond is forever dream, the clarity-enhanced diamond is not really worth it.
Should you buy clarity-enhanced diamonds?
If you are strapped for cash, and you really need a diamond ring or earrings, then the clarity-enhancement diamond won’t be the worst possible idea. There are already too many of these on the market today, and you need to be careful when buying the enhanced diamonds.
Keep in mind, however, that these clarity-improved diamonds are not GIA certified. But you can still tell them apart from the real thing. In most cases, the enhanced diamonds are EGL-certified, and they are marked differently. I2 diamonds, for example, are SI2 after enhancement, and the EGL will add the SI2 mark on the diamond’s certificate for you to know that you are buying enhanced diamonds.
Clarity-enhanced diamonds refer to diamonds that are either laser-drilled or fracture-filled. Diamonds that are fracture-filled often have either a faint or a strong neon color in/ on the stone, and the color stands out well when the stone is viewed under the microscope.
Generally, the decision to buy these diamonds is entirely up to you. Most buyers of clarity-improved diamonds are mostly very happy with their purchases.
Just make sure that you know what you are buying. It is less expensive, but it isn’t always the perfect choice.