What Are Clarity Enhanced Diamonds?

clarity enhanced diamond

Treatments to Improve Appearances

what is a clarity enhanced diamond and why is it important for you to know about such treatments? Before we answer this question, let’s talk about the value of diamonds which is measured by four characteristics. 

These characteristics, also known as the “four C’s” of diamonds” represent the basic attributes that you should always keep in mind when buying a diamond. They are: cut, carat, color and clarity.

Carat only represents the weight of the stone; cut is mainly influenced by the performance of the cutter. The remaining two C’s, color and clarity, are a little different: these represent the material properties of the diamond.

First of All, What is Clarity?

The clarity grade of a diamond represents the material imperfections found on the external surface or the interior of a diamond. The former are also called blemishes. To name a few, these could be scratches on the surface, naturals left behind during the cutting process or hazy looking burn marks that could reduce the light-reflecting capacity of the stone.

The other type of imperfections found inside a diamond are called inclusions. These are could be tiny “specks” of foreign material that obstruct light rays traversing through the diamond or could be huge unsightly splotches like clouds, feathers or cavities that can be observed by the naked eye.

When man is faced with certain problems, the genius in him will spark creative solutions to resolve issues posed by Mother Nature. Lasers were invented in the 1960’s and it proved to be a wonderful engineering tool for many industries. With the ability to be manipulated with pinpoint accuracy, lasers soon found their applications in the jewelry trade as both cutting and enhancement tools.

External Laser Drilling Treatment to Improve Clarity

Laser drilling is a method used in removing inclusions inside the body of a gemstone. A tiny tunnel is drilled into the surface using a laser beam. Through that tunnel, strong acidic chemicals are forced into the opening to dissolve and bleach out the inclusions. Typically, a mixture of concentrated hydrofluoric acid (HF) and sulphuric acid (H2So4) is used.

laser drilling of diamond

Profile view of laser drilled diamond showing a tunnel reaching the inclusion – GIA

Generally speaking, laser drilling will not weaken the structural integrity of the diamond to a serious extent. It doesn’t leave any foreign material inside the diamond after the process is performed. When proper drilling techniques are applied, the only observable sign of laser drilling is a microscopical tunnel that reaches the inclusion from the surface.

Now, if you are wondering whether laser drilled diamonds (or any form of enhanced stones) are good buys, let me tell you straight up that you will be sorely disappointed. While these stones may seem “cheap”, the truth of the matter is that 99.99% of clarity enhanced diamonds have terrible quality in terms of cut.

I can tell you that the general consumer is far better off by lowering expectations of the 4Cs and sticking with an untreated diamond. If you are shopping for an engagement ring, James Allen and Blue Nile are reliable vendors with huge inventory bases for any budgets. I recommend you check them out first.

Internal Laser Drilling (Made to Resemble Natural Flaws)

Besides using lasers to create surface reaching tunnels, new methods of internal drilling had also been researched and applied in recent years. Why would people want to use internal laser drilling instead of the traditional laser tunneling? Well, the real reason behind using internal drilling involves a malicious intent to deceive consumers as this treatment is often undisclosed.

You see, internal laser drilling creates many small cleavages with seemingly non-discernible patterns. These “tunnels” serve the purpose of bridging the inclusion to the surface without the use of a direct laser tunnel. The problem with these irregular and worm-like looking channels is that they are purposely made to resemble feathers and passed off as being “natural” flaws.

worm-like channels that are laser drilled

Artificial treatment that resembles natural inclusions

For this treatment, diamonds with dark inclusions near their surfaces are good candidates for enhancement. After the worm-like channels are drilled, the diamond is subjected to a series bleaching solutions to dissolve the unsightly inclusions.

laser drilled diamond

Black coloration is significantly reduced after treatment

laser treatment is a success in improving clarity

Both dark crystal and feather are no longer that obvious after laser drilling

Source: A New Lasering Technique For Diamond (GIA)

Important notealways ask for a GIA or AGS certificate when buying a diamond. If the jeweler refuses to show you one or tries to promote some other un-heard of reports, it immediately subjects the diamond to suspicion and exercise extreme caution. Besides grade bumping or clarity enhancements issues, the jeweler could be trying to hide some other major issues from you.

“Repairing” the Surface: fracture Filled Diamonds

Although cavities and surface reaching feathers can be removed through polishing, there is a method which does not lead to significant carat weight loss. Fracture filling is the process of inserting glass or liquid glass-like filler material into surface scratches and cracks. Since the filler possesses similar optical properties (refraction) as that of a diamond, the flaws get covered up nicely after the liquid filler is solidified.

Yehuda Diamond Company is the current industry leader who also pioneered fracture filling. Their business model and goal of enabling consumers to purchase larger diamonds at affordable prices has seen some success. Since then, many other companies had tried to emulate their success and started developing their own proprietary method for fracture filling.

before and after fracture filling

Fracture filling can greatly enhance the appearances of feathers and open cleavages – GIA

Now, the problem with fracture filling is that it results in a stone which is no longer made of a uniform material. Despite advances in material science, the filling substance still has vastly different material properties compared to the host diamond. What looks almost perfect after the treatment process might fade with the passing of time. Or worse still, the filling might even fall out in extreme cases.

Typically, when the fillings are exposed to harsh temperatures or strong chemicals like concentrated acids or alkali, the filling would start to degrade or fail. Because of its non-permanent nature, most companies offer lifetime “repairs” for fracture filled diamonds to keep customers happy.

That said, the problem with reworks and a second filling is that it isn’t going to be as good as the first. Also, another limitation of this technique is that once a diamond is filled with a resin, it is impossible to reverse the process completely.

Do note that GIA (Gemological Institute of America) does not grade fracture filled diamonds because they don’t change the appearance of the diamond permanently. C.E. diamonds are usually separately appraised and graded by other labs as they represent a totally different category.

While the motive behind diamond fracture filling sounds good, the huge problem behind these diamonds is that they aren’t cut for light performance. If your priority in getting a diamond lies in the best sparkle and brilliance, I would recommend managing your carat size expectations and head to White Flash or Brian Gavin instead.

Clarity Enhanced Diamonds Pros And Cons

glass filled clarity enhanced diamonds

Laser Drilled And Resin Filled

Why do people buy clarity enhanced diamonds? Well, there’s actually no wrong or right answer to this question as it depends on the needs and the type of situation you are in.

For other people who are on a strict budget and yet, would like to purchase a bigger diamond, treated diamonds offer an alternative method to do that without breaking the bank.

For the jewelers, clarity enhancements improve the prospects of selling a severely flawed diamond as the stone now has a better visual appeal. From a business perspective, getting a severely included diamond treated and selling it at a lower cost makes more sense than having it remain stagnant in the inventory.

The Bad Vibes of Clarity Enhanced Diamonds

If you are kept up to date with the latest jewelry industry news, you will realize that clarity enhanced diamonds had received a lot of negative attention recently.

The main reason behind the negativity largely stems from people who found out they had been duped into buying an enhanced diamond at the point of sale. Even though jewelers are required by law to fully disclose any clarity enhancements to the consumer, there are many rogue jewelers who intentionally hide these details in order to make a sale. That’s why you have to be extremely careful and knowledgeable when buying such diamonds.

Ultimately, you have to make the decision for yourself. If you are buying a diamond for practical purposes and don’t have a huge budget to work with, a clarity enhanced diamond might be a viable option for consideration. However, if it comes to buying diamonds as a form of investment or for light performance, untouched natural stones are still the best choice.

I personally think that clarity enhanced diamonds are not worth the money and trouble to buy. If you are on a budget, consider buying eye-clean diamonds with a lower clarity grade instead. In this regard, I highly recommend James Allen as their 360° videos can enable you cherry pick a great diamond that’s eye clean. Feel free to reach out to me if you need help in choosing a diamond.

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2 Comments

  1. David-
    October 6, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    I’m considering a clarity enhanced diamonds for sale on eBay. The reviews of the seller seem reasonable and legit. It is a .5 carat VS2 F very good cut (round) under 900. Strict budget…should I?

    Also, do clarity enhanced diamonds last and keep their value overtime?

  2. Paul Gian-
    October 7, 2016 at 4:16 am

    First of all, you need to understand that quality diamonds never go on sale regardless of it being enhanced or treated in any manner. You should be asking yourself: who graded the diamond?

    A Very Good cut is equivalent of a terrible cut quality and that’s just a nice way of putting it. So far, my reviews of clarity enhanced diamonds have left nothing but a bad taste in my mouth because of the terrible cut quality and misleading manner in which they are sold.

    Lastly, to address your question about how long enhanced diamonds last really depends on the kind of care and treatment that the stone has undergone. Temporary treatments like Yehuda will require special upkeep and care.

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