What is a Feather Inclusion And Is It Cause for Worry?

diamond feather inclusion
what is a feather inclusion

A feather inclusion has literal resemblance to a real feather.


A feather is basically a soft word for a crack or break in the diamond.

Usually, feathers in diamonds will take on a whitish or translucent appearance (imagine a hairline crack within the crystalline structure of the stone). However, they can also exist in other forms of coloration like black or brown.

When shopping for a diamond ring, most people are concerned about 2 times when it comes to clarity.

Out of all the types of inclusions and flaws a diamond can have, feathers are the ones you need to pay attention to due to two reasons.

Firstly, can the feather be seen by the naked eye? Is it severe enough that it impedes brilliance or affect the diamond’s appearance?

Secondly, do the feather inclusions pose a risk to the durability of the diamond? When do you need to avoid feathers?

You see, while diamonds may be the hardest substance on Earth, they are still susceptible to chipping and cleaving. This can occur when a significant force is applied in the correct direction along its crystalline plane.

How Can You Tell If a Feather is Eyeclean?

When it comes to clarity, what matters most to practical shoppers is whether the diamond is eyeclean. Buying a diamond with feather inclusions is perfectly fine as long as they are not visible to the naked eyes.

So, the million dollar question is, how do you determine whether the stone passes or fails an eyecleanliness test?

The key is to utilize tangible data like magnified videos/images in neutral lighting as it enables you to perform an assessment without any bias. For an indepth guide to do this, you can utilize the Resize Technique we’ve created to help consumers.

feather under table facet obvious dark
eyeclean feather inclusion si1 gia diamond

Vendors like James Allen, White Flash and Blue Nile offer high definition 360° videos for their listings and this enables you to see exactly how a diamond looks like. Make sure you out their awesome shopping experience for yourself.

When Do You Need to be Cautious About Feather Inclusions?

feather locations in grading reports

An overview of feathers in different locations and what they mean in real life.

When a large feather is located near the diamond’s girdle (usually for SI2 or lower clarity), it calls for caution. You need to be aware that the feather (crack) could grow in size if it is subjected to a hard knock.

surface reaching feather breaking outside

Surface reaching feathers that are exposed on the girdle should be avoided.

When feathers are found within the diamond’s body and don’t reach the surface, they are generally fine as long as the diamond is eye clean. While unfortunate circumstances may cause it to grow in size or reach the surface, these scenarios are very unlikely in the normal course of wearing an engagement ring.

In the 3rd scenario is a typical 2D clarity plot that can be found in a grading report. I had purposely used it as an example as the data is ambiguous. Is the feather deep within the diamond’s body or is the feather near the diamond’s culet?

The GIA report doesn’t tell you this in the 2D inclusion plot due to its limitations of representing a three dimensional real life diamond. For illustration, the diagram below shows 2 diamonds which will have similar 2D inclusion plots but are completely different in reality.

where is the true location?

Is it safely inside the body or is it almost touching the surface?

If a feather is located within the diamond’s body and away from the edges, it is generally OK and you wouldn’t have to worry about it once it is mounted onto a ring. When in doubt, always double check with the vendor and get them to clarify details.

Conclusion – Should You Worry About Feathers?

In general, most feathers do not pose a big durability risk in the course of normal wear and each stone should be evaluated on a case by case basis. As a consumer (and trade personnel) myself, I would pay attention to feathers when I’m shopping but I am usually not worried about them being detrimental.

I personally don’t see durability problems in diamonds with GIA clarity grades of SI1 or better as the labs had already taken durability aspects into account during their assessment. The bottomline is, if you want to avoid such issues, simply stay away from diamonds with SI2, I1 or I2 grades and you will be fine.

With that, I hope you had gained a better understanding of feather inclusions. If you are still unsure about a diamond purchase or have further questions, feel free to reach out. I would be happy to offer my help!

Seeing is believing. JamesAllen.com offers the best shopping experience for online consumers with their impressive 360˚ video technology and excellent customer service.

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9 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Hardik-
    October 27, 2014 at 3:49 am

    Hello, I have just been strolling the website and I found it really helpful. And was wondering whether I want to do GIA or not. My father is working for diamond company for over 20 years and I have a bit experience in looking at diamonds. I want to ask, do you get a job easily after doing a GIA course like Graduate Diamond?

    Also I don’t have much capital to buy diamonds and sell myself. I have a friend in china who is interested but has no idea whatsoever in the diamond industry. You think its easy to find customers in china for loose diamonds?

  2. Avatar
    Paul Gian-
    October 28, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    People in China shop very differently from people in other markets mainly because they are worried about “fakes” and “imitations”. With the rampant misconduct of businesses in China, trust and integrity are often issues that businesses have to deal with whether they are really legit or not due to a few bad eggs.

    If your friend is interested in doing business in China, I think you might want to check out the business practices of a company called Zbird as well as large chain stores like Chow Tai Fook and set your benchmark against theirs. Other than that, I am of no help.

  3. Avatar
    Jose-
    February 2, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    Hi Paul, you have opened my eyes to a wonderful world. I entered both sites JamesAllen and WhiteFlash but my fiancee is engaged with a ring from JamesAllen so the diamond should be from there. But I saw the “A cut above” from WF and all parameters are in accordance to your guidelines. I love it. Probably they charge around 7 to 10% more for this category though.

    Anyway, now that I have a choice I was wondering if you can help me to choose a bigger diamond IF it worth it. What I mean is that it was impossible to get the golden ideal cut proportions except for the most expensive and desired 0.9 carat. I expand $1,000 the budget to run the exercise. So I would like your opinion if there is a diamond you could think can have a similar light performance to the original 0.8 carat choice but growing the size in a price wise decision:

    Original choice. 0.80CW / F / VS1 / Feather. Great Light Performance. Ideal Cut Proportions. $3,880
    https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut/0.80-carat-f-color-vs1-clarity-excellent-cut-sku-3235983

    Option 1. 0.83CW / F / VS1 / Crystal – Needle. Crown Angle 35.5 degrees. $4,250 (+$370)
    https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut/0.83-carat-f-color-vs1-clarity-excellent-cut-sku-2852726

    Option 2. 0.86CW / G / VVS1 / Feather. Crown Angle 35.5 degrees. $4,550 (+$670)
    https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut/0.86-carat-g-color-vvs1-clarity-excellent-cut-sku-3339847

    Option 3. 0.90CW / G / VVS2 / Faint Fluores / Pinpoint – Feather – Natural. Ideal Cut Proportions. $4,910 (+$1,030)
    https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut/0.90-carat-g-color-vvs2-clarity-excellent-cut-sku-3055063

    Thank you very much. I will try to submit my order at the end of the day. Do you have any reference that I can share with James Allen so you get any benefit???? Your work is really amazing and I want to be grateful. Ideal proportions are harder to get in James Allen, but once you get one, the price is better than WhiteFlash IMO. I found two diamonds that I like it in WF but I could not read the video at all as I can do with JA 360 videos. How bad is a crown angle of 35.5 if everything else is within ideal proportions?

  4. Avatar
    Paul Gian-
    February 4, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    You are right about your observations. James Allen is looser in their curation standards compared to White Flash. That said, you can still find diamonds on par in quality at James Allen. It just takes much harder work and you need to stick to their True Heart ranges.

    Here’s a video I made recently to review the True Hearts diamonds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SN3x23h6Ask

    Bottomline, if you are looking for the best of the best, you will find it at White Flash and rarely at James Allen (even if you stick to their True Hearts). White Flash is offering diamonds with extreme cut precision (h&a) which affects scintillation. That does come with a price because of skilled labor and rough diamond wastage to polish these diamonds.

    Anyway, out of the 4 diamonds you picked, this would be the best diamond for performance:

    https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut/0.80-carat-f-color-vs1-clarity-excellent-cut-sku-3235983

    The other diamonds with 35.5 crown angles either show light leakage or have poor optical symmetry in the videos. So, dump the rest as they are not worth getting.

    Paul

    p.s. If you want to credit your purchase with our referral, I would appreciate it if you would use this link prior to purchase and let them (sales staff/email) know you were referred to by Beyond4cs.com: http://beyond4cs.com/go/ja/

    It’s really appreciated if you want to help us out with the referral.

  5. Avatar
    Jose-
    February 6, 2019 at 5:02 pm

    Thanks Paul. I definitely will use the link. If you also have for White Flash please let me know as I pointing some other people and will ask to use your links. Unfortunately, True Hearts from JA began at 1 carat. There is no option below that right now.

    Also, this is the White Flash that caught my attention. Do you think it is a better choice than James Allen suggested??? I need to ask WF if I they can buy the ring from James Allen and then I buy the diamond from them but they do the work.

    White Flash 0.841 CW / H / VS2 / Crystal – Needle / Acute Above / $4,205
    https://www.whiteflash.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut-loose-diamond-3876803.htm
    vs
    James Allen 0.80CW / F / VS1 / Feather. Great Light Performance. Ideal Cut Proportions. $3,880
    https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut/0.80-carat-f-color-vs1-clarity-excellent-cut-sku-3235983

    This is awesome too…

    https://www.whiteflash.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut-loose-diamond-3876798.htm

    Thanks for all your help.

  6. Avatar
    Paul Gian-
    February 10, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    The setting process doesn’t work like that. The process is: you buy the loose diamond and send it to the setter. In this case, you buy from WF and give them instructions to send it to JA. Once James Allen receives the loose diamond, they will set White Flash diamond for a fee of $150.

    I personally don’t like doing things this way because I want to make one jeweler completely responsible for the entire ring. This helps to saves hassle and stress. The logistics and coordination involved to get things done your way would be quite stressful to say the least.

    https://www.whiteflash.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut-loose-diamond-3876798.htm is an awesome choice. It has a great size and clarity combi.

    I did a search for you and would also recommend this diamond. This offers good value for money and is eyeclean.

    https://www.whiteflash.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut-loose-diamond-3880144.htm

    If White Flash is your route, did you try looking for a setting you like at White Flash first? If you find something you like there, then it would be a really easy shopping process.

    Lastly, if you want to credit your purchase with our referral, it’s the same process. I would appreciate it if you would use the links prior to purchase and let them (sales staff/email) know you were referred to by Beyond4cs.com:

    http://beyond4cs.com/go/ja/
    http://beyond4cs.com/go/wf/

  7. Avatar
    Craig-
    July 28, 2019 at 4:39 am

    Thanks for the report and analysis. Very helpful.

    May I ask your opinion on a diamond I have found? It has a feather apparently right at the girdle, but it is rated VS1 by IGI. Based on what you have said above, this shouldn’t be of concern? Or do I need to evaluate more deeply?

    Also, if it is going to be set in an bezel ring, do you think this makes the feather less worriesome, as the bezel should protect it somewhat??

    Thank you!

  8. Avatar
    Paul Gian-
    July 29, 2019 at 7:21 am

    IGI is not the most reliable lab when it comes to accurate assessments of clarity and color ratings. Without looking at details, I would say that most feathers in a VS1 diamond would not be an issue if the diamond had been subjected to the same level of grading that GIA performs. And with a bezel, it’s going to provide added security.

  9. Avatar
    Craig Zimmerman-
    July 30, 2019 at 8:44 pm

    Thanks Paul! It’s a lab diamond, so that is why it is IGI rated instead of GIA.

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