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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!