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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  1. 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. 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. 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

    Option 1. 0.83CW / F / VS1 / Crystal – Needle. Crown Angle 35.5 degrees. $4,250 (+$370)

    Option 2. 0.86CW / G / VVS1 / Feather. Crown Angle 35.5 degrees. $4,550 (+$670)

    Option 3. 0.90CW / G / VVS2 / Faint Fluores / Pinpoint – Feather – Natural. Ideal Cut Proportions. $4,910 (+$1,030)

    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. 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:


    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.


    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. 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
    James Allen 0.80CW / F / VS1 / Feather. Great Light Performance. Ideal Cut Proportions. $3,880

    This is awesome too…


    Thanks for all your help.

  6. 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.


    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:


  7. 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 a bezel ring, do you think this makes the feather less worriesome, as the bezel should protect it somewhat??

    Thank you!

  8. 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. I won’t worry about feathers in a properly graded VS1 diamond.

    For your info, I’ve actually listed a couple of bad feather inclusions here that you should avoid. These are the types of feathers that I would avoid in lower grades. Finally, with a bezel setting engagement ring, it’s going to provide added security.

  9. 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.

  10. Mike-
    November 14, 2019 at 10:35 pm

    Hi, i just bought an engagement ring but there is a big visible feather inclusion on the side. I cant identify if it is inside or not but is it safe to have it covered by the prong? I’m concerned that the pressure of the prong might make it bigger or worst damage it. Please let me know. Thanks in advance!

  11. Paul Gian-
    November 15, 2019 at 5:12 pm

    If you already bought the diamond, isn’t it a bit too late to be worrying about issues like this? And if I am understanding you correctly, the diamond has already been mounted on the setting. Are you expecting to remove the diamond and get it reset after just having bought it? What’s the clarity of the diamond stated in the GIA report? (And if you don’t have a GIA report, you’ve been ripped off). Whether a feather is detrimental to durability really depends on alot of factors and how severe it is. If the diamond feather reaches the surface, you can actually see a “crack” or “fracture” on the diamond’s surface when you hold it against an angle to reflect light off its surface. If the area where the feather is looks completely smooth and polished under 10X, then the feather resides in the interior of the diamond.

  12. Trish-
    July 26, 2020 at 6:08 pm

    I looking a dimond in Blue Nile website, I found one diamond the stock # LD13575590, the color is F, clarity is VVS1, non fluorescence, excellent cut. But I see in GIA REPORT# 2347734915 in the diamond have some feathers. Can you help me and let me now how is this diamond? Thank you !

  13. Paul Gian-
    July 27, 2020 at 4:01 am

    The feather is not an issue in this diamond. It is extremely minute and for a VVS1 clarity grade, I can assure you that 99% of lay people cannot find it even with a 10x loupe. Even as a professional myself, this feather will be extremely hard to see under 10x magnification. Durability is not an issue as well. When GIA grades diamonds for clarity, they take into account the durability factor. If it was an issue, this diamond would be graded as an I1 instead of a top tier VVS1 grade.

  14. Nicole-
    August 28, 2020 at 5:57 am

    The feather in this diamond https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/princess-cut/1.53-carat-h-color-si2-clarity-sku-8424279 seems to be well within the diamond in both the JA 360 view and in person (I am still well within return period). Of course it is shown as an internal characteristic on the certification plot too. Could the feather still present a fracture risk to the diamond due to its size? I absolutely love the look of the diamond, but want to be sure about any risks from the feather. Thanks for your time and your great site.

  15. Paul Gian-
    August 28, 2020 at 9:20 am

    I reviewed the diamond in the link above and I can confirm that the feather is embedded within the diamond. It doesn’t break onto the surface in the video. If it did, the light from the table reflection (when seen at a tilt) would show it. This feather is not an issue for durability given its location at the center of the diamond and it being within the body of the stone. It’s a well cut diamond and I won’t worry about it.

  16. Tara-
    November 30, 2020 at 2:53 pm

    Thank you so much for all the info on your site! It’s been a massive help while choosing an engagement ring and stone.

    I’ve purchased this diamond https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut/0.70-carat-h-color-si1-clarity-excellent-cut-sku-9942866 but am now second-guessing myself. Its lab report notes a feather and cloud that seem not to be a problem but hey, what do I know?! I was not able to get ASET or Idealscope images and hope to get it appraised locally by someone who has those tools.

    If you have a moment to take a look, I’d really appreciate your thoughts. Currently trying to talk myself out of ordering a backup ring during their Black Friday sale and returning one lol. Thanks!

  17. Paul Gian-
    December 7, 2020 at 3:49 am

    Tara, the diamond is well cut for light performance and is eyeclean. The feather and cloud inclusions aren’t an issue and I think you did well to pick out this stone.

  18. rich-
    December 13, 2020 at 3:20 am


    I luckily stumbled across this thread searching for a feather inclusion. I am hope full you can help me evaluate a diamond I am considering purchasing to upgrade my wife’s wedding set for our 20th anniversary.

    Here is the diamond:


    It would be mounted in a bezel setting. If I understand your previous comments I should not be worried about cracking. Right?

    The original stone was poor quality. I want to give my wife a diamond with lots of sparkle. Is this a good choice?

    The price tag was $6,000 USD which seems a bit high to me. What would you estimate a fair price range to be?

    thanks in advance…. I’m going to read more of these Q&As and explore your website because I find this all utterly fascinating!


  19. Paul Gian-
    December 15, 2020 at 9:49 am

    I can tell you with certainty that the diamond has poor proportions and will have significant issues with light performance. Read this: https://beyond4cs.com/shapes/round/ideal-proportions/ and make sure you look at tangible data before committing to buying a diamond. If the jeweler can’t offer it, then change the jeweler to one that does.

  20. Nora-
    March 31, 2021 at 8:10 pm

    I’m looking to purchase a pink diamond
    The GIA report classified the diamond as SI2
    The clarity characteristics only include feathers and they all on the edge. I’m not sure how I can send you the report because I thought I was getting a great deal on this diamond but now I’m rethinking The idea of purchasing it after reading the article. Can you help me please

  21. Paul Gian-
    April 3, 2021 at 9:41 am

    You can get in touch with me directly via email and provide all the images/video/url listing for the pink diamond you are looking at. Depending on the carat size and the inclusion types, the feather may or may not be an issue. I would say that based on experience, it shouldn’t cause problems for durability. As for eyecleanliness, I would need tangible data to help you assess the feather.

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