Diamonds are among the most
highly priced gem stones on Earth. They are widely used as jewelry ornaments
and industrial tools. Diamonds are among the highest demanded items because of
its beauty and durability. However, colorless and flawless diamonds are
extremely rare. Therefore, some diamond dealers enhance non-gem quality, highly
included and/or colored diamonds to improve their overall appearance. There are
several processes to enhance the clarity and color of diamonds.
The clarity of a Diamond:
The clarity of diamonds
refers to the degree of the imperfections or inclusions embedded in a diamond.
Inclusions can make a diamond look ugly for many reasons. These imperfections
also interfere with the light that can pass through the diamond and create its
sparkly reflection. If you look closely at the diamond, you can see the edges
where lights reflect as it passes through the stone. Inclusions lessen the
brilliance of the diamond because it restricts the light from coming through.
To hide these inclusions, diamond cutters are very careful in cutting the
diamonds. Usually, they cut under the bezel facets or near the girdle to hide
To add the market value to
non-gem quality diamonds, there are several ways to enhance their clarity.
Among the widely used processes are the color enhancement, the HPHT
(high-pressure, high temperature) process, the laser drilling, and the fracture
One of the widely used
processes to treat the clarity of a diamond is through color enhancements.
These include treating the diamond using a mask or coat to polish the diamond.
In this process, the diamond is coated with the matched color; usually a super
thin layer of industrial chemical or a durable plastic is used. Some jewelry
manufacturers use synthetic diamonds to mask a tinted area, thus giving the
blemished diamond a look of a colorless stone.
Subjecting diamonds to HPHT:
to enhance the clarity of a diamond is by subjecting it to HPHT. HPHT is an
industrial acronym that stands for high-pressure, high temperature. During this
process, the diamond, tainted or raw, is subject to a very high pressure and
very hot temperature in a laboratory to create a new colored gem stone.
Diamonds that appear to be colorless, yellow, pink, green, and yellowish are
subjected to this process to create their color effect. This color effects also
treat the clarity of a diamond. When subjected to this treatment, the blemishes
of diamonds are barely undetectable.
The color of a diamond treated
under HPHT is permanent as they have been under acids, ultrasonic treatment and
high amount of pressure and heat. Diamonds subject to HPHT are usually more
polished as a result of surface oxidation. It restores the shininess of the
diamond, giving it a gleam of new look. However, since it has been polished,
there is a chance that the diamond will lose some of its weight.
Another common method to
restore the clarity of a diamond is through laser drilling. This is widely used
method since the early part of 1960s. Laser drilling cleans the dark (sometimes
brown or colorless) marks inside the diamonds. These marks are usually made of
other minerals that develop inside the stone. They can be graphite (which will
become diamond in hundreds of years to come), sulfide or iron.
During the laser drilling
process, the laser is positioned directly at the location of the blemish. It
should be precise to avoid destroying the gem stone. Laser drills are usually
set at 1064 nm solid-state. The laser creates microscopic incisions to clean
the imperfections. Once the laser treatment is complete, the treated diamond
will be clearer to look at.
However, some experts say
that laser drilling leaves empty spaces once the inclusions were removed. Just
like in any filled spaces, once a certain substance was removed, blank spaces
are left. These spaces leave hallow tunnels inside the gem stone which can
damage its durability. This is where the next process comes in – filling those
empty spaces through fracture filling.
Once the diamond underwent a
treatment, especially the laser treatment to remove blemishes inside, the
process leaves an empty space. This makes the diamond more fragile and less
durable. Some jewelry makers and collectors even find treated diamonds to be
impure and of lesser value. To take care of this concern, diamond collectors, jewelry
makers and those who are in the gem industry discovered a process to fill in
those hollow spaces. This process is called fracture filling.
During fracture filling
process, another diamond is inserted inside each space, thus, hiding the
imperfect ‘feathers’ or fractures of the gem stone. Aside from real diamonds,
jewelers also use glasses, and synthetic diamonds as fillings. This is an
intricate and delicate process. It requires precision and skills in diamond
cutting to master this type of filling.
Once the process is finished,
it will be very hard to distinguish the filling in a diamond. However, a true
skilled diamond master or diamond grader can spot the difference. There are
also several claims that diamonds that underwent fracture filling are not
permanent and that they can be destroyed, especially when they are subject to
several cleaning and immense heat.
Laser drilling and fracture
filling are among the widely used processes in the market today. Although there
are numerous ways to identify a clear diamond from a treated one, it is still
advisable to consult an expert of these stones when you are about to buy a
piece of jewelry. There are magnifying glasses used in jewelry stores to prove
that what they sell are real diamonds, along with some grading companies that
can provide a certificate clarifying if a diamond is treated or not.
How to find out if a
diamond is enhanced in GIA reports?
Here is an illustration of
how GIA address such enhancements, if any, in its grading reports for natural diamonds.Always
pay close attention to the comments section.
First GIA would put a star
sign next to the clarity or color (whichever is enhanced) as shown below:
Then, GIA would explain how the diamond is treated in the comments section as shown below:
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