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One type of inclusion that has the potential to impact the overall quality of a diamond is a bruise.
Let’s examine diamond bruise inclusions, including how to identify them on a grading report, their influence on price, if they can be removed, and how bruises compare to other inclusions.
What is a Bruise on a Diamond?
A bruise on a diamond is an area that’s experienced a blow or hard impact, resulting in a small indentation and root-like feathers that can penetrate into the diamond. They can appear in multiple places on a diamond but are most often found near its crown or where facets are joined.
It’s a man-made inclusion, usually the fault of the diamond cutter. If the polishing wheel is placed closely to the rough diamond with too much force, it can leave a bruise. They can also be caused by the wearer if it’s dropped or hit against a hard surface.
Inclusions such as a bruise lower the value of a diamond because they can negatively affect its appearance and durability. If the bruise is large enough to be seen with the naked eye, its price will drop compared to a diamond with a bruise only visible with magnification.
Bruises also leave open the potential for further structural damage to the diamond. It will likely be weaker in the bruised area, so if it experiences another sharp hit, it could result in a fracture. The feathers created by the bruise leave it vulnerable to this risk.
Bruises on a Grading Report
Diamonds are given grading reports from organizations that certify their quality. For example, the GIA and AGS both provide reports that verify a diamond’s color, clarity, cut, and carat.
On this report is a clarity characteristics plot which labels the type and location of inclusions. It allows the buyer to know whether a diamond has etch channels, clouds, bruises, and more.
For example, this 1.05-carat oval diamond has been graded by the GIA. It’s clarity is I1, which indicates it’s heavily included.
We can see on the GIA report where the two bruises are located. Bruises are marked with an “x” in the place they appear on the diamond.
While the bruises themselves on this diamond report aren’t a cause for concern, the rest of the plot shows significant inclusions such as twinning wisps and cavities.
You should examine both the type and size of inclusions on the clarity plot. If the bruise symbols were larger, it would indicate they could be visible to the naked eye or cause durability issues.
Do Bruises Impact a Diamond’s Price?
The presence of any inclusion lowers the price of a diamond because it often hurts its aesthetic, brilliance, and durability. The amount of the price change is dependent on the type of inclusion and its color and size.
A diamond without a bruise or any other inclusion earns a flawless grade. These diamonds sell at a premium, so most diamond buyers consider ones with inclusions. The question is which inclusions should be avoided and which ones lower its price but don’t hurt its overall quality too much.
The best way to know how a bruise affects the price of a diamond is to compare a bruised diamond with a flawless one.
For a one-carat, flawless, ideal cut diamond with an F color grade, you can expect to pay between $9,000-$12,000. This diamond falls within that range at $11,011.
As a comparison, a VS1 diamond features a number of inclusions, which can include one or more bruises. For a diamond with this clarity, all else being equal, you can expect to pay between $5,000-$7,000.
This demonstrates how the presence of inclusions such as bruises can drop the price by up to 60 percent compared to a flawless diamond.
This difference is even more pronounced if the diamond were filled with bruises and other inclusions and graded an S12 clarity.
Those diamonds would sell for between $3,000-$4,000.
Can Bruises be Removed?
Bruises can be removed from a diamond, but it requires reducing its carat weight. To remove the portion of the diamond containing the bruise, the cutter would have to reshape the diamond into a smaller version of itself.
The decision about whether to remove the bruise comes down to economics — whether a lower carat weight would cause the diamond to sell for less money, even if it didn’t have a bruise. In the case of small bruises invisible to the naked eye, the decision is often to leave the bruise and maintain the carat weight.
This makes sense when you understand the drastic price changes caused by carat weight. For a quality 1.25-carat diamond, you can expect to pay about $10,000. If all other qualities about the diamond are the same, but the carat weight is 1.45, the price jumps to around $14,000.
This explains why a diamond cutter would be hesitant to lower the carat weight to remove a bruise.
How do Bruises Compare to Other Inclusions?
It’s rare that a diamond’s only inclusion is a bruise, so when you’re exploring which diamond you should buy, you’ll often take into consideration cavities, clouds, and more.
Whether a bruise is more or less visible than another inclusion depends on its size and if it resulted in feathers penetrating inside. A large, dark bruise that caused feathers is often noticeable to the naked eye, while a small white one may only be visible under magnification.
The same principles apply to other types of inclusions. Large, dark inclusions such as crystals and twinning wisps can prevent a diamond from being eye-clean. Others such as needle inclusions and knots are less visible.
A bruise is more likely to cause further structural damage to a diamond compared to other inclusions. Needles, pinpoints, and indented naturals pose little risk for a future chip, but a bruise with feathers creates a weak point.
Should You Buy a Diamond with a Bruise Inclusion?
You should keep a diamond in consideration even if it has a bruise. The presence of a small bruise or two likely won’t have a significant impact on its appearance, durability, or brilliance. Instead, it will make the diamond more affordable.
Flawless diamonds are rare and cost a premium, so most buyers purchase a diamond with inclusions. It’s about understanding each type of inclusion and how they’ll impact its overall quality.
Examine the grading report for the diamond to understand the size, location, and number of bruises, and either view the diamond in-person at the retail store or with a high-resolution photo online.
But understanding inclusions will help you make the right purchase and give you confidence you’ve found a diamond you can wear for a lifetime.