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Your goal in buying a diamond should be to find the highest quality gem for the most affordable price. You’ve likely explored the various shapes, carats, and color options, but one additional factor to consider is the diamond’s clarity.
While most diamonds you’ll see online or in a jewelry store feature the same clarity as when they were mined from the earth, other diamonds have had their clarity enhanced in order to give it a cleaner look than it originally had.
Read on to learn about clarity enhanced diamonds, how to spot them, and the pros and cons you should know before purchasing one.
What Are Clarity Enhanced Diamonds?
Clarity-enhanced diamonds are still real diamonds. They’ve just been treated to become more visually appealing. This treatment is typically given to diamonds that have significant inclusions or low color.
Inclusions are small defects inside a diamond that affect its transparency, structure, and overall value. They appear as black spots or lines and impact the look and sparkle of a diamond. There are two ways a jeweler can treat an enhanced diamond for clarity: laser drilling or fracture filling.
Laser drilling uses heat or chemical injections to make flaws in a diamond less visible. This process can turn discolored or black inclusions white again, thereby creating a more natural and flawless look. This process is also often followed by fracture filling.
Fracture filling is used on diamonds with small cracks or holes in the structure. They’re injected with a clear, glass-like substance to fill in these cracks and seal them. It’s an effective way to erase such defects from detection of the naked eye.
In the case of laser drilling or fracture filling, it’s difficult to tell them apart from naturally flawless diamonds if they’re not under magnification.
Pros of Clarity Enhanced Diamonds
Does the good outweigh the bad? The pros of a clarity-enhanced diamond are its affordability, improved clarity, and the knowledge it’s still a real diamond.
The price of an enhanced diamond alone is enough to make you consider going this route. You can easily find enhanced diamonds at 30% to 50% of the cost of their naturally-mined relatives without such corrections.
Many consumers approach diamond shopping with a mindset toward value, and knowing you can get a clean-looking diamond for a significantly reduced rate is appealing to many buyers.
If the diamond hadn’t been enhanced, inclusions would’ve given the surface a cloudy and muted look. For diamonds that are naturally lower on the clarity scale, those blemishes may have been visible to the naked eye. Other times, its imperfections are only seen under intense magnification.
After enhancement, imperfections are no longer visible to the naked eye with treated diamonds, and for most people, they’ll never be putting their jewelry under a microscope.
The lines are still crisp and the glitter of its surface is still dazzling. You’ll have a diamond that looks as if it came out of the earth flawless.
Still a Real Diamond
Another pro of a clarity enhanced diamond is unlike laboratory-produced diamonds, enhanced ones are still the real deal.
Though they’ve been treated for imperfections, their authenticity cannot be questioned. Their value may be diminished compared to a natural diamond of the same grade without fillers, but that just results in you paying a lower price.
That’s why clarity enhancement is a popular option for those with their eyes on a lower price but still want the authenticity of a real diamond, even if the lab-created diamond had fewer blemishes.
Cons of Clarity Enhanced Diamonds
You don’t just get a diamond 30-50% off without any downsides. True high-quality diamonds are rarely discounted because their values don’t drop over time. So if you’re taking advantage of that discount, there are cons of clarity enhanced diamonds.
Though clarity-enhanced diamonds do result in a diamond more clear than its natural look, it can be more difficult to clean, harder to sell, and have durability issues, among other disadvantages.
Tougher to Clean
Most jewelry cleaning kits used at home contain ammonia, a toxic substance to enhanced diamonds. It’s abrasive and can easily damage the enhancements, which in turn damage the appearance of your diamond.
Even if it’s taken to a jeweler for a professional cleaning, these damages can still occur. Heat and steam are one of the most common cleaning methods and can cause enhancements to leak out of the stone or expand. This can widen original fractures and make your diamond appear to be of a lower quality.
There are plenty of do-it-yourself techniques for a homemade cleaning solution though, so all is not lost. Just be prepared to spend extra time in preparation or in finding a jeweler with the proper tools to clean your diamond.
Harder to Sell
It can be harder to sell a clarity enhanced diamond for a few reasons. The first is some jewelers simply do not want to carry enhanced diamonds in their inventory.
It is a matter of whether the jeweler believes it has the potential to sell for a higher price. With a lower selling price than a natural diamond, some jewelers don’t consider them to be worth inventory space.
Another factor can be the lack of a Gemological Institute of America (GIA) report.
A GIA report gives a diamond authenticity and credibility, but these reports will not always be issued to enhanced diamonds. The absence of this report can make it hard for a potential buyer to verify the authenticity of your diamond and have confidence in the purchase.
After all, if there isn’t objective documentation to back up your claims, the jeweler themselves would have to verify the quality of the diamond, and that can be a time-consuming process requiring expertise. The mistake of overvaluing the diamond could cost the reseller thousands of dollars, so it can be hard to find someone willing to take that risk.
Need to Alert Jeweler Before Resizing
Just like a cleaning, there’s a possibility enhancements to a diamond can be undone by mistake during a resizing. If a jeweler isn’t aware a diamond has had fillings, they may not take the extra caution needed when working with weak points in the gem. This can lead to cracks or damages in your diamond that affect the appearance and quality, leaving your diamond in worse condition than before it was enhanced.
Some jewelers even reserve the right not to work on clarity-enhanced diamonds for this reason. They wouldn’t want to be liable for damages incurred on your gem during a resize if they were not informed of its enhancements.
Diamonds are the hardest naturally-occurring substance on Earth, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be damaged. This is especially true if its structure has been altered from clarity enhancement.
Another con of a clarity enhanced diamond is the more inclusions removed by laser drilling, the more durability issues it can have. The tunnels that form during this process can hurt the overall structure, leaving it more vulnerable to a chip if struck against a hard surface.
The way to avoid this problem is to not force a diamond with significant inclusions to become flawless. Instead, choose one that is almost in the condition you want but just requires the removal of an inclusion or two.
Enhancements May Not Last
Won’t Be Fully Certified
A GIA report is issued after they conduct a thorough analysis of the diamond. They check for characteristics such as fluorescence, symmetry, and length/width ratio, as well as treatments that may have been made to a diamond before giving it a rating.
If a diamond has had certain clarity enhancements, it will not be eligible for certification with a GIA report, as there is a possibility such enhancements can wear away over time or be accidentally removed during a cleaning.
Others, like a laser drilling treatment, may not disqualify the diamond from receiving a report and will simply be noted for future buyers.
Other diamond certification organizations such as the International Gemological Laboratories (IGL) will note on their reports a diamond has been clarity enhanced. For example, the diamond report from the IGL below includes in its comments section that although the diamond has optimal dispersion of light and brilliance, it has been “clarity enhanced & laser drilled.”
This results in the diamond being less valuable on the market.
Clarity enhanced diamonds are significantly discounted but can be just as dazzling to the eyes as a natural or laboratory diamond. There’s a small sacrifice to be made as far as full authenticity, but they’re still real diamonds.
Through laser drilling or fracture filling, the imperfections can be entirely removed or at least made invisible to the naked eye. That way, you have a diamond that looks like it scores higher on the clarity scale than it did when first discovered.
In balancing budgetary constraints, there are pros and cons to any diamond purchase. If you’re content with a beautiful, clear, and cheaper diamond, a clarity-enhanced diamond may be the choice for you.
But if you want a diamond with a perfect shine that hasn’t achieved it because of alterations, you’ll pay a premium for that quality.