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. It’s often followed by fracture filling.
Fracture filling is used on diamonds with small cracks or holes. They’re injected with a clear, glass-like substance to fill the 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
The price of an enhanced diamond alone is enough to make you consider going this route. You can find enhanced diamonds at 30% to 50% of the cost of their naturally-mined counterparts that don’t have 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.
But it’s worth noting that you don’t have to pay the premium for a flawless diamond for it to appear clean without magnification.
For example, I chose a VS1 clarity round-cut diamond for my wife’s engagement ring, which saved me more than $1,000 compared to a flawless one. But because the inclusions are so small, it appears identical when you place it next to one.
If the diamond hadn’t been enhanced, inclusions might’ve given the surface a cloudy and muted look. For diamonds that are naturally lower on the clarity scale, those blemishes are sometimes visible to the naked eye. Other times, its imperfections are only seen under intense magnification.
With treated diamonds, the goal is imperfections are no longer visible to the naked eye.
For most people, they’ll never be putting their jewelry under a microscope.
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 enhanced ones are still the real deal. Some buyers opt for lab-grown diamonds because of the significant cost savings, which can range from 40% to 60%.
Though clarity-enhanced diamonds have 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
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. Its absence can make it hard for a potential buyer to verify the authenticity 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. There’s a conflict of interest there because of the incentive to inflate its grade to command a higher price. It’s also time-consuming.
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.
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. 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 the gemologists conduct a thorough analysis of the diamond.
If a diamond has had certain clarity enhancements, it will not be eligible for 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-grown diamond.
Through laser drilling or fracture filling, imperfections can be entirely removed or at least made invisible to the naked eye. That way, you still have a real 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.
My recommendation is to search for value by choosing a diamond that hasn’t been enhanced but scores lower on the clarity and color scale. That’s exactly what I did when shopping for my wife’s engagement ring.
You’ll save compared to higher grades, and there are still many eye-clean diamonds available.
Shining Light on Clarity Enhanced Diamonds: A Comprehensive Q&A
Q1: How does the process of clarity enhancement in diamonds compare to the creation of lab-grown diamonds?
A1: Clarity enhancement and lab-grown diamond creation are distinct processes. Clarity enhancement involves treating natural diamonds to improve their visual appeal by reducing the appearance of inclusions or enhancing color. Techniques include laser drilling or fracture filling. On the other hand, lab-grown diamonds are created in a controlled laboratory environment using technological processes that replicate the conditions under which natural diamonds develop.
Q2: How does the value of clarity enhanced diamonds compare to natural and lab-grown diamonds?
A2: Clarity enhanced diamonds generally cost less than natural diamonds of similar appearance due to their treated nature, often 30% to 50% less. They still hold value as they are real diamonds, albeit treated. Lab-grown diamonds also tend to be more affordable, with cost savings ranging from 40% to 60%, but may lack the unique value often attributed to natural diamonds. The value perception among buyers may vary based on personal preferences regarding authenticity, ethical considerations, and budget.
Q3: What is the impact of clarity enhancement on the resale value of a diamond?
A3: Clarity enhanced diamonds can be harder to resell. Some jewelers may not want to carry them due to their lower value compared to natural diamonds. Additionally, the absence of a Gemological Institute of America (GIA) report, which often isn’t issued for enhanced diamonds, can make verifying the authenticity and quality challenging for potential buyers, thereby affecting the resale value negatively.
Q4: What are some considerations buyers should keep in mind when purchasing a clarity enhanced diamond?
A4: Buyers should consider the long-term durability as clarity enhancements, especially laser drilling, can compromise a diamond’s structural integrity. The longevity of enhancements is another consideration; poorly done enhancements may not last. The lack of full certification from reputable institutes like GIA could also impact a buyer’s confidence and the diamond’s resale value. Engaging reputable jewelers for enhancements and understanding the trade-offs involved in clarity enhancement versus cost savings are crucial.
Q5: How do clarity enhancements affect the overall grading of a diamond?
A5: Clarity enhancements may improve the visual appearance of a diamond but the grading would reflect the diamond’s original condition. Reputable grading organizations like the GIA may not issue a report for some clarity enhanced diamonds, while others like the International Gemological Laboratories (IGL) may note the enhancements on their reports, potentially impacting the perceived value and desirability of the diamond in the market.
Q6: Are there any maintenance or care considerations specific to clarity enhanced diamonds?
A6: Clarity enhanced diamonds may require careful maintenance to preserve the enhancements. For instance, certain cleaning methods or chemicals might affect the fracture fillings, and physical impacts could pose a risk due to potential structural weaknesses from laser drilling. It’s advisable to have clarity enhanced diamonds checked and maintained by reputable jewelers to ensure their longevity.
Q7: How does the appearance of clarity enhanced diamonds compare to diamonds with higher natural clarity grades?
A7: Clarity enhanced diamonds can appear as visually appealing as diamonds with higher natural clarity grades, especially to the naked eye. The enhancements aim to minimize or eliminate visible inclusions, providing a clear and brilliant appearance. However, under magnification or to a trained eye, the treatments and original inclusions might be detectable.
Q8: Are there ethical considerations associated with purchasing clarity enhanced diamonds?
A8: Ethical considerations may arise if clarity enhancements are not disclosed at the point of sale, misleading buyers regarding the diamond’s true quality and value. Transparency about the enhancements, their longevity, and impact on the diamond’s value is essential for an ethical transaction. Moreover, individuals interested in ethical sourcing might also consider the environmental and social impact of natural versus lab-grown or enhanced diamonds.