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Twinning Wisp in a Diamond: Is It Worth It?

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Twinning Wisp in a Diamond

Inclusions have the potential to impact the appearance, durability, and brilliance of a diamond. 

These imperfections caused by intense heat and pressure take many forms and are noted as part of the diamond’s clarity grade.

One common type of inclusion is a twinning wisp.

We’ll explore everything you need to know about twinning wisps, including an overview of the blemish, identifying them in grading reports, how they impact quality, and whether a diamond is worth considering if it contains a twinning wisp.

What is a Twinning Wisp in a Diamond?

Twinning wisps are distortions inside a diamond formed by a series of crystals, pinpoints, or clouds that twist together to form a twinning pane. These streaks running through a diamond might appear light or dark and even mimic black or white stripes under magnification. 

For example, check out this one-carat diamond that earned an SI1 clarity grade from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

Twinning Wisp Inclusion in One-Carat Diamond

The report notes there are five twinning wisps on its table. I’ve highlighted two instances that are apparent in the high-resolution image.

If twinning wisps are found in a diamond, it’s likely this combination of imperfections have been there since its formation, along with any other inclusions

A diamond isn’t at risk of developing any new ones because they’re no longer placed under the conditions that caused them.

Twinning Wisps vs. Feathers

Twinning wisps are a combination of pinpoint and cloud inclusions, but feathers are a fracture in the diamond.

They’re often less visible than twinning wisps because of their transparent color, while twinning wisps sometimes have a dark black, brown, or yellow appearance.

Here’s a diamond that features both types of inclusions.

Diamond with Twinning Wisp and Feathers

There are four twinning wisps and a few small feathers. If you rotate the image, you’ll find the twinning wisps are far more noticeable.

The larger twinning wisps and minor feathers mean it could still be a quality diamond. Large feathers are a dealbreaker, but long twinning wisps that aren’t visible to the naked eye are less of an issue.

Twinning Wisps in Diamond Reports

Diamond grading reports are essential because they provide an objective view of the its qualities, which have a direct correlation with its price and performance.

While the GIA is the gold-standard for evaluating the traits of diamonds, there are other organizations such as the American Gem Society (AGS) and the Gem Certification & Assurance Lab that grade and certify diamonds.

The diamond report shows any inclusions by marking it with the corresponding symbols, as seen in the image below.

Types of Diamond Inclusions

The symbol for a twinning wisp is curved line with slashes through it.

We can view the twinning wisps in the AGS report for this 0.70 carat diamond from Whiteflash.

AGS Grading Report

On the left diagram, the report shows six distinct twinning wisps scattered throughout the diamond. There are also other inclusions such as crystals and cavities.

It’s not surprising to see twinning wisps noted in this report because the clarity of the diamond is SI2. Those flaws could be visible when viewed in a normal setting.

Also note in the comments section of the report, it says “Additional twinning wisps and surface graining are not shown.” 

This likely means the ones not shown are minimal and couldn’t be seen with the naked eye, but it’s important to know every detail.

If a diamond is graded by the GIA and weighs less than one carat, you can learn about twinning wisps in the “Additional Grading Information” section. For example, the below report is for this 0.90-carat round diamond.

GIA Grading Report

I’ve highlighted the “Clarity Characteristics” section that identifies the twinning wisp.

It doesn’t show the exact location or number, so it’s worth examining the diamond in person or through a high-quality image on their website.

For diamonds that weigh at least one carat, the GIA report includes a clarity characteristics plot that shows the number and position of each twinning wisp.

How Do Twinning Wisps Impact Brilliance?

Whether twinning wisps in a diamond impact brilliance depends on the clarity grade it’s given. 

For example, if you’re shopping for diamonds with clarity grades of VS1 or above, and the report shows twinning wisps, it’s unlikely they can be seen with the naked eye.

If they could, they wouldn’t earn such a high clarity grade.

As a counterexample, here’s a diamond with twinning wisps that earned an SI2 clarity grade.

How Twinning Wisps Affect Brilliance

Its GIA report shows five occurrences of twinning wisps, and several are dark.

Another factor in how twinning wisps affect brilliance is their color. Because they can be brown, yellow, white, or black, its exact color will also determine whether they are noticeable and impact its brilliance. 

A darker black or brown would impact its brilliance more than white.

That being said, you should examine each case on an individual basis to learn how much twinning wisps impact brilliance. 

Many reputable online jewelry stores offer high-resolution photos and videos of their diamonds, so you can get a better idea of that particular diamond.

If you notice the diamond looks cloudy or hazy (which can also indicate diamond fluorescence), that could indicate the twinning wisps do affect its performance. This is because it’s so dense the inclusion may scatter light.

Do They Affect Durability?

Twinning wisps have the potential to affect a diamond’s durability, depending on their size and location.

The weakest parts are near an extremely thin girdle or on sharp corners of princess, baguette, and marquise cuts.

To illustrate how to evaluate these criteria, here’s a princess cut with twinning wisps.

Princess Cut with Twinning Wisp

But notice on the GIA report that it shows they’re in the middle of the table. The girdle is also slightly thick to thick.

But if there were long twinning wisps in those corners, I’d recommend choosing another diamond. If it experienced a drop or hard impact, it’s more likely to chip.

Additionally, a setting that presses too hard on those areas could cause the same problem.

That being said, there are inclusions far more likely to cause a chip than twinning wisps. As an example, extended feathers are known to cause durability issues, and naturals are the same.

As long as you’ve chosen a VS1 clarity grade or above, and there aren’t significant twinning wisps in vulnerable areas, durability isn’t a concern.

Are Twinning Wisps Ever a Good Thing?

Twinning wisp inclusions diminish the value of a diamond. Some buyers want a flawless gem, and even the smallest inclusion can eliminate it from consideration.

But that doesn’t mean a diamond with a twinning wisp should always be avoided.

In fact, I recommend settling for a diamond with small inclusions that don’t impact its durability, appearance, or brilliance. Its flaws lower the price but don’t have a proportionate affect on its performance.

The price of a diamond often increases 10-20 percent for every step up the clarity scale. 

A one-carat diamond with a VVS2 clarity could cost about $5,200. But if you chose a diamond that earned a VS2 grade because of twinning wisps, the price is closer to $4,700.

Choosing an eye-clean diamond with transparent twinning wisps allows you to put that savings into a higher carat weight, color grade, or cut quality.

Should You Buy a Diamond With Twinning Wisps?

Don’t avoid a diamond on the basis of a twinning wisp inclusion. Specifically, examine their size and position and how it affects the clarity grade and appearance.

The primary benefit to buying a diamond with twinning wisps is the lower cost. All else being equal, diamonds that score higher on the clarity scale are worth more than those with lower marks, and twinning wisps do count against clarity.

My recommendation is finding the sweet spot where you save money because of twinning wisps or other inclusions, but they don’t have a noticeable impact on the performance of the diamond using the naked eye.

Devon Tyler

Devon Tyler

Devon Tyler is the founder of TeachJewelry.com.

He earned an Applied Jewelry Professional Diploma from the Gemological Institute of America and now brings you essential information about diamonds, settings, and more.

Devon has consulted with leading jewelry brands, and his work has been cited in Diamond Nexus and other industry publications.

He's also a member of the International Gem Society.

Devon enjoys discussing jewelry with readers, so contact him with any questions at tyler.devon@teachjewelry.com.

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