There are on the market today what's known as "Clarity Enhanced" diamonds. There are actually two different types of enhancement on the market but first we'll familiarize you with what is commonly known as "clarity enhanced" diamonds.
What are "Clarity Enhanced" diamonds?
Clarity enhanced diamonds are stones that, more than often are diamonds that "had" eye visible imperfections. Meaning they are usually stones that were I1, I2 or I3 in clarity, and being that noone wants a diamond with "eye visible" inclusions, a jeweler or a person with that stone will have the inclusion(s) "treated" to be made invisible to the naked eye. The treatment is similar to the idea like if you've ever cracked a windshield, instead of replacing the entire windshield, the repairman just "fills the crack". Clarity enhanced diamonds are also known as "fracture filled" diamonds. A diamond like this would be a perfect candidate for clarity enhancement... click to enlarge.
How can I know if a diamond has been "clarity enhanced"?
This is something that the jeweler should disclose to the consumer at the point of sale. Actually ... let me change that ... THIS IS SOMETHING THAT THE JEWELER SHOULD DISCLOSE to you BEFORE THE POINT OF SALE. If the deal sounds too good to be true, don't be afraid to ask if the diamond has been enhanced. Many jewelers who are selling these diamonds are not quick to disclose that info to you. "GIA" will not certify clarity enhanced diamonds but "EGL" will and if it was an I2 that was made into an SI2 after enhancement, EGL will put SI2 on the certificate with a footnote that it's been enhanced.
If I have to trust the jeweler to tell me whether it's enhanced or not, HOW DOES HE KNOW WHETHER IT'S BEEN ENHANCED OR NOT???
Good question. There have already been jewelers who have bought these and weren't aware of it. I have already sold clarity enhanced diamonds (I knew it and so did the customer) and some appraiser's who looked at the diamond didn't know it was enhanced. The way to detect "fracture filled" or "clarity enhanced" diamonds is under the scope. The filling generally leaves a faint or strong neon color in the stone, which when observed face up is either invisible or could easily be mistaken for the spectral colors that are observed when looking at a stone face up. When the diamond is observed face down under a scope however the neon colors distinctly stand out. Here are some pics of clarity enhanced diamonds under the scope and what we see. Click on a thumbnail to view the full sized pic. The purple flash is what gives it away.
Should I consider purchasing a clarity enhanced diamond for an engagement ring?
It depends on your circumstance. Many people buy clarity enhanced diamonds and are "very" happy. The ones who probably aren't happy are the ones who bought them and weren't told. There are many jewelers and people within the industry who frown on "clarity enhanced" diamonds, especially other diamond dealers. Why? Because this invention has brought less expensive, good looking diamonds to the consumer (considering the other 3C's are good too) and this is taking business away from them. If you are a guy looking to get the biggest diamond for the money and don't have all the cash to shell out for that 1, 1½, or 2 carat diamond but still want to get your girl a descent size rock, I would definetely suggest a clarity enhanced diamond. If you do have the bucks, then you may not even want to consider it. It is nice to have the choice even if you do choose against it. For diamond stud earrings, I think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread!
Does "clarity enhancement" reduce the value of the diamond?
No and here's why. If a person buys a clarity enhanced diamond, they are in essence paying for the quality that the stone was "before" enhancement. Say we took a 2 carat diamond that was an I1 in clarity with an eye-visible inclusion right under the table and the stones street value was 5-6 thousand. Now there aren't too many people who want a 2 carat stone with a big ol inclusion staring them in the face. But take that same exact stone, make the inclusion "invisible" to the naked eye and you have an eye clean 2 carat stone for 5-6 thousand dollars. To the guy who's shelling out 9-12 thousand dollars for the same "looking" thing, this don't sound too bad. So while the stone after enhancement may look like an SI (under the scope), you are still paying for the Imperfect. Here's a face up view of a clarity enhanced diamond under the scope. The very faint feather under the table is where the enhancement was done. The pictures you saw above were taken of the same stone but from underneath.
What are the guarantees with a clarity enhanced diamond?
The inventor of the process, Yehuda or the families company "Diascience" guarantees that the diamond will never become "unfilled" or "unenhanced" for the life of the stone. This is not to say that it couldn't happen, but if it does, Diascience will retreat the stone at no cost to you. Pretty strong guarantee. If you do buy a clarity enhanced diamond you should get this little guarantee (a wallet sized plastic card) accompanying your purchase. Present this card to a jeweler who will be doing work on your ring, should you need any done and they'll know what to do (provided they're not dingbats!).
What could cause the diamond's filling to come out?
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has put these stones through the most rigorous of tests. They found only 3 things that could cause the filling to come out.
Exposure to fire. Tip: If you do get a clarity enhanced diamond, don't let your girl hold her hand in fire for an extended period of time :()
Exposure to boiling acid. Don't let her hold her finger or hand in boiling acid for an extended period of time :()
Recutting. If the diamond had to, for some reason be recut the recutting process could cause the filling to come out.
When you get down to it, a jewelers torch and a jewelers boiling acid is all you need to beware of. If you are letting a jeweler work on the ring, simply make them aware that the diamond is clarity enhanced either by telling them or handing them the guarantee card. Then you'll be sure to avoid the fire and boiling acid thing. As for recutting. You'll probably never have it done.
You mentioned two different types of enhancement. What's the other?
The other is laser treatment. While filled diamond can, under unusual circumstances become "unfilled", laser treatment is permanent. While filling will be primarily done on eye-visible feathers within a diamond, lasering will be done on eye-visible black inclusions in a diamond. If you've went through the section of this site teaching about "Imperfect" clarity grades you may have remembered seeing a marquise diamond that had black inclusions. Well, one of em was eye-visible and I did have that black inclusion "lasered" to make the black inclusion "colorless". Here's a before and after shot. Note the black crystal at the tip of the table
If you want to check out a higher zoom, click on a thumbnail. On the second pic you can see the insertion point and the small canal going to the crystal which was once black.
Two very important facts you want to keep in mind about laser treated diamonds is this.
GIA will certify laser treated diamonds whereas they will not certify filled diamonds.
Legally, according to the FTC, a jeweler does not have to disclose to you that a diamond has been laser treated.
And once again, it doesn't hurt for you to "ask". Under the next chapter on "Clarity Tips" I'll be giving you a reminder of questions to ask before you purchase.
How is lasering detected?
Some lasering can be very obvious to see under the scope while some can be very difficult. It really depends on how deep they drilled into the stone and the location of the drilling. It can almost virtually impossible to see when the diamond is observed face up, as the drilling is typically done perpendicular to the facet on which the black inclusion is. Face up, the laser drill hole is so tiny it looks like a pin point inclusion. When you tilt the diamond on a slant you make make out, not only the laser drill hole but also the canal or tunnel the laser made from the surface of the diamond to the black inclusion. Here are some examples of what this looks like under the microscope. If the diamond was not tilted you wouldn't see it.
Here at Good Old Gold we do disclose to our clients whether a diamond is laser drilled or not and we'll even show you where it was done!
Since lasering is permanent and GIA will certify these stones, are they "better" and "more valuable" than filled clarity enhanced diamonds?
It is better in the sense that the treatment is permanent and they are more valuable than filled clarity enhanced diamonds. They are however less expensive than their counterparts which haven't been lasered. For example: If I have two diamonds that weigh 1.05ct., are G color, cut grade of 2, and SI1 in clarity, one is lasered and the other is not, the lasered diamond will and should be less expensive. It won't be as cheap as the filled clarity enhanced diamond though and it is a diamond that can be submitted to GIA for certification.
Bottom line with lasered diamonds:
If all other aspects (color, cut, carat weight) are excellent on the stone and it is an eye clean clarity grade, don't let the fact that the diamond has been lasered discourage your decision. Of course you should expect a better price, but all things being, lasered diamonds are traded everyday and most of them without your knowledge. I think it's good to know as this can be used as a bargaining chip, but I wouldn't let it discourage your purchasing decision.
Bottom line with clarity enhanced (filled) diamonds:
If you are a guy who is under the gun for a descent looking diamond that is out of your price range (ie. a 1 carat diamond that is less than $3,500), a 1½ct that is less than $5,500, etc.) you should definitely consider a clarity enhanced diamond. They are guaranteed for life and if all other aspects are good on the stone will help you get the size you want. Here at the Ultimate Diamond Information site you will never purchase anything site unseen anyway so I'll be able to show you good ones verses not so good ones.