While GIA does not certify clarity-enhanced diamonds, EGL and IGI do provide grading based on the diamond's level of clarity after being enhanced.
Unlike moissanite or gemesis, clarity-enhanced diamonds are natural mined-from-the-earth and cut and polished diamonds that have had their blemishes reduced to a large extent. While all the properties of the diamond are retained, the only feature that is manipulated is the clarity, through enhancement treatment.
The color, shape, and carat weight of the diamond remains the same; however, its clarity is enhanced by reducing the visibility of scratches, surface dents, and black carbon inclusions through laser drilling or fracture filling methods.
Clarity Enhancement Treatments
Laser drilling technique allows the specific and precise removal of black carbon inclusions in the diamond. These inclusions are reduced to a large extent by drilling a microscopic hole into the diamond. Once the laser reaches the inclusion, the diamond is treated with sulfuric acid (acid-etching), which aids in dissolving the dark carbon inclusions. Once the black carbon dissolves, the area that contained the inclusions often appears opaque or transparent. To the naked eye, the microscopic channel drilled by the laser is not visible and does not impair the sparkle or weight of the diamond. Laser drilled clarity-enhanced diamonds are considered as permanently treated diamonds, and are also easier to spot by a trained person.
Fracture filling procedure involves injecting filling up the natural fractures within the diamond so as to make them less visible. It is very common for diamonds to develop fractures because of the pressure they sustain in the Earth's crust. In this process, the diamond's fractures are injected with microscopic amounts of a substance that has a refractive index similar to diamond. Zvi Yehuda is credited with having developed the Yehuda clarity enhancement process in 1982, which aided in eliminating the fractures in the diamond, and making its imperfections less visible to the naked eye. This method adds 'zero weight' to the diamond.
Pros of Clarity-enhanced Diamonds
The biggest advantage of buying a clarity-enhanced diamond is its cost. As compared to non-enhanced diamonds, clarity-enhanced diamonds offer anywhere up to 30-50 percent savings. Such a slash in price does not imply that the diamond is less bright or stunning; on the contrary, such diamonds tend to sparkle more than natural diamonds. In fact, such diamonds are priced low because they have been manipulated and made to undergo a chemical treatment. However, such a treatment does not make clarity-enhanced diamonds any less real or lower in quality. Such diamonds are a wonderful alternative for people who wish for buy a bigger rock at a reasonable budget.
Cons of Fracture-filled Diamonds
The downside of fracture-filled clarity-enhanced diamonds is that this treatment is not permanent, and its appearance may alter if the diamond is brought in contact with the jeweler's torch. Apart from the heat of the torch threatening to melt the filling, excessive pressure and strong cleaning agents can ruin a fracture-filled diamond. Secondly, such diamonds are not very easy to detect and may require microscopic evaluation to detect the filled fractures. Buyers must also be aware that fracture-filled diamonds cannot have grading reports because the process is not permanent in nature.
Points to Remember
- Those who are considering buying a clarity-enhanced diamond must buy from a reputable company that marks its diamond with the company name, and provides a grading report for each of their diamonds.
- Some companies also offer a lifetime guarantee, wherein, any cracks or damage caused to the diamond is covered and rectified by the company.
- Many diamond sellers hesitate to disclose that the diamond is enhanced, because such diamonds were originally less marketable and required enhancement to be able to sell better.
- Thus, make sure you inquire whether the diamond being shown to you is enhanced or not. Thereafter, decide if such a diamond and deal is suitable for you or not.
Those who end up buying really expensive enhanced diamonds, may consider getting it insured, as an additional contingency measure.