Do you know that it is not uncommon to ‘fracture fill’ or ‘laser drill’ a diamond to improve its clarity? Sometimes a supplier will fill a surface reaching inclusion and fill it with glass making the inclusion almost disappear or sometimes they may laser drill a tiny hole into the diamonds and inject a bleach to lighten a dark inclusion and make it appear lighter. To date no lab grown diamonds have ever been subjected to these potentially damaging and, in some cases, fraudulent treatments, whose intention is to make the diamond appear to be better than it really is. They can be seen in diamonds purchased overseas either on the internet or while on holiday and are often not disclosed at the time of purchase, or if mentioned, slick salesmanship glosses over the true effect (and value) of the treatment. Fracture filling and laser drilling have been around for many years. The treatments improve the appearance of a lower clarity stone, making it more attractive to the naked eye and lifting the clarity grade to make it more saleable. However, in truth, its value is still that of a low-quality stone. Even under a jeweller’s loupe the process can be detected quite easily. Fracture filling, clarity enhancement, and Yehuda clarity treatment are all terms denoting treatments to disguise an inclusion in the gem. A fracture-filled or laser drilled diamond is worth far less than one of similar appearance that has not been treated. In all such cases, as long as there is disclosure at the point of sale, then at least the customer is aware of it, but too often that important detail is left out.

fracture filling
Laser Drilled Diamonds

Laser Drilled Diamonds. A trap for the unwary.

Laser drilled diamonds have been around since the 1970’s. The supplier uses a laser to drill a small channel directly (or sometimes even indirectly snaking into the gem), to reach a black or dark the inclusion whereupon an acid, is introduced to bleach the inclusion improving the appearance of a lower-quality stone clarity-wise, making it more attractive to the naked eye and more salable. If a jeweller checks it under a jeweller’s loupe, the drill holes become obvious. But recently a new drilling technique can make a channel only 5 microns wide that’s about 1/16 the width of a human hair making it impossible to be detected by a jeweller’s loupe. Detection of the treatment relies on thorough microscopic examination and a familiarity with the appearance of the damage left behind by laser treatment. How many jewellers will recognize this treatment? Most jewellery retailers are not gemmologists, and do not have the equipment necessary to thoroughly examine stones. They rely on the integrity of their supplier. Fortunately, in NZ our well-known diamond suppliers have integrity and would disclose such treatments (if at all sell them) and guarantee their gems. But many diamonds are purchased overseas, some via the internet and lasering may not be disclosed. They may have a Diamond Certificate which discloses the treatment, but the seller will sometimes ‘omit’ to mention the laser drilling in their slick marketing of the gem. When valuing a laser drilled diamond, and because it is possible to improve the clarity by one grade, valuers’ price the diamond as if it were one grade lower.

How to care for your Diamond Ring

Your jewellery must be clean to be truly beautiful. Diamonds, derive their beauty from the way they refract, reflect, and disperse light. The least bit of film from oil, soap, or hand lotion will change the refractive index from that of diamond to that of grease, and most of the brilliance will be lost. Diamonds have a natural affinity for grease and need to be cleaned regularly. Cleaning should be carried out at least monthly.

Use a safe environment
Guard against losing a stone during any cleaning! Often, especially on jewellery that has been worn a lot, or pieces with very lightweight settings, the build-up grime may be all that is keeping a stone in its setting! Cleaning off the grime could loosen the stone. While this would be inconvenient, it is a lot better having the stone fall out and lost if it was not in a controlled environment! Carry out the cleaning in a small bowl and check carefully for missing stones before pouring out the solution.

Clean gently with warm soapy water
Soak jewellery for a few minutes in a small bowl of warm water with a little dishwashing liquid added. You can brush around and under the stones, gently, using a soft bristle toothbrush. A cosmetic brush such as used to apply eye shadow is also okay.

Using White spirits; Vodka or Gin.
White spirits are more effective in removing grease from diamonds. Again, using a soft toothbrush to gently remove the grease off the diamond and getting in between the claws.

The washing soda and aluminium foil method. (Use only with Diamond set jewellery). Baking soda can also be used but is not as effective. It pays to remove most of the grease first, but if you want an even better result, this is a great extra step. It is brilliant for making your jewellery shinny as well as cleaning the final grease off the diamonds. You need a small shallow plastic container. Line it with aluminium foil. Put in a rounded teaspoon of washing soda and pour over enough boiling water to cover the ring. Place the ring in the centre, and a fizzy reaction will occur. In in a few minutes, the ring and gem will be bright and clean. Make sure to dispose of all the liquid. The aluminium will gradually degrade, but you can always use some slightly crumpled-up kitchen foil. Once the jewellery is dry, with say a paper towel, you can use our Polishing Cloth, as part of the ‘Care for your Jewellery Cleaning kit’ for a brilliant finish. We give a complimentary cleaning pack to every customer, for care of their diamond jewellery, we sell to.

Sonic cleaning

Departments stores and mail-order catalogue sell small vibrating ‘sonic’ jewellery cleaners for home use. These are gentler than the powerful ultrasonic cleaners used by Jewellers and can be safely used for diamonds and all faceted coloured stones.

Before you start your search for a diamond, you should learn about the 4 C’s. It won’t make you an expert, that takes years, but it will help you make an informed decision! Then if you want to know more Adamastar can help demystify the subject

Carat: As with all precious stones, the weight of a diamond is described in carats. The word carat originated in a natural unit of weight, the seeds of the carob tree. Diamonds were traditionally weighted against these seeds until the system was standardized and one carat was fixed at 0.2 grams. One carat is divided into 100 “points” so that a diamond of 0.50 (50 points) is described as half a carat.

Clarity: Almost all diamonds contain minute imperfections which are traces of the crystal’s natural formation. Most require magnification to become apparent and are not discernible to the naked eye. They are called inclusions, (not ‘carbon spots’ – diamonds are all carbon, so a spot of carbon in carbon isn’t factually correct). They are the gems fingerprint that make every diamond unique. The fewer there are, the rarer the stone will be. Clarity, therefore, indicates the extent to which the diamond you purchase is free of these natural phenomena.
Colour Although most diamonds appear to be colourless, others can contain increasing tinges of colour usually yellow and to a lesser extent, brown. The most valuable of all diamonds are the coloured diamonds, which can come in greens, blues, pinks, oranges, and reds. These are arguably the most rare and valuable of all precious stones, and the most stunning in brilliance and colour.

Cut (Make) Of all the 4 C’s, cut is the one most directly influenced by man. The other three are dictated by the way they were made, either by being formed above or below ground. The cut or make of a diamond will dramatically influence its fire and sparkle, for it is the diamond cutter’s skill that releases its beauty. A good cut can increase a diamonds value up to 50% over a poorer cut of similar weight, colour and clarity. It is the cut that enables a diamond to make the best use of light. The proportions of a brilliant (round) cut diamond have been developed over 100 years to give a diamond its fire. Every facet must be within a certain tolerance. If a diamond is cut to ‘ideal’ or ‘Excellent’ proportions, then it will have fire as all the light coming into the stone is reflected back out at the viewer’s eye. If a diamond is cut too deep, some light will be lost through the opposite side of the pavilion or bottom. If the cut is too shallow, light escapes through the pavilion or bottom before it can be reflected.

Tips when purchasing a diamond

All grading factors of a diamond are important, and none can be taken in isolation. You could buy a D colour, Flawless diamond, but if the cut is poor then it will be dull and lifeless – but a well-cut diamond which is I2 Clarity and J colour will have its brilliance affected by the low colour and clarity. We recommend quality over quantity every time. Don’t get too ‘caught up’ by wanting a 1 carat, or half carat diamond, regardless of the quality. We will let you into a secret, the diameter – remember that’s what you actually see – between a 0.43 carat and a 0.50 carat diamond could be a matter of 0.02 mm, but the price could be significantly higher for the 0.50 carat. Rather than compromising on a lower grade 0.50 carat diamond, it is better to go for a high-grade diamond that is slightly lighter in colour. We suggest trying to get good colour and cut, an F-H or higher and a Very Good or higher make. If the diamond is a 0.50ct (or close to), SI1 – SI2 is quite good for clarity, but if 0.75ct or higher we suggest you select a VS2 clarity or higher, because, as the table area increases in size it makes it easier to see the inclusions. We recommend you consider diamonds of higher than I colour, and avoid I1, I2 and I3 clarity, if quality is important to you. Low clarity in diamonds affects the brilliance of a diamond no matter how well it is cut. After all, if a diamond doesn’t sparkle with fire, why bother? At Adamastar, we prefer not sell diamonds lower than SI2 clarity or I colour. These details are a brief overview. Diamond grading and gemmology are a full-time profession that requires many years of study. While it helps to know the factors that affect price and quality, you must still rely on professionals.