Clarity Enhanced Diamonds vs Non-Enhanced Diamonds
Just the Facts.
Many people will tell you “Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder”. This statement has a lot of merit, and many wholesalers, diamond sellers, and jewelers who deal with enhanced diamonds use this very idea to sell their product. They say clarity enhanced diamonds are just diamonds that have been touched up, nothing more, nothing less, and they are every bit as beautiful as a non-enhanced diamond. However, these very same sellers, in many cases, neglect to tell you all the facts. That’s what this article is about. The Facts.
The Pros of Clarity Enhancement
- Clarity enhanced diamond are 99% real diamonds. They were mined just like any other diamond out there. The only difference is they had some work done to them.
- They cost less, so to speak. The enhancement process can actually do a remarkable job at making a diamond's clarity look much better than it was. In the end, after the enhancement process is finished, you might have a VS2 diamond, however you'll typically only pay the SI1-SI2 price.
- There's very few people in the world that can actually tell the difference between a clarity enhanced diamond and non-enhanced diamond.
- This transparent glass like material used to mask the inclusion has almost the same optical and light refractive properties as the diamond itself. This allows the light to PASS THROUGH the feather instead of deflecting off in an undesirable direction.
The Cons of Clarity Enhancement
- The clarity enhancement process can wear off. It's not permanent by any means. If you expose your diamond to typical kitchen cleaning chemicals (like ammonia), or your diamond finds it way to a very hot place, the glass like material in the diamond can, in fact, break down. What you're left with is the bad clarity it once was, and masked, and you'll need to send the diamond back to get it re-enhanced.
- The glass like material they put in your diamond does add weight to the diamond. Very little, but diamonds are about as heavy as a feather, so any weight is distinguishable. This is actually false diamond weight.
- You have to clean it with a soap and water only! Putting your diamond in a jewelry cleaner will reverse the process. You must also be sure to tell your jeweler if you plan on bringing your diamond in for maintenance. If they don't know about the clarity enhancement process they will proceed to clean your ring the "normal" way which will end up reversing the enhancement process. They may also use a jewelers torch on your ring if you need it resized. The jewelers torch is too hot for the glass like filling in a clarity enhanced diamond to withstand the heat and will break down.
- No respectable diamond grading lab will grade your diamond. The reason being is the clarity enhancement process is not 100% permanent. Imagine if GIA graded your diamond a VS2, only to have it lose it's enhancement glass like material This could cause issues with your insurance company, and it will make GIA look bad for grading your diamond higher than it really is. Clarity Enhanced is NOT the same as HPHT (high pressure high temperature) color enhancement. HPHT color enhancement will not lose it's color, therefor respectable grading labs WILL certify it.
- The clarity enhancement process WILL weaken your diamond's overall core strength and durability. In other words, it will become more fragile.
A clarity enhanced diamond is only 99% real, if that.
Above I said clarity enhanced diamond are 99% real. Now the diamond itself was mined from the earth, however the diamond underwent a surgery, so-to-speak. If your diamond has black inclusions, feathers, holes, etc… the clarity enhancer will inject a needle into the diamond, and basically suck up the black carbon causing the black inclusion, but not until after they drill into it. Same with a feather or any other inclusion. If it’s not on the surface, they will have to drill. If the inclusion is on the surface, they will use a laser to remove the blemish, but this will still leave a minute empty cavern / hole in your diamond. In this hole they inject a glass like substance that fills the hole, and eliminates the pocket of nothing-ness that was once there. That’s when the diamond ceases to become 100% “all diamond”.
I was once asked, If a human being has a surgery and has to have an artificial part put in, does that make the person “not human”? My answer is absolutely NOT. Of course they are still human, just like the diamond is still a diamond. However, just like the glass like substance is not part of a diamond’s genetic makeup, the implantation the human being had placed in him/her is not at all part of the human makeup. Keeping with the comparisons, just like that foreign part in a human needs to be cared for with “special instructions” so does the foreign material in the diamond.
Diamonds can handle many things. There’s not much that will “hurt” them. But the glass like material in the diamond is not as tough, and durable, and will break down if certain conditions are not met. Also the drilling itself can weaken the diamond, making it more prone to cracking. I’ve seen some clarity enhanced diamonds that have literally split right where the drilling was done.
What happens if the clarity enhancement wears off?
If the enhancement has worn off you will have diamond with holes and, in some cases, cracks and feathers (see image above) plainly visible. The drilling itself changed the inside symmetry of the diamond. It also changed the polish of the diamond. You need great symmetry and polish for optimal brilliance and sparkle. The glass like substance put in the drilled hole helps tremendously with directing the light where it needs to go. Without it, the light will hit an empty pit and be directed out the sides or bottom “dulling” up your gem. So unless you send your diamond in to get re-enhanced your diamond will lose a certain percentage of the brilliance it once had. How much brilliance is lost (which is usually noticeable) will depend on how much the diamond was clarity enhanced to begin with. So before you buy an enhanced diamond, make sure you know a reputable place that can fix it for you. Be prepared.
Should I buy a clarity enhanced diamond, or a non-enhanced diamond?
In the end, I don’t recommend a clarity enhanced diamond simply because people rarely, whether by choice or accident, find it easy keeping to the strict guidelines needed to maintain the clarity enhancement. Not to mention if something does happen to the diamond they will need to find a jeweler who will re-enhance it for them. Many do not. This costs more money. There’s one other thing about owning a clarity enhanced diamond I’ve been told from people who owned them, and that’s the psychological effect. Seems strange, right? Each of them knew the diamond was clarity enhanced, each knew how to take care of them, but every once in a while they would look at their diamond and see something they thought was not there before, and wonder if the diamond’s enhancement is wearing off. Often times it hasn’t worn off, but many just can’t be sure. On the plus side if you can adhere to the strict guidelines of maintenance, and don’t mind having an altered diamond, and your lifestyle won’t put any undue stress on the weakened diamond, you can save a lot of money.
I recommend going with a 100% pure mined / 100% unaltered diamond. You will find life much easier when it comes to it’s maintenance, or resizing / altering your engagement ring. You won’t have to worry about a weakened internal structure. All jewelers know how to handle a non-enhanced diamond, and best of all your diamond will never become something it was not.
Fun Fact: How can I tell if a diamond is clarity enhanced?
All clarity enhanced diamonds have one thing in common, something that makes it easy to tell if they are altered. If you hold a diamond up and you twist it in the light and you see a pink sparkle, that’s a property of the glass like material used for enhancement. Diamonds do not sparkle pink. The enhanced diamond will sparkle all the normal colors AND pink.