Diamond treatments essentially changes the natural essence of a diamond. It is important to keep in mind that treated diamond are less expensive than untreated diamonds with the same characteristics. Also, when purchasing a diamond with a treatment, the dealer is obligated to disclose any treatments with the customer.
Clarity Enhanced Diamond
Technology has progressed at such a rapid pace that today, specific treatments can be performed on natural diamonds to perk up the gemological traits of the diamond. They are known as the clarity enhancement treatments. The diamonds that have undergone such a treatment are known as clarity enhanced diamonds. The clarity enhanced diamonds are basically 100% authentic and natural diamonds that have been mined like any other diamonds. The only difference is that they have undergone a clarity enhancement treatment to improve the clarity of the diamond. Other features of the diamond remain intact and even the carat of the diamond is not affected.
Several methods can be used to enhance the clarity of a diamond. Two common methods are Laser Drilling and Fracture Filling.
Laser drilling is a method that is performed inside the body of a diamond to remove the inclusions. The method involves the drilling of a microscopic hole that is less than 0.2millimeters or 0.005 inches in diameter into the diamond to create a straight path from the surface to the black carbon crystal inclusion. Chemical solutions are then forced through the hole to erase or bleach out the inclusions. The chemical solution is generally a mixture of sulphuric acid and concentrated hydrofluoric acid. There are no serious side effects of laser drilling, except a microscopic tunnel that can only be detected under the microscope. They do not impact the diamond’s sparkle and brilliance in any way.
Another variation of the laser drilling is the use of naturally occurring fractures from the surface of the diamond to the black inclusions. It is basically referred to as special laser drilling
Fractures are a common phenomenon inside a diamond. They are created during the diamond’s formation inside the earth. If visible, these fractures can ruin the overall beauty of the diamond. This is when the method of fracture filling comes to its rescue. It is a process where glass or liquid glass-like filler material is inserted into the scratches or cracks. The filler has the same optical properties as that of a diamond allowing the flaws to get properly camouflaged. The fracture filling process was pioneered by Zvi Yehuda of Ramat Gan.
Advantages of Clarity Enhanced Diamond:
1) Clarity enhanced diamonds are not any lab created diamonds. In fact, they are 100% natural diamonds as they like any other diamonds have been mined. The only difference is that they have undergone some internal surgery to improve their appearance. So there is no reason why they should appear repulsive to you.
2) They are cost effective. Hence, for those people who are on a tight budget, but wishes to purchase a big diamond, clarity enhanced diamonds are the best alternatives. At the end of the enhancement process, you might get a VS2 graded diamond at the cost of SI1-SI2 diamond graded price.
3) The clarity enhanced treatments does not in any way weaken the structure of your diamond. In other words the durability of a clarity enhanced diamond will remain the same as any non-enhanced diamonds.
4) The difference between clarity enhanced diamond and non-enhanced diamond cannot be distinguished with the naked eye. Only a trained gemologist can differentiate it and that too by inspecting it under a microscope.
Disadvantages of Clarity Enhanced Diamond:
1) The only reason why it has drawn much negativity is because many people have been duped into buying it. Though it is the duty of a jeweler to disclose whether any clarity enhancement treatment has been done or not, many jewelers intentionally hide the details. Hence, you have to be rather careful when buying a diamond.
2) Another disadvantage is that too many drill holes or too many tunnels can weaken the durability and structure of the diamond. This however is not a major concern in the case of diamonds where fewer inclusions have been removed.
HPHT Treated Diamonds
A number of diamond enhancement techniques have evolved over the passage of time to improve the visual appearance of diamonds and the high-pressure high-temperature treatment is one of them. The technique came into existence in the year 1950 and made the diamond industry all the more lucrative and wide-ranging. Today, it has become one of the most widely known treatment for diamonds.
What is the HPHT treatment?
HPHT is an abbreviation of high pressure, high temperature. It is a process of subjecting some specific brown diamonds to enormous amount of pressure and temperature in a laboratory controlled setting which resembles the setting of the natural environment, which produces diamonds. It is like sending the diamond back into the earth, into its womb of creation to allow it to be reborn into a much better and priceless diamond. In the HPHT process, the gemologist carefully places the diamond in a “containment cube” which is then flanked by heating mechanisms. After this the same amount of pressure, which the earth creates to form diamonds is applied to the cube by putting it in a press. It goes without saying that this process requires the involvement of sophisticated equipment and facilities which are available only at some high-technology companies and research institutes.
Diamonds can be scientifically classified into two categories: “Type I” and “Type II”. The type I are the most abundant in nature and comprises of nitrogen. The color of the type I diamond usually ranges from colorless to yellow or brownish yellow. The type II are rare in nature and comprises small amounts of nitrogen. They are mostly brown, though they can be sometimes colorless and can also be blue or gray if they contain boron.
The ideal candidates for the HPHT process are usually the type IIa and the high-clarity diamonds like VVS1, VVS2, VS1, VS2 and flawless. In the HPHT process, the type II brown diamonds can be tuned into colorless or near-colorless. Certain type II diamonds of brown-pink or brown-gray-blue type can be transformed into pink and blue respectively. Of late, the HPHT method is also being used for the treatment of some of the most common type I brown diamonds.
The HPHT is a permanent color enhancement treatment and is the only treatment available to completely transform the color of the diamond. They need no special maintenance or care to maintain the color.
Advantages of Buying HPHT Diamonds:
- One of the major advantages of buying HPHT diamond is that it can cost up to 75% less than the natural colored diamonds.
- Colored diamonds are not just popular, but they are also extremely rare and expensive. Due to their exorbitant rates, their availability is limited to only a selected few. With the onset of the HPHT process, they have been made affordable to everyone.
- The treatment is irreversible and one need not have to worry about the diamond color fading or changing.
- With the HPHT treatment you can obtain a large variety of colors like apple green, forest green, olive green, golden yellow, sky blue, and many more.
- Last but not the least, the HPHT diamonds cannot be distinguished from the natural diamonds, making it look absolutely real in every aspect. They can only be differentiated via an advanced spectroscopic technique.
Laser Drilled Diamonds
The beauty and the brilliance of diamonds have always captivated us and it goes without saying that it will continue to do so till the end of time. However, diamonds are born with certain flaws or inclusions which are basically an obstruction to the brilliance that they would otherwise exhibit. But thanks to technology, today we have the clarity treatments that are largely aimed at enhancing the clarity of a diamond. The Laser Drilling and Internal Laser Drilling are two techniques used for clarity treatments in diamonds.
So what exactly is Laser Drilling?
Laser drilling is basically a process that involves the use of infrared laser to drill a tiny hole, thinner than a hair into the stone, to create a way from the surface to the inclusion inside the stone. Once the location of the inclusion is reached, the channel is used to dissolve the inclusion either by melting it with heat or by dissolving it with acid. The process makes the inclusion less apparent. This technique is usually adopted to reduce the more obvious inclusions like the black spots.
If you are wondering whether the laser drill holes can be seen with the naked eye, the good news is they are so small that finding them becomes a real challenge. Moreover, they do not in any way affect the brilliance of the diamond. However, they can be easily detected under the microscope. In some cases the hole is filled with foreign substances that minimize the visibility of the hole to a great extent.
The method of laser-drilling is permanent and once a diamond has been laser drilled and its clarity improved the new clarity grade remains forever.
What is Internal Laser Drilling or KM Treatment?
It is basically another variation of the laser drilling technique. KM is an abbreviation of the Hebrew phrase “kiduah meyuhad” which implies “special drill”. In this process the hot laser is targeted at the internal inclusion itself, causing the existing inclusion to expand or cause internal fractures. This treatment develops a series of fractures from the inclusion to the surface so that the acid used to lighten or clean the black protrusions can enter and do their job. The KM laser holes have myriads of appearances. Some may look like an irregular worm hole, some like irregular boundaries and some others may have a disc-like feature. These irregular or worm like tunnels can be warded off as being naturally flawed. The feather created under this technique is difficult to distinguish with the naked eye, though it can be easily spotted under a microscope via different lighting techniques.
The Advantages of Laser Drilling and Internal Laser Drilling Treatments:
These treatments are done to cover the flaws, to make it visually appealing and to make them more marketable. They can remove some easily detectable flaws and turn the diamond into an eye-cleaned one. Another big advantage is that the laser drilled diamonds are available at an affordable price. A stone that has undergone a laser drilling treatment to improve its clarity may cost 20-30% less than an untreated diamond belonging to the same clarity grade. They make an ideal option for people with a tight budget, but who at the same time would like to purchase a big diamond.
Disadvantages of Laser DRILLING and Internal Laser DRILLING Treatments
Large clarity improvement means innumerable drill holes and more the holes drilled in the stone, the weaker will be the structure of the diamond. Too many tunnels can also weaken the durability of the stone. This however is not an issue with diamonds that have a few inclusions removed. Hence, as a customer, you need to be aware of this. The most convenient way to find out if a diamond has undergone the laser drilling process or not is to check out the diamond certificate. A diamond certificate issued by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) will provide you the details.