When it comes to selecting the right diamond for you, there are quite a few factors to consider. And the clarity of a diamond can not only make a big difference in its value but also in the quality of the diamond. So let’s find out what diamond inclusions you should avoid and, more importantly, why you should care!
Although very few diamonds are completely flawless, there are certain inclusions or defects that you should avoid when choosing your diamond. Knot inclusion, chip inclusion, cavity inclusion, etch channels, feathers, dark crystals, and laser drill holes can all significantly decrease the value and look of a diamond and should be avoided.
In this article, we will explain the different types of inclusions and why you want to ensure the diamond you purchase doesn’t have them! In just a few moments, you will be an expert on diamond inclusions and can confidently select the diamond of your dreams.
- The Basics of Diamond Inclusions
- 2 Main Categories of Diamond Inclusions
- 7 Types of Diamond Inclusions to Avoid
- Advantages and Disadvantages to Buying a Diamond with Inclusions
- Should you buy a diamond with inclusions?
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The Basics of Diamond Inclusions
The very first thing you need to understand about diamond inclusions is what they actually are and how they occur.
Diamond inclusions are imperfections in the stones which either occur naturally during the formation within the earth’s surface or through human interaction during the cutting process.
Inclusions can be external or internal within the diamond, and while some are simply unpleasant to look at, others can actually compromise the quality of the diamond.
It’s important to note that very few diamonds have absolutely no inclusions, but there are some that are considered acceptable and can offer you a more affordable diamond without compromising the quality, and others that should be avoided.
But before we find out which inclusions your diamond shouldn’t have, we need to learn a little more about how they are categorized.
2 Main Categories of Diamond Inclusions
There are two main categories of diamond inclusions: Natural and man-made. While both are common occurrences, they affect the quality and look of the diamonds very differently.
Almost every diamond has at least some natural inclusions, but most are only visible through magnification, not with the naked eye.
There can be crystal inclusions, feather inclusions, internal graining, cloud inclusions, and twinning wisps that were formed within the diamond underground.
However, when shopping for diamonds, there are some natural inclusions that don’t make a big difference in quality and others that do.
Where the inclusion is located and how much it affects the clarity of the stone are the factors that decide the quality and price of the diamond.
On the other hand, man-made inclusions can usually be avoided if the jeweler who is cutting and polishing the stone is exceptional at their profession.
Although they are avoidable, man-made inclusions such as chips, cavities, bearding, bruising, or laser drill holes are quite common in the industry, and they can seriously detract from the beauty and price of the diamond.
Now that you understand the difference between natural and man-made inclusions, it’s time to find out which types within both categories you should absolutely avoid when purchasing a diamond.
7 Types of Diamond Inclusions to Avoid
In this section, we will step through the 7 types of diamond inclusions that you should look for and consequently avoid when shopping for diamonds.
The first defect on our list is the knot inclusion. These occur naturally when the diamond is formed, and one of the worst aspects about knots is that you can see them with the naked eye.
Knots are usually white or transparent, but you can see them because they extend to the surface or edge of the diamond, which creates the appearance of an unwanted facet and can even produce a small bump.
And unfortunately, knots are not just unpleasant to look at, they also affect the quality of the diamond.
While you may be able to get a diamond at a discounted price with a knot inclusion, it’s probably not worth the savings.
Next, we have chip inclusions, which are most commonly caused by humans either by dropping the diamond on a hard surface or making a mistake during the cutting process.
You will clearly see a chip in a diamond as it looks like a small chunk has been taken out of the edge or surface of the stone.
Chips are absolutely inclusions to avoid for two reasons: The value of the diamond decreases as there is less weight to it, and whenever a diamond is chipped, it is more likely to chip again in the future.
If you found a large diamond with a chip, you are actually better off opting for a smaller stone without a chip as it is considered a higher-value stone.
Other common man-made inclusions are called cavities. While cavities are similar to chips, they are slightly different as they are usually small or large holes or gaps in the surface.
The main reason why you will certainly want to avoid cavities is that they significantly affect the durability of the diamond. Like chips, once a diamond has a cavity, it is far more likely to break and form another one or expand the size of the existing inclusion.
As well as negatively affecting the quality and look of the diamond, it also reduces the carat weight and makes it less valuable, so you should skip any diamonds with a cavity.
Most geologists agree that etch channels are formed naturally during the diamond’s formation due to intense stress on the stone.
These small but usually visible defects look like lines internally stretching through the diamond. And like cavities or chips, etch channels can be a problem as they often fill with dirt or oil and are almost impossible to clean.
Although etch channels don’t affect the durability of the diamond, they can absolutely decrease the value of the stone.
It’s important to note that etch channels often look like laser drill holes (which we will learn about shortly), and those inclusions significantly negatively impact the price of the diamond.
Therefore, even if it’s an etch channel inclusion and not a laser drill hole, you should still skip the purchase.
Now, feathers are another type of natural inclusion that you should be aware of. Feathers can be either small or large, but they usually start along the edge or girdle of the diamond and create a white or black blemish heading down into the center.
Small feathers won’t often affect the brilliance or clarity of the diamond; however, they will definitely decrease its durability, which is a big problem.
As well, large feathers will negatively affect the brilliance and decrease the value of a diamond.
Essentially, whether the diamond you are looking at has a small or large feather inclusion, you should just skip it and try to find another.
Many diamonds have crystal inclusions; however, there is a big difference between light or transparent crystals and dark or colored crystals.
All crystals are created underground during the formation of the diamond, and they are actually quite a common occurrence.
And while you may not be able to see a light crystal with the naked eye, dark crystals can be quite an eye sore. Dark crystals will decrease the brilliance of the diamond as less natural light can enter and shine through.
While crystals will not negatively affect the durability of the diamond, they do decrease the clarity and, therefore, the value.
If you find a diamond you love with a dark crystal, you should ensure it’s along the edge where it won’t affect the coloring as much and can even be hidden by the setting.
Laser Drill Holes
Last but not least, laser drill hole inclusions are absolutely ones that you want to avoid when purchasing a diamond.
Laser drill holes are man-made inclusions that occur when a jeweler uses a laser to attempt to remove a natural inclusion within the diamond, and they cause a variety of issues.
Although removing the dark spots or inclusions within the diamond can make it more aesthetically pleasing, it actually changes the value of the stone as it is now considered a clarity-enhanced diamond.
While some extremely skilled jewelers will be able to create an essentially invisible laser drill hole, most are visible to the naked eye and, therefore, not only create an eye-sore but also decrease the value of the diamond.
As well, just like etch channels, cavities, and chips, dirt and oil can seep into laser drill holes which are quite challenging to clean. Over time, the dirt will negatively affect the durability and clarity of the diamond.
For all these reasons, you should definitely avoid diamonds with laser drill hole inclusions.
Advantages and Disadvantages to Buying a Diamond with Inclusions
It’s vital to understand that along with the many disadvantages of buying a diamond with inclusions, there are also a few upsides!
Of course, the downsides include the fact that many diamond inclusions negatively affect the quality, durability, look, and value retention of the stone.
But as you now know, almost every diamond will have at least one inclusion, and therefore opting for the right kind of inclusion can ensure you purchase a high-quality diamond that will keep its value and last a lifetime.
As well, any completely inclusion-free diamond will cost significantly more than those with even minor defects. So one of the major advantages of choosing a diamond with inclusions is that it won’t break the bank!
There is also an important advantage to opting for a diamond with a natural inclusion: It ensures the diamond is natural and not lab-made.
Whenever you purchase a diamond, the jeweler should provide a microscope and explain the inclusions you see. And this is one of the reasons why it is so important to understand the differences between man-made and natural inclusions!
If you can spot a natural inclusion within the diamond, you can be sure it was formed underground, is a true diamond, and is worth the price point they’ve set.
The bottom line is that unless you can afford a crystal clear diamond, you will likely have to opt for a diamond with some inclusions.
But now you know the inclusions that you should avoid and how to differentiate a natural inclusion from a man-made one before making your purchase!
Should you buy a diamond with inclusions?
Finally, you need to know if you should or should not buy a diamond with inclusions. And the answer is not all that clear-cut!
Realistically, almost every diamond on the planet has some natural inclusions. So unless you have an unlimited budget, you probably don’t actually have a choice in the matter.
That being said, there are two reasons why you should buy a diamond with inclusions: It saves you money, and if the inclusions are natural, you can be sure you are purchasing a true diamond as opposed to a synthetic one.
Now, on the other hand, even though you will likely purchase a diamond with inclusions, there are certain defects that should be avoided as they decrease the clarity, brilliance, quality, and value of the stone.
Luckily, you now know which inclusions need to be avoided and which natural ones are considered acceptable. So you can now confidently purchase the perfect diamond, with or without inclusions, whatever your budget and preferences may be!
Our Team of 10 includes jewelry experts, antique Buyers & Sellers, baseball card collectors, and other appraisal experts.