Inclusions are imperfections usually found in diamonds because of their chaotic formation process inside the Earth. They are usually called flaws because their presence means the diamond cannot be graded as internally flawless.
Not many people can afford internally flawless diamonds, so inclusions are accepted to some degree. These small flaws thus pose like fingerprints for the diamond, a characteristic that gives it an individual signature. Getting to know your diamond inside and out makes the stone a more personal possession—and will help you describe and identify the gem if it is ever lost or stolen.
What Is Diamond Grading?
The Gemological Institute of America, certifies diamonds through a grade between zero and 10; zero being the best grade and 10 being the worst. The order of the grading system starts with cut then color, clarity, and lastly, carat weight. Lower quality diamonds will rank closer to zero than they will to 10.
What are the effects of Inclusions in Diamonds?
Some inclusions are not visible with the naked eye, whereas other inclusions are more prominent affecting a diamond’s clarity. Thus, these flaws make the diamond less brilliant because they interfere with light as it passes through the stone. Even worse are the types of inclusions that can make a diamond more vulnerable to shattering.
Statistically, there are few perfect diamonds, and the ones that are perfect are quite expensive, so the diamonds generally bought have varying amounts of internal and external flaws. You can actually save a lot of money on a diamond if you opt to buy one with more inclusions, provided they do not affect the stone’s strength or severely impact its appearance.
Here are the different types of diamond inclusions to consider.
Crystals and Mineral Inclusions
Diamonds can have tiny crystals and minerals embedded in them. A diamond can even be embedded with other diamonds. Many of these crystals cannot be seen without magnification, but a large chunk or grouping of crystals that impacts a diamond’s appearance lowers its clarity grade and its value.
Sometimes a small crystal can also add character to a diamond. A diamond with a tiny garnet inside would be an intriguing piece.
Pinpoints are extremely small light or dark crystals in diamonds that can either appear by themselves or in clusters. Larger clusters of minute pinpoints can create a cloudy area in the diamond which will affect the diamond’s clarity rating.
Laser lines are not a natural occuring in diamonds. These lines are left behind when lasers are used to remove dark crystal inclusions from the diamond. The machine-made trails look like tiny strands of thread that begin at the diamond’s surface and stretch inward, stopping at the point where the inclusion was removed.
Feathers are cracks within the diamond that resemble feathers. Small feathers do not usually affect a diamond’s durability unless they reach the surface on the top of the stone, a location that’s susceptible to accidental blows.
Diamond cleavage is a straight crack with no feathering. A cleavage has the potential to split the diamond apart along its length if it is hit at the correct angle. Small cracks that are not visible when a diamond is viewed in a table-up (face up) position do not seriously affect clarity ratings.
Girdle Fringes or Bearding
Girdle fringes, or bearding, are hair-like lines that can occur around the girdle during the cutting process. Minimal bearding is usually not a problem, but extensive fringing is often polished away or removed by re-cutting the diamond.
Grain Lines or Growth Lines
Grain lines are created by irregular crystallization that takes place when a diamond is formed. Colorless grain lines do not usually affect diamond clarity unless they are present in large clout. White or colored grain lines can lower a diamond’s clarity grade.
If you want to see some of these diamond inclusions firsthand, ask your jeweler to show you each diamond under magnification and explain its characteristics to you.
Where Are the Worst Positions for Inclusions in a Diamond?
The location of flaws can affect the diamond in two major aspects – its visual appeal and durability.
Diamond appearance impacted by Inclusions
Due to the way we naturally focus our attention towards the center of an object when looking at things the same theory applies when looking at a diamond ring.
That is why inclusions located directly under the table facet are the easiest to get picked out. In general, you should avoid large, dark-colored inclusions near the center of the diamond.
The black splotches seen in the 11 o’clock orientation (indicated by the red arrow) is a result of this mirroring effect. Although the reflections aggravate the impact of the dark crystal inclusion, they are not going to be part of the grading report.
Diamond Durability Imapcted By Inclusions
The location of inclusions can also impact a diamond’s durability.
For example, if huge feathers or cavities lie close to the girdle, the diamond will be more vulnerable to chipping. Gemological labs like GIA will take such durability issues into account and assign a lower clarity grading (e.g. SI2 or I1) to the stone accordingly.
Compared to inclusions located near the center of the diamond, flaws found near the girdle could be covered up by prongs (prongable) so that they remain hidden from view. However, when a prong is placed on top of an inclusion, it could subject a weak point to a higher level of mechanical stress.
If the large feather or cavity is located at an unprotected area, a sudden impact on the diamond with the right amount of force can possibly result in catastrophic damage.
Carat Weight impacting Clarity Grades with Flaws
In the grading process, the carat size of a diamond is a direct factor that affects how clarity grades are assigned. For example, in smaller sized diamonds (<0.30 carats), a grade making SI2 inclusion is usually not visible to the naked eye.
However, if this particular inclusion (with exact size and shape) was found in the same location of a one carat diamond, it is likely that the stone will receive a VS2 or SI1 clarity grade instead.
The rule of thumb is – as the carat size increases, the tolerance and visibility of flaws will also increase. You will need higher clarity grades for larger diamonds in order for them to stay eye clean. That is to say, if you are looking for larger diamonds (> 2 carats), it would be extremely difficult for you to find SI1-SI2 diamonds without eye visible inclusions.
Inclusions can be scary, so don’t depend on just a clarity grade to know whether or not a diamond’s inclusion is interfering with a diamond’s beauty.
Always shop for diamonds from Kanjimull where you can always find a trusted expert who can answer your questions about the diamonds you are considering.