Enhanced diamonds start as very included or low color diamonds and then undergo specific treatment for improving either their clarity or color. Treatment aims to reduce the appearance of inclusions or improve color, though enhanced diamonds have some drawbacks. Enhanced diamonds differ from natural diamonds that are left in their natural state and do not go through treatment. You might be able to identify an enhanced diamond by noticing if it appears to be super bright white or ultra eye-clean.
Enhanced diamonds sell for approximately 30-50% less than natural diamonds with the same characteristics. The price is lower for enhanced diamonds, but so is the quality.
How Diamonds are Enhanced?
There are four types of clarity enhancement: deep boiling, laser drilling, special laser drilling and fracture filling. These methods aim to reduce the appearance of inclusions in a diamond. Many times they also impact the diamond’s structure and brilliance. In essence, inclusions are “cavities” that are full of black material. If you’re able to clean out the cavities, the inclusion becomes less noticeable.
With this method, diamonds are boiled under deep pressure in an acidic solution. The procedure is done on diamonds with black inclusions that reach the surface of the diamond. If an inclusion is beneath the surface, the deep boiling method won’t penetrate and impact the inclusion.
Deep boiling doesn’t fill the cavity, it only removes the dark material so the inclusion becomes less noticeable. Deep boiling is an inexpensive and common procedure in the diamond industry. Most diamond manufacturers deep boil large batches of diamonds to clear out any black inclusions that reach the surface.
This treatment doesn’t impact the value of the diamond and is a well-respected method. In fact, deep boiling diamonds is the only clarity enhancement method approved by the GIA.
When a diamond has black inclusions that don’t reach the surface, a laser can be used to burn a microscopic hole in the inclusion. Once the laser opens up the inclusion, the diamond is then deep boiled to remove the dark material and clear out the inclusion.
With the laser drilling process, a small tunnel inclusion forms in the diamond where the laser is drilled. The formation of tunnels reduces the durability of the diamond. The GIA does not sanction this procedure. That’s why any seller must legally disclose the diamonds that have undergone laser drilling.
Special Laser Drilling
Special laser drilling involves burning a microscopic thin layer on the diamond’s surface to reach the inclusion. These thin spots are larger than the laser drill tunnels but usually look more natural. The flat plane inclusion is also easier to fill than the tunnels that are created by regular laser drilling.
While the thin layer on the diamond is hard to detect, it still impacts the durability and quality of the diamond. The GIA does not sanction this process and does not issue certificates to diamonds that have undergone special laser drilling.
With fracture filling, inclusion cavities are filled with a microscopic amount of silicon and other compounds. Fracture filling is best for clear “feather” type inclusions that are empty cavities that can be filled to look nearly invisible. Many times, when a diamond is special laser drilled, the fracture is then filled.
Fracture filling can impact the diamond’s appearance and brilliance. From the top, the diamond might appear flawless but when viewed from other angles, the filling can disrupt the passage of light through the facets. Fracture-filled diamonds can become cloudy or hazy over time. Sometimes air bubbles can even get trapped in a filling.
The GIA does not certify diamonds that undergo fracture filling, because it impacts the beauty and longevity of the stone.
Pros and Cons of Clarity Enhanced Diamonds
When it comes to clarity enhanced diamonds, there are some pros and cons to consider. Check out the list below to help you determine if an enhanced diamond is a right buy for you.
- Less expensive — usually 30-50% less expensive than non-enhanced diamonds
- May appear more eye-clean at a glance
- Lower value than natural, non-enhanced diamonds
- No reliable certification, as the GIA does not grade laser-drilled or fracture-filled diamonds
- Weak structure and low durability due to laser drilling
- Cleaning is more difficult because enhanced diamonds can’t undergo ultrasonic cleaning or high temperatures due to possible damage
- Lower brilliance as filling compounds impact how light reflects off the diamond
- Can appear cloudy or hazy over time due to the fillings
- Difficult to resell or trade
- Repairing and resizing a ring can be challenging due to heat restrictions
- Must notify jewelers and cleaners that you have an enhanced diamond as to avoid damage when cleaning, repairing or resizing your ring
Color-enhanced diamonds undergo a high pressure, high temperature (HPHT) process to alter their color. Diamonds with a slight coloring might go through this process to make them appear whiter. Slightly tinted diamonds also may be color enhanced to enrich their color, making them a distinct tone like yellow or pink.
The HPHT color enhancing process uses a cubic press to add a super thin layer of chemicals or plastics to the diamond’s surface. The added thin layer can make a diamond either whiter or give it a more distinct color. Colorless diamonds that undergo this treatment might begin with a yellow or brown tint, and emerge looking colorless.
Diamond sellers must legally disclose that a diamond underwent HPHT treatment because it permanently changes the diamond from its natural state. On a GIA certificate, the diamond will be described as “artificially irradiated” or “HPHT annealed.” GIA only issues treated diamonds with a permanent change.
A color enhanced diamond has less value than a natural diamond because it underwent a treatment that isn’t natural. The color enhancement is likely to wear out over time, impacting the beauty and longevity of the diamond. That’s why color enhanced diamonds are less expensive.
Enhanced diamonds are less valuable than natural diamonds and are difficult to resell. Enhanced diamonds are also less durable due to the treatment they receive. Reputable lab entities like the GIA don’t usually offer certificates to enhanced diamonds, because most of the treatment is temporary, and therefore, the grading is as well.
We don’t recommend an enhanced diamond for your engagement ring, as you can get better value for your money with a natural diamond that falls within your budget. Alternatively, a lab-created diamond can give you a beautiful look as well.
Enhanced diamonds are priced lower than natural diamonds and lab-created diamonds, but they don’t offer long-term value. Enhanced diamonds can deteriorate in quality and they’re difficult to resell.