Diamond Enhancements and Treatments
A Seldom Discussed Technical Factor
Many people do not realize that modern science has developed several ways to alter diamonds and to improve their cosmetic “look”. These treatments or “doctoring processes” are not all new. Many of them have been known for many, many years.
One of the most common is known as “laser drilling”. With this process, dark imperfections (typically dark crystals) within the diamond can be burnt out by concentrating a laser, or lasers, on the crystals and then “drilling” a hole from the imperfection to the surface of the diamond. Then, the burnt residue is leached out using highly caustic acids. This has the effect of turning the dark crystal into a much more difficult to detect hollow, colorless, void. This can cause the diamond to have an apparently much higher clarity grade than it really deserves and it also opens up many opportunities for fraud. There is nothing inherently wrong with buying a laser drilled diamond…so long as the purchaser knows about it, understands it, and is fully aware of what has been done to the diamond. It is a personal decision on the part of the potential buyer…but many unscrupulous jewelers (and a few honest, but uneducated ones as well) sell laser drilled diamonds and never disclose the fact to their clients. It makes for a really bad experience when one finds out, months or years later, that the diamond in your engagement ring is not what it was represented to be.
Another common treatment is known as “fracture filling”. This is a process wherein naturally occurring cracks and cleavages (fissures parallel to natural growth planes), are filled with a lead-based, glass-like substance. This “filler material” serves to make the cracks disappear or, at the very least, be much more difficult to see.
It is essentially the same process that is used for cracked automobile windshields where the crack is filled up with a resin or glass-like material and you can’t see it any more. It’s still there, it’s simply masked and harder to see.
This process has been used on diamonds for approximately 30 years now and is common place. The material used as the filler is not stable, is very fragile, and is easy to remove. If this happens, the cracks and fractures that the filler was intended to hide or mask becomes readily visible. As you can imagine, this provides the opportunity for a nightmare scenario for all concerned.
There are many other treatments, or enhancements, that would take too long to discuss in this forum. We suggest that you contact us if you have questions about this topic, and let us provide you more details.