What Are Inclusions in Diamonds?
Clarity is a very important consideration when searching for a diamond. One of the key contributors to diamond clarity is the number, type and location of inclusions. Small flaws within a diamond, inclusions are the result of extreme heat and pressure that are part of the formation process.
Almost every diamond has at least some inclusions; in fact, 100% flawless diamonds are so scarce, most jewelers never lay eyes on them.
Fortunately, inclusions can usually only be seen under intense magnification, so they are rarely noticeable to the naked eye. Diamonds with prominent inclusions, or a significant number of inclusions, will have lower clarity grades. Typically, you would want to avoid gemstones with fair or poor grades.
Let’s take a closer look at gemstone inclusions and find out how gemologists go about grading diamonds.
Types of Inclusions
To better understand how inclusions can impact a diamond’s brilliance and value, it helps to understand the most common types, so you can make an intelligent purchasing decision.
Pinpoint inclusions: The most common kind of diamond inclusion, pinpoint inclusions are essentially very small black spots, similar to clogged pores on the skin. They are usually noticeable on the table of the gemstone, which will have tiny dark specks when viewed up close.
Feather inclusions: The next most common type of inclusion, these subtle flaws are small internal fractures. Unlike pinpoint inclusions, feather inclusions can be problematic because they can compromise a diamond’s durability when present from top to bottom.
Diamond cavities: The least common type of inclusion, cavity inclusions are essentially small holes in the gemstone, similar to a cavity in your tooth. These kinds of diamonds are typically considered “industrial grade” and never used in jewelry.
How Inclusions Are Graded
Reputable diamond certifying labs use strict guidelines for identifying and assessing diamond inclusions. There are many factors that can impact a diamond’s clarity grade, including the type of inclusion, its location and size.
Gem labs typically use the following guidelines when grading diamonds:
First Priority: The gemologist will start by ascertaining the size of a diamond inclusion. This is a top priority because bigger diamond inclusions will have a greater impact on the gemstone’s clarity grade.
Second Priority: Next, the gemologist will identify the number of visible inclusions within the diamond. For instance, if the gemstone has multiple inclusions on the table, its clarity grade will be lower.
Third Priority: Once the first two priorities are addressed, the gemologist will assess where the inclusions are located on or within the gem. Since diamonds are always graded from top to bottom, an inclusion on the pavilion or bottom will be less likely to diminish the clarity grade.
Fourth Priority: Finally, the gemologist will determine if the inclusions are external or internal. For example, external inclusions on the table can reduce clarity grade. If the diamond has no internal inclusions, however, it can still be graded as “internally flawless.”
Inclusions and Value
There are a lot of things that impact a diamond’s value, including cut, color, carat and clarity (the 4Cs). It should come as no surprise to learn that flawed diamonds will have less value.
Diamonds with numerous external inclusions will receive a corresponding grade that will impact the price and value of the gem. For instance, breaks and chips are far more significant than something less concerning such as small feathers.
It is important to realize that diamonds can be chipped or broken during the setting process. If you are purchasing loose diamonds, be sure to have your gemstones examined before and after your final setting to track any potential damage.
At the same time, it’s important to remember that a few inclusions aren’t always something to worry about. Every diamond is beautifully unique, and even slight flaws can actually add to its fiery beauty. When determining the quality of a diamond, it's always best to rely on the grade. It's also a good idea to shop at a reputable jeweler like John Atencio who offers a team of knowledgeable experts, who can help guide you to an intelligent, informed purchasing decision.
Things to Consider
Remember that inclusions are simply part of a diamond’s incredible development. Almost every diamond on the market will have at least some degree of inclusions. These subtle flaws can often take a backseat to other buyer preferences. It all depends on your individual perspective and needs.
While choosing a diamond can be intimidating, your experience doesn’t have to feel that way. At John Atencio, our Diamond Experts can show you how to select a stunning diamond that fits within your budget. Our thoughtful team always works to ensure that we meet every one of our customer’s needs in terms of size, cut, clarity and color, all while maintaining the utmost standards. Use our diamond search and then make an appointment at one of our many convenient locations, where our attentive experts can guide you toward the perfect diamond for your unique love story.