Diamonds, as beautiful as they are, usually have some imperfections – some are there naturally, others are the result of handling. Chances are, you saw something within your diamond that just doesn’t fit in. You might think your diamond is damaged – and you might be wondering: Can diamonds crack inside?
The answer is pretty simple:
No, diamonds can’t crack inside. They will either stay intact or chip completely when they suffer damage – but you won’t see any cracks.
So, what are these strange lines you see within your diamond? There are several answers to your question. So, be sure to read this article – and find out more about some common misconceptions!
What Is A Crack In A Diamond Called?
Many believe that the line that runs through the diamond, only visible at some angles, is a crack within the gem. Luckily, that’s not the case. The “crack” is nothing but a reflection from the gem’s girdle – the so-called girdle reflection.
This occurrence is caused by the pavilion facets and is the cause of the horizontal line within the diamond that many people mistake for a crack. That leads us to the following question…
What Is The Purpose Of A Girdle?
The girdle is where the gemstone is set and held securely in a ring or any other piece of jewelry. When jewelers work with a diamond, the girdle is essentially there to reduce the risk of damage to the stone.
A standard diamond will have 16 hill and 16 valley positions, where the girdle falls and rises – and the thickness of a girdle is reported as a range of thick to thin. Girdles can be unfaceted, unpolished or polished, and faceted. Today, it’s relatively common to see girdles that are polished and faceted.
Girdle has its grading scale, just like other diamond attributes. The girdle is graded by accessing that center segment in a profile view at 10x magnification; the grade of the girdle is the biggest and the smallest part of the size of the girdle.
Girdles aren’t always perfectly even around the stone, though. Let’s look at each of the different types of girdles:
- Extremely Thin: The girdle is exceptionally small, almost invisible, and it might be susceptible to breaking or chipping. It has a considerable impact on the diamond’s cut grade. Also, diamond depth may be shallow.
- Very Thin: The girdle is thin and requires care when setting the diamond because of the risk of chipping the stone. A very thin girdle grade also has a significant impact on a diamond’s cut grade.
- Medium: A perfect girdle is seen. The risk of breaking is minimal, and the diamond’s cut grade isn’t negatively impacted. The diamond’s depth isn’t as deep due to the medium girdle.
- Slightly Thick: The girdle is almost perfect. The risk of potential chipping is minor, and the diamond’s cut grade isn’t affected. Diamond’s depth isn’t deep, either.
- Thick: The girdle is thicker than what’s typically desired. It could slightly increase the gem’s depth, and it often results in a very good cut grade.
- Very Thick: Diamond’s girdle is much thicker than desired. It often yields a high depth and reduces the cut grade to very good or even good. That is where the possibility of girdle reflection starts to arise.
- Extremely Thick: The girdle is thicker than what’s recommended. It can impact the gem’s symmetry and reduces the cut grade to good and even fair. It will result in the so-called fisheye effect – a reflection of the girdle will be visible within the diamond. It can also have an adverse influence on the diamond’s sparkle.
Learn More: Why Does A Diamond Sparkle?
How Is Girdle Graded?
Diamond’s girdle grade is assigned by inspecting the thickest and thinnest aspects of the gem’s girdle. Also, the girdle is graded by inspecting the diamond through an optical measuring device.
Either way, the measurements are shown as the percentage relative to the average diameter of the stone.
However, the final grade is given by visually looking at the diamond’s girdle and its shape. The girdle is inspected both at an angle and face-up to assess the grade properly.
Girdle’s Impact On A Diamond
In a round-cut diamond, the girdle requires more consideration and care as it’s directly affecting the cut grade of the diamond. The girdle doesn’t require too much consideration in fancy shapes and usually has little impact on the cut grade.
The ideal range for a gem girdle is Medium or Slightly Thick in round cut gems. These diamonds are perfectly proportionate, and the diamond sparkle isn’t impacted.
In the fancy shapes, it’s Thin or Thick. If the girdle is entirely uneven, the diamond’s symmetry will be disproportionate and pretty impacted.
With very small girdles, the biggest concern is chipping or breakage during the stone setting process.
The girdle holds the diamond securely in jewelry. Due to pressure and heat being applied during the process of setting, an extremely thin girdle could potentially chip the diamond.
On the other hand, an extremely thick gem girdle can mean that too much carat weight is trapped in the center of the stone. Furthermore, this means the gem will look smaller than its actual carat weight, and its girdle may generate gray reflections within the diamond.
And that can reduce the diamond’s sparkle and make it appear dull.
Fancy-shaped diamonds usually have thicker girdles, primarily cushion cut diamonds, which are thickest at the corners. For princess cuts, thicker girdles are pretty common but typically on one or two sides.
Let’s Talk About Inclusions
We have extremely rare flawless diamonds, and then we have all the other diamonds. Most of the natural diamonds have imperfections in the form of inclusions – material trapped inside the diamond during its formation.
Often people confuse inclusions for cracks within the diamond.
Diamond inclusions don’t usually lead to chipping. However, if the inclusion is relatively close to the corner of a princess cut diamond, it can potentially make that segment of the stone weaker – which is a nightmare for diamond setters.
Diamond inclusions take many different forms and lead to various impacts: Those that can only be seen by a professional and moderately included diamonds with flaws visible to anyone – and even heavily included diamonds impacting brilliance.
Inclusions are a great way to separate natural diamonds from their lab-grown counterparts. In some cases, unique inclusions can help in determining the geographic location of the diamond’s origin.
The most common inclusions you can see within a diamond are feathers, clouds, crystals, twinning wisps, and graining. These are so common that the majority of diamonds contain just about all of them.
There is nothing inherently wrong with any of these inclusion types. The extent to which inclusions should be a concern is how much they are affecting the beauty or durability of the stone.
Inclusions Vs. Blemishes
Inclusions are described as features internal to the diamond. However, they can also extend to the surface. On the other hand, blemishes are restricted to the surface of the stone – and are typically minor in nature.
Some examples of blemishes are scratches, chips, nicks, abrasions, polishing marks, bruises, and naturals. Blemishes don’t have any impact on the diamond’s beauty or durability – unless they are large in size or number.
How Are Diamond Inclusions Graded?
Reliable diamond certifying labs, such as GIA use strict guidelines for determining diamond inclusions. Location, the type of inclusion, as well as the size of inclusion, are all factors that impact a diamond’s clarity grade.
The following are the guidelines gem labs use:
- First Priority – Diamond experts ascertain the size of the inclusion. That is the first step because the bigger the inclusions, the more impact it has on the clarity grade.
- Second Priority – Gemologists identify the number of visible inclusions within the gem. For example, if a stone has several inclusions on the table, the clarity grade will be less.
- Third Priority – Gemologists take into account where the inclusions are located within the diamond. Since diamonds are graded from top to bottom, inclusions on the bottom will be less likely to decrease the clarity grade.
- Fourth Priority – Lastly, diamond experts establish if inclusions are external or internal. For example, external diamond inclusions can decrease the clarity grade. However, if a diamond has no inclusions, it can still receive an “internally flawless” grade.
Diamond Inclusions And Value
As we mentioned above, diamonds with more external inclusions are graded accordingly. That impacts the price and subsequent value of the gemstone. For instance, breaks and chips are far more noteworthy than small feathers.
It’s important to know that diamonds can also be chipped – or even break – during the stone’s setting in the jewelry piece. If you’re purchasing loose diamonds, make sure your diamond is examined before and after setting to track any possible damage.
See Also: Does Insurance Cover A Chipped Diamond?
What About Diamond Chips?
As we already said, diamonds don’t crack. You either chip the diamond completely – or not at all. The “crack” you might see within your diamond is either a girdle reflection or an inclusion.
Unfortunately, you won’t always feel the moment you damage your diamond. Like dropping your smartphone on the concrete, it could be the tenth time you drop it that results in a chipped diamond.
Time isn’t a prerequisite to chipping a diamond, either. You could have your stone for one day or ten years – and still, damage it.
Re-cutting might be a good option if your stone is big enough or has a strong sentimental value. However, for many diamonds that are under one carat, re-cutting may not be just pricey, but the finished weight might be a bit too small to fit back in your ring.
If you do manage to chip your diamond, be sure that your insurance policy covers it, as it’s not always the case. It’s crucial to make sure that you read the fine print of your policy so that you can be sure that you’re covered for any accidental damage.
Read Also: Can A Diamond Chip If Dropped?
How To Hide A Chip In A Diamond
In a claw setting, if the damage isn’t too severe, the jeweler should be able to rotate the gem to hide the chip under the claw. If the damage has taken out a segment of a diamond, it’s usually a good idea to run some solder beneath the claw and fill the gap left by the chip.
If the damage runs up to the table of the diamond, though, try replacing the look of your claws with talon-style claws. The peculiar style of these claws runs up higher into the crown segment of the diamond, thus hiding a chip that’s out of the reach of most conventional claw styles.
If the damage is running around the edge, you should maybe consider a bezel setting to hide the chip. If the worst thing happens and you notice damage to your diamond, it’s essential to know that there are always options available to you – other than simply replacing your stone, that is.
If somebody asked you, “Can diamonds crack inside?” would you know how to answer them?
Remember, diamonds can’t actually crack. They either chip entirely or not at all. People usually mistakenly refer to a girdle reflection as a crack. Girdle reflection is the line you can see at a certain angle that runs through a diamond. But don’t worry; it’s just a reflection of the diamond’s girdle.
One other thing that people confuse cracks for is diamond inclusion – which has nothing to do with cracks. Diamond inclusion is just a material trapped within the diamond during its formation. Inclusions can have an impact on a diamond’s brilliance and durability, though.
And what if you manage to chip your diamond? You can either get a new diamond through your insurance policy, consider re-cutting, or have your diamond placed in a setting that will hide the damage.
See Also: Can Diamonds Develop Black Spots?