The vast majority of diamonds have some kind of imperfections. The chances are, you’ve found these imperfections yourself in your diamond. And sometimes, these might appear to look like air pockets – which leaves you wondering: Can diamonds have air bubbles?
The answer to this question is no; diamonds can’t contain any air since the extreme temperature and pressure under which the diamond is formed eliminate the possibility of the existence of any gas within the diamond.
So, what are these imperfections that you can see within the diamond? Are they bad? Don’t worry; we’ve covered everything you need to know about diamond inclusions in this post. So, without further ado, let’s dive in!
Can Diamonds Have Bubbles In Them?
The shared misconception that diamonds hold air bubbles in their internal structure forced many diamond producers to develop strange theories as part of their “risk management” strategy.
The misconception has led some producers to drill release holes, fearing the draped air may cause the diamond to explode during polishing.
But remember what we said earlier:
The extreme temperatures and pressures under which a diamond is formed simply eliminate the idea of any form of gas being trapped inside a diamond. What maybe looks like an air bubble is the inclusion of other minerals.
What Are Diamond Inclusions?
A flawless diamond is made of carbon arranged in a crystal lattice and is essentially free from other minerals. And as the name implies, inclusion is something that is included within a diamond.
The chances of finding possible impurities are pretty high. Even more so, small diamonds and other gem crystals, such as garnet or sapphire can be included within a bigger diamond. That goes for other minerals and elements, too.
Any disruptions within the carbon lattice – such as feathers, graining, and twinning wisps – are also considered inclusions. All these features are defined as inclusions if they are visible to a professional with at 10x magnification.
While features like chips and naturals aren’t technically considered inclusions, they’re important to understand: Because they aren’t internal to the diamond but superficial instead, they are usually classified as blemishes.
The Most Common Diamond Inclusions
The most common inclusions that you can see in a real diamond are crystals, feathers, clouds, pinpoints, and graining. They’re so common that a lot of diamonds contain just about all of these features.
There is nothing inherently bad about any inclusion type. The extent to which inclusions might be a concern is related to how much they affect the beauty and durability of the diamond.
The inclusions are so minuscule in the higher clarity grade that it’s very difficult to spot them – even under magnification. The type of inclusion is of little importance in these grades, and these inclusions have no visible impact on beauty, durability, and performance.
In lower clarity grades, however, distinctions become important. Grades like VS2 and Si1 are unlikely to have a negative impact, but they need a careful reading of the lab report and inspection by a professional to rule out the critical issue.
Inclusions that break the surface of the diamond include feathers, naturals, knots, cleavages, and chips. Inclusions and blemishes don’t represent an inherent problem in the vast majority of cases, though.
The diamond has come up from kilometers below the Earth’s surface through violent volcanic eruptions and has stood up the pressure and heat of the cutter’s wheel. Our point?
Gem quality diamonds are incredibly durable and can stand up to standard wear in jewelry. That being said, a surface-breaking inclusion can, in some cases, increase durability risks.
Diamonds can occasionally crack or break – but it’s unlikely to happen during normal wear. The most usual way a diamond is damaged is in the process of setting, as the jeweler puts pressure on it to set it in jewelry securely.
Diamonds With Points Require Special Attention
Well cut round brilliant diamonds are extremely durable. Even diamonds with surface-breaking inclusions likely pose trivial durability concerns with a well-cut round brilliant diamond. However, diamonds with points and diamonds with very thin girdles are a different story.
Cutting a diamond to a very thin edge or a point gives an opportunity for an inconvenient impact to cause damage. Inclusions like feathers, naturals, or chips can cause concerns at vulnerable locations.
A gemstone plot with a feather that runs across a point on a pear or princess cut shape should be carefully inspected for elevated risk.
The biggest danger in these diamonds occurs during the process of setting as the jeweler puts pressure on that area so that they can securely set the gemstone.
Here’s our advice: Only purchase such a diamond from a jewelry store that also takes the responsibility for setting the diamond.
A round diamond also has a point at the bottom – called a culet – which is subject to damage due to handling as a loose gemstone. However, no pressure is ever put on the culet during the setting. When set, the culet is protected from wear and tear. Thus a feather near the culet isn’t a cause for concerns durability-wise.
Inclusions Vs. Blemishes
Inclusions are described as features internal to the diamond, but they can extend to the surface. Blemishes are restricted to the surface of the stone and are typically minor. While inclusions are plotted in red, blemishes are plotted in green on a grading report.
Some examples of blemishes are scratches, chips, nicks, bruises, abrasions, polishing marks, and naturals. Blemishes rarely have any effect on beauty and performance – unless unusually large in number or size.
What Is A “Natural”?
A “natural” is a feature on the surface of a diamond caused when the cutter leaves a tiny part of the raw diamond crystal in the finished stone in order to keep from having to take off material all around the perimeter.
That is commonly done to keep the carat weight that would otherwise be lost. Usually, naturals are small and restricted to the girdle area but can be larger – it all depends on the cutter.
A natural is generally considered a blemish. However, if the natural is notably indented, it falls into the internal inclusion category.
Concrete And Transparent Inclusions
Some diamond inclusions can be concrete in nature – as in, they have a defined shape and are usually opaque. Other inclusions like clouds, graining, and twinning wisps are amorphous and are typically transparent. As such, many buyers prefer transparent inclusions to more concrete ones.
See Also: Why Do Diamonds Get Cloudy?
Diamond Grading Reports
A report from one of the top-tier diamond grading labs like GIA or AGS will provide a plethora of information that will ensure the diamond is natural and provide qualitative analysis about the appearance and performance of the stone.
However, diamond reports have some limitations. Seeing the diamond and getting consultation from an expert are essential additions to the data contained in a grading report.
The inclusions under the stone plot are listed in order of their effects on the clarity grade. The first feature listed is the grade setting inclusion. Features that are listed last are least impactful.
Another thing to be noted is the comment sedition of a grading report.
There you can find important features of the diamond that may not be included elsewhere in the report. For example, if the diamond is inscribed, you can find the details of the inscription in the comments section.
When talking about diamond inclusions, the concept of “eye clean” is one of the most common baselines for many buyers. And yet, this means different things to different people. Essentially, an eye-clean diamond is a diamond that has no visible inclusions.
The consensus is that a diamond can have inclusions, but an obvious inclusion is a non-starter for many buyers.
However, there is a bit of subjectivity in this issue. For example, it may be possible to see an inclusion with some effort and from a specific angle. Would this be a deal-breaker for you? Or do you just want to be sure that the first thing you see is not an obvious flaw?
People differ in their tolerance. So, buyers should have an idea of what they like and make sure there is proper communication between them and vendors to avoid any disappointment.
Light Performance And Clarity Characteristics
One of the more subtle adverse effects of inclusions takes the form of decreased transparency.
People tend to think of diamonds as being perfectly transparent. However, some diamonds have some fogginess to them that usually goes unnoticed by the untrained eye.
Only by comparing side by side with a stone of full transparency can the problem be confirmed. But a diamond with a transparency issue will never have a peak performance of brilliance – even if it’s eye-clean and perfectly cut.
Therefore, it’s essential to understand what signs to search for to spot potential transparency problems.
Furthermore, a lab report doesn’t grade transparency directly. However, there are some things in lab reports that could point to an issue of this nature.
That often appears in Si and below grades – but can sometimes be a problem with a VS2 that is borderline. A lab report will state in the comments section the following sentence: “Clarity grade is based on cloud not shown.”
That is the biggest red flag in terms of transparency for diamonds that otherwise look good on paper. Such diamonds can be completely eye-clean and have hard-to-spot inclusions – even under magnification – by the untrained eye.
That is especially true for diamonds that have stone plots that are entirely free of markings.
Furthermore, this indicates that the cloud or several clouds are present throughout the diamond – and that can most certainly cause the diamond to have a slightly hazy look since light is being scattered.
An interesting type of inclusion that can be pretty exceptional is known as a reflector. This type of inclusion happens to be in a place within the diamond that gets mirrored around – making it appear like there are multiple inclusions.
A diamond might have one small black crystal, and it could look that it’s peppered with crystals. When looking at advanced diamond images, a reflector can make a diamond look very messy – but in reality, the diamond might even be eye-clean.
Another type of reflector is the reflection of a laser inscription rather than actual inclusion.
Since the laser inscribes the diamond’s girdle and leaves vaporized carbon in the small etching, sometimes the inscription can be reflected to the viewer’s eye. While this isn’t usually an issue, in some cases, it can be an unwelcome effect.
Less Common Diamond Inclusions
There are plenty of diamond inclusions that aren’t as frequent as the ones we’ve discussed above. These include cavities, etched channels, knots, and laser drill holes.
Cavities are holes at the diamond’s surface that appear to have been scooped out. They are often connected with knots – which are crystals that come to the surface. There are cases where they can be dislodged, leaving a cavity behind.
An etched channel is a linear cavity that was caused by the chemical process during diamond formation. If they’re small enough, they aren’t viewed as an issue, just like cavities. However, depending on their location and size, etched channels can sometimes increase durability risk.
Laser drilling is a process that results in a tiny threadlike tunnel in the diamond. A laser beam is aimed at certain inclusion, and a hole is drilled so that acid can be introduced under pressure to get rid of the inclusion.
While this doesn’t improve the clarity grade, it can make some inclusions less noticeable.
The answer to the question “Can diamonds have air bubbles?” is:
No, diamonds can’t have air bubbles. That’s because extreme conditions under which diamonds are formed eliminate any form of gas to be trapped inside the diamond.
What looks like a bubble is an inclusion of other minerals. An inclusion is anything that’s included within the diamond – and it could be anything from other gem crystals, like sapphire or garnet, to disruptions within the diamond, like feathers or graining.
Read Also: Can Diamonds Develop Black Spots?