Laser drilled diamonds have been around for over 30 years. Chances are good a lot of you have a laser drilled diamond and don’t even know it.
So what is laser drilling?
Laser drilling is a simple enhancement process (usually abbreviation as “CE” for clarity enhanced on the paperwork). A tiny, hairline hole (think tunnel) is drilled into the diamond. That laser hole is drilled directly into a dark, black or colored inclusion (usually an easy to see black carbon spot).
The laser burns out (or dissolves) the inclusion, which has a lower melting point than the diamond, leaving an open, empty white cavity behind.
The black carbon spot is gone. What is left is still an inclusion, but now a less obvious white one.
The purpose for laser drilling is two-fold: 1) It improves the appearance of the diamond. And 2) It makes the diamond more saleable.
These laser drilled diamonds are permanent, which means the inclusions will never reappear or turn dark again. They will look white forever.
And, the FTC allows it!
The FTC allows jewelers to sell these enhanced diamonds without disclosing this fact to the public!!!
The main reason laser drilling is allowed, is because the results are permanent.
Does this diamond practice seem a little shady to you?
It does to me.
But, it’s a fact, it happens, and it’s perfectly legal.
While it may make a diamond appear cleaner to the bare eye, under a microscope or a 10x jeweler’s loupe you’ll still be able see these hairline tunnels that run into the diamond. Not that this would be an easy thing to spot, drill holes are smaller than a strand of hair, so finding them may be difficult.
The good thing is, you won’t have any problems with drilled diamonds… Hopefully!
Although drilling tunnels into diamonds and leaving voids can make them a little bit more fragile, this really won’t be a big issue unless you have a lot of them.
Diamonds that have multiple laser drill holes (swiss cheese) can be a cause for concern. They can become weaker and may fracture or break if hit too hard. You have to be careful with multiple holes.
Do keep in mind that laser drilling doesn’t really remove any inclusions, it just turns black ones white (the color of the inclusion affects the clarity grade). So the inclusions are still there, but less noticeable. They don’t stand out like a sore thumb anymore.
Care and cleaning:
Cleaning and caring for diamonds with drill holes is easy. You just clean them like any other diamond. You won’t have to worry about getting any dirt or debris into that hole or plugging up the tunnel. It’s too small for that.
There are two ways to tell if a diamond has been laser drilled…
1) Microscope the diamond
Microscope the diamond and look for small tube-like lines in the stone (usually on the bottom of the diamond).
2) Look at the diamond certificate
A diamond certificate (like GIA), will list laser drill holes right on the diamond report. They don’t show drill holes on the actual diamond plot, but they will mention them in the comments. Check it out the next time you’re looking at certified diamonds. See if laser drill holes are listed.
In my opinion:
I think jewelers should have to disclose laser drilling to customers (some jewelers do). If my diamond was an I1 clarity and they burned out a big inclusion just so they could sell it as an SI and make more money, I would want to know!!!
If laser drilling concerns you, then only buy GIA certified diamonds (like these diamonds here) that don’t have laser drill holes listed on the report.
And of course there’s still more…
FRACTURE FILLING TAKES LASER DRILLING TO THE NEXT LEVEL.
Fracture filling is burning out a dark inclusion and then filling that hole back up with a foreign substance like crystal or epoxy. Filling it up with a clear substance will improve the look of the diamond even more.
Instead of a diamond with a white inclusion, that inclusion will now look clear and blend in with the rest of the stone. It makes the inclusion pretty much invisible.
But, fracture filling is not permanent.
And, it must be disclosed.
Diamonds that have been enhanced with a process that is not permanent like fracture filled diamonds must be disclosed to the customer upon purchase.
If a jeweler does not tell you that a diamond was fracture filled when you buy it, then this is FRAUD.
It can happen.
IT’S NOT GOOD.
This is why enhanced diamonds are frowned upon in the jewelry industry. It makes jewelers look bad. Many jewelers won’t even purchase fracture filled or laser drilled diamonds because they don’t want to raise any doubts in customers’ minds. Customers will think that all their diamonds are enhanced. They don’t want to be known as that “type” of jeweler.
I feel the same way.
Damage to your diamond:
Fracture filled diamonds are not only skeptical, but they can also damage your diamond. Jewelers can’t put torch heat to these diamonds like they can regular diamonds. The filled substance can melt, boil, drain out of the hole or even cause the diamond to break.
Even ultrasonic cleaners can cause the fracture filling to melt and drain. So be careful!!! If the stone is heated in any way, it could harm the stone.
Always buy GIA certified diamonds.
Do not buy laser drilled or fracture filled diamonds. Look at the diamond report. If you see them listed, pass them up.
The bottom line all comes down to you.
What are you willing to accept? Do you care if your diamond has been enhanced? Some don’t mind it. Some are perfectly happy with a better looking diamond even if it’s been altered.
What about you?
Do you care about buying a diamond that was an I1 and now sold as SI1?
Maybe it’s time for a closer look…
Under the scope.
You never know…
Does your diamond have holes?
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Author Richard Scott. Certified Diamontologist\Gemologist. 30 years of experience.
Let Richard help you choose the best diamond, the most dazzling engagement ring, and save as much money as possible. Read more about the author here. Check out his Amazon books here. Follow Richard on social media; Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest. Contact Richard here.
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