Why Treated Diamonds Exist

For centuries, people have always tried to improve objects that are a result of nature.  We've cross bred plants and even animals to produce new species, and we prune and shape trees and bushes to make them more pleasing to the eye or to create fancy borders around our yards and in front of our homes.  When it comes to diamonds, many become treated diamonds by the jeweller, in order to improve their appearance.  

Treated diamonds can have improved clarity, improved colour and even be completely coated to improve it's overall appearance. On the positive side, treated diamonds can help people to get a lot of bang for their buck. This gives an option to purchase a gorgeous looking natural diamond in a nicer colour of clarity at a relatively lower amount compared to "untouched" natural diamonds.

Clarity Improved Diamonds

In order to improve the clarity of diamonds, sometimes tiny cracks in the diamond are filled with a type of molten glass.  This can cause the diamond to move up a grade in a laboratory's grading system eg clarity I1 to VS2, and it does not materially affect the overall weight of the diamond.  The process was invented by Israeli diamond cutter, Zvi Yehuda in 1982.  Since this invention, some companies have begun a new process that fills the cracks with bromine instead of the molten glass, however, bromine will sometimes discolor the diamond under certain lighting conditions.  It's always best to ask what method the diamond has been treated with when considering treated diamonds, so that you are not surprised when you view the diamond in light outside.

Coloured Diamonds

There are a few different types of color treated diamonds.  Coloured diamonds are actually put though a high pressure high temprature process in order to take away a yellowish tinge, and make the diamonds appear more white and transparent.  Some are coloured darker, in order to permanently alter a diamond to a different colour by using electron bombardment like irradiation.  Others become treated diamonds by way of laser drills.  In the 1970's people began using lasers to drill miniscule holes into the diamonds to reach dark colored spots.  Once they reach the dark colored areas within the diamonds, they are able to bleach them with acid so that they are not as noticeable.  Sometimes they finish  the laser treated diamonds by then filling the tiny holes with molten glass.

Coated Diamonds

Coated treated diamonds are much like a colored diamond, except for the entire diamond gets a coating of a substance that is designed to make the diamond appear brighter and more translucent to the naked eye.  In fact, the coating is so good on most treated diamonds that it can go undetected unless an experienced gemologist studies the diamond for it's value.

Treated diamonds are often very beautiful, and can be more affordable than diamonds that are not treated.  If you decide to purchase a treated diamond, just be sure you inform the jeweler when you bring your diamond in for cleaning, as they may need to use different chemicals to clean it and maintain it's treatment.

Above I added an image of two comparable stones in terms of their cut, clarity and colour ; one being enhanced and other one not. There exist quite a large price difference as it should. I find it quite interesting how biased I can be when it comes to diamonds that they all must be "untouched" and the best with no regard for other options when there is actually a proper place for treated diamonds and they look can look just as stunning since they are still natural diamonds with a bit of a nip and tuck job! 

Most people don't realise that the majority of other  traditional colour gemstones like ruby, emeralds and sapphires are treated with heat and a lot of times with more treatments yet this is accepted in the trade as normal. Obviously the rarity of an untouched natural diamond or colour gem captures our heart's desire but they are indeed rare and costly. I believe like with colour gems there exist a great balance and sweetspot for treated natural diamonds between getting that amazing look and size of a natural gem for the price you pay vs going for a lower quality untouched gem to fit into your price point and not really there in look. I see it like people going for a facelift, nip and tuck or cosmetic procedures to take away what they don't like so why not give our natural gems the same chance to show off!

The beauty of gems is there's something for everyone- if you are set on just untouched natural go for it or if you want a natural gem with enhanced features it's there! On a last note with enhanced gems - always remember that they are usually more fussy with taking care of when they have been filled with other material to improve their look, heat treated gems or HPHT  treated diamonds is permanent so they don't normally need extra care. In the treated world of diamonds or gems there too exist price differences based on the type and severity of treatment, so always consult with a professional jeweller as it's a very specific niche field to avoid getting it wrong yourself. We can give you the insights to make an informed decision based on what you or your loved one wants to get the most out of the experience!

I hope you enjoyed this little article of a very little talked about area in my industry! Email me if you need any help or interested about a particular gem or treatment!


David van Niekerk