Diamonds can elevate any piece of jewelry, so you must pick out the perfect one. However, there are so many options available that it may be challenging to choose. Stones can also come with flaws like feather inclusions. Feathers can change the look and value of a diamond, making gem shopping more confusing.
This article will discuss everything you need to know about feather inclusions to make an informed diamond purchase.
What Is a Diamond Feather Inclusion?
A diamond’s feather refers to any crack that occurs within a stone. Feathers are a common type of inclusion, and many diamonds have a compromised inner structure. The fractures usually go unnoticed but become more prominent when the diamond is moved into certain positions.
Feathers vary in size, but they all have a rough and uneven look. They can appear in various colors, but they are usually transparent or white. Their transparency can be difficult to spot, but shifting the diamonds will bring out irregularities. A loupe with 10x magnification power is necessary for detecting elusive feather inclusions.
The size of the feather and its placement can, in some cases, influence the diamond’s performance.
More prominent feathers can threaten the diamond’s beauty and lifespan. A feather inclusion that stretches throughout the stone stops light from passing through, dimming the gem’s glow and shine.
Feathers scattered along the edges of a diamond are especially dangerous. They’re located in the stone’s most delicate areas and may cause chipping, permanently damaging the diamond.
Slight feather inclusions are superficial fissures. At first glance, they seem like surface-level scrapes, but they do reach the inner parts of the diamond. However, they shouldn’t negatively impact the diamond due to their small size.
When several feathers form within a gem, they result in a feather-filled diamond. However, the stone’s brilliance won’t suffer if the inclusions are small. When the feathers are larger, brown or black, and line the diamond’s corners, buyers should look into other options.
How Are Diamond Feather Inclusions Formed?
Feathers are a regular occurrence in diamonds, and they can form in two ways. Feather inclusions may develop during the diamond’s creation process deep within the earth or when the gem undergoes commercial processing.
Carbon particles in the earth’s inner layers face extreme heat and spend several million years under overwhelming pressure. When the carbon is shaped into a diamond, a phenomenon known as emplacement helps the stones reach the surface. Huge rock fragments propel the gems forward until they are embedded in the softer layers where miners find them.
This process exposes diamonds to many jerky and forceful movements, so it’s easy for the gems to become flawed and develop inclusions.
Mining, reshaping, cutting, and smoothing the diamond can also lead to imperfections. These commercial procedures require specialized equipment that highlights the gem’s quality. The tools apply further pressure to the diamond. Its structure might be interrupted during the cutting phase, and the polishing methods can alter the stone’s surface. Mishandling the equipment also heightens the chance of feather formation.
There is no exact way of determining when or how the feathers occurred. However, feather inclusions may alter the diamond’s fire and light reflection regardless of their origin.
Can Feather Inclusions Grow?
Feather inclusions that have gone through the processing treatment shouldn’t degrade the diamond through day-to-day wear. However, feathers along a diamond’s edge can cause additional structural damage as they become larger.
Cleavage planes are diamond areas where the atoms are held loosely together. When feathers are near cleavages, the fractures can grow if the gem is knocked or bumped more forcefully. This rarely happens with round diamonds since the cut protects them from sudden impact.
Additionally, feather inclusions along the stone’s girdle make the diamond more vulnerable to chipping. The girdle is the sharp protruding part under the gem’s crown which becomes increasingly delicate when peppered with several feathers. However, even diamonds with a compromised girdle can last for a long time when handled with care.
Does a Feather Inclusion Affect Price
More prominent inclusions may detract from the diamond’s brilliance, but tiny feathers typically won’t obscure its beauty. In fact, they offer prospective buyers a chance to get a perfect-looking diamond at a more affordable price.
Since few of them exist, diamond collectors and auction houses are ready to invest in Flawless (F) or Internally Flawless (IF) stones. Only a small number of stones come out of the creation process unscathed. If you’re looking for a stunning engagement ring, a few tiny feathers shouldn’t discourage you. Feathered gems can still have a sharp clarity that gives the diamond its dazzling appearance.
Stones with imperceptible flaws can either be Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS) or Very Slightly Included (VS). The inclusions are so small that experienced gemologists can only detect them with a microscope. Even a 10x loupe might not be powerful enough to highlight inclusions in a VVS or VS diamond.
VVS diamonds may have feathers, but they won’t ruin the stone’s look and feel.
A VVS1 rating indicates that the feather is at the lower end of the diamond. If the feathers are gathered at the diamond’s upper portion, the stone falls into the VVS2 group. Regardless of their placement, feather inclusions in VVS gems remain unnoticeably. So shoppers who go for a VVS option will get an eye-clean diamond without the premium price.
The clarity difference between VVS AND VS diamonds is microscopic. They appear identical in their brilliance in everyday circumstances, rivaling their flawless counterparts. However, choosing a VS stone over a VVS option can save you thousands of dollars.
When to Shop for VVS or VS Clarity
Inclusions like pinpoints, feathers, or clouds won’t lower the quality of a VVS or VS diamond, making for a hassle-free shopping experience. These gems look stunning in all shapes and sizes so that customers can save both time and money.
The stones are eye-clean, so you don’t have to worry about the feather’s location. It will remain invisible in whichever setting you decide to put the diamond. Lower clarity ratings have more inexpensive options, but not all will be eye-clean.
You’ll need to read the diamond grading certificated to see where the feathers are and how visible they will appear in everyday wear. With VS stones, this is a non-issue. The diamonds’ high clarity ensures optimal performance wherever the feather inclusions are.
Step cut diamonds are not inclusion-friendly, making imperfections easier to spot. If you’re interested in a square or rectangular-shaped gem, it’s best to go for a VVS or VS stone to keep any feathers hidden. A large emerald-cut stone has a sophisticated elongated look. But a poorer clarity grade might leave a prominent feather down the diamond’s middle.
The elegant Midhust ring is an excellent example of how VVS diamonds combine beauty and affordability. Its diamond has the full sparkle of flawless gems, and gemologists will be hard-pressed to detect any feathers. However, the reasonable pricing allows customers to get that eye-clean quality without overstepping their budget.
How to Find a Feather Inclusion in a Diamond
You’ll easily make out a larger feather or several long inclusions by simply shifting the diamond. However, the process is not always so straightforward. You might need to read through diamond reports, use a loupe, or conduct a detailed inspection to pinpoint a feather inclusion.
1. Reading a Grading Report
Reputable vendors sell diamonds that come with a grading report. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the International Gemological Institute (IGI) conduct detailed diamond examinations and release verified certificates. The documentation notes any inclusions in the clarity segment of the report. These institutions also release diagrams that point out any flaws, impurities, or other notable imperfections.
The diagrams, or diamond plots, represent feather inclusions as red lines. Once you’ve seen where the inclusions are on the chart, you can quickly find them in the specified diamond area. You’ll then see how prominent the inclusions are and whether the feathers degrade the diamond.
2. Looking at Pictures and Videos
Reliable diamond sellers are dedicated to providing customers with exceptional service. They include pictures in their online listings and allow buyers to have a closer look at the gems from the comfort of their homes. The images show how the stone looks in natural lighting. However, you can also enlarge them to see any visible inclusions.
High-resolution videos display diamonds from several angles, which makes feather detection easier. Pause the video and zoom out for a more detailed look at the feathers. Vendors attach videos with a lot of close-up shots so that you can view all of the diamond’s qualities.
Zooming out will reduce the diamond to its real-life size when you just want to check for feather inclusion. If you can’t detect any irregularities, the diamond will appear flawless in all daily settings.
3. Using a Jeweler’s Loupe
A 10x magnification loupe will help you spot feathers without straining your eyes. If the diamond contains feathers, you’ll be able to identify them under the proper conditions.
Before examining a stone with a loupe, make sure to clean the diamond properly. Smudges or fingerprint imprints on the stone’s surface will prevent you from spotting the inclusions. Also, you should avoid using LED lights. They’re harsh on the eyes, so you won’t be able to concentrate on the diamond fully.
Read our article on how to use a jeweler’s loupe.
4. An Eye Inspection
Bigger feathers appear in diamonds that aren’t eye-clean. This doesn’t mean they’re visible from all angles, so you should move the diamond around and see which positions make the fractures more noticeable. You can then decide whether the size and location of the inclusion is a deal-breaker for you.
A loose diamond with a feather along the bottom can be put in a metal setting to form a sparkling diamond ring. The metal band will hide the fracture, highlighting the feather-free part of the gem.
Are Feather Inclusions Bad?
As we’ve mentioned, a feather inclusion won’t minimize its luster if you’re going for a VVS or VS diamond. However, more substantial fractures can negatively affect a diamond’s appeal and durability.
The gem’s clarity is affected by the characteristics of the inclusions, and the size of the feathers could lower the clarity rating significantly. Generally, buyers should avoid diamonds with long fractures visible in natural lighting.
Also, the category of inclusion needs to be considered. There are several inclusions, and not all of them are detrimental. Surface-level flaws won’t damage the stone’s beauty and solidity. However, feathers in or around the diamond’s center are concerning because they disrupt the gem’s inner structure.
Furthermore, gemologists and customers should take note of the number of inclusions. The more feathers there are, the poorer the clarity will be. Of course, if there are several tiny feathers, their impact won’t be as severe. Feather inclusions have an undesirable effect because of the combination of their size, number, and location.
How Feather Inclusions Affect Diamond Beauty
Brilliance measures the diamond’s light reflection and adds to its sparkliness. But large brown or black feathers can block the light from going through and stop it from reaching the diamond’s crown. This phenomenon is known as light leakage, and it brings down the gem’s quality and visual appeal.
The stone’s sparkle comes mainly from its fire.
Diamond fire refers to how white light transforms into multiple colors when it reaches the stone’s sharp cuts. High-quality gems have a pronounced brilliance and glow because no dark patches obstruct the light. However, when elongated feathers are near the stone’s facets, the diamond won’t reflect colored light efficiently.
Keep in mind that feather inclusions are rarely so severe that they ruin a diamond’s appeal. Still, you should know what to look for when inspecting a diamond’s beauty. Understanding the effects feathers have on gems will allow you to find a stone that appeals to you successfully.
How Feather Inclusions Affect Diamond Durability
It’s easy to assume that diamonds are forever. After all, they’re the sturdiest gems in existence. However, feather inclusions will make the stone more susceptible to damage like breaking and chipping in some cases. Eventually, the entire diamond might crumble to pieces.
Feathers along the girdle or near the gem’s sharp corners are particularly hazardous. The inclusions can cause pieces of the diamond to break off because they’re located in structurally weaker areas.
Additionally, fractures that stretch from the stone’s inner part to its top can also lead to irreparable damage. These feathers act as cavities because they crack open the diamond. Dirt and chemicals may accumulate within the diamond as they pass through this opening. Furthermore, diamonds that have a cavity are incredibly fragile. A more forceful bump or knock could cause a total disintegration of the stone.
Can You Fix a Feather Inclusion?
Specific procedures might improve a diamond’s quality. For example, a colorless resin is used to treat inclusions. The substance enters the diamond and fills out the flawed areas.
During the process, professionals make a small hole in the diamond so that the resin can reach inclusion. However, this is not a foolproof method for removing imperfections. The resin can carry air, and you’ll see the air bubbles in the diamond. Moreover, the GIA and other reputable institutions don’t assess modified diamonds, so you won’t be able to access their grading reports.
Talk to an Expert
Diamond shopping should be a fun and enjoyable experience. However, there are many things to keep in mind, especially regarding the importance of inclusions. If you’d like to learn more about how feathers can affect a diamond, reach out to the Estate Diamond Jewelry team. We’re here to answer any lingering questions and ensure that you find a diamond that lives up to your expectations.