Diamond Fracture Filling: All You Need to Know

Diamonds remain the most sought-after selection for engagement rings, wedding bands, anniversary rings, and more. Diamond’s distinctive brilliance makes them stand out compared to semi-precious and precious colored gems. Diamond’s incredible icy sparkle and fire captures attention as they glisten from all angles.✨

This article will cover these topics: what diamond fracture filling is, reasons to conduct fracture filling, related inclusions, and how to inspect this treatment. Lastly, we will also sum up the pros and cons for you and give some advice on buying diamonds with this treatment.

Inspecting Diamond Fracture Filling Treatment

Definition of fracture filling

The definition of fracture filling is the filling of the surface-reaching cleavages, fractures, and other separations in diamonds. Fracture filling can also be defined as an enhancement method using a broad range of treatments to fill the fractures (inclusions) of the diamond. This glass-like resin is injected into the diamond, filling visible feathers, and is also referred to as diamond clarity enhancement.

The first commercially available diamond fracture-filling treatment was developed by Mr. Zvi Yehuda, of Ramat Gan, Israel in the mid-1980s.

Reasons to conduct fracture filling

What if you want to purchase a larger-carat diamond within your budget?  There are several reasons to conduct fracture filling.

Diamond quality is evaluated according to the 4Cs, a system developed by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) analyzing the diamond attributes. According to De Beers' website, the 4Cs is a “universal language” established by GIA and introduced to the public by De Beers. The combination of these four factors determines a diamond’s relative rarity and value, and they include cut, color, clarity, and carat. Fracture filling the diamond improves the clarity of a diamond, one of the most important characteristics of the diamond’s determining quality. A lower-clarity grade diamond has a lower price point.

The reasons for diamond fracture filling are simple. Filling the breaks within the diamond allows it to increase its clarity. This process results in a natural, earth-mined diamond with man-made advantages, resulting in a better quality-appearing diamond. Fracture filling the diamond also reinforces weaker areas of the stone from inclusions and other breaks, creating a more durable diamond without these brittle areas.💪🏻

General steps for fracture filling

Fracture filling stones originates from the oiling of emeralds, a practice dating back to the ancient Roman Empire (Nassau, 1984). The principle of the diamond-filling procedure is the same: replace the air that normally fills such breaks with a transparent substance that has an index of refraction close to that of the diamond.

The diamond must first be observed to see if it is a good candidate for fracture filling. Not all diamonds with inclusions are good candidates for fracture filling. Diamonds with imperfections from the table to culet are not suitable for this process because the flash effect (defined below) will become too obvious, detracting from the diamond itself. Smaller inclusions in various areas of the diamond, such as the girdle, are optimal for this process. If the stone is too included, fracture filling may not be a suitable option to improve clarity.

Inclusions related to fracture filling: Laser Drill-Hole LDH and Internal Laser Drilling ILD

Traditional laser treatments involve drilling a microscopic laser hole through the diamond, burning away the internal inclusion. This laser drill-hole (LDH) allows access to inclusions deep within the stone, similar to surgery. Laser holes created by laser drilling can be difficult to detect; however, under 10x magnification, these holes can be identified by the trained eye.

While another type of laser treatment involves channeling laser beams against a near-surface inclusion to heat it up. This will result in the expansion of the inclusion, thereby inducing raised stress to extend the internal fracture to the surface. The outcome is called internal laser drilling inclusion (ILD).

Both types of laser treatments provide access to the inclusions, via which chemistry solutions can be injected to remove or minimize the dark material, and/or fracture filling can be conducted.

How to Inspect for Fracture Filling

Fracture filling may be viewed under magnification with a gemological microscope in the ways explained below:

Flash Effect

The flash effect is the most obvious and common characteristic of fracture filled areas. It often appears as an orange-yellowish interference color, changing into a vivid blue when the stone moves.📸

Sometimes, it is so obvious, very little magnification is necessary. The flash effect can be viewed from a standard jewelry loop when it is very obvious—however, microscopy is the best method for determining if a diamond has been filled.

Unknown Substances

Unknown substances not normally occurring during the diamond formation process allow fracture filling to go easily detected by the trained eye. These textures can appear glassy and melted into separations.

Air Bubbles

Flattened gas bubbles trapped within the filling materials may appear as singular or in multiple amounts, large and small. These bubbles are thought to result from the shrinkage of filling material during cooling or air trapped within the breaks of the inclusion.

Cloudy Appearance

Residue from the fracture filling process may leave a cloudy texture on the surface, giving it a hazy appearance.

Crackled Texture & Color Compound

The texture of the filling material may not have been suitable or may change over time. This results in a unique texture that doesn’t appear as a diamond’s inclusions or as part of the diamond. The material used for fracture filling may change color over time, making it visible.👀

Pros of Fracture Filling

There are many man-made diamond look-alikes or simulants readily available for sale with more affordable price points, large carat sizes, and set into unique designs. These simulants include cubic zirconia, GGG, YAG, for example. Diamond simulants DO NOT contain the same optical or chemical properties of the diamond—they are noticeably different. Although stunning in their own right, they can only mimic the appearance of the diamond slightly. If you want diamonds and purchase a simulant, you may be disappointed when they are readily detectable by anyone who loves jewelry and stones.

Lab-grown diamonds mimic both the optical and physical properties of a diamond and are man-made in a lab under controlled conditions. Lab-grown diamonds represent a cost-effective alternative to diamonds. However, they do not retain the same value of a natural, earth-mined diamond of the same quality because they are synthetic.

Genuine “colorless” gemstones (white topaz, rock crystal quartz, colorless sapphire, etc.) are gorgeous alternatives to natural diamonds. Although uniquely breathtaking in their own right, they do not sparkle and have very low brilliance when compared to a diamond.

Fracture filling a natural diamond is a process that results in retaining the natural diamond's potential. It is a cost-effective alternative for purchasing the diamond carat weight of your dreams. Although diamond simulants, lab-grown diamonds, and natural colorless stones have many positive attributes, they are distinctively different from natural diamonds. The fracture filling process can be seen as a “pro” for choosing a natural diamond that is wearable and beautiful—altered to showcase its incredible sparkle and shine and enhances its many features without detracting from its natural state.👯

Cons to Fracture Filling

Fracture filling a diamond is not permanent. If the diamond is placed under stress, such as temperature and environmental changes, this can disrupt the treatment. This disruption could reverse the diamond back to its original state, dissolving the substance used for fracture filling. Fracturing filling can be dissolved by certain jewelry cleaners or other normal activities where heat occurs.

👉🏻If the treatment isn’t the same refractive index of the diamond or is otherwise unsuitable, it can draw attention to the part that has been filled. White scratches, iridescence, and air bubbles may appear if the diamond is incorrectly treated.

Removing eye-visible flaws that take away the brilliance of the diamond allows it to be appreciated again for its fire but takes away from its value. Without fracture filling, the diamond could have been worth more.

How Grading Labs Treat Fracture Filling

Most grading labs, like the GIA, do not grade filled diamonds. Filling a diamond with glass or substance is not a stable, permanent treatment. Grading results are affected if the filler is damaged/removed, because the diamond has been modified.

Buying Advice

Many experts and leading jewelry professionals advise against purchasing a fracture filled diamond. As mentioned above, the glass-like resin used to fracture fill diamonds isn’t stable—it can be dissolved simply by taking your jewelry to be reset, cleaned, or polished.

Fracture filled diamonds must always be disclosed on any gem lab report, appraisal, and other professional certification. However, frequently these diamonds aren’t and are sold at the same prices as diamonds that have not undergone this process.

The value of the diamond can not be accurately evaluated because of the fracture filling—sometimes they may be valued at 50% less than their natural counterpart with no fracture filling. This means the diamond you purchase may not be worth much—not even the amount you paid. It may be harder to sell yours to get back a fraction of the amount you invested if you choose to upgrade a diamond engagement ring for something else.

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