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Natural Diamonds  vs. Enhanced Diamonds

Whether to buy a natural diamond or a treated or enhanced diamond....
Diamonds can also be produced synthetically in a HPHT method which approximately simulates the conditions in the Earth's mantle.
An alternative, and completely different growth technique is chemical vapor deposition (CVD). Several non-diamond materials,
which include cubic zirconia and silicon carbide and are often called diamond simulants, resemble diamond in appearance and
many properties. Special gemological techniques have been developed to distinguish natural, synthetic diamonds and diamond simulants.

Natural Diamonds

Made from carbon, diamonds are the hardest known substance to man and are both a naturally occurring and manufactured abrasive. Natural diamonds
form at high pressure high temperature conditions existing between 85 to 125 miles in the earth’s mantle. It takes a diamond 1 to 3 billion years
to form beneath the earth. Once formed, a diamond travels to the earth’s surface via streams of molten rock. Throughout this process,
natural diamonds acquire inclusions and or flaws within them that give them their own unique “fingerprint”.

Diamonds can be purchased in various sizes (carats), shapes, colors, and clarities. Natural diamonds are preferred over enhanced or treated diamonds
because of their rarity and individual fingerprint. No two natural diamonds in the world are identical; each one is unique whether it’s because of
its color or clarity or both combined.

Enhanced or Treated Diamonds

The term “enhanced” may sound like a positive feature, however, any diamond that has been enhanced has been treated and altered from its
natural condition to artificially improve its appearance. If you decide to purchase an “enhanced” diamond, find out what kind of treatments
have been used and how they might affect the value of the diamond. You should also be concerned with the long term care and appearance these
enhancement treatments may have on the diamond, as enhancements sometimes result in discoloration or cracks in the diamond.

Enhanced diamonds, unlike high quality natural diamonds are natural diamonds that have had very specific treatments done to them to improve
their characteristics, or their natural “flaws”. One type of treatment is laser drilling, which is a process that removes minor inclusions
in a diamond to produce a clarity enhanced diamond. This process will typically create lines that resemble tiny trails, which are visible
under side-view magnification. The laser may dissipate the imperfection, or chemicals may be injected into the resulting tunnel to bleach
away the color. This is a more permanent process than fracture filling. However, it is highly debated whether or not this process damages
the integrity of the diamonds, thereby decreasing the value of clarity enhanced diamonds in the long term.

Fracture filling is a treatment that adds a glass-like resin material to a natural diamond to close small cracks. Since the filling has
the same optical illusion and refraction index as a natural diamond, it’s nearly impossible to detect the “repair” to the flaws.
Fracture filling is not a permanent treatment as heat from future repairs, cleanings, and even sunlight can erode the filler or possibly
darken its color, making the diamond less valuable as time goes on.

One other type of enhancement treatment is called HPHT (high-pressure high-temperature). HPHT is a treatment process that General Electric
developed to permanently change the color of a diamond. First used to turn yellowish diamonds into “fancy” colored diamonds, this process
is commonly used to turn yellow or brown diamonds into colorless diamonds to be sold at a significantly higher prices. HPHT involves putting
a diamond into a pressure chamber and squeezing it at high pressure and high temperature for a short amount of time. Although some feel that
this treatment should be considered a standard technique and claim that this process is just finishing the job that nature started, the Federal
Trade Commission feels that it is an artificial process and requires that HPHT be disclosed. When HPHT treatment is detected in a diamond,
the Gemological Institute of American (GIA) notes it on their reports as “HPHT Annealed” or “Artificially Irradiated” and insists that such
diamonds be laser-inscribed with the same designation. A diamond that has been enhanced by GE will be inscribed with the symbol “GE POL”.

Detecting Enhanced or Treated Diamonds

There are different ways to detect if a diamond has had clarity enhancement treatments done to it. As mentioned above, laser drilling result
s in very thin, white lines or tunnels within the diamond that do not follow the pattern of the loose diamond. When fracture filling is used,
the diamond may appear flawless when viewed from the top, but careful examination from the sides or other angles may reveal flashes of color
that disrupt the pattern of facets in the diamond. Fracture filled diamonds may also have air bubbles trapped within them. Because these hints
are only visible from the sides, it is very important to examine the diamond closely and preferable as a loose diamond rather than set
into a diamond ring setting.

The Controversy About Enhanced or Treated Diamonds

Due to the controversial nature of diamond treatments within the industry, the CIBJO (World Jewelry Confederation), the United Stated
Federal Trade Commission, and the GIA all require the disclosure of all diamond treatments at the time of sale. Without this disclosure,
consumer confidence in diamond purchasing would be significantly damaged.

Synthetic diamonds

Synthetic diamond (also known as cultured diamond or cultivated diamond) is diamond produced in an artificial process, as opposed
to natural diamonds, which are created by geological processes. Synthetic diamond is also widely known as HPHT diamond or CVD diamond
after the two common production methods (referring to the high-pressure high-temperature and chemical vapor deposition crystal
formation methods, respectively). While the term synthetic is associated by consumers with imitation products, artificial diamonds
are made of the same material (pure carbon, crystallized in isotropic 3D form). In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission has
indicated that the alternative terms laboratory-grown and laboratory-created "would more clearly
communicate the nature of the stone".

Numerous claims of diamond synthesis were documented between 1879 and 1928; most of those attempts were carefully analyzed but
none were confirmed. In the 1940s, systematic research began in the United States, Sweden and the Soviet Union to grow diamonds
using CVD and HPHT processes. The first reproducible synthesis was reported around 1953. Those two processes still dominate the
production of synthetic diamond. A third method, known as detonation synthesis, entered the diamond market in the late 1990s.
In this process, nanometer-sized diamond grains are created in a detonation of carbon-containing explosives. A fourth method,
treating graphite with high-power ultrasound, has been demonstrated in the laboratory, but currently has no commercial application.

The properties of synthetic diamond depend on the details of the manufacturing processes; however, some synthetic diamonds
(whether formed by HPHT or CVD) have properties such as hardness, thermal conductivity and electron mobility that are superior
to those of most naturally formed diamonds. Synthetic diamond is widely used in abrasives, in cutting and polishing tools and
in heat sinks. Electronic applications of synthetic diamond are being developed, including high-power switches at power stations,
high-frequency field-effect transistors and light-emitting diodes. Synthetic diamond detectors of ultraviolet (UV) light or
high-energy particles are used at high-energy research facilities and are available commercially. Because of its unique combination
of thermal and chemical stability, low thermal expansion and high optical transparency in a wide spectral range, synthetic diamond
is becoming the most popular material for optical windows in high-power CO2 lasers and gyrotrons. It is estimated that 98% of industrial
grade diamond demand is supplied with synthetic diamonds.


"At Daems Diamonds, we want our clients to be educated about different types of diamonds and diamond treatments so that they can feel confident
when purchasing their future loose diamonds. Most consumers and diamond professionals feel that natural diamonds should not be
artificially treated in any significant manner. However, there are many differing opinions about the controversy of enhanced or treated diamonds
vs. natural diamonds. As most gemological experts agree, Daems Diamonds recommends purchasing natural certified diamonds and offers only 100% natural
and conflict-free diamonds. We do not sell any loose diamonds or diamond jewelry that have been enhanced or treated in any way."

Marc Daems