Diamonds are one of the hardest materials on Earth, right? So they do not need any special protection or treatment in order to stay pristine forever, you may think. Even though diamonds measure a ten on the Moh’s hardness scale, which means diamonds are virtually impossible to scratch, diamonds do suffer from chips or cracks. It can be devastating to see your beautiful diamond damaged, and you want to give it the best care possible.
How Diamonds Get Damaged
Rough diamonds are cut and shaped by experts, who find the precise angle in the diamond’s crystal structure where the diamond may be cut. In the same way, a diamond can suffer a blow with enough pressure and at an angle that results in a crack in the diamond. But such cracks are extremely rare. More common are chips in the diamond, especially diamonds we wear constantly, like engagement rings.
Most diamonds get chipped around the girdle, which is the widest point of the diamond and also the narrowest. That makes the girdle vulnerable to knocks even though diamonds are so difficult to scratch. The prongs of a setting protect the girdle from both chipping and from falling out of the setting, but even so the edge of the girdle can get numerous tiny chips, or a blow can take off a section of the girdle. (Learn more about the girdle, visit: anatomy of a diamond)
Is it Really Chipped?
If your diamond looks like it has lines and spots that were not there before, the first thing to do is to make sure what you see is really a chip. Almost all diamonds have internal imperfections, called diamond inclusions. When we wear our diamonds they can get dirty from soap when washing our hands, lint from our clothing, and also from our oily fingertips. When a diamond gets grime on it, the sparkle diminishes and the imperfections are more noticeable. What looks to you like a crack or chip, may actually be an inclusion that comes to your attention now because the diamond is not as clean as when you first bought it.
Clean your diamond, then inspect it again to see if it really has a chip.
Many cleansers and detergents may leave a film or residue on the diamond, which will also make the inclusions more noticeable. To clean your diamond, use soap and water, it’s the easiest, safest, least expensive option. Professional cleanings are nice on occasion but not necessary all of the time. If you clean the diamond yourself, be careful of drains! Use a sieve or strainer when rinsing the diamond. Dry the diamond with a lint-free cloth so lint will not lessen your diamond’s sparkle. (See our articles on How to Clean a Diamond Ring & Caring for Gold, Platinum & Silver & When a Professional Jeweler Is Necessary.)
Solutions for Chipped Diamonds
Some insurance policies will reimburse you or replace your diamond if it gets damaged, so check your policy. If the diamond has sentimental value, you may not wish to replace it. You have some options if you wish to keep the diamond. Perhaps the diamond can be re-cut. Depending on the type of chip or crack, you may be able to reposition the diamond and disguise the chip with one of the prongs. Consult an expert before repositioning the diamond, because for some cracks direct pressure from the prong will make the crack even bigger.
If you decide to have your diamond re-cut, take the diamond to a professional diamond cutter for an evaluation. Re-cutting is a delicate process and takes time to get right, so this is not a quick solution. Once a diamond is re-cut, its mounting may need to be adjusted to the diamond’s new size.
Be aware that re-cutting will change more than just the weight of your stone. Think about the 4 c’s: Diamond Cut, Diamond Color, Diamond Clarity and Diamond Carat Weight. Carat weight is the most obvious thing that will change. The cut could change as it is a reflection of cut quality, not a measure of shape. The color should not change. Clarity might change if your smaller stone does not include some of the original inclusions or blemishes.
With minor chipping around the edge of the girdle the diamond many not change significantly, but in the case of a crack, much of the diamond may be lost. You may not recognize the finished product as your diamond. Choose a diamond repair expert with impeccable reputation, so you can trust that the diamond returned to you is your original diamond, even with altered carat weight and shape.
If your precious diamond is damaged, do not lose hope. With proper care you can wear it forever. Clean the diamond to be sure what you see really is a chip or a crack, and then evaluate your options. Perhaps you can replace the diamond, shift it in its setting, or have it re-cut.
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