There are a number of diamond treatments used in order to optimize a diamond’s appearance, from color treatments to laser drilling. By law, it is explicitly required that the full disclosure of all diamond treatments at the time of sale be revealed. Some treatments, particularly those applied to clarity and color, remain highly controversial within the diamond industry due to the fact that most people still believe diamonds to hold a sacred place among the world of the gemstone, and should therefore be left untreated. Clarity and color enhancement in diamonds can mean that they sell at a significantly lower price than that of an untreated diamond, this is because enhanced diamonds were once lower quality diamonds before the enhancement process took place. After enhancement, the diamonds can visually appear just as good and sometimes even better than non-enhanced diamonds. Here are a few ways that a diamond can be treated and enhanced.
There are a couple of key ways to artificially alter the color of a diamond. They are irradiation and heat and pressure treatment. Today diamonds are safely irradiated in four ways: proton and deuteron bombardment, gamma ray bombardment, neutron bombardment and electron bombardment. Irradiated diamonds end up all a similar shade of green, black, or blue after the treatment, but some are annealed to further change their color into shades of yellow, orange, brown, or even pink. The process of annealing dramatically increases the movement of carbon atoms and therefore allows for some of the defects created during irradiation to be corrected. The end result is mainly dependent on the diamond’s make-up and the temperature and length of the annealing process. The technique known as High Pressure and heat treatment or HPHT was introduced by General Electric in 1999 and is used to enhance the color and saturation of color in diamonds. Pressure levels of 70,000 atmospheres and temperatures of up to 3,632 °F are used in this process, making it arguably the most intense of all the diamond treatments.
Some diamonds have impurities, also known as inclusions, within them. A typical inclusion might be a crack or a black splotch beneath the surface of the diamond. Laser drilling and fracture filling are two diamond treatments that improve the clarity and purity of a diamond. Laser drilling reduces the visibility of black carbon inclusions on a microscopic scale. The laser drilling process involves the use of an infrared laser to bore extremely thin holes into the diamond in order to create a passage to the black carbon inclusion. The diamond is then soaked in sulphuric acid to destroy the black carbon inclusion. Fracture Filling is exactly that, the process of filling cracks in the diamond. The drilling technique makes tiny natural fractures inside the diamond that are practically invisible to the naked eye or even under magnification. The ultra fine fractures are first drilled and then filled with lead oxychloride glass.