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Fracture-Filled Diamonds:
Caveat Emptor!

By  Judith Anderson  GG, CGA

Would the Mona Lisa be as captivating without her smile?  Does Beethoven's Ninth sound as majestic when played on a kazoo?  Or more practically,  would you pay full price for a set of retread tires?  The increasing number of fracture-filled diamonds being offered by jewelry retailers has raised similar questions for the jewelry consumer.

Fracture-filling (a.k.a. "clarity enhancement" and,  less kindly,  "diamond retreading") is a legitimate process by which disfigured diamonds are made to appear whole.  During fracture filling,  the blemishes and fractures in a damaged diamond are filled with a glass-like paste which shares the same optical properties and color as the host diamond.  When finished,  the imperfections of the fractured-filled diamond are invisible to an untrained eye and the visual appearance of the diamond is greatly improved.  In fact,  the presence of the fracture-filling paste often can only be detected using gemological instruments.

If fully disclosed to the consumer,  fracture filling is an acceptable treatment for damaged gemstones.  However,  problems arise when the value of a fracture-filled diamond is misrepresented or the impermanence of the fracture-filling paste is not fully disclosed to the consumer.  Remember,  fracture-filled diamonds are "repaired" diamonds and should cost significantly less than untreated diamonds with the same weight,  color and clarity.

In my next column I will further discuss the uses,  abuses and short-comings of the fracture-filling process.  Until then,  you should protect yourself against treated or misrepresented diamonds by always observing the following two rules:

1.   When purchasing a diamond or precious colored gemstone,  obtain an independent gemological appraisal to assure that the gemstone's quality and value have been accurately represented.

2.   Require the seller to state in writing whether the diamond has been fracture-filled or otherwise treated.  Any such treatments should be fully described and their limitations disclosed.

To learn more about fracture-filled diamonds,  you may want to read the next article.

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