Clarity Enhanced Diamonds 101: When To Buy Them, When you Shouldn’t, And How To Avoid Getting Ripped Off
Major news sources have run a few segments about jewelry stores selling clarity enhanced diamonds, without telling the customers they were clarity enhanced.
Now, clarity enhanced diamonds aren’t “bad,” but it is illegal for a store to sell them without disclosing that they are clarity enhanced.
If you’re going to buy diamond jewelry, you need to know what they are, how to spot them, and the pros and cons of owning them.
So here’s your crash-course in clarity enhanced diamonds:
What Are Clarity Enhanced Diamonds?
The majority of diamonds have small imperfections, cracks, or “inclusions.” The more cracks (inclusions) a diamond has, the lower its clarity grade, and the less valuable it is.
Clarity enhancement is a process where these naturally occurring cracks are filled with a lead-based glass to make the cracks invisible to the naked eye, and to make the diamond more beautiful.
Clarity enhancement takes a lower quality diamond and makes it more beautiful.
This process is legal...
As long as the seller tells the buyer the diamonds have been clarity enhanced, and how to properly care for clarity enhanced diamonds.
How Do You Know If Diamonds Are Clarity Enhanced?
This is why it’s tricky: The whole purpose of clarity enhancement is to make those cracks invisible to the naked eye, so you won’t be able to see them.
That’s why it is 100% the seller’s responsibility to tell you if the diamonds have been clarity enhanced. So your #1 best safeguard is to buy from a jeweler you know and trust. Your #2 best safeguard is...
Get in writing what the seller says the diamond is. It should say in writing “clarity enhanced” or “CE.” And the seller should also tell you verbally that the diamond is clarity enhanced, what that means, and how to care for it properly (see the "dangers" section below).
If you’re buying a large loose or mounted diamond, also inspect the diamond evaluation or appraisal. One thing in particular to look out for is the diamond’s price and/or replacement value. If the written “value” of the diamond is much higher than what you’re paying...
... Something is not right.
The seller is likely exaggerating the diamond’s value to make you feel like you’re getting “a great deal,” even though you’re paying the market price for a lower quality diamond.
There's a great saying in the jewelry industry that goes:
“In gems, you get what you pay for - or less.”
If the “discount” you’re getting seems too good to be true, it is.
Having said that... If seller properly discloses that the diamond is clarity enhanced, and discloses its real value, there is nothing wrong with buying it.
What are the BENEFITS of clarity enhanced diamonds?
There’s really only one reason to buy clarity enhanced diamonds: They are a great way to get a BIG, beautiful diamond at a lower price.
Just be fully aware that you are not getting “the same thing only cheaper.” You are paying for a lower quality diamond that has been made more beautiful to the naked eye through an artificial process.
But the real market value of the diamond is its pre-clarity enhancement value.
If you don’t mind that, and you want BIG on a budget, go for it.
But I can’t stress this enough: If you buy a clarity enhanced diamond that has a "certificate," (there is no such thing as a "certified" diamond, by the way) appraisal, or receipt with an exaggerated value...
You likely won’t get that price if you ever try to resell it, or replace it with insurance money if you lose it.
The real value is the pre-clarity-enhancement value.
What are the DANGERS of clarity enhanced diamonds?
#1 - Jewelry repairs (like sizing) require a torch and high temperatures, which is completely safe for non-clarity enhanced diamonds. But with clarity enhanced diamonds, the high heat will melt the glass filler out of the cracks. The result is a diamond that looks cracked, shattered, or burnt.
In these cases, the jeweler didn’t “break” the diamond. The clarity enhancement material has simply been removed, and the real, natural clarity of the diamond is revealed.
A good jeweler will typically spot that your diamond is clarity enhanced and warn you of the risks before servicing your jewelry. But if you buy a clarity enhanced diamond...
...it’s ultimately your responsibility to tell the jeweler it’s clarity enhanced every time you take it somewhere to get it serviced or repaired. Which brings us to...
#2 - Be honest with your spouse if you give her a clarity enhanced diamond. Some guys will buy clarity enhanced diamonds because they are cheaper... And then not tell her.
Don’t do this.
If she takes it somewhere other than where you purchased it to get sized, the jeweler will either break the news to her that her diamond is clarity enhanced or... worse... not spot it, apply heat to it, and accidentally remove the clarity enhancement and damage the diamond.
Again, when it comes to clarity enhanced diamonds - or a significant fine jewelry purchase of any kind - your best safeguard is to always deal with a jeweler you know and trust.