Diamond Inclusions: A Diamond's Fingerprint

 Diamonds, the most valuable and cherished gemstones in the world, have long been admired for their breathtaking beauty and unmatched durability. Diamonds are forged under extreme heat and pressure, conditions that produce the strong covalent bonds that give diamonds their trademark strength.

This process also produces inclusions, tiny blemishes encapsulated and preserved within the diamond that affect its clarity. In this article, we'll explore the fascinating characteristics of diamond inclusions, delving into what they are, how they form, the different types that exist, and how they affect a diamond's grade on the diamond clarity scale.

We'll also discuss Eterneva's commitment to quality and our stance on inclusions, as well as the growing trend of embracing diamonds with unique characteristics, like salt and pepper diamonds.

Rose gold ring with peppered diamond.


What is a Diamond Inclusion?

A diamond inclusion is an imperfection or irregularity found within the crystal structure of a diamond. These tiny imperfections include sources such as minerals, voids, cracks, and non-crystallized carbon that become trapped beneath the surface during the diamond's formation process and affect its clarity. Inclusions can be visible to the naked eye or require strong magnification to be seen. Like a snowflake, each diamond contains a unique size, shape, and formation of inclusions, and these characteristics serve as a natural fingerprint that can help identify it and categorize its diamond clarity.


What Causes Diamond Inclusions?

 Diamond inclusions are formed as a result of the extreme pressure and heat that the carbon material undergoes when transforming into a diamond. Traditionally, this process occurs deep within the Earth's mantle, where temperatures can reach up to 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit and pressures are more than 725,000 pounds per square inch.

Lab-grown diamonds undergo a similar version of this process using technology to simulate the extreme conditions necessary to condense the carbon into crystallized form. During this intense transformation, minerals, gases, and other materials can become trapped inside the forming diamond, leading to the creation of inclusions.


Different Types of Diamond Inclusions

 There are several types of inclusions that can affect diamond clarity grades, including:

  • Pinpoint inclusions. Pinpoint inclusions are tiny, dot-like inclusions that can appear individually or in clusters.
  • Cloud inclusions. Cloud inclusions are groupings of pinpoints that can create a hazy or cloudy appearance.
  • Feather inclusions. Feather inclusions are hair-like fractures that can appear white, transparent, or reflective.
  • Crystal inclusions. Crystal inclusions are solid mineral inclusions that can vary in size, shape, and color.
  • Needle inclusions. Needle inclusions are long, thin crystal inclusions that can appear white, black, or colorless.
  • Twinning wisps. Twinning wisps are actually made up of a series of inclusions, typically a combination of clouds, crystals, and feathers. They may appear as wispy streaks running through the diamond or even black and white stripes.

The size, location, and visibility of inclusions all affect the clarity of a diamond. A diamond's clarity grade is determined by the Diamond Clarity Chart, a universal system used by gemologists. Evaluating diamond clarity involves assessing the size, nature, number, location, and relief of all the microscopic characteristics contained within the diamond, as well as their effect on the stone's appearance and shine.

A clear diamond acting as a prism in the light.
  • Size. Larger inclusions, relative to the size of the stone, typically have a greater impact on the diamond's clarity grade, especially those large enough to be viewed by the naked eye. 
  • Nature. Nature refers to the type of inclusion and its relative depth within the stone. Internal characteristics trapped within the diamond are called inclusions, while features that appear on the surface of the diamond are called blemishes.
  • Number. Usually, the more inclusions, the lower the clarity grade. However, it will also depend on how visible the inclusions are.
  • Location. Location refers to the position of the inclusion in the diamond. Inclusions near the center of the table often have a greater effect on diamond clarity, while those closer to the girdle tend to be more difficult to see. Inclusions near the pavilion may affect the stone's refractive properties, as the pavilion facets can reflect the image of the inclusion outward. The shape and cut can also obscure or highlight certain characteristics, which can affect the clarity grade.
  • Relief. Relief refers to how distinct the inclusion is in relation to the diamond itself. The greater the relief, the greater the effect on the diamond's clarity grade.

Gemologists use up to 10x magnification to identify and classify these characteristics, which are then mapped out on a "diamond plot". Each diamond's plot is unique and falls somewhere on a scale between Included and Flawless on the Diamond Clarity Chart.

GIA Diamond Clarity Chart

  • Flawless (FL). FL diamonds have zero inclusions and zero blemishes visible under 10x magnification. This is the highest level of diamond clarity.
  • Internally Flawless (IF). IF diamonds have no inclusions that are visible under 10x magnification.
  • Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2). VVS1 and VVS2 diamonds have inclusions so slight they are difficult to see under 10x magnification.
  • Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2). VS1 and VS2 diamonds have inclusions that can be observed under 10x magnification but are still considered minor.
  • Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2). SI1 and SI2 diamonds have inclusions that are noticeable under 10x magnification but not eye-visible. This is a beautiful clarity and, in fact, is the most commonly purchased clarity grade for engagement rings. 
  • Included (I1, I2, and I3). I1-I3 diamonds have inclusions that are obvious under 10x magnification, which may affect transparency and brilliance. Some may even be seen by the naked eye.
GIA diamond clarity chart.

Do Eterneva diamonds have inclusions?

The short answer? Yes. Almost all diamonds—whether lab-grown diamonds or natural diamonds—have inclusions; most are just microscopic and cannot be seen with the naked eye. At Eterneva, we are dedicated to providing our customers with the highest quality lab-grown memorial diamonds. We adhere to strict quality standards and inspections, and we will perform a regrowth if a diamond does not meet our criteria.

If an Eterneva diamond traps too many inclusions during its formation, our expert team will assess the diamond and determine if regrowth is necessary. Regrowth is only necessary in about 5% of cases, but should the situation arise, we perform the regrowth at no additional cost to the customer, and they get to keep the included diamond as well. In the unlikely event that regrowth is required, our team will work diligently to create a new diamond that meets the same rigorous quality standards. We will also keep you informed throughout the process and provide support every step of the way until your new diamond is home safe and sound. 

A woman holding a gorgeous diamond ring.

Growing an Eterneva Diamond is a completely bespoke process. Unlike other diamond labs wherein regular lab-grown diamonds are mass produced, how our process differs is that our customers are ordering a specific diamond up front (for example one carat, round, blue diamond) and we are growing with a personal carbon source, so it's a very tailor-made endeavor. We need to grow a rough diamond that's big enough and clear enough to cut the best possible diamond—optimizing for both size and clarity!


Embracing Inclusions

Diamonds with inclusions are becoming increasingly popular due to their unique clarity characteristics. Many people appreciate the natural beauty and individuality that inclusions bring to a diamond. Two of the most popular types of diamonds with inclusions are salt and pepper diamonds and galaxy diamonds.

Parallel to how your loved one was truly one-of-a-kind, no two diamonds are alike. Because we are working with personal carbon that's 99.999% pure, there are still some unique elements from someone's ashes that can contribute to its own unique inclusion. For this reason, some customers request a more “natural”-looking stone to further celebrate their loved one’s individuality.

Diamond inclusions are what make each diamond inimitable. When it comes to a diamond that is special to you, it's all personal preference. Whether you love the clarity of a nearly flawless diamond or the distinctive idiosyncrasies of visible inclusions, there's no one right answer. What's important is your connection to the stone and what it means to you.