It’s rare, but even though diamonds are the hardest mineral, they can chip or even crack. The reason is that diamonds aren’t uniformly strong throughout their inner crystalline structure. They have certain lines and points of weakness and strength, based on their inner structure. These are what allow diamond cutters to study and diamond and then cut it by striking it with precise, hard blows.
They’re also what allow an unfortunate accidental blow (rarely) to chip or crack a diamond mounted on a ring or other jewelry you may be wearing.
How can you recognize the signs of a cracked diamond? How can you tell the difference between a cracked diamond and a flaw which was in the diamond all along? How can you distinguish the signs of a cracked diamond from the signs of a scratch, a chip, or dirt?
A Cracked Diamond is Rare
Most often, what an owner fears may be signs of a cracked diamond don’t indicate a crack after all. A diamond is 10 out of 10 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness, so it requires a precise blow from another very hard object in order to crack or chip it.
In most cases, even if you were trying to crack or chip your diamond, you’d find it very difficult.
Usually, what appears to be a crack in a diamond turns out to be one of the following instead:
- An inclusion (natural flaw in the diamond) which was there all along
- An optical illusion from debris or dirt which has stuck to the diamond
Consequently, the mere appearance of a possible crack or chip in your diamond is not yet cause for alarm.
First, Wash Your Diamond Gently
- Get two bowls, preferably with dark interiors.
- Get a soft toothbrush.
- Mix a bit of gentle dishwashing soap and warm water in one of the bowls.
- Hold your diamond ring over the other bowl.
- Dip the toothbrush into the soapy water and gently clean your diamond ring while holding it over the empty bowl. Spend 30 seconds gently brush your diamond.
- Rinse the toothbrush in clean water, and apply it to your diamond until all the soap is rinsed off.
- It’s very unlikely, but if your diamond, or any parts of your diamond, fall off, the bowl over which you’re holding it will catch them.
- Allow your diamond to air dry. If you’re anxious or in a hurry, a blow dryer will speed the process.
- Now examine your diamond again. Is the apparent crack still there? If not, then it was just some debris or dirt.
You Can Feel a Chip Along the Edge of a Facet With Your Fingernail
Can you feel a chip which wasn’t there before, when you run your fingernail along all the facets, and the edges where the facets join? This may indicate that a crack has formed. Can you see a cloudy or clear white line in the diamond near the point where you feel the indentation? That’s more indication that your diamond may have a crack.
You can detect some movement of your diamond inside its setting
Far more often than cracks in a diamond, the gemstone simply works loose inside the setting. Wobbling of the gemstone alone is not a sign of a cracked diamond. When wobbling is present together with visual evidence of a possible crack (obvious chipping, a white line, cloudiness which wasn’t there before), it’s a more serious indication of a cracked diamond.
Examine Your Diamond’s Records, If You Have Them
If the signs of a crack in your diamond are still there, then start with your diamonds records, if you can lay hands on them easily.
Most highly reputable online retailers such as James Allen, Blue Nile, James Gains, and others, provide high resolution imaging of your diamond — at least before the sale. If you saved images of your diamond at the time you purchased it, you can compare the images of it as new to your view of it now. This comparison will reveal whether the apparent crack or chip is new, or whether it was part of the diamond as sold when new.
You can also examine your diamond’s GIA or AGS grading report. These require some skill to interpret, so this may be a step you prefer to take later, if at all, since you may need the help of a trained gemologist to know if the inclusions described in the grading report include the one that you see on your diamond now.
Examine Your Diamond Under a Magnifying Glass, or a Loupe
Using a 10x jewlery loupe, which you can order from many sources online, makes visual examination of a possibly cracked diamond much easier and clearer. Loupes can be had for only a few dollars.
In the meantime, while you wait for delivery, it’s a good idea to store your diamond safely and not to continue to wear it. If it is cracked, then it may also be loose in the setting, since a blow sufficient to crack a diamond could also easily damage small prongs of gold or platinum.
Is It an External Crack or a Feather Which Was There All the Time?
A “feather” in a diamond is a kind of inclusion, or flaw, which was there from the beginning. They look very much like cracks. Feathering in a diamond is internal. It’s generally of no risk to the diamond’s integrity or strength.
Sometimes owners notice feathering in diamond for the first time, and believe that it may be sign of a crack. In reality it was there all along. It is also sure to be noted on the diamond’s GIA or AGS grading report.
Are you viewing your diamond for the first time outside of its setting? This can happen when a diamond falls out of its setting. The owner is naturally very concerned. Plus it’s an unusual opportunity to look close, from all angles, at the diamond. They then might see feathers in the diamond which they never noticed before. The feathers were concealed because they are visible only from underneath the diamond. This is common in great buys known as “eye clean” diamonds.
An eye clean diamond is sold with the flaws clearly noted in its grading report. But the flaws are invisible from the top of the diamond when it it mounted on a ring and worn on a hand.
But when anyone examines the diamond outside of the setting, they may notice a feather inclusion for the first time, and assume it may be a sign of a crack in the diamond. This fear is accentuated because the diamond recently fell out of the setting. It’s impossible that a diamond would crack as a result of a fall. But naturally, the failure of the setting is associated in the owner’s mind with the newly-noticed feathering. It’s easy to jump to the worry that the diamond may be cracked.
What are some activities that can (albeit rarely) result in a cracked diamond?
I can’t emphasize enough that it’s extremely rare for a diamond to crack as a result of an owner wearing it for virtually any activity.
Almost always, the apparent crack turns out to be either debris or a feather which was there all along.
But it does happen. Just the wrong blow along just the cleavage plane in a diamond can crack it. These blows can happen in activities such as:
Working with tools on an automobile or other large mechanical environment
Working out at the gym
Bicycling (if the diamond grazes a brick wall or rock face, etc.)
Everyday life such as an accidental graze of a brick wall while walking, or grazing concrete in a fall
My point here is only that, in most cases, it’s unlikely that a blow sufficient to crack your diamond could befall it without your notice. It takes a lot of speed or a lot of force.
Have a Qualified Jeweler Examine Your Diamond to Know for Sure
The only way for a non expert to know for sure whether possible signs of a cracked diamond indicate a feather, or another kind of inclusion, or actual damage to a diamond, is to consult a trained professional.
Many online jewelers, including James Allen and Blue Nile, will clean and examine your diamond ring for life, if you purchased it from them. That’s a valuable service, even if you’re not worried about any signs of a cracked diamond.
Regular cleaning (every six months or so) and inspection helps prevent a far more common problem, which is lost diamonds. Unlike diamonds themselves, settings are not nearly indestructible. The prongs must be inspected to be sure that they remain strong and tight. They will need repair or tightening from time to time.
What if your diamond is cracked
If your diamond is cracked, it’s not possible to repair it to the condition it was before. However, depending on the location of the crack and the size of your diamond, it may be possible for a diamond cutter to recut your diamond. It would be smaller afterward, of course. But it would again be a solid gemstone, without a crack. The costs vary. They may be in the ballpark of $300 to $600.
Consult Your Retailer and Your Insurance Agent
Other remedies of course include replacements, if your diamond is under warranty. Be sure to contact the retailer where you bought the diamond. It might be under warranty still. Even if you think it’s not under warranty, it won’t hurt to call them and consult.
Homeowners’ insurance may also cover some of the costs of replacing the diamond, depending on the policy.
Questions? Feel Free to Contact Me
I’m here to answer your questions about diamonds, engagement rings, and how to get exactly what you want at a budget you planned for.