By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine
I recently was introduced to a lady that was wearing a green diamond solitaire ring. My interest in diamonds is weighed only by how large and shiny one is. But I have to admit this one was exceptional. Although not large by most standards, the color alone seemed to make the stone jump out at me. Enough so I had to ask the owner about it.
I was told it was a family piece owned by her mother. It was a gift from her father to her mother many years ago. Her father being in the oil business in Houston, Texas had the money to purchase such an extravagant gift early in their marriage. It weighed 1.999 carats and was mounted on a simple gold solitaire mounting. The character of the piece was carried by its green color. She said a recent appraisal by a gemologist in our area had revealed the stone was enhanced giving it the green color.
I had not heard of stones being enhanced but was told there is a process for all sorts of enhancements for the treatment of clarity as well as color. Clarity enhancements are done to remove or reduce any dark carbon inclusions or to fill any fractures in the stone. Removing the carbon inclusions is done by laser drilling with a surgical laser and soaking the diamond in sulfuric acid dissolving the carbon. This technique was developed in the 60’s. This reduces the visibility of the carbon and enhances the clarity. Fracture filling has been done for a few thousand years. In the beginning simple materials such as wax was used. Today there are secret formulas of lead based glass as well as silicone being used to fill those fractures and give continuity to the clear appearance of the stone.
As for color enhancements the colors are from radiation treatments of 4 various methods. The green diamond I was shown was known as a cyclotroned diamond. Cyclotroned diamonds have a green to blue green color and are treated only on the surface using gamma rays.
All methods are known to gemologist and each of these enhancements can be seen by them when the stone is under a microscope. This is a known part of the diamond trade not often discussed with the purchaser but apparently determines the appraisal value of each and every stone. I can only wonder if the price of the stone is enhanced as well.
As writers we too enhance our product. Many of our stories have been enhanced in various ways to improve the appearance of our characters, settings or tales. Our little gems are similar from those dug from the earth. We may cut, polish, laser and fill to enhance the original. In the end our little gems, like the green diamond, may never be known as enhanced unless it is told. Let’s keep them guessing.