How does a diamond get chipped/cracked

posted 3 years ago in Rings
Post # 3
Member
3112 posts
Sugar bee

@btothez:  I’m sorry!  I didn’t mean to make anyone paranoid with that thread!

Post # 4
Member
8282 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2012

I’ve always wondered this myself. I always thought a diamond can’t chip or crack. Hopefully some bees can give us some answers. 

Post # 6
Member
716 posts
Busy bee

Diamond is the hardest known mineral, that doesn’t mean it’s indestructible.  Diamonds can chip or break if they are hit hard enough.

Like anything, one needs to be careful and jewelry worn daily needs service and maintenance.

Post # 7
Member
164 posts
Blushing bee

@btothez:  There’s a difference between hardness and ‘toughness’. While its true it’s the hardest natural mineral and can only be scratched by another diamond, it’s actually quite brittle. A sudden sharp blow can crack a diamond.

There are certain things that make a dimaond more prone to cracking, such as a feather inclusion at the top or on the girdle of the diamond, or a thin or extremely thin girdle. Think of a feather as a natural fissure in the diamond. As for the thin girdle, imagine if you take any hard material, shave it down very thin, put it on an edge and hit it… sooner or later it’ll break.

Feather inclusions are common in the SI and I clarity grades, but it’s the location of the inclusion that matters. Anything higher than SI1 normally aren’t at risk (graded by reliable labs like AGS/GIA only).

Regardless of inclusions/girdles, diamonds have natural cleavage planes and even an IF/FL thick girdle diamond can chip/crack with the right force. 

Post # 9
msjackrabbitMember
1080 posts
Bumble bee

My favourite analogy is glass vs wood.

If you scrape the glass across the wood, the wood will scratch – as the glass is harder.

But bash them both together, and the glass will break, because wood is tougher.

That’s how I like to think about it 🙂

Post # 10
Member
10384 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2010

Hardness and brittleness are two very different things :-).

Post # 11
Member
409 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

Diamonds might be hard, but there are obviously stronger materials because we can cut them into a desireable shape.

Usually when diamonds break in a ring it’s just bad luck because the stone had some sort of inclusion (which is a visual and chemical flaw in the carbon structure) and it was hit with just enough force and at the right angle/location to crack, chip or break in that weak spot.

Post # 12
Member
1157 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

The most common scenarios that I have heard are that the diamond cracks along an inclusion, and that the corners of princess-cut diamonds are prone to chipping, particularly while being set. This is also why you usually see princess cuts with v-prongs that protect the corners (and your skin from the sharp corners!).

Post # 13
Member
823 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

@Miss Jackrabbit:  That’s a great explanation!

There’s lots of ways a diamond can chip.  I don’t have my e-ring yet, but I was told the jeweler chipped the diamond just setting it.  My mom chipped her diamond once when she banged her hand on a door jamb.  It chipped right on the girdle, which is I believe where most chips occur.

If you take normal precautions your ring should be fine.  And that’s what insurance is for anyway.

Post # 14
Member
3200 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2011

@btothez:  It has happened to a lot of bees.  I highly recommend insurance especially if this happens to your center stone.  

Post # 15
Member
6407 posts
Bee Keeper

Diamonds are quite tough, as well as hard.

It has to be hit hard, just right (on a cleavage plane) which is very rare, or the jeweler sets the diamond carelessly so that its culet area (the bottom tip of the damond) gets smashed into the setting (also very rare), or, more commonly, but still rare, it gets hit in a way that puts pressure on a weak spot (which will be an inclusion). The weakest type of natural inclusion is a feather, which is actually a crack in the diamond, however, all inclusions are points at which the diamond has less integrity. If these are near the edge of the diamond, it can especially be a probem.

Treated diamonds are more prone to chipping and cracking, as the processes used weaken the diamond. For example, radioactivity to change the diamond’s color also makes the diamond more brittle. Laser drilling causes, well, laser-caused cracks in the diamond.

If it is an untreated diamond with few inclusions, especially near the surface, it is unlikely to crack, even in the face of some serious abuse. Diamonds are extremely long-wearing gemstones, harder and more durable than just about anything. It’s normal to at first to feel like you have to baby your diamond, but you quickly get over it 🙂 I’ve dropped my diamond a bunch of times (before and after it was set in the ring) and whacked it into the same doorway, twice. All I have to show for it is a scab on my finger from the doorway where my ring wasn’t protecting my hand!

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