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How long do enhanced diamonds last?

Diamonds have long been prized for their beauty, brilliance, and durability. However, not all diamonds are created equal. Some diamonds have internal flaws or inferior color that detracts from their appearance. Fortunately, modern technology now allows jewelers to enhance the appearance of diamonds through treatments and processes like laser drilling, fracture filling, irradiation, and HPHT (high pressure, high temperature) annealing.

Laser Drilling

One common diamond enhancement technique is laser drilling. This involves using a laser to drill a tiny hole into spots where a diamond has internal flaws like black carbon inclusions. Once the inclusions are accessed, the jeweler can then bleach the inclusions through acid treatments. This makes the impurities less visible and improves the diamond’s clarity grade. The process leaves only microscopic drill holes that are invisible to the naked eye.

Laser drilling can vastly improve the apparent clarity of included diamonds. However, it’s important to note that laser drilling is considered a permanent enhancement. The internal flaws are still present, they are just less noticeable after bleaching. For this reason, laser drilled diamonds may require special care over time.

The holes from laser drilling do make it possible for the diamond to chip or break if struck along one of those weak points. However, this is relatively rare for a few key reasons:

  • The drill holes are microscopic, reducing the chance of fracture.
  • Modern lasers create very small, shallow holes that mitigate risk.
  • The holes follow the path of already existing feather inclusions.
  • Diamonds themselves are the hardest material on Earth.

While laser drilled diamonds can last a lifetime with proper care, it’s possible for some of the drill holes to accumulate debris over many years, slightly reducing clarity. But overall, the enhancements from laser drilling are considered permanent and stable.

Fracture Filling

Diamonds with significant fractures may be candidates for fracture filling. This process involves using a specialized glass-like resin to fill the diamond’s natural fractures and cracks. When done properly, this makes the fractures nearly invisible to the naked eye. This can improve the apparent clarity by several grades and remove distractions from large or noticeable internal flaws.

However, there are some important considerations when it comes to fracture filled diamonds:

  • The filling is considered semi-permanent and could potentially need re-treatment over time. As the diamond is worn, the filler material may dislodge or loosen.
  • The diamond may require special care during certain activities like vigorous cleaning and exercise.
  • There is often a visible bright line under magnification where the filler meets the natural diamond.
  • The diamond’s clarity grade remains the same because the fractures still exist.

Experts recommend having fracture filled diamonds periodically rechecked by a jeweler to ensure the filler is intact. With occasional maintenance as needed, fracture filling can produce stable enhancements that make inclusions less obvious for many years of wear.


Irradiated diamonds undergo controlled exposure to radiation which alters the diamond’s molecular structure. This can change diamonds that contain nitrogen impurities to a more desirable blue or black color. Irradiated diamonds may be color graded as fancy colored diamonds if the color change is significant enough.

The color produced by irradiation is permanent and stable. However, there are certain identification features that distinguish natural fancy colored diamonds from irradiated diamonds:

  • The color is evenly distributed in irradiated diamonds, unlike natural fancy colors which show uneven patchiness.
  • Irradiated diamonds often luminesce bright yellow under UV light, unlike most natural fancy colors.
  • The diamond may contain other identifiable features like black feathers or dark dots indicating past irradiation.

As long as the irradiation was performed correctly, the induced color should remain unchanged for the lifetime of an irradiated diamond. However, the value of these diamonds is significantly less than equivalent natural fancy colors since the color was artificially generated.

HPHT Annealing

HPHT stands for “high pressure, high temperature”. Some diamonds contain irregularities in their molecular structure which can be mitigated through controlled exposure to extreme heat and pressure. Placing imperfect diamonds in an HPHT press under carefully managed conditions can improve diamonds in several ways:

  • Color Improvement – Exposure to high heat and pressure can make yellowish diamonds whiter by repairing defects that caused undesirable color.
  • Clarity Enhancement – HPHT can dissolve or rearrange inclusions, improving apparent clarity.
  • Fracture Filling – Cracks and fractures can be partially healed under extreme HPHT conditions.

HPHT treatment is one of the few enhancement techniques that may actually improve upon some of a diamond’s natural qualities. The changes made to the diamond’s physical and optical properties under HPHT conditions are permanent. However, HPHT annealing is difficult to detect with certainty, since no obvious identifying features are present after treatment.

Summary of Enhancement Longevity

If administered properly by a qualified professional, many diamond enhancement techniques produce stable, long-lasting improvements. Here is a quick summary of how long common diamond enhancements typically endure with occasional maintenance:

Enhancement Type Expected Longevity
Laser Drilling Permanent, stable for a lifetime of wear
Fracture Filling Semi-permanent, may need periodic re-filling
Irradiation Permanent induced color, no re-treatment needed
HPHT Annealing Permanent changes to diamond’s properties

Caring for Enhanced Diamonds

While enhancement techniques produce relatively stable and long-lasting results, it’s still important to care for enhanced diamonds properly. Here are some tips:

  • Avoid exposing laser drilled diamonds to harsh impacts that could cause fracturing.
  • Inspect fracture filled diamonds periodically for loose filler material.
  • Clean enhanced diamonds gently to avoid dislodging filler.
  • Remove enhanced diamonds before strenuous activities where blows or pressure could damage weaker zones.
  • Have an enhanced diamond periodically re-checked by a jeweler to ensure treatments are intact.

Enhanced diamonds that undergo re-treatment as needed can provide beauty and brilliance for a lifetime. While not as inherently durable as untreated diamonds, enhancements like laser drilling and fracture filling can vastly improve appearance. With occasional maintenance and care, enhanced diamonds can be worn and enjoyed for generations.

Enhanced Diamond Value Considerations

It’s important to note that enhanced diamonds have lower value compared to equivalent natural diamonds without enhancements. This is because:

  • The enhancements alter the diamond’s natural state.
  • There may be costs for periodic re-treatment to maintain effects.
  • Enhanced diamonds require more care and monitoring.
  • Buyers prefer natural diamonds with optimal qualities when investing for the long term.

However, enhanced diamonds provide budget friendly options for people who prioritize size, visual appeal and personal meaning over investment value and resale price. Enhanced diamonds can offer beautiful, brilliant options at more accessible price points for buyers.

Selecting an Enhanced Diamond

If considering an enhanced diamond, be sure to select a reputable jeweler that provides full disclosure about all treatments the diamond has undergone. Ideal enhancement candidates should have internal flaws situated to maximize treatment potential. Avoid diamonds with poor cut or color, since enhancements cannot correct these. The diamond grading report should state if any enhancements were detected and describe the effects on clarity and appearance. Insist on documentation of all disclosures when purchasing.

Enhanced diamonds offer an affordable way to maximize perceived size and sparkle. With proper understanding and care, enhancement techniques can produce diamonds that will dazzle for years to come. Work with a jeweler you trust to select an ideal candidate that will provide lasting beauty and enjoyment.


Diamond enhancements like laser drilling, fracture filling, irradiation, and HPHT can produce permanent improvements that make diamonds brighter, clearer, and more beautiful. While not as inherently durable as untreated diamonds, enhancements can last a lifetime with periodic maintenance as needed. Caring for enhanced diamonds properly is important to maintain the longevity of improvements. Although enhanced diamonds have lower monetary value, they provide budget-friendly options for achieving gorgeous looks and maximum sparkle. By selecting diamonds with characteristics optimized for treatment success, enhancements can produce diamonds of lasting quality and beauty.