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I1 Clarity Diamond with a feather- should I be worried?


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Hi Everyone,

I found the forum as I was looking for more information on feathers in  diamonds with I1 clarity. I am hoping some of you are experienced gemologists and can give me your professional expertise?

The diamond I found is 1.7 carat, color E, clarity I1. With the exception of (what I can tell) 1 feather, it is eye clean. The problem is that the feather appears to be on the side of the table, near the girdle, which based on my research is a no-buy (due to the lower clarity and high risk of chipping). That being said, the feather appears to be so light that I am very much willing to buy the diamond and risk it (given that I can insure it). Here is a link to the diamond. If any of you can provide professional experience, I would very much appreciate it.


Also, I would be interested to hear if you think insuring it will be a problem. It is hard for me to understand why insurance companies will insure something with a crack in it- it is just a matter is time to break???

I will appreciate any advice- thank you!




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As far as I can tell from the video the feather is nowhere near the girdle; it is parallel to the table about 1/3 of the way down the pavilion, which is about as safe as can be for setting. However, a video is NOT a good way of assessing any integrity risks; taking the stone physically to who is going to set it and asking them about that risk is a much better way to solve the issue. If that "who" is James Allen, any material risks are theirs independent of your insurance. Incidentally, the risk depends in a pretty significant way on the setting design and materials too.

Insurance - why do you care? It's a problem of the insurance company, and I don't know of any that refuse cover on the basis of clarity. The fact that they are willing to insure it and usually at the same price/value ratio as a VVS tells you something about the probability of accidental fracture in everyday life (and the fact that most insurers are unwilling to insure loose stones independent of clarity tells you something about the probability of accidents happening at the point of setting - however expert/specialist insurers will insure loose stones, which also tells you something...).

Feathers - even I1 and I2 feathers - are not "just a matter of time before they break". The diamond was cut with the feather in it (or the feather developed in its current state during cutting); the temperature and pressure experienced during cutting will not be equalled at any other point in the diamond's life, including the setting process, unless the diamond is re-cut. Does it make it a totally safe bet that it will never break? No, but it's very very far from a certainty.

All this said - based on the video, the diamond while not disfigured has (in my view) its appearance materially - not lightly - impacted by the feather. Are you sure you want to buy it? To quote Neil, another one of the experts here, "a good price on the wrong thing is not a bargain".

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Hi Davide,

Thank you so much for your response. It is super helpful to hear from an expert.

On the durability issue: you are correct, James Allen will set it up (If I decide to buy it). Based on your response, it sounded like the biggest risk for the diamond is during the installation. Since the stone will be in their possession during that time, I am not worried if it cracks then. I am much more worried about cracking as a result of regular wear . It sounded though that the possibility that to happen is very slim (given the location of the feather). Please correct me if I am wrong.

On the issue of how the diamond appearance is impacted by the feather, maybe you can help me here? I can see the feather on the video (although it took me a while,) but I've been told my James Allen that the diamond will appear eye clean. I don't know if this is true or not.  I am trying to save myself from buying the diamond and returning it.  I know I will get my money back but I don't want to be disappointed.

About your final comment on whether it is worth buying, I am in that stage of my life (I am only 32 and I am trying to save money for other things), when I can't afford a really expensive diamond so I am willing to compromise. My plan is to keep the diamond for 5-6 years and then trade it for another one. Which if cracks might be a problem, since it needs to be in original condition so James Allen can accept it back. That being said, if ensured, I should not have a problem getting my money from the insurance company, correct?

Again, thank you for your help!


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13 hours ago, wandawoo said:

It sounded though that the possibility that to happen is very slim

Yep. I would say it's practically zero in ordinary circumstances. Now, if you take a hammer...

13 hours ago, wandawoo said:

the diamond will appear eye clean

That depends on your definition of "eye clean". The feather is not going to be immediately visible as a dark, highly contrasting inclusion would be, but - in the video at least (and to my eyes at least) - it interferes greatly with the transparency of the stone and it seems to make it significantly less lively. Now, all this is 1) based off a 30 seconds video, which is not conclusive proof of anything, and 2) my personal opinion only: we all have different tastes and appreciate different things even in the same object.

13 hours ago, wandawoo said:

I can't afford a really expensive diamond so I am willing to compromise

It's all relative. I know plenty of people for whom your budget is a total dream, and pretty much anyone buying a diamond has to make trade offs on something (even if you have $100,000,000 to spend, a 10 carat natural red diamond may not be available for sale...). However there are plenty of other trade-offs that can be made, from size to colour to simply looking for another I1 with a less aesthetically bothering inclusion. Again - it's bothering to me, and that may be because I look at diamonds in a given way; there is nothing wrong with I1 per se, and I am very happy to have bought a few I1 diamonds set in pieces that my wife enjoys.

Ultimately, the only valid test is for you to see the diamond in real life and preferably to compare it to a few alternatives, however disappointing the result of the comparison may end up being. Do bear in mind that as people get more familiar with objects they do see more details, and what was acceptable (or "invisible") on day 1 sticks out like a sore thumb on day 100.

13 hours ago, wandawoo said:

My plan is to keep the diamond for 5-6 years and then trade it for another one.

Which is fine, as long as James Allen is still honouring their "trade in" policy in 5-6 years time... and your other half is happy with waiting 5 years with that diamond on her finger. I don't mean to sound catastrophic, but 5 years is a pretty long time.

13 hours ago, wandawoo said:

if ensured, I should not have a problem getting my money from the insurance company, correct?

That depends very much on the terms of the insurance policy. Most household policies are on a replacement basis: you don't get monetary compensation; the insurance company purchases a replacement item of "equivalent quality". However JA is unlikely to recognise a replacement stone as acceptable to honour their upgrade policy 100% (all possible controversies on "but ours was a much nicer stone, and worth x% more").

This is not necessarily an issue "because of the I1", since the stone really is not likely to shatter, but it is an issue in more general terms due to potential loss or theft (and "minor" damage; sometimes I see jewellery that seems to have been used to open tuna cans), if your firm plan is to upgrade at some point in the mid-term.

Edited by davidelevi
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An insurance policy is not an agreement to buy a stone from you at a particular price or to pay that price in the case of loss or destruction.  They are agreeing to a MAXIMUM limit of liability, not an expected limit. As mentioned above, usually the issue is that they will replace or repair the item with another of 'like kind and quality' or words to that effect. 

As mentioned, the JA trade-in program is a contractual relationship with that particular company. Do not expect another jeweler to accept it as a trade-in for the same offer. That's ok, JA is a good outfit, but these offers are about the company, not so much the diamond. 

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I agree with all of the above but think the feather in this particular stone is larger and deeper than Davide sees.  Based solely on the video, and I agree this is not the best way to assess, I think the feather travels from the table to the pavilion, right through the girdle and about 20% into the stone.


I know these are hard to interpret, but with the added contrast it is possible to see the feather reaching through the girdle.  The danger is not so much from setting the stone as prongs would not go over that particular spot, but on the off chance the stone gets knocked at just the right angle, this feather would extend deeper into the stone.

If this were for an earring, I would not think twice, but as a stone for an engagement ring, I would keep searching.


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