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Cloudy Diamonds: What To Watch Out For

by Willyou.net * Sep 9, 2021

Key Takeaways

  • Clarity is obviously an important part of any decision when looking for that perfect engagement ring.
  • Inclusions are almost inevitable, but one thing to look out for is cloudiness.
  • A cloudy diamond is a diamond with a dull and murky appearance, and a disappointing lack of sparkle.
  • It may be that the cloud is so small, you still technically have an eye-clean diamond, but larger inclusions can lend to a diamond with no sparkle.
  • Diamonds with a cloudiness that effects its appearance and sparkle will, obviously, be visible to you. This is another reason why it is vital to see the diamond in person before you commit to it.
round cut diamond - cloudy diamonds

When you’ve fallen head over heels with the love of your life, it feels as though there’s not a cloud big or grey enough in the sky to ‘rain on your parade’ – unless, of course, that cloud happens to exist within a diamond you just spent thousands of dollars in, and intend to give to your future bride during what is supposed to be the greatest single moment of her life.

If we just set your mind worrying, then you can go ahead and calm down: cloudy diamonds are simple enough to avoid, provided you know what it is you’re trying to avoid, and where you need to go to ensure you don’t return home with a case of ‘bad weather’ in your pocket.

Diamonds are almost never perfect, and the one you choose will definitely have its own unique imperfections. With our help, however, those imperfections will be small enough to remain invisible – and to have no impact on the beauty of the diamond.

Cloudy diamonds are, for that reason, something to avoid entirely. Here’s why…

What is a Cloudy Diamond?

A diamond with a dull, milky, or lackluster appearance – and, for those same reasons, one that is distinctly lacking in sparkle. Cloudiness can be caused by significant cloud inclusions, or by strong fluorescence. 

A cloud is a particular type of inclusion, created by a small or large cluster of crystals within the internal structure of the diamond. Particularly large clouds can impact the overall appearance of a diamond, and make it appear cloudy.

Cloudy diamonds are considered to be far less valuable than eye clean diamonds, not least of all because, even if they are beautifully cut and polished, they offer little to no sparkle. Instead, they look hazy and lackluster, and will receive a very low clarity grade on the GIA scale.

Diamond fluorescence is an entire subject in and of itself – and one you should definitely be aware of when you start looking around for your diamond – but, for now, suffice to say that a strong fluorescence can also cause cloudiness in an otherwise beautiful diamond.

Is a Cloud in a Diamond Bad?

Not always. Cloud inclusions can be incredibly minor and, in some instances, still allow the diamond to appear eye clean. These are great investments, but cloudy diamonds with impaired sparkle are generally considered bad investments.

The best place to start is the diamond’s GIA Report. If the clarity grade listed sits within the ‘sweet spot’ for eye clean diamonds – say, around VS or SI – then chances are that any inclusions will be so minor that they won’t impact the appearance of the diamond, unless it is viewed under magnification. So, even if the diamond does feature a cloud inclusion, it won’t disappoint when you see it in person.

A cloudy diamond – that is, one that is so included that it has lost luster and sparkle – will have a much lower clarity grade, and is not worth going to view in person.

Do Old Diamonds Get Cloudy?

No matter how old a diamond is, it won’t suddenly develop inclusions, provided it is a real diamond in the first place.

Diamonds are billions of years old, and any diamond you encounter will have spent just a minute fraction of its life above the earth’s surface. They are strong and durable stones, and do not sustain significant damage all that easily.

Clouds, on the other hand, are a type of inclusion – something that occurs within the diamond during the course of its development. It is not something that happens ‘after the fact’.

Oils and dirt can coat the surface of a well-worn diamond, and this can dull an otherwise sparkly diamond. This simply means that the diamond needs to be cleaned more regularly – not that it is starting to deteriorate in quality.

Can a Cloudy Diamond be Fixed?

No, you cannot alter the internal structure of a diamond and, since cloudiness is created by particular inclusions that occur deep within the diamond, you cannot ‘change the weather’, so to speak, and make it less cloudy.

Modern day diamond cutting methods are incredibly precise, and have been specifically developed to save as much of the diamond’s size while cutting away any inclusions that would significantly alter the value and beauty of the finished article.

This means that, if you encounter a diamond with visible flaws, they are there because they have to be.

This couldn’t be truer than it is for cloudy diamonds, which are considered to be significantly less valuable on the market but, from time to time, still crop up. Just know that investing in one of these relatively inexpensive diamonds with a view to ‘fixing them’ will not pay off in the long run, and that you will be stuck with an inferior diamond if you decide to take this route.

Are Diamonds Supposed to be Cloudy?

While it is natural and expected for every diamond mined from the earth to feature inclusions, cloudiness is taken as a sure-sign of low clarity, and low desirability on the market (and in jeweler).

Like any diamond, cloudy diamonds have their own intriguing appearance. Their cloudiness is testament to the unpredictability of the earth’s raw forces, and the fact that they were formed under such ferocious conditions. For that reason alone, it is entirely natural and, in a sense, ‘right’ that a diamond would be taken from the earth with a distinctly cloudy appearance.

Nevertheless, this cloudy appearance undermines one of the diamond’s greatest assets: its sparkle. 

So, while cloudy diamonds are beautiful in their own right, they’re certainly not what any jeweler would recommend for jewelry – particularly a piece as important and anticipated as a diamond engagement ring. As curiosities, they’re great – on the finger of your beloved, not so much.

Do Lab Grown Diamonds Get Cloudy?

While it’s not common, some people have reported their lab diamond clouding up after prolonged exposure to sunlight.

Since lab grown diamonds are synthetic, they tend not to feature any inclusions or blemishes. This is something that will forever separate a real diamond from its engineered counterpart – the absence of those unique blemishes which, while rarely observable without a magnifying glass, represent a major part of a diamond’s billion-year history.

Still, the high clarity of some lab grown diamonds is let down by the fact that some wearers have reported discoloration over time. This can be due to overexposure to UV light, and, while often temporary, certainly lets down the appearance of what might have been a beautiful stone.

This phenomenon is far more common in lower quality lab grown diamonds but, given how difficult it is to tell the difference between one mass-produced synthetic diamond and another, it is always better to opt for real diamond.

Similarly, diamond simulants like cubic zirconia are well-known for their propensity to cloud-up over time – another reason why they’re so much less expensive.

So, Should You Consider a Cloudy Diamond?

No, we wouldn’t recommend any of our readers consider investing in a cloudy diamond. While some people are drawn to the natural inclusions within diamonds – after all, they tell a unique story about the diamond’s creation – a cloudy diamond is a step too far in our book.

Many of the very minor inclusions characteristic of SI diamonds can exist quite happily within diamonds without interrupting their beauty – or, just as importantly, their sparkle. You needn’t aim for clarity grades of VVS and IF in order to find the perfect diamond, so don’t take this as a sign that you’ll either get a perfect diamond, or a cloudy diamond.

Cloudy diamonds will be obvious to you – and, besides, a reputable jeweler would never attempt to sell you a cloudy diamond. Focus your search on clarity grades that tend to offer a wide variety of eye clean, well-priced diamonds – between VS and SI – and you can feel confident that your diamond’s sparkle will live up to expectations, without costing the earth.