I thought diamonds are indestructible. How did mine chip?
Posted on September 13 2021
Q: I thought diamonds are indestructible. How did mine chip?
Diamonds are the hardest known natural material, but not the toughest. In everyday speech the words hard and tough can be used interchangeably, but in gemology they have specific and separate meanings. Hardness is a material’s ability to resist scratches and toughness is a material’s ability to resist breakage or chipping, from physical force. The difference of terminology can be illustrated by comparing fine china to leather. A china plate is hard. It will chip or even break fairly easily if dropped but is hard enough to resist scratches by steel forks and knives. Conversely, leather boots will scratch easily with even a fingernail, but are tough enough to resist tearing or breaking.
Even though a diamond is the hardest gemstone, it is not the toughest, nephrite and jade are. Diamonds have a grain that is visible under a microscope and are subject to break at this point. Diamond cutters are trained to find these cleavage directions and break off pieces along precise angles based on the crystal structures of a diamond. An extremely hard blow to the girdle, or any susceptible angle, may cause a diamond to chip. You can keep your diamond intact for a lifetime by having it set in a relatively protective setting, and remaining conscious of it when it’s on your finger.
Hitting your ring at just the right angle with just the right impact could chip the diamond. That’s why the prongs are located along the girdle of your ring - to hold the diamond in place and prevent it from chipping.
Diamond Chip: Warning Signs
Besides being generally cautious when you’re wearing your diamond ring, there are also specific warning signs to look out for:
1. Make sure your prongs aren’t too-short, bent or missing.
Prongs play a big part in keeping your ring secure.
2. Give the ring the old shake test.
If it feels like it’s going to fly off your finger, bring it to us for a proper fitting and re-sizing.
If you think you may have a chipped diamond or potential damage to a prong, see us immediately for an inspection and we will assess your repair options. NEVER continue wearing a chipped ring. It’s at high risk of further damage.
Good news, though. A chip is not the end of the world. There are ways we can can deal with a chipped diamond, such as re-cutting the stone or even placing the diamond in another piece of jewelry. It could also be the perfect opportunity to upgrade to a larger diamond or that new setting you’ve had your eyes on.