Jewelry Blog

The Shopping Guide for a Cloudy Diamond

Cloudy Diamond Guide

Diamonds are not perfect, and a cloudy diamond is a good example. However, there are a ton of cloudy diamonds out there that are still beautiful. This write-up will tell you what you need to know about shopping for a cloudy diamond – what they are, the reasons why a diamond may become cloudy, how to clean a cloudy diamond, and so much more.

What Is a Cloudy Diamond?

Sorting Cloudy Diamonds by hand with Tweezer

A cloudy diamond, as the name suggests, is a diamond that appears foggy, hazy, or milky. A cloudy diamond is also called a milky diamond or a foggy diamond. These diamonds give far less sparkle compared to a clear diamond. For that reason, they are less expensive than a more transparent diamond because many consider them lifeless, dull, and less beautiful. Typically, the price of a cloudy diamond will be 20 to 30 percent less than the price of a non-cloudy diamond.

The sparkle a milky diamond gives off depends on how cloudy it is. If the diamond is not too cloudy, it should still be a beautiful stone.

Reasons for a Cloudy Diamond

There are various reasons why a diamond might become cloudy. Some of these reasons are because of the internal structure of the diamond and are unfixable. If the causes for cloudiness are external, then the problem can easily be fixed. Here’s a rundown of the reasons that might cause your diamond to appear milky or foggy.

Dirt

Examining loose diamond under loupe

Dirt is perhaps the most common cause of external cloudiness and shouldn’t be a cause for concern. When dirt and grime accumulate on the diamond’s facets, they block the light from being reflected on the ring, causing it to appear cloudy. Your fingerprint marks can also cause cloudiness. A quick wipe should restore your diamond’s sparkle in the latter scenario.

Internal Inclusion Patterns

Loose Cloudy Diamond on white background

Internal inclusions are another common reason for a foggy diamond. Think of inclusions as flaws. There are various types of inclusion patterns (more on this later). The more intense these inclusions are, the more cloudy and the less valuable the stone will be.

Cracks

examining cloudy diamond through loupe

Diamonds are the hardest stones in the world, but they can crack as a result of accidents. This can cause them to appear cloudy in some parts or even the entire diamond. The cloudiness that results from cracks is impossible to reverse, especially if the crack is right at the center of the diamond. If the diamond is large enough, it can be recut to eliminate the milky part. Some experts can also hide the crack using various settings to help mask the cloudiness.

Fluorescence

Cloudy Diamond held by tweezers

Fluorescence is the ability of a diamond to glow under ultraviolet light. This attribute can also cause the diamond to appear milky, especially if it has a strong fluorescence and the wearer is under direct sunlight. Fortunately, many diamonds do not have fluorescence, so you’re highly unlikely to notice any cloudiness, especially with the naked eye.

Greasy film 

Applying lotion to hands while wearing ring

If you handle oils, lotions, or food, your diamond will obtain a greasy film that will make the diamond you’re wearing appear cloudy. If your diamond is cloudy due to a greasy film, you can opt to take it to a professional jewelry cleaner or clean it yourself to regain its original brilliance and fire.

Smoked

Jeweler repairing cloudy diamond ring

If a diamond is exposed to extreme temperatures, it might form a white film that does not go away even when wiped. In this case, we say that a diamond has been smoked. This can be reversed by a professional diamond polisher.

How to Fix a Cloudy Diamond

Jeweler polishing diamond ring

Cloudy diamonds don’t give off a lot of sparkle, which can be pretty disappointing. It would help to know that there’s a chance you could fix your dull diamond. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

  • If the cloudiness of your diamond is caused by external factors, such as a greasy film or dirt, it’s possible to fix it and regain its original sparkle. The way to do so is by simply cleaning the ring using warm water, soap, and ammonia-based cleaners. If you can’t do it yourself, take it to a professional cleaner. Proper cleaning should bring back the sparkle if the cloudiness is caused by external dirt.
  • If a chip or a crack causes cloudiness, there are slim chances of reversing the effect, especially if the diamond stone is small and the crack is right at the center. However, if your diamond is large enough and the chip hits the edges of the diamond, you can have a diamond expert recut it or hide the chip for you using a setting.
  • If the fogginess of the diamond results from being smoked, you can have the diamond polished by an experienced diamond polisher.

Unfortunately, diamond cloudiness caused by internal imperfections and inclusions cannot be fixed.

Most Popular Types of Internally Cloudy Diamonds

Diamond I1 Clarity with Feathers-along the side of the brilliant cut
  • Actual “Cloud Inclusion” – This is a general term used to refer to a cluster of crystals that form very close to one another. The effect can negatively impact the transparency of a diamond, causing it to appear milky or foggy. If this cluster is tiny, then it shouldn’t cause any trouble.
  • Feather Inclusion: This is a fracture or a crack that takes the shape of a feather. These inclusions make your diamond look cloudy and can cause significant durability issues if they touch the stone’s surface.
  • Chips: These are small openings on the edge of the diamond. Chips don’t occur naturally. Instead, they are caused by accidents and knocks that may be caused by harsh conditions during everyday wear or during the crafting process. Chips can cause the diamond to appear cloudy in some parts. Fortunately, if a chip is tiny and the diamond is relatively large, the cloudiness can be fixed by recutting it or hiding it with a setting.
  • Pinpoints: These are very tiny inclusions. They are tough to locate, so they shouldn’t be a significant cause for concern. However, if your diamond has many scattered pinpoints, it will have a cloudy or foggy diamond look.

Expert Tip: During ring shopping, it’s best to visit a physical showroom and closely examine the inclusions of the ring you want to buy. There’s no way to determine the impact of inclusion without physically looking at the diamond. You can’t just rely on the word of the seller. If you’re buying the ring online, ensure the vendor provides high-quality images and videos that correctly display the inclusions so you don’t make uninformed purchase decisions.

Grading Scale for Cloudy Diamonds

Diamond Clarity Scale

Cloudy diamonds are graded according to the same scale as any other diamonds. As you would expect, they are more often found in the lower clarity grades than in the higher clarity grades. The best way to know the clarity of a diamond is by looking at what the GIA report that accompanies it states. If the diamond obtained cloudiness after purchasing it, you could take it back to the GIA so it can be recertified. The new report should list all the diamond’s current characteristics, including clarity.

Here’s a quick rundown of different clarity grades.

Flawless (FL)

This is the highest clarity grade a diamond can get. If the stone is graded as FL, it doesn’t have any noticeable blemishes, flaws, or inclusions under 10X magnification. These diamonds are rare, and you’ll only find them in select stores or during special exhibitions. As you would guess, it is even rarer to find a milky diamond or foggy diamond with this clarity grade.

Internally Flawless (IF)

These are diamonds that do not have any flaws on their surfaces under 10X magnification. These diamonds are usually found in high-end catalogs. They are scarce and hard to find in retail stores.

Very Very Slightly Included (VVS)

The blemishes in these diamonds are very hard to see, even under 10X magnification.

Very Slightly Included (VS)

These are perhaps the most common types of diamonds, and very few cloudy diamonds are likely to be found in this grade. The blemishes in this grade of diamonds are not difficult to spot under a 10X magnification.

Slightly Included (SI)

This is one of the lowest clarity grades a diamond can be given. Most cloudy diamonds are likely to be found in this grade. This clarity grade means flaws are very easy to notice under 10X magnification. Diamonds with SI2 may have blemishes that are visible to the naked eye. Generally, we advise our clients to steer clear of diamonds in this grade, especially those certified as SI2, unless they are very large.

Included (I)

This is the lowest level of clarity a diamond can ever grade. We recommend that our clients avoid these kinds of diamonds, especially if they want to sell the diamond in the future. You don’t need a microscope at this grade to see the blemishes because they are clearly visible to the naked eye. Many foggy diamonds are likely to be found in this grade.

A diamond that has too many blemishes is tough to sell. So avoid diamonds in this grade if you intend to keep these stones as an investment.

How to Clean a Cloudy Diamond Ring

Cleaning Engagement Ring Customer in Showroom

Many opt to take their cloudy diamonds to a jewelry store for professional cleaning. However, cleaning a foggy diamond is a straightforward process that you can do at home. To do so, follow these steps.

  1. Fill a bowl with warm water. Double-check that the water is not too hot so you don’t scald your hands.
  2. Add some detergent to the water and mix well until you get a homogenous, soapy solution.
  3. Soak your cloudy diamond in the soapy solution for approximately five minutes. This duration should be enough for all the dirt and debris to loosen.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix water with an ammonia-based cleaner, and dip the ring in it. Please avoid chlorine-based cleaners because they can react with the metals in the diamond and cause damage.
  5. Transfer the ring to another bowl with clean, lukewarm water, and wait for a few minutes.
  6. Take the cloudy diamond out of the water and gently brush it with a soft toothbrush. Give curvy areas particular focus because these parts tend to house grime and dirt.
  7. Rinse the ring and wipe it off with a dry piece of cloth. Don’t let the ring dry by itself because that will leave watermarks on the ring.
  8. Double-check that the ring is still in good working condition and not damaged anywhere before wearing.

To keep your ring’s sparkle, you must maintain a habit of cleaning it regularly. On average, it’s recommended that you clean your ring at least once a week. If you’re very hands-on and often get your hands dirty, you should make those visits to a professional jewelry cleaner even more often.

Please note that you can only clean a cloudy diamond and make it sparkle if it has a cloudy exterior. Internal clouds are impossible to clean.

How to Sell a Cloudy Diamond

Sell Cloudy Diamond Ring

Selling a cloudy diamond can be challenging because many aren’t happy with the amount of sparkle. Fortunately, it is not impossible. First, you need to take your cloudy diamond off its prong setting and take it to the GIA to get it certified. This helps you know the weight and the attributes of the diamond before you sell it. Then you need to know how to price your diamond. The pricing mostly depends on the cloudiness of the ring. The more cloudiness, the less expensive the diamond should be. If you’re having trouble pricing your diamond ring, it’s best to consult a reputable diamond expert to help you figure it out.

Once you have a price range in mind, you can list the diamond on online shopping websites such as Etsy and eBay. Please note that these websites take a commission, which might significantly affect your final resale value. So consider the commissions when deciding on the final price.

You can also resell the ring at a jewelry store or retailer. Unfortunately, many retailers are usually apprehensive about buying cloudy diamonds because they fear spending money on a product they may never sell again.

Additionally, you can ask your acquaintances if they might want to buy the ring.

Talk to a Diamond Expert

Afshin and Customer in Showroom Ring in Finger

If you have any questions about cloudy diamonds, Estate Diamond Jewelry is at your disposal. We have a talent pool of experts who have decades of experience. They will be able to answer any of your questions or concerns.

We also have a collection of beautiful cloudy and even non-cloudy diamond rings, just in case you want to purchase one for yourself or your partner. Feel free to visit our New York showroom or contact us for an online video consultation.

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About Afshin Shaddaie

Afshin moved to New York City in the 1980s, and a few years later, he began his career in the fine and rare jewelry scene. He teamed up with Michael Khordipour, and they've been curating vintage jewelry ever since. He also regularly contributes to Forbes, Rapaport, CNBC, The Knot, and Insider. Afshin constantly travels to international shows and private viewing events in the hope of finding rare vintage rings that will be important enough to make an impression. He is available for appointments at our New York showroom when he's not traveling. In 2019, Afshin authored his book called The Engagement Ring Guide for Men. He is considered one of the world's foremost authorities on vintage jewelry and antique diamonds. His favorite jewelry era is Art Nouveau, and he loves rare Italian jewelry from the 1950s - 1970s. The Natural Saltwater Pearl is his favorite precious jewel.