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Why do my diamonds look cloudy?

If your diamonds are looking cloudy or hazy, there are a few potential causes. The cloudiness could be due to surface buildup, structural imperfections within the diamond, or even the setting itself. Let’s take a closer look at why diamonds can appear cloudy and what you can do about it.

Surface Buildup

One of the most common reasons for cloudy looking diamonds is buildup on the surface of the stone. Dust, dirt, oil, lotions, and other contaminants can cause a film to form on the diamond that makes it appear dull and cloudy. This type of buildup is often only on the surface and can usually be cleaned off.

Cleaning your diamond jewelry regularly will help prevent this type of buildup. An ultrasonic cleaner or jewelry steamer can deep clean diamond jewelry and remove most surface buildup. For light cleaning, you can use a soft toothbrush and warm soapy water. It’s important to thoroughly rinse and dry your diamonds after cleaning to remove any leftover soap residue.

Here are some tips for keeping your diamonds sparkling clean:

  • Avoid wearing diamond jewelry when applying lotions, perfumes, hair products etc. These can leave a film.
  • Take rings off before doing household chores and gardening. Exposure to chemicals and dirt can cause buildup.
  • Store diamond jewelry in a fabric-lined box or pouch to prevent scratches from contact with other metals and gems.
  • Remove diamonds before swimming, exercising, showering. Chlorine, sweat, and soap scum buildup over time.
  • Bring your diamonds in for professional steam or ultrasonic cleaning every 6-12 months.

Regular cleaning and care will help prevent this type of cloudiness in your diamonds.

Internal Imperfections

While surface buildup is the most common cause of cloudy diamonds, sometimes the cloudiness is originating internally within the diamond. All diamonds contain tiny natural imperfections. These imperfections are what give each diamond a unique fingerprint. Under magnification, trained gemologists grade clarity characteristics in diamonds on a scale from flawless to heavily included.

Depending on the size, type, and position of certain inclusions, some can impact the transparency of a diamond and make it appear hazy or cloudy when viewed with the naked eye. Here are some examples of diamond clarity characteristics that can potentially cause a cloudy appearance:

  • Clouds – Groupings of tiny pinpoint inclusions that can give a cloudy look.
  • Feathers – Fractures inside the diamond that look like wispy feathers.
  • Knots – Crystallized minerals or imperfections with a white knotted appearance.
  • Cavities – Small openings on the surface or inside the diamond.
  • Laser lines – Faint lines or trails left by clarity enhancement lasers.

While no diamond is perfectly flawless, most have inclusions that are invisible to the naked eye. However, certain types of inclusions can lower the clarity grade and cause a visibly cloudy or hazy look. The only way to improve the clarity of a diamond is through an enhancement process like laser drilling to minimize the appearance of inclusions.

Clarity Enhancement

Clarity enhancement is the process of improving the appearance of inclusions in diamonds through advanced laser or drilling techniques. The goal is to reduce visible inclusions that impact transparency and brilliance. Some popular clarity enhancement methods include:

  • Laser Drilling – Using a laser to drill into inclusions, improving appearance.
  • Fracture Filling – Filling fractures with a crystal clear substance to minimize visibility.
  • Acid Washing – Light acid solution used to dissolve external inclusions.

Clarity enhanced diamonds require special care. The openings and enhancements are vulnerable to buildup and liquid penetration. Cleaning must be done very gently. Ultrasonic and steam cleaning is not recommended. Discuss any special care instructions with your jeweler.

Determining Diamond Clarity

A jeweler or gemologist grades the clarity of diamonds on a scale established by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The GIA clarity scale contains the following ratings:

Clarity Grade Appearance
Flawless (FL) No inclusions visible under 10x magnification
Internally Flawless (IF) No inclusions visible, only minor surface blemishes
Very Very Slightly Included (VVS1 – VVS2) Minute inclusions difficult for experts to see
Very Slightly Included (VS1 – VS2) Minor inclusions visible under 10x magnification
Slightly Included (SI1 – SI2) Noticeable inclusions visible under 10x magnification
Included (I1 – I3) Obvious inclusions visible by the unaided eye

Diamonds graded Flawless through VS2 will not appear hazy or cloudy unless they have significant surface buildup. Once you get into the Slightly Included and lower ranges, visible inclusions may impact transparency. If your diamond is graded SI1 or below, inherent inclusions could be the reason for cloudiness.

The Diamond Setting

While surface buildup and internal clarity are the main causes of cloudy diamonds, sometimes the setting itself can be a factor. The following aspects of the setting can potentially impact the appearance of a diamond:

  • Prongs – Worn down, loose, or bent prongs allow the diamond to shift around, causing scratching and buildup.
  • Head/Gallery – Dirt and debris can collect under the gallery of a ring. Tight spaces under the diamond can prevent cleaning.
  • Under Gallery – Poor visibility under the head or gallery makes it hard to clean dirt trapped beneath the diamond.
  • Carats – Smaller diamonds can appear cloudy if the head or gallery sits too high off the shank.

A well-designed setting holds the diamond securely in place while allowing light to enter from all angles. Checking for issues like worn prongs, awkward galleries, and trapped debris can help improve the appearance of cloudy diamonds. An experienced jeweler can also adjust or replace the setting if needed.

Choosing a Diamond Setting

Certain setting characteristics can help minimize cloudiness. Here are some tips for selecting a diamond setting:

  • Open styles like prong, bezel and tension settings allow more light into the diamond.
  • Prongs should be strong, secure, and evenly matched in size/shape.
  • Simple, low-profile gallery designs improve visibility and access for cleaning under the diamond.
  • Consider carat weight – smaller diamonds can get lost in settings designed for larger stones.
  • Make sure the setting is sturdy enough to protect the diamond from impact and movement.

Choosing the optimal setting based on the diamond’s shape, cut quality, carat weight, and setting style can enhance its brilliance and minimize any cloudy appearance.


Cloudiness in diamonds is usually an easy fix. Gently cleaning the diamond, inspecting the setting, or improving the cut quality can restore sparkle and transparency in most cases. For diamonds with significant internal flaws, clarity enhancement is an option to minimize the visibility of inclusions.

To keep your diamonds looking their best:

  • Clean regularly with mild soap/water and rinse thoroughly.
  • Be selective about when and where you wear diamond jewelry.
  • Inspect settings periodically for damage – replace worn prongs and repair issues.
  • Bring diamonds to your jeweler for periodic steam or ultrasonic cleaning.
  • Consider clarity enhancement if internal inclusions are causing cloudiness.

Well-cut quality diamonds with minimal inclusions should not appear hazy or cloudy under normal conditions. With proper care and cleaning, your diamonds can maintain their sparkling brilliance for a lifetime.