To worry or not to worry, that is the question. Some gem enthusiasts have probably asked themselves this very question when speaking of feather inclusions in gemstones. However, knowing what to look for can help to alleviate some of their concerns.
But first, for those that may not know, what exactly is a feather inclusion? An inclusion is any material that is trapped inside a mineral while it is forming. A good example is when you see a piece of amber that has an insect trapped inside. The insect in this situation is the inclusion. When speaking in terms of gems, an inclusion is a characteristic trapped inside the gem or possibly reaching its surface. Feathers are small cracks that occur inside the gem itself. So if we have a crack or “feather” “included” or inside the gem, we have a feather inclusion.
Now that we know what a feather inclusion is, let’s discuss why it’s such a worry. The biggest worry for most about feather inclusions is that they have the potential of being durability risks. Many forget the rigors a gemstone has to go through just to become a diamond, or whatever gemstone you may prefer, that you typically see on the market in the first place. After being formed through intense heat and pressure, it then has to undergo the emplacement process of being shoved to the Earth’s surface. Once it’s mined, it goes through another process of actually forming, polishing, and cleaning which includes being boiled in acid. After all of this abuse, do you really think a very small crack is going to cause this tough little stone to break? Well, maybe.
The durability risk depends on how far the feather inclusion runs in the gem and where it goes. If it is a minor feather and does not reach the top surface of gem, it’s not that big of a concern. However, if the feather does run through the gem, or runs through a large portion of it, and reaches the surface, it is a durability concern. The top of a gem is the most common place for accidental bumps and bangs. If a gem that has a feather inclusion that runs to the top is accidentally bumped hard enough it could break.
However there is no need to panic. There are very few perfectly flawless gems on the market and even if you found one, it would cost a fortune. A minor defect such as a feather inclusion should not turn potential buyers away. As long as one takes the time to carefully exam the gem to determine the severity of the feather, they will not be at risk of losing out on an investment by having their gemstone break on them. A feather inclusion is pretty easy to spot too. They have a feathery appearance, hence the name.
Remember, nearly every gemstone on the market today has defects. Do not let minor defects turn you away from a gem you might be interested in. Take your time and exam it carefully and you will not lose out.