Do Diamonds Need Breathing Holes To Be Real?

They say that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and it’s true that they offer an incredible sparkle unlike anything else. Breathing holes are often cited as a feature of a real diamond – so does this mean that diamonds without breathing holes are fake?

Diamonds do not need breathing holes, and many diamonds do not have breathing holes. As a natural carbon compound, diamonds do not need to breathe. Breathing holes are added to reduce fragility while the stone is being set and to allow the diamond to be cleaned more easily. 

There are lots of myths about breathing holes in diamonds and what they’re used for. I’m going to take a closer look at their true purpose and how to spot a real diamond without relying on the presence of breathing holes. 

Why Do Diamonds Have Breathing Holes?

Diamonds have breathing holes to prevent the stone from breaking and to provide access for cleaning. The breathing holes also help to encourage sweat to evaporate more easily, making diamond rings more comfortable to wear. 

The phrase “breathing holes” can be somewhat misleading for diamonds as it implies that the stone itself needs to be aired. This is not the case. 

The breathing holes are on the bottom of the diamond, out of sight. They’re included to make diamond rings more practical to wear and to prevent damage from occurring. 

The back of a diamond is very fragile, and even with the greatest care, it’s easy to shatter while setting the stone. The breathing holes on the diamond make it more resilient, reducing the possibility of damage

Diamonds are often used for engagement rings and other types of rings which are worn daily. This means that over time dirt, skin cells, soap, and sweat can accumulate, dulling the appearance of the diamond

The breathing holes provide convenient access for cleaning the diamond. Without the breathing holes, it would be difficult to clean out all the dirt effectively, making the diamond less sparkly. Tiny breathing holes provide microscopic access to the underneath of the diamond to eliminate all the tiny specks of grime. 

Strengthening the diamond and cleaning are the two primary reasons for breathing holes, but there is an additional benefit. 

The holes allow sweat and moisture to escape more easily, preventing irritation against the finger. This makes diamond rings more comfortable to wear, especially for sensitive skin. This isn’t the primary purpose for the breathing holes, but it’s another advantage. 

What Happens if There Are No Breathing Holes in My Diamond?

Most diamonds will have breathing holes because of the many benefits it provides. However, it’s not absolutely imperative, and if the holes are absent, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your diamond is fake.

Not every real diamond will have holes in it, and a lack of breathing holes won’t affect the quality of your diamond. Some cuts of diamond don’t rely on breathing holes as heavily, so don’t panic if you can’t see any on your stone. 

The presence of breathing holes can be an indicator that your diamond is genuine, but don’t rely on this as the only way to judge authenticity. Holes can also sometimes be added to other stones to make the stone more comfortable to wear, so it’s not a failsafe sign. 

The good news is that there are other ways to tell if the diamond is real, and I’m going to examine those next. 

How Can I Tell if a Diamond is Real? 

If you put a diamond against a fake gem, the chances are that you’d be able to tell them apart right away. Diamonds have a pure sparkle which is almost impossible to capture synthetically. 

However, if you’re not sure, experts recommend a few different ways for you to check whether a diamond is real:

Drop the diamond in a glass of waterReal diamonds are very high density which means that when dropped in water, they sink to the bottom. A stone that bobs near the surface isn’t a real diamond.
Huff your breath onto the diamondWhen breathed on, a fog will appear on a diamond but disappear very quickly. With fakes, the fog will take much longer to dissipate. This is because diamonds conduct heat very effectively, and cause it to disperse quickly.
Drop a heated diamond into a glass of cold waterWith a cold glass of water on standby, use a flame (e.g. a lighter) to heat the diamond for up to 40 seconds. Drop the diamond in the cold water instantly; a true diamond will show no reaction. Warning: if it’s not a diamond, the stone will probably shatter in the cold water!
Place the diamond over newspaper printIf you can read the print through the stone, it’s not a real diamond (even if it’s a bit blurred). This is because real diamonds don’t refract light in a straight line but in different directions. This makes it impossible to read through the stone.

Not all of these tests are practical to carry out, especially if you’re concerned about damaging the stone if it’s not a true diamond. The best way is always to get an expert to check for authenticity. 

Do Real Diamonds Need To Breathe?

Diamonds are a natural compound formed from carbon at high temperatures, which have been moved rapidly to the surface of the Earth. Fun fact: if the diamond hadn’t moved so quickly to the surface of the Earth, it would have formed into graphite instead!

The solid nature of diamonds means that they don’t expand or contract with heat. Unlike other gemstones, such as pearls, diamonds are inorganic. They are formed in extreme heat in the center of the Earth and don’t need to breathe to keep their radiant shine. 

In fact, if you’re not wearing your diamond ring, it’s advisable to keep it in an airtight bag. This prevents moisture or condensation from tarnishing the metal while also keeping the stone safe. There is no requirement at all for diamonds to be able to breathe.

Do Breathing Holes Help the Diamond To Sparkle?

One of the biggest myths is that breathing holes are added to diamonds to increase their sparkle by refracting more light. This is not the case; as described above the holes are to facilitate cleaning and add strength. 

While very practical, the breathing holes do not increase the sparkle of the diamond by reflecting more light as claimed. This is confirmed by the fact that the holes are situated on the bottom of the ring, not the top surface. There would therefore be no way for the holes to increase the distribution of light.

However, by providing more convenient access for cleaning, the breathing holes do help diamonds to sparkle more. Diamonds that aren’t cleaned periodically can become dull as the build-up of dirt prevents light from refracting efficiently throughout the stone. 

So although the claims of breathing holes being essential to reflect more light aren’t strictly true in a roundabout way, the holes DO help diamonds to keep their sparkle!

Final Thoughts

If your diamond has breathing holes, that can be a good sign as it means it will be easier to clean in the longer term. However, the absence of breathing holes doesn’t mean that your diamond is fake or of lower quality. For some cuts of diamonds, breathing holes are less important. Plenty of real diamonds don’t have breathing holes, but if you’re in any doubt about the authenticity, you should consult a diamond expert.

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