Why Do Diamonds Sparkle?

Sep 26, 2022
Why Do Diamonds Sparkle?

Diamonds can be breathtaking, commonly implemented in various types of jewelry that are popular around the world. Yet the vast majority of us have not taken a moment to stop and think about why they sparkle so brightly.

What many people don’t realize is that diamond cutting transforms the diamond from its original form. It begins as a crystal in the ground, being molded into the beautiful diamond that we see in its final form. There is more to the process than it seems, all of which contribute to why a diamond sparkles the way that it does.

Diamond Cutting

The process of diamond cutting is what allows the true beauty of the diamond to be brought to life. The rough crystal is nothing of note, but it can be gently brought to life as a faceted gemstone. The result allows light to pass through the various points of the diamond, creating the shine that we all recognize.

It is safe to say that a significant part of what makes up a diamond’s value comes from the process of cutting. The proportions and cut of a particular diamond can have an impact on the value by up to 40 percent. Because of that, a lot of time and effort goes into the process of cutting the diamond.

There are also a few factors that contribute to the overall sparkle of a diamond. That is where brilliance, fire, and scintillation come into the equation.

♦ Diamond Fire

When light passes through a diamond, it bends. The light passing through that particular diamond will split into different colors. This is the same type of effect that we see when light passes through water droplets that produce a rainbow effect. In scientific examples, light passing through a prism can create the same effect.

So, what does this all mean? Well, it means that a beam of white light passing into the diamond comes out on the other side as a spectrum comprised of different colors. Seeing the colors of the spectrum through a diamond is known as diamond fire.

There are certain cuts that will bring out a greater fire than some of the other cuts. Brilliant-cut diamonds tend to have a greater brilliance with less fire whereas emerald-cut diamonds have a greater fire but a lesser brilliance.

♦ Light Reflection and Refraction

The diamond fire is a bit of an expansion on the reflection and refraction of the light as it passes through. When light passes through a diamond, it slows as it passes through the diamond’s matrix of carbon crystal.

When the light passes from one medium to the next, it beds. This effect is what is known as refraction. When the light travels through the diamond, striking another surface that is within the stone itself, part of the light is then reflected.

When a diamond is cut, the proportions of the final product can have an impact on and change the way that the light can pass through the diamond. A well-proportioned diamond generally tends to reflect the most light back internally. The light then passes back to the eye through what is known as the table facet – this is the brilliance.

On the flip side of that equation, a diamond that is poorly proportioned will leak light. Because of this, a diamond that has been poorly cut won’t appear to be quite as brilliant as a well-proportioned counterpart. Diamonds that sparkle generally owe to that brilliance effect when combined with other factors.

♦ Scintillation

The scintillation is created as an effect of both light and movement. Scintillation itself is the play of both colored and white flashes of light that can be seen whenever the diamond is in motion. This aspect of light is seen by the naked eye, and many consider the scintillation to be the life of the diamond.

Scintillation itself is divided into two classes known as fire scintillation and flash scintillation. The latter is when there is a bright flash of light that dances over the most polished facets of a particular diamond. When the effect throws off-color as opposed to white light, this is the fire scintillation mentioned above.

The scintillation can be the result of the polish on a particular diamond. A better quality polish will help to reflect light from every single facet of the diamond whereas a lesser-quality polish may dull some of the areas of the diamond.

The Combined Effect

Each piece of the equation – the brilliance, scintillation, and fire – plays an important role in the ability of the diamond to sparkle. Without one, the rest will not make the diamond sparkle in a significant way. They work together cohesively to give diamonds the beauty that is unlocked throughout the cutting process.

If you have ever seen a diamond that sparkles from well across the room, it is because of the combination of scintillation, brilliance, and fire. Few other gemstones can match the effect that diamonds have. Without the light, diamonds would not have scintillation, fire, or brilliance. It is ultimately the light that can bring a diamond to life in a way that few other gemstones can match.

Keeping the Sparkle

It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to keep your diamonds sparkling. Dirt and grease in particular can take some of the luster off of the shine, making it appear dull where it would have otherwise been bright and sparkling.

Make sure to limit the use of oils and hand creams, particularly on the back of the diamond. Keep it clean regularly and it should manage to stay looking pristine for a long time to come.

Final Thoughts

Diamonds, when well-cut and cared for, can shine brightly and trump nearly every other gemstone. There are a lot of factors that go into the overall shine and sparkle of a diamond, with some cuts being more prevalent than others.

Keeping good care of your diamond is relatively easy. Just make sure to keep it clean and try to limit its exposure to things like creams or oils.

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