Everything You Need to Know
About Diamond Fire
April 21, 2023
When you look at a diamond, what do you hope to see? Most people hope for a brilliant, reflective stone that sparkles and catches the eye of anyone lucky enough to see it. Great diamonds are stunning regardless of their size or the style of cut, and many breathtaking diamonds achieve their status thanks to their fire.
Perhaps you’ve heard the term before but didn’t know exactly what it meant or how it factored into a diamond’s appearance. By the end of this article, you’ll understand why diamond fire is important, how to spot it, and how it changes the appearance of a stone.
What Is Diamond Fire?
If you’re new to diamonds or have been collecting jewelry for decades, the term ‘diamond fire’ has a magical sound. It’s well-deserved, too, and a diamond’s fire is as interesting and alluring as the real thing. Instead of casting off heat, however, diamond fire creates color.
Diamonds are often captivating thanks to the array of colors they reflect when light hits them. You can look into a high-quality stone and see rainbows dancing through it (and even around it). If you’re familiar with the effect, congratulations! You’ve experienced diamond fire firsthand.
Diamond fire is, in basic terms, the colors that disperse when white light hits the diamond’s facets. Light enters the diamond, refracts within the stone, and exits. During the process, diamonds separate the light into individual colors on the spectrum, producing that highly sought-after rainbow effect. So, in short, diamond fire is all the colors you see when looking at your diamond.
Why Is It Important?
So many factors go into forming gorgeous diamonds. It goes beyond the 4Cs (cut, clarity, color, and carat) that most people know. Diamond fire plays with the diamond’s brilliance, producing the familiar, beautiful sparkle.
Fire doesn’t require someone to be close to the stone to see it, either. Even if you’re several feet away from the person wearing the diamond, a good light source and angle allow the fire to show through. Fire plays a crucial role in the appearance of a diamond, and it’s an element of its cut that shouldn’t be undervalued.
What Affects a Diamond’s Fire?
Several elements work together when forging diamond fire. One of the most important factors is the cut of the diamond. Certain cuts have higher intensity fire than others. The round brilliant cut, for instance, has the highest level of fire. It’s the most “sparkly” diamond cut out there and is an excellent choice if that’s the quality you value most.
Why is that the most fiery cut? It has the highest number of facets. Facets are, ultimately, the biggest deciding factor in how much fire your stone has.
- Physical Facets - When you cut a diamond, you create a physical facet. Each physical facet bounces light in a particular direction.
- Virtual Facets - Virtual facets are a product of physical facets. When physical facets bounce light, they create virtual facets. They’re reflections of light. Virtual facets are the facets that actually produce diamond fire, but they can’t exist without physical facets.
As you can see, diamond cuts with a higher number of physical facets will typically always have more fire.
DEPTH: Depth, which is an element of a diamond’s cut, also plays into the presence of diamond fire. It affects the reflection and dispersion of light, both of which are important for diamond fire. If a diamond is cut too shallow or too deep, it’s dull and lackluster, and the skewed depth robs it of its sparkle. Obviously, those are less-than-ideal conditions for diamond fire, and light is lost from the bottom of the stone.
CUT: Diamond cut and fire are wrapped up thoroughly in each other. Diamond fire is even an element of GIA’s grading scale. Brilliant diamonds have a seven-factor scale for cut, with diamond fire listed as one of those elements.
CLARITY: Facets aren’t the only thing that affects fire, and diamond fire matters for more than a diamond’s cut. A diamond’s clarity is an important component, too. Diamonds with high levels of clarity have better light performance, whereas low levels of clarity prevent light from traversing the diamond as easily.
LIGHT: The light source also matters. Certain types of light showcase diamond fire better than others. Even though the light source doesn’t change a diamond’s potential, the number of facets, or its grade, it does change how people perceive the stone. LED lights are best for highlighting diamond fire.
CLEANLINESS: Cleanliness affects diamond fire, too. It can’t exist if light can’t properly pass through the diamond, so keep your stone clean and contaminant-free. Diamond fire’s dazzling effect is dulled, otherwise.
Is Diamond Fire Different from Brilliance and Scintillation?
Diamond fire, brilliance, and scintillation all work together to make a diamond sparkle, but they’re not the same. Diamond fire, as detailed above, is about color. The diamond essentially breaks apart white light to create the mystical rainbow effect recognized as fire.
Brilliance, on the other hand, is a similar concept with one crucial missing piece. It doesn’t break apart the light. Instead, the white light comes out whole. Brilliance and diamond fire work closely together to give a diamond flash and appeal.
Scintillation is the combined effect of both brilliance and fire. They’re more than just the sum of their parts, and scintillation is the result. It’s the “sparkles” that draws people in. Diamonds with high scintillation have excellent fire and brilliance. Brilliance and fire aren’t the same things, but scintillation is both at once.
Fire is a playful, astonishing trait of diamonds. Fiery stones are phenomenal pieces that can catch someone’s eye from across a room. It lets you lock rainbows into a ring and is indicative of other elements of a diamond, too. Diamond fire ties together both cut and clarity and works hand-in-hand with brilliance. While some cuts naturally have higher levels of fire than others, no diamond is complete without it. It’s one of the best “wow” factors out there!