Diamond Sparkle - Why do diamonds sparkle?

“Finding truth – finding love, these diamonds sparkle from lights above” author unknown. A lovely thought, but the real question is; Why do diamonds sparkle and which diamond sparkles the most? Aside from their monetary and sentimental value, the sparkle of a diamond is what makes them so breathtakingly beautiful. Everything in the world and in the universe that glitters and glows is compared to the brilliance of a diamond. Even as babies, we all heard the song; “Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are. Up above the world so high, like a DIAMOND in the sky”. And today everything in jewelry is about “bling”- aka diamond sparkle!
why do diamonds sparkle
Webster defines sparkle as; “giving or reflecting bright moving points of light, and the ability to glitter and shine.” But what is it that makes a diamond sparkle? It’s not the shape, the weight or even the color of the diamond. Loose diamonds in the rough have a dull and unremarkable appearance- even those with top color and clarity. Nature created this miraculous crystal of pure carbon, but it is up to the skill and expertise of man (or woman) to unlock the amazing sparkle locked inside. The secret is all in the CUT. An ideal cut diamond will gather light from even the dimmest sources and return that light back to the eye in flashes of white and colored light. The round ideal cut requires 57 or 58 accurately aligned facets polished to a mirror finish. The precision of each facet is what will determine the amount of sparkle in the diamond. Those dynamic flashes of light you see pouring out of a diamond ring is an effect called diamond scintillation. This happens when the diamond, the light source, or the person viewing the diamond moves. Diamonds that are not well cut will allow light to escape and very little sparkle or scintillation will occur.
14k Yellow Gold Purity Stamp

What Makes a Diamond Sparkle?

A diamond is essentially a tiny sculpture made of mirrors. Its facets act as windows to allow light to enter and as mirrors that reflect light internally throughout the diamond before once again allowing the light to refract out of the crown and back to the eye of the observer. Each facet has a role to play, and like a symphony all must play in harmony. In order to do that the facets need to be proportioned correctly and be in alignment in 3D space. Precision cut diamonds offer the best light performance because they are intentionally cut for this purpose. This is in contrast to most commercial diamonds which are cut for weight retention, the cutter often sacrificing some performance to gain more carat weight.

Tips on Choosing a Diamond That Sparkles

Focus on Cut Quality

If you want the ultimate sparkle in your bling, look for a certified diamond that has been graded by a known and trusted laboratory. GIA is the best known and most trusted gemological laboratory worldwide. The American Gem Society Laboratories (AGSL) preforms the most stringent cut quality analysis. High quality diamonds graded as AGS Ideal (or AGS 0) will sparkle like you can’t believe!

Clarity Matters

Diamonds that have lower clarity grades sometimes have features that impact transparency and therefore can diminish brilliance and fire. Internal characteristics like graining, twinning and clouds can sometimes be numerous or dense enough to scatter light rather than allowing it to propagate through the stone without interference. VS1 and above clarities rarely have a transparency issue. When looking at Si1 and below, make sure to check for any haziness that might be present if you want maximum sparkle in your diamond. Occasionally this can also apply to VS2.

The Sparkle Factor – Natural vs Lab Grown Diamonds

One of the biggest events in the history of the jewelry industry is the development of lab grown diamonds and their recent emergence on the market in a wide range of shapes, sizes and qualities. Because lab diamonds are a true synthetic (not just an imitation like CZ and Moissanite), they possess essentially the same physical, chemical, and optical properties as natural diamonds. Therefore, a properly cut lab grown diamond with no transparency issues can have just as much sparkle, fire and brilliance as natural diamonds. Even differentiating natural from lab grown diamonds is a challenge for the best jewelers, and often a definitive identification will require advanced testing in a gem laboratory. Most lab diamonds of significant size are inscribed as lab grown, making it easy for even a consumer to identify them. However, it is possible to polish an inscription so this is no guarantee!
For real diamond sparkle at affordable price points lab diamonds are a great option for many people. At Whiteflash we leverage our longstanding expertise in diamond light performance to bring you best-in-class precision cut lab grown diamonds in our Precision Lab brand.

Advice on Settings for the Most Sparkle

A diamond is designed to gather light through its crown, so the fact that most settings conceal all or part of the pavilion of the diamond makes little difference in its ability to produce sparkle and brilliance. That said, a diamond should be set with a minimum amount of hardware covering portions of it crown. The four prong mounting is a time tested standard and if the prongs are properly constructed and set, there is very little of the crown obscured. This is also true of bezels, as long as the bezel is properly crafted with only a fine rim of metal burnished over the girdle of the diamond.
But many shoppers want to minimize prongs even further and a great choice for both bracelets and earrings is the 3 prong style.
Many shoppers have fallen in love with the classic tiffany style 6 prong mounting and that is a perfectly good choice, particularly for larger diamonds. But a 4 prong mounting secures a diamond very well, so from a safety standpoint any more prongs are overkill for small and medium size diamonds.

Keeping Your Diamond Jewelry Sparkling Clean

Diamond, whether natural or lab grown, has a high affinity for grease and dirt. Oils and lotions that you might use on your hands, or just that which accumulates through cooking and daily activities, can create a film on your diamonds that will diminish their sparkle. Doing some regular simple maintenance will keep that film to a minimum and prevent it from getting ‘baked on’ to the extent that you need a professional cleaning to restore its full luster. Please see our diamond ring cleaning page to learn how easy it is to keep your diamond jewelry looking like the day you first took it out of the box.
If you want the ultimate sparkle in your bling, look for a certified diamond that has been graded by a known and trusted laboratory. The American Gem Society Laboratories (AGSL) performs the most stringent cut quality analysis of any laboratory in the entire world. High quality diamonds graded as AGS Ideal (or AGS 0) will sparkle like you cannot believe!
Whiteflash A CUT ABOVE® Hearts and Arrows diamonds are super ideal diamonds that are consistently praised by industry experts all over the world for incredible light performance. Strict standards and rigid requirements in cut quality make every A CUT ABOVE® diamond one that will sparkle and turn heads wherever you go. In candlelight, daylight or almost no light at all the A CUT ABOVE® will outshine everything around it.
If you live near or travel to Houston, Texas you are cordially invited to visit the beautiful Whiteflash Store for an up-close and personal look at these extraordinary diamonds. You will see sparkle at its blingiest and ideal diamonds, both natural and lab grown, at their very best.

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