Why Do Diamonds Sparkle?

We all know that diamonds are valuable and are often sought after due to their aesthetic features and sentimental value. They reflect light and sparkle like no other gem out there. They have come to symbolize love and everlasting passion for the last 2,000 years, dating back to the first roman civilization when the first wedding ring was given. We all know that the 4 C’s of a diamond – cut, color, clarity, and carat – determine its value. However, what makes it shine like no other gem or precious stone and how does it reflect light and brilliance back to the viewer? What characteristics make a diamond so special?

Density – Diamonds are so dense that when light passes through them the rays of light literally slow down. Normally, light travels at a speed of 186,000 miles per second, but due to a diamonds natural density, light slows down by half of its speed when passing through it. This leads to higher levels of sparkle.

Reflecting Light – A diamonds efficiency when it comes to reflecting light depends on its cut and clarity. The less inclusion found inside the gem, the less distorted the light will be once it passes through it. Different angles and cuts are designed specifically to enhance the way diamonds reflect light.

Fire and Brilliance – A diamonds fire is similar to how a prism refracts white light into a rainbow. Diamonds are cut in order to simulate how raindrops and prisms reflect white light, hence the “fire”. The quality of the fire depends on how many angles or facets are in the diamond. A diamond’s brilliance works in almost the same way. It describes how bright a diamond looks like from both the surface, as well as the interior. Like a diamond’s fire, its brilliance mostly depends on how it is cut. Mind you, however, that if a diamond is cut too deep or too shallow, light will easily escape out of the bottom instead of reflecting back.

Light Reactions – There are three major stages when light interacts with a diamond. Reflection is how light bounces off from the diamond surface. This reaction gives the diamond most of its exterior brilliance. Like light hitting glass, the more you aim it towards the light source, the more reflection you’ll get. Transmission is how light passes through the surface of the diamond, ricocheting off the inside and coming back up towards the surface. Finally, the Angle of Incident is responsible for the diamond’s scintillation and sparkle. When light goes inside a diamond, it comes straight down and touches the diamond’s bottom (pavilion). Because it is commonly slanted (the diamond’s most distinct shape), it will bounce to the other side of the diamond, then back up to the surface, giving off light that seems to come from the inside of the diamond.

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