What Makes A Diamond Sparkle?

Diamonds are famous for the magnitude of light they transmit and the intensity of how they sparkle. The way a diamond sparkles can be the determining factor in a purchase. It is one of the most famous and appealing features of a diamond, and because it's such a signature feature, a diamond that doesn't have a lot of sparkle will be less appealing as a center stone in any piece of jewelry.

What Exactly Is Sparkle In A Diamond?

Scintillation, or sparkle, refers to the way light dances from one facet to another inside of a diamond. Sparkle can't be missed, even by someone with no knowledge of diamonds. It's what catches the eye first and makes a diamond look alive. Just like stars sparkle in the sky, scintillation is defined by rapid changes in brightness. In a very sparkly diamond, you'll see intense glints of light when it moves. As light enters the diamond, it reflects from facet to facet, creating an endless series of reflections or a hall-of-mirrors effect. Certain styles and shapes of diamond cuts are designed for maximum sparkle, such as round cut diamonds. This is one of the reasons that round cut diamonds are far more popular than other styles.

What Creates Diamond Sparkle?

An uncut diamond does not sparkle. The amount of sparkle in a diamond depends on both the shape and style of the cut. When light enters an ideally-cut diamond, the light bounces around its internal facets, bends, and exits through the top of the diamond. This is known as refraction. Refraction creates a sparkle in a diamond as a result of light bouncing around the inside, which hits your eye when the stone is in motion. The brightness, or brilliance, of light that exits through the top of a diamond is a result of both reflection and refraction.

Does Diamond Cut Affect The Sparkle?

The way each of a diamond's tiny facets are cut and polished determines how much sparkle the diamond will have, which means the style and quality of cutting and polishing are equally important. More facets create more sparkle, and to achieve maximum sparkle, each facet must be cut and polished properly. Poor craftsmanship can limit the potential sparkle of a diamond, regardless of the shape. Among the 4Cs of diamonds, cut is the most important and complex factor in grading and deciding a diamond's ultimate value.

Sparkle vs. Brilliance vs. Fire

Sparkle and brilliance are often confused with each other and with diamond fire, but they are not the same. Each catches the eye in different ways. A diamond that is cut to the right proportions, meaning not too deep and not too shallow, will have more brilliance. Diamond Brilliance refers to the intensity of colorless light that a diamond emits. When light bends and refracts, it can also be broken down into spectral hues, creating a prism of multicolored light through a process called dispersion. The resulting flashes of colored light create dazzling hues. Jewelers refer to this as "fire."

Sparkle is the internal dance of light between facets, and it's what you see when someone is showing off a diamond by rocking, rotating, or moving it around. In other words, brilliance refers to how much light a diamond gives off externally, sparkle refers to the action of light inside a diamond, and fire can be used to describe a colorful variation of both brilliance and sparkle. All three visual effects result from a diamond's interaction with light. Together, brilliance, fire, and sparkle create the "wow" factor of a diamond.