When Rihanna sang “Shine bright like a diamond,” we all felt that. Think of anything shiny, and you will undoubtedly be thinking of diamonds. So, what is the reason for this shine, and what makes a diamond sparkle?
Reflection of light
We all know that rough diamonds have to be cut in order to shine. But why is this so?
Upon cutting a diamond, it begins to sparkle because of its ability to reflect light correctly.
When light strikes a diamond, only part of it is reflected. The rest enters the diamond and strikes against the multiple facets. This trapped light is what makes a diamond sparkle, and any well-cut and polished diamond makes optimum use of the light which enters it.
The proportions and cutting determine the angle at which light enters the stone and is what makes a diamond sparkle. If the light does not enter at the best angle, the diamond will not reflect light properly.
Moreover, the craftsmen take special care to cut and shape the diamond in such a way so as to enhance the light and dark areas. This contrast highlights the sharpness and clarity of the diamond, giving it a crisp look.
To understand what makes a diamond sparkle, we need to look at the factors that play a vital role in this process.
Internal reflection, Refraction & Dispersion of Light
When a ray of light strikes the surface of a diamond, only a small part of the light is reflected. Light enters the diamond through one of the facets at the top of the stone. It then travels from top to bottom, striking against the multiple parts.
Depending on the parts where the light strikes, diamond refraction takes place. As a result, light and dark areas are enhanced, which gives the diamond a clean, neat appearance.
You may have noticed flashes of color when light hits a diamond at different angles. This happens due to the process of dispersion.
Dispersion of light in a diamond is also commonly referred to as the “diamond fire”. When white light enters the stone, it splits into the constituent colors of the rainbow inside the diamond itself. These colors exit the diamond from the top and bounce back into the eyes of the viewer.
As you might have understood, the diamond cut holds the key to diamond shine and sparkle. To understand diamond cut, it is best to be acquainted with the basic parts of a diamond:
- Girdle : This is the outer edge or diameter of the diamond. A well cut diamond can be judged by looking at the thickness of the girdle. Ideally, the girdle should be of proportional thickness to the size of the stone. Therefore, it should not be too thick or too thin. Additionally, the girdle should also be even throughout otherwise the diamond will appear deformed.
- Culet : The culet refers to the flat portion of the diamond at the very bottom. Ideally, a culet should be very small. Many diamond cuts may not have a culet altogether.
- Table : The diamond table refers to the flat surface at the top of the diamond. Since we look at any diamond from the top angle through the table, it needs to be well cut and polished. A good balance of percentage between the table and depth needs to be maintained for a diamond cut to sparkle well.
- Depth : This is the distance between the table and the culet, i.e. the top and bottom of the diamond. The girdle divides the depth. The weight of any diamond is revealed by its depth. As a result, a good depth percent should be maintained for the overall aesthetic appearance of the diamond.
Diamond cuts are essential not just for the purpose of reflection of light but also to maintain diamond symmetry. If a diamond is asymmetrical, or has even the tiniest flaw in symmetry, then optimum diamond refraction will not take place correctly. This will go on to decrease the appeal of the stone because it will appear distorted.
Apart from diamond cuts, even the stone’s clarity is important since it is also what makes a diamond sparkle. Very often, natural diamonds have many imperfections and flaws. This often compromises their clarity. But sometimes these inclusions are too minimal to be noticed by the untrained eye.
Diamonds that are free from internal flaws are extremely rare. Diamond value also varies on the basis of relief and inclusions present in the stone. Thus, the bigger the inclusion, the less will the diamond shine.
Blemishes in a diamond can also take the form of small clusters of pinpoints, internal grains, cracks or cavities. These prevent free movement of light inside the diamond. As a result, such diamonds appear whitish, hazy or dull in appearance depending on how closely clustered these imperfections are.
Polishing a Diamond
Polishing a diamond is the final step, also called the finishing touch to the stone.
In case a diamond is unpolished or not polished enough, its facets cannot act as mirrors. So, light is not reflected properly, and the diamond appears dull and ordinary. Due to the distorted light reflections, any blemishes on the surface of the diamond become even more pronounced and make the stone look rough. Thus, diamond polish is also what makes a diamond sparkle.
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