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Sparkle vs. Brilliance vs. Fire

What’s the difference between the sparkle, brilliance and fire of a diamond?

Facets and their relationship with fire, brilliance and sparkle.

Facets make up the surface of the diamond or gemstone. When light hits / enters the facets it will bounce around, much like it would do if it hit a series of mirrors. Where the light bounces will be determined on how well the cutter of the diamond sculpted the facets.

All 3 of these terms relates to what you can see when light hits the facets of a diamond or gemstone, and how much brilliance, sparkle and fire you see will depend on the cut of the facets.

Fire Brilliance and Sparkle of a Diamond

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The Cut of the Diamond Determines Everything.

Picture the series of mirrors again. If you set each one up to reflect light that was bouncing off the previous mirror you can ultimately direct that light anywhere you choose. If it helps, imagine a heckler in the crowd with a pocket mirror subtly directing the sun’s light to hit a player on the field. Diamonds work in the same way. The cutter of the diamond will cut the facets to redirect the light source coming in back up to the top of the diamond. The better the facets can direct the light back up through the top for your eyes to see, the better the cut grade will be, and the more brilliance, and fire you will see. Sparkle works a little different.

How Sparkle differs from Fire and Brilliance.

The sparkle which is also referred to as scintillation has a lot to with the cut as well, but not with the light that’s going up through the top. Sparkle, or scintillation, if you prefer, refers to the dancing of light from facet to facet towards the center of the diamond while the diamond is moving in the light. Not only does the cutter of the diamond have to direct light up, he/she must also direct light across the diamond in such a way that it literally looks like it’s sparkling, skipping, or dancing with light.

This is why the diamond cut is VERY IMPORTANT. When you purchase a diamond really stop and take a look to make sure the certification says VG (very good) to Ex (excellent) for your diamond’s cut grade.

Tip: Diamond color will effect what you see.

Diamonds come in many colors, but let’s talk about what most people end up buying, diamonds within the color range of D to M.

Actually it’s pretty obvious what I’m going to say, but many people only really notice it when they compare it to another. The more “white” or the more “yellow” your diamond is, it will directly impact the color of light being reflected back up.

If white light goes into a diamond that has no color (D-E), or virtually no color (F-H), and if the diamond is cut correctly, the sparkle, brilliance and fire of your diamond will be exceptionally vibrant. Almost pure to the nature of the color.

If white light goes into a diamond that has a light yellow (I) to much more yellow (J-M) it will also directly effect the color coming out. Every color of the spectrum coming out will be laced with a various amount of yellow.

This tip is not trying to sway you in either direction, buying a diamond is completely subjective. Every person likes different things. If the yellow tint is your preference then go with it, if you want a more pure look, go with that.

Learn more about Diamond Color.

Tip: A great color trick to save money.

The higher a color is on the diamond grading scale the more that diamond will cost. Most people, to save money, will go with a F-H color for their diamond as opposed to D or E.

There’s a great natural enhancer to “mask”  the color of your diamond producing a more white look. It’s called Fluorescence.

You can read all about Diamond Fluorescence here, but a third of the diamonds mined have this characteristic. The amount, and color of fluorescence is what you’re looking for. The more fluorescence the higher degree it can effect the color.

Here’s the trick. To save a little money, you can find a more yellow colored diamond with blue fluorescence. The blue will offset the yellow in the diamond, and produce a more white color. Which in turn will produce a better spectrum of color when it comes to the sparkle, fire and brilliance. Assuming the facets are cut well. G-H color go with a faint blue. I-J color go with a medium blue. K-M colored diamond; go with a strong blue.

Just a thought. Avoid any fluorescence in a diamond with a color D-F. In most cases it will not make your diamond any more “white”, and can actually make it look more blue or yellow depending on the color of the fluorescence.

A quick summary of brilliance vs sparkle vs fire of a diamond.

Brilliance
A term used to describe the total amount of light that is reflected by a diamond.

Sparkle (Scintillation)
A term used to describe the sparkles, or flashes of light, which are produced when a diamond is moved underneath a light source. The light that isn’t reflected back enters the diamond and reflects from facet-to-facet, toward the center of the diamond. This light, which bounces off the facets of the diamond, is the quality described as scintillation.

Fire
A term used to describe the dispersion of light into different colors of light. Once the light is bounced off the inside walls towards the center of the diamond, it then shoots back up through the top of the diamond. Because the light is slightly bent by the diamond, a color spectrum is visible when light exits the top of the diamond. The better the cut, the more fire you will see.

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