All diamonds are most certainly not equal! Diamonds are prized largely because of their unique scintillation and sparkle, and the diamonds that shine best are the most prized of all. But what is it that makes a diamond shine, exactly?
Born That Way
Some stones are internally flawless or very close to it. This is called clarity in the diamond world, and the gems with the best clarity will naturally have an edge when it comes to having a good shine to them. The internal structure of diamonds, in which carbon atoms arrange themselves into specific shapes and patterns, is both naturally very hard and inclined to do odd things to light: reflecting it back at the source, refracting it by bouncing it around inside the diamond, and scintillating – a word used to describe the twinkling effect that good diamonds provide. All these diamonds need is a good cutter, and their inner fire is unleashed upon the world.
Shaped to Perfection
But most diamonds need a little help from the cutter when it comes to finding their inner beauty. Stones that have internal flaws (called inclusions), outer damage (called occlusions), fractures, or cracks (these can look like opaque patches or ‘feathering’ inside the stone) tend to struggle to disperse the light as widely and efficiently as a high-clarity diamond. Cutters will work to slice off the faulty part of the diamond, in the case of occlusions, perhaps break the stone into two in the case of inclusions. Generally, shape and set the stone in such a way that any flaws, fractures, or cracks are:
- both disguised and strengthened by the setting, and
- encouraged to reflect the light as well as possible.
A good cutter can make a relatively poor rough stone into a decent quality cut stone, albeit rather smaller than it originally was!
The cut is almost always designed to channel the light into the stone from every available facet. It only allows it out through the top of the stone – also called the table. This enhances the natural glitter and sparkle of a diamond, making it shine even more intensely than it otherwise would do.
Set in Stone
The setting can enhance a diamonds’ shine, or it can dim it. It all depends on what piece of jewelry the diamond is set into: necklaces, bracelets, and earrings tend to have diamond mounts that encourage the diamond’s sparkle, while rings can sometimes smother the shine a little, especially if it uses one of the super-secure settings such as a multi-prong claw or beveled edge which covers all but the table of the diamond. Not only does this minimize the light that can escape from the stone, but it doesn’t allow for the plentiful light that a diamond thrives upon.
In the case of each individual diamond, what makes it shine will be a convergence of factors: the quality of the stone itself, how it has been handled and cut, the setting and piece of jewelry in which it has been placed – and even how much light is around at the time!
Featured Photo by Joel De Vera on Unsplash