There’s nothing quite like a diamond: everything from its vibrant clear aesthetic to its strength and durability. But what truly defines diamonds as the most desired gem is undoubtedly its sparkle: the way a diamond works with light to create a shine that captures our attention and our hearts. So, what makes a diamond sparkle?
A diamond isn’t naturally shiny as it is extracted from the earth. At that stage, it’s simply a translucent rock. In fact, that burst of sparkle we know and love is the result of two things: how the diamond is cut, and how light then hits the diamond.
Marcel Tolkowsky developed the diamond sparkle
Physicist Marcel Tolkowsky pioneered the diamond sparkle in 1919, when he created the 57-facet diamond – (58 facets has become the standard for round brilliant diamonds, the most popular shapes today. Passion8 Diamonds contain exactly 58 facets cut to mathematical proportions to ensure the best possible sparkle. Facets are the flat surfaces on a diamond, which capture the light and create the paths through which it will travel within the gemstone. Think of them as little mirrors that reflect the light from all directions, and then send them straight back into our field of vision.
Tolkowsky strategically arranged these facets so that white light would enter the diamond, reflect back and forth between the angles of the diamond cuts, and stream out the top of the stone. The result? That shimmer we know and love today.
Of course, for this strategy to effectively create sparkle, diamond cutters need to ensure the angles of the cuts are equally proportioned to around 45 degrees. If the angles are too shallow, for example, the light will pass through the diamond and out the bottom. If they’re too steep, the light will go out the side of the diamond.
Passion8 Diamonds stand out from generic diamonds because of their precision cut which showcases 8 perfect hearts and 8 perfect arrows.
Three types of sparkle: brilliance, fire and scintillation
Let’s explore the three different measures, or types, of diamond sparkles: brilliance, fire and scintillation.
1. Brilliance – white, bright and wow.
Brilliance showcases how well a diamond reflects white light. So, when a diamond appears to have white light shining out through its surface, what you’re witnessing is ‘brilliance’. Brilliance occurs when the light enters through the top of the stone, strikes one lower facet, followed by another, and then reflects back out the top of the stone.
2. Fire – colourful, intense and scattered.
Fire highlights how effectively a diamond shows coloured light. If you’ve ever noticed bright coloured strands coming out from a diamond’s surface, what you’re seeing is ‘fire’. Fire materialises when light hits the diamond at an angle, becomes bent, and then separates out into rainbow rays. This process is called dispersion.
3. Scintillation – flash, contrast and shine.
Scintillation involves how thoroughly a diamond reflects light when it is moving. So, if you can imagine the dramatic flashing effect of light that occurs when you shift a diamond with your hand – that’s scintillation. This is the result of flickering facets, caused by light entering the diamond at different angles.
Scintillation can also refer to the configuration or contrast of bright and dark spots on a moving diamond.
Moreover, dark objects in a diamond’s surroundings will also impact the stone’s shine. These reflect onto the diamond’s surface, making some facets appear dark, and therefore diminishing some sparkle.
Love sparkle? Polish makes perfect.
Polishing a diamond will further amplify sparkle by increasing the diamond’s capability to absorb, bend and reflect light. The more polished and translucent the diamond is, the greater the sparkle.