While a diamond is naturally valuable, there is a long road from the stone found in the ground to the stone found on your engagement ring. Diamonds, whether naturally mined or lab-created, have an inherent disposition for manipulating light. The naturally occurring crystallization process creates a complex prism within the stone that has the ability to take in light and manipulate it’s direction, radiance, and shine… but it’s not that simple. To truly create a masterpiece work of art that sells for the kinds of prices you only see in movies, it takes a lot of human effort.
So let’s investigate what that means…
While a diamond does have variation in its clarity, that is just one piece of the larger puzzle. Some diamonds that are mined and found in the ground have naturally occurring level of clarity. Some diamonds have a more murky and yellow tint to them which gets in the way of the light that can enter and bounce around inside of it. Another naturally occurring detriment could be what is known as “inclusions” which are just blemishes in the diamond that may act as speed bumps to the light traveling within the stone. The size of the stone can also determine the brilliance of the light due to the amount of surface area the light has to play with. However, as mentioned above this is just a small piece of the puzzle because the rest of the attributes depend on the means with which the diamond is refined by human interaction.
Optimal light refraction, reflection, and distribution come from the manner in which the stone is cut and polished. Years of painstaking practice and experience guides the hand of the jeweler that can transform a raw stone into a perfectly cut diamond. The shape of the diamond can severely impact the diamond’s brilliance. A perfectly cut diamond takes light in from the top, and redirects it out the same direction; if the diamond is too deep or too shallow the light will not stay within the diamond and will escape through the side which significantly decreases its shine. The most popular diamond cuts of today are optimized to maintain the light inside the diamond as long as possible before funneling it back out through the top of the diamond.
Another important aspect to the cut of the diamond is the symmetry that is cut into it. The shape of the diamond has to be even on all ends so that the light can bounce perfectly from one facet to another before coming out the top. If any of the facets are not cut perfectly in sync with the rest of the facets, the diamond will not achieve its optimum brilliance. The art of cutting diamonds is a game for the true perfectionist.
The final touch that determines the ultimate shine and brilliance is the polishing process. It is during this process that the diamond is finalized for the setting. The polishing process removes any roughness or blemishes left on the surface of the stone that may prevent the diamond from taking in light and clears up the external surfaces to attract as much light as possible.
All of this goes to say that no one thing is responsible for the brilliance of a diamond, it is an ever-evolving combination of stone quality and cut perfection. When you are looking for diamond jewelry, make sure to take into consideration all of these factors, and also understand that not everything is perfect, and sometimes it is this imperfection that can be the most beautiful.