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Do Diamonds Absorb Light?

Do Diamonds Absorb Light?

Have you ever looked at your diamond and thought, how come it is so shiny? If you’re curious, the shine that dazzled you has a lot to do with the structure of the diamond. 

You must have noticed that large diamond pieces have a beautiful shine to them when they are under a bit stronger lighting. With that in mind, do you ever ask yourself, do diamonds absorb light?

Not exactly. Diamonds don’t absorb light; they reflect it, instead. 

That can serve as an interesting topic for discussion. So, if you’re willing to learn more about what determines how strong the reflection of your diamond is, how this reflection is created – and many more interesting facts about diamonds and light – you’re in for a treat.

Don’t be out like a light; keep up!

Diamonds Are Reflectors Of Light

Diamonds don’t absorb light! That is a false claim that you’ve constantly been coming across on the Internet – or wherever you did your research. Diamonds reflect light.

If you were previously convinced in a slightly different story, and this is the first time you read that diamonds actually REFLECT light, now you will probably ask the question, how?

The first thing that makes a diamond a reflector of light is transparency. You can also use it to check whether a gem is real or fake – but we’ll get to that in a minute. If you take a sec to think about it, transparency is closely related to the diamond’s structure. And that’s all thanks to its strong covalent bond of electrons.

Each valence electron in a carbon atom of a diamond is in a neighboring relationship with another carbon atom’s electron. The energy phonons flow through them, move freely and create a reflection that you can see on the surface.

Those same photons are created by atomic radiations, which means that they have not always been present in the diamond, and therefore, the diamond does not absorb them. They are created when a material interacts with other materials or particles.

In order for something to be absorbed, it needs to be kept within. However, transparency and its atomic structure allow light just to pass through the gem.

That was plain physics, and it’s pretty hard to comprehend. So, let us shed light –  yes, that’s a pun – on this process by using a well-known example.

Take your diamond ring or earrings. If you point them at the glass on the table, they will reflect pieces of light that will look like patterns to you. However, as soon as you move it to a dark surface, this light will disappear.

The same thing happens when you place your diamond in front of a mirror. You will see a reflection of light. The key is the surface on which your diamond is located. However, the glass on your coffee table or mirror is not the only reflective surface.

Which Materials Are Reflective?

First, a little recap: Reflections involve the process of light – or a light source – bouncing off a particular object. Surfaces that are smooth and bright typically create reflection.

With reflective surfaces, 99% of the light bounces off, while with non-reflective surfaces, that light stays where it is. Here is a quick overview of reflectors that are already in your home:

  • Mirrors
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Foil
  • Walls and ceiling
  • White shirt
  • White cardboard and paper
  • White sheet
  • Tupperware lid

The most famous materials that are reflectors are:

  • Metallic silver (Ag)
  • Gold (Au)
  • Aluminum (Al)

Read Also: Do Black Diamonds Reflect Light And Sparkle?

Testing Diamonds Based On Their Reflectivity

As we mentioned a moment ago, light reflection can serve as something handy – and that is distinguishing whether your diamond is real or fake. How to do this? 

Perform the so-called sparkle test. To do this successfully, you’ll need a simple table lamp (no LED lights, though) and good eyesight.

  1. Put your lamp next to you and turn it on.
  2. Before you use your diamond for this test, make sure that you clean it well. A dirty surface can affect how well a diamond will reflect light.
  3. Carefully place the diamond under the light and see what reflection it has.

If you see rainbow colors on the surface below you, it indicates that the diamond is probably fake. Reflecting colors such as pink or light blue suggests that your diamond is of very poor quality – or that it is probably just a glass copy.

On the other hand, if you notice a gray or pure white reflection on the surface, you’re safe. Your diamond is real – and there is no doubt about it. We hope that helped – and that the news about your diamond’s realness was good.

Other Solutions 

If you’re having trouble with the test we previously mentioned, and you cannot distinguish the reflection your diamond is making, here are a couple more possible solutions.

Note: These are not professional tests, and it is essential to note that none of them are 100% reliable. These are all DIY, at-home ways to check, and the best way to be sure of the authenticity of your gem is to have it professionally appraised.

The most common and effective solution would be to try the fog test. All you have to do is take a diamond in your hand and breathe in it. After you’ve done that, pay attention to how long it takes for the fog to disappear.

If it stays for longer than 20 seconds, you’re dealing with a scam. If it starts clearing up right away, your diamond is real.

Next, you could try the newspaper test. Now, this one also has to do with transparency and refractivity. So, it might go better than with a lamp. Take a diamond and bring it closer to any newspaper. 

If you can make out the print in the newspaper, we have bad news for you. A real diamond refracts light so that you can’t read a newspaper print.

The last test you can rely on is the fluorescence test. With this, you’re going to need a LED light and a diamond. Turn off all other lights, and leave only the LED light on; pay attention to what kind of glow you see. 

If you see a slight or strong blue color that bounces off, it’s a real diamond. In this case, gray or green would be a sign that it is a fake diamond.

See Also: Do Diamonds Disappear In Water?

Reflect vs. Refract – Explained

As you were reading this article, you may have noticed that we used the terms reflect and retract comparatively. We are aware that many people are still mixing them up, so let’s take this opportunity and explain.

What’s the difference between “reflect” and “refract”? Reflecting is when a ray of light bounces off a particular surface while refracting is bending while that light travels from one point to the other.

Do diamonds reflect or refract light? Diamonds do both. Because of the way they are created – and the skilled craftsmanship – diamonds can reflect and refract light. It’s what makes them shine under brighter room lighting.

The reflection we talked about in this article is professionally called brilliance. And different diamonds, depending on the quality and how they’re cut, have varying degrees of brilliance.

On the other hand, the light that appears to be moving through the diamond is causing the refraction and is called the sparkle. Let us remind you once again; there is also the sparkle test.

Have you been meaning to try it?

What Determines The Sparkle?

There are three factors that determine how strongly your diamonds sparkle – and those are:

  • Quality of the cut
  • Facet distribution
  • Proper measurements

The most important factor, of course, must be the quality of the cut. The sparkle of your diamond is hidden in the smallest details. The better your diamond is cut, the more the edges will stand out, and it will sparkle.

Here, you will also encounter considerable differences in price. Diamonds that have a fine cut will sometimes cost twice as much.

The next factor is facet distribution. Facets are flat surfaces on your diamond. And if you remember, we already mentioned that better-polished surfaces make it easier for light to reflect. The gap is also critical here. Appropriately arranged facets will contribute to the shine of the diamond.

The last factor would be measurements. That is checked before the diamond is actually shaped. Our advice would be to consult with jewelers about its cut grade before you buy a diamond. It will help you assess brilliance and overall quality.

Learn More: Why Does A Diamond Sparkle?

Cut Quality – A Short Table

Since the quality of your diamond comes first, here is a short table that ranks the cut quality of diamonds and helps to choose the best possible piece of jewelry.

Excellent qualityHighest level of brilliance.All light is reflected through the table.
Very good qualityImmense brilliance.A majority of light is reflected through the table.
Good qualityAmple brilliance. Much of the light is reflected through the table.
Fair qualityMinimal brilliance. Light is reflected through the gem’s sides and bottom.
Poor qualityNearly no sparkle or brilliance.Light escapes from the diamond.

It is crystal clear what level of quality you’re aiming for – but be prepared for higher prices.

Different Diamond Cuts – Which One Sparkles The Most?

All diamonds sparkle, but is there a type of diamond cut that sparkles the most? Yes, and it’s the round cut diamond. Here’s a short table containing essential information.

Shape:Round
Known as:Round Brilliant
Cutting style:Brilliant
Facets:57/58
L/W ratio:1.00-1.02

The round brilliant cut is one of the best-selling diamonds on the market and accounts for 2/3 of sales. This diamond cut consists of 57/58 facets. The table, bezel, start, and upper half facets are so carefully crafted to contribute to the unique look of this diamond.

These diamonds are the most popular choice for engagement rings and necklaces. And the most common selling example of a round cut diamond has 1.0 carats. This cut is almost 200 years old, and during this time, two types have developed: 

The Old European and the Round Cut. What is the difference?

The main difference is that Old European facets consist of triangular blocks, while a regular Round Cut has thinner facets. Diamond cutting techniques have evolved. However, the Round Cut diamond remained the most popular choice. 

And what exactly makes it so popular? It has the most brilliance and reflects light the best. This classic design can fit into any piece of jewelry, be it rings, necklaces or earrings. It will look stunning, either way.

Related Read:

Enhancing Sparkle And Transparency

One of the easiest ways to enhance the sparkle of your diamond is to choose the right setting for it. The most popular diamond settings are:

  • Prong diamond setting
  • Shared prong setting
  • Bezel setting
  • Pave setting
  • Channel setting

If we are talking specifically about round-cut diamonds, the best choices are four prongs and a bezel setting. The four-prong setting will hold the center firmly, and the bezel wraps around the entire diamond, and it is most often used with engagement rings.

The second method deals with “perfecting” the surface of the diamond. These are laser drillings or fracture fillings. For such methods, you’ll need professional help. Laser drilling works by using heat to inject chemicals into your diamond, correcting flaws and inclusions.

Final Thoughts

We managed to cover everything, and now it’s time for a short recap of what we’ve learned so far. First thing’s first:

Diamonds do not absorb light; they reflect it. That happens thanks to their structure and strong covalent bonds. Diamonds also refract light, which means that the light is bending while traveling from one point to another. 

That is best noticed when you’re surrounded by glass ornaments. The reflectivity of a diamond can be used to check whether it is real or fake. That is solved by performing the sparkle test. A real diamond will never reflect the colors of the rainbow!

That’s not all. Some diamonds sparkle brighter than others. The diamond cut that sparkles the most is the brilliant round cut. This type of cut is common with engagement rings – and the best setting for it would be the bezel setting.