Diamonds are known for their exceptional brilliance and enchanting beauty. However, beyond the traditional 4Cs (cut, colour, clarity, and carat weight), another factor that can affect a diamond’s appearance is fluorescence.
A common question when evaluating a diamond’s value is: what is diamond fluorescence? Diamond fluorescence refers to the emission of visible light when a diamond is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light. While some believe it enhances a diamond’s appearance, others see it as a drawback.
At our Toronto jewellery store, we take the time to familiarize our clients with fluorescence in diamonds, allowing them to make informed decisions about their purchases. Understanding fluorescence in diamonds can make navigating the diamond-buying process easier. Refer to this guide to get familiar with fluorescence in diamond jewelry before shopping.
What is Diamond Fluorescence?
Fluorescence is when a material absorbs short-wave UV light and emits visible light. In the case of diamonds, the most common fluorescent colour is blue, but it can also appear in other hues like yellow, green, and rarely red.
Diamond fluorescence is quite common, as 25 to 35 percent of diamonds submitted to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) over the past ten years exhibited some degree of fluorescence.
What Causes Fluorescence in Diamonds?
Fluorescence in diamonds occurs when certain diamonds emit a visible glow when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light. This effect is caused by trace elements, such as nitrogen, within the diamond’s crystal structure. When UV light interacts with these impurities, it excites the electrons in the diamond, causing them to jump to higher energy levels. As the electrons return to their original positions, they release energy through visible light, which gives diamonds their fluorescent glow.
Different Levels of Diamond Fluorescence
Diamond fluorescence is categorized into levels on a diamond fluorescence scale, ranging from None to Very Strong. When designing custom jewellery, it’s important that you learn about the fluorescence diamond levels.
- None: On the diamond fluorescence scale, diamonds with no fluorescence are categorized as “none.” These diamonds do not emit any visible fluorescence under UV light.
- Faint: Faint fluorescence refers to a minimal amount of barely perceptible fluorescence. It may only be visible under intense UV lighting or when examined by a trained gemologist. Faint fluorescence has a negligible impact on a diamond’s appearance.
- Medium: Medium fluorescence describes diamonds that exhibit a moderate level of fluorescence when exposed to UV light. The fluorescence is visible to the naked eye, even under normal lighting conditions. Diamonds with medium fluorescence can sometimes exhibit a subtle glow, especially in natural sunlight or exposure to UV sources.
- Strong: Strong fluorescence refers to diamonds that emit a noticeable fluorescence under UV and normal lighting conditions. The fluorescence can appear as a distinct colour, such as blue, yellow, green, or white. In rare cases, strong fluorescence may have a negative impact on a diamond’s appearance, causing it to appear hazy or milky.
- Very Strong: The Very Strong level on the diamond fluorescence scale indicates that the diamond exhibits a high level of fluorescence under UV light. When a diamond has Very Strong fluorescence, it will emit a more intense glow compared to diamonds with lower fluorescence grades.
Misconceptions About Diamond Fluorescence
Misconceptions about diamond fluorescence have led to various misunderstandings and false beliefs. Here are some common misconceptions about diamond fluorescence you should know.
Fluorescence Makes a Diamond Look Fake
Fluorescence is a natural property of some diamonds and does not indicate that a diamond is fake or of lower quality. In fact, many diamonds with fluorescence can exhibit enhanced beauty under certain lighting conditions.
Fluorescence Reduces a Diamond’s Value
Fluorescence does not necessarily diminish the value of a diamond. While diamonds with strong fluorescence might be priced slightly lower than similar stones without fluorescence, it depends on individual preferences. Some people prefer diamonds with fluorescence because of the unique visual effects they can create. Our team of expert designers can help you browse our collection of engagement ring diamonds with varying levels of fluorescence to ensure you find one that best fits your taste.
Fluorescence Negatively Affects a Diamond’s Appearance
Fluorescence can enhance a diamond’s appearance in some cases. When a diamond with fluorescence is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light, it may emit a soft, colourful glow that can make the stone appear more vibrant. However, in rare cases, strong fluorescence might cause a diamond to appear hazy or milky, but this is the exception rather than the rule.
Fluorescence Affects a Diamond’s Brilliance or Sparkle
Fluorescence in a diamond has minimal impact on a diamond’s brilliance or sparkle. The primary factors influencing a diamond’s sparkle are its cut, clarity, and colour. Fluorescence, by itself, does not significantly affect these characteristics.
The Mining Process Affects Fluorescence
The process of diamond mining itself does not directly affect diamond fluorescence. Fluorescence is a natural characteristic determined by a diamond’s chemical composition and structure. It is caused by specific elements, such as nitrogen, within the diamond crystal lattice.
During mining, diamonds are extracted from the earth in their rough form. The rough diamonds are sorted, cut, and polished to create the finished gemstones. Fluorescence is already present in the diamond when mined, remaining unchanged throughout the cutting and polishing process.
How Diamond Fluorescence Impacts Appearance & Price
Diamond fluorescence can positively and negatively impact a diamond’s appearance and price, although the effects are often subjective and vary from diamond to diamond. Here’s how diamond fluorescence can influence these aspects.
Impact on Appearance
In some instances, fluorescence in a diamond can enhance a diamond’s appearance. When exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light, diamonds with fluorescence can emit a soft, colourful glow, making the stone appear more vibrant and lively. This effect is often seen in diamonds with strong blue fluorescence diamond, which can create a mesmerizing visual impact, especially in natural sunlight or under UV sources. Some people find this additional glow visually appealing and enjoy the unique character it adds to the diamond.
In rare instances, strong fluorescence in a diamond can cause a diamond to appear hazy or milky. This effect is more likely to occur with diamonds that have very strong fluorescence. Such diamonds may lose some transparency and brilliance under certain lighting conditions. However, it’s important to note that strong fluorescence causing a negative impact is relatively uncommon, and most fluorescent diamonds have this issue.
Impact on Price
Diamonds with fluorescence are priced slightly lower compared to similar diamonds without fluorescence. This pricing difference is because some buyers may prefer diamonds without fluorescence, assuming they have a more “pure” or “colourless” appearance. However, the price impact of fluorescence is relatively modest and is typically outweighed by other factors such as the diamond’s cut, colour, clarity, and carat weight. Additionally, diamonds with certain desirable characteristics, such as a strong blue fluorescence diamond that enhances their beauty, may be priced similarly or even higher than non-fluorescent diamonds.
Should You Choose a Fluorescence Diamond?
Some people prefer fluorescence in a diamond, while others don’t. Ultimately, the choice depends on your unique taste and style. Whether you want fluorescence in a diamond, our design team can help you customize the perfect piece of jewellery based on your preferences.