Diamonds, they are a girl’s best friend, they are forever, they shine bright, you’ve heard it all! It seems pretty unlikely that a rock found in the ground could become one of the most valuable resources in our society, but I suppose it was bound to happen considering how much humans love shiny things! Diamonds don’t come out of the ground shiny, however, there are quite a few steps that need to happen from the mining of the raw diamond stone (check out the header image here to see how they look) to the glimmering beauty of a diamond ring.
So what makes a diamond shine so bright? Is it the human interaction of cutting and polishing the diamond, or the natural attributes diamonds are born with? The short answer is, a little of both. An expertly cut and polished diamond maximizes the diamond’s natural ability to sparkle and glimmer in the sunlight.
Diamonds get their sparkle from three things: Reflection, refraction, and dispersion. When light hits a diamond, it is immediately bounced back out which gives it that instant shine that you only really get from a diamond. However, this reflection is only a small portion of what truly makes a diamond brilliant because not all of the light that hits a diamond is reflected back out, some of that light travels through the diamond, and that is where refraction comes in.
When the light travels through the diamond, it hits all of the various edges that are either naturally occurring or cut into the diamond and it is broken up and scattered throughout the stone causing the glimmering dance that you see when you look at a perfectly cut diamond. The stone acts as a complicated prism that takes the light in from the top, moves it around the stone and then pushes it back out through the top causing that glimmer and sparkle.
Once the light hits the angles of the crystal inside the diamond, it is dispersed into a rainbow of light… thus dispersion. Dispersion is what creates the light and dark facets inside a diamond, as the light is transformed through all of the angels within its structure. You would think that creating dark areas within a shining diamond is a bad idea, why would you want darkness in something so bright and beautiful, but just like with everything else, the contrast of the dark areas are what give the light areas so much effect. It is the dark that brings out the light and creates the magic brilliance of a diamond.
It takes a bona fide expert to be able to cut and polish a diamond in such a way that the reflection, refraction, and dispersion of a diamond are maximized and the perfect brilliant diamond is created. These experts take a raw stone and create light tunnels within it to create the perfectly glimmering beauty that everyone has grown to expect from diamonds. With the advancement of technology and the ability to create diamonds in labs we are able to create a diamond with the same chemical and physical attributes, but also maximize their light tunnel potential and clarity before we even begin the cutting and polishing process.
Next time you are looking at someone’s amazing engagement ring, remember that at one point this was just a stone, and it is with great work and expertise that this stone was polished into a gem that now symbolizes everlasting love.