You might have been told to look for a diamond with fire or at the diamond’s fire when choosing a stone for an engagement ring. This can sound outright made up if you haven’t been shopping for diamonds before but diamond fire is a real thing – it’s one of the most important visual characteristics of a diamond right next to its brilliance and sparkle.
So, what do you need to know about diamond fire and why should you look for it in an engagement ring’s stone? Here’s a quick guide.
What Is Diamond Fire?
Diamond fire is the colorful light that diamonds give off when they are placed under a bright light source. It happens when the diamond is cut well and its surface and body act as a prism that breaks white light into its colorful components. Its technical name is “light dispersion” since that’s what actually happens to the light when it turns into “diamond fire” – it disperses. In short, diamond fire is similar to rainbows – it is white light dispersed into colorful lights, only in this case it’s dispersed by the diamond itself and not by the moisture in the air after rain.
Not every diamond has diamond fire, however, and it’s not always the same – some stones produce more fire than others and some won’t produce any fire at all. Additionally, the amount of fire your diamond gives off will depend on multiple outside factors such as the type of light, its brightness, the angle at which it is hitting the stone, and so on. But, simply put, diamond fire is a beautiful and important visual effect of most diamonds that you definitely want in your engagement ring’s stone.
Why is Diamond Fire Important?
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The beauty of a diamond lies in its sparkle and light performance, which makes a diamond stand out from other types of gemstones. In the past, diamonds were cut to maximize fire. Shapes like the old mine cut and the old cushion cut enhanced the fire of a diamond when viewed under candelight. Today we focus a lot more on the brilliance, but the fire is just as important.
- Diamond fire is beautiful. It’s not talked about as often as brilliance because most people either haven’t heard about diamond fire or just lump fire, brilliance, and sparkle in one when they say “brilliance”. However, even if you had never heard of diamond fire and didn’t know what it is, when presented with two stones – one with and one without diamond fire – you’d be able to tell that there is a difference.
- The lack of fire in a diamond is a categorical sign for a sub-par cut. Diamond fire is the product of several different aspects, but mostly its cut, clarity, and color – three of the 4Cs of jewelry diamonds. The diamond’s cut is arguably the most important of the 4Cs when it comes to brilliance and diamond fire as it determines how light enters the stone and how it’s reflected through it. Lack of fire indicates that the cut could be poor.
- It may indicate that your diamond is of low clarity. Clarity is very important for a diamond to disperse light. If there are large inclusions in your diamond, its overall light performance can be reduced, as light will not be able to move within the stone as it should.
What’s the difference between diamond fire, brilliance, and sparkle?
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The three factors of fire, brilliance and sparkle make up the diamond’s overall light performance. Here’s the difference:
- Diamond fire is the white light that’s reflected inside of a diamond and that gets broken into its colorful components on its way out of the stone.
- Diamond brilliance is the white light that’s reflected in a diamond and that is still white when it comes out. It’s just as important as diamond fire for the overall beauty of the stone and the only difference between the two is at what angles they get reflected inside the stone.
- Diamond sparkle (also called scintillation) is simply the combined visual effect of diamond brilliance and fire. When a diamond is cut well and it produces plenty of brilliance and fire we say that it sparkles.
What to do if you don’t notice any fire in a diamond?
As we alluded to above you should generally avoid diamonds that don’t have any fire. This doesn’t mean that you should just glimpse over a stone and move on if you don’t immediately see any colorful sparkle coming out of it.
For a diamond to have fire it must be under a bright light source. That’s why most jewelry stores keep their loose diamonds and jewelry pieces under bright light – to maximize their brilliance and fire. However, if you want to properly inspect a particular stone you’d do well to take it and move it around – under different light sources, at different distances, and at different angles.
So, if you don’t notice any sparkle, fire or brilliance right away, inspect the stone a bit more thoroughly – it might just be that you were looking at it from an unfortunate angle or that there wasn’t enough light. If, however, the diamond continues to lack any fire after a more thorough inspection – move on to another stone.
If you’re purchasing your diamond online, inspect the stone carefully from all angles. Make sure that you’re looking at the actual diamond and not just a stock image. Most reputable retailers will allow you to return your stone if you don’t like it. One more thing to note is that diamonds sold online are significantly less expensive than most in-store diamonds so
Is diamond fire mentioned in the grading report?
A lot of the characteristics of jewelry diamonds are mentioned in their grading reports. This is helpful for people who are new to jewelry and diamond shopping as it can help them make the right choice even if they don’t have too much know-how.
However, grading reports don’t y describe everything about a gemstone. Diamond fire is a good example of that as it’s not mentioned in most grading reports. Currently, the only peer-reviewed and scientific reporting of jewelry diamond fire you’ll likely see will be in the grading system developed by AGS Laboratories (American Gem Society).
AGS do a 3D scan of each diamond and ray-trace it mathematically by calculating over 32,000 rays of light that pass through the stone. Then, they grade the stone on its contrast, brightness, light leakage, and light dispersion, a.k.a. diamond fire. The lower the AGS grade is, the fewer deficits the stone has with a grade of 0 being the best you can get.
How to Maintain Your Diamond’s Fire
It doesn’t matter how spectacular your diamond’s light performance is if you don’t keep it clean. A dirty diamond will look lifeless and dull, with minimized sparkle. How can light bounce into and out of the diamond if the surface of the stone is covered in grime?
Dirt includes chemicals from lotions, hairsprays and perfumes, body oils and other pollutants that quickly collect on jewelry. To ensure that you’re getting the best look from your diamond, make sure it’s clean as this enhances its brilliance and allows the stone to sparkle to the best of its capacity.
When it comes to diamond fire, you’ll just have to look for it personally. Take each stone on a case by case basis and check how it interacts with light. A beautifully cut diamond with good fire, brilliance and sparkle is a sight to behold and well worth the time taken to find it.
If you’re looking to browse high-quality diamonds with excellent fire, click here to check out James Allen’s stunning collection. You can chat with a Diamond Expert if you need help locating the ideal diamond.