Is diamond fluorescence a good or bad thing?
You might have come across retailers or jewelers who would tell you that fluorescence in diamonds is bad and is a negative property to have. They might even warn you against buying such diamonds altogether.
Well, let me go on the record saying that such advice is true to some extent since diamond fluorescence can indeed be a problem at times. However, there is much confusion among consumers because fluorescence is a widely misunderstood topic.
Personally, I find diamonds with fluorescence very intriguing.
The truth is that fluorescence’s effect on a diamond’s sparkle and brilliance is negligible if you had done your choosing correctly. The beauty of a diamond is predominantly determined by cut. Whether fluorescence is good or bad depends on a few factors which we are going to discuss in this section of our website.
Photographs Courtesy of Brian Gavin Signature Blue Diamonds
Medium Blue Fluorescence
Very Strong Blue Fluorescence
Fluorescence refers to the discharge of light by a diamond after it is subjected to electromagnetic radiation (e.g. ultraviolet light). Some common sources of UV radiation include black lighting from night clubs, fluorescent bulbs and natural sunlight.
When trace amounts of elements such as boron, nitrogen or aluminum are present in a diamond’s atomic structure, energy from UV sources can be absorbed by electrons in these trace elements. Once these electrons absorb energy, they become excited and jump to higher states of energy.
Following the laws of physics, “excited” electrons will always seek to return to a stable state and they can only do this by getting rid of excess energy by emitting them in the form of photons. This release of photons is what we observe with our naked eye as fluorescence.
The most common color of fluorescence is blue but other colors are possible too, i.e. yellow, white, greenish yellow, green and pink. Ultimately, this fluorescent color is determined by the chemical composition and make-up of the diamond’s lattice structure during its formation process.
So is fluorescence in a diamond good or bad? Should you buy a diamond with fluorescence? In my opinion, fluorescence is largely a matter of personal preference. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of fluorescence…
Pros: The biggest advantage of buying a diamond with fluorescence is that they cost a lot less! There’s an irrational fear of fluorescence in the market and this drives down prices. For example, most colorless diamonds (D-F) with fluorescence sell at a 15-30% discount even when fluorescence does not affect their appearances! If you are interested in finding out more, I’ve written an indepth article to compare diamond prices here.
I personally love fluorescence as well because it looks really cool at the disco and there’s an added benefit of having it in lower color diamonds. For near colorless diamonds in the I-K color range, fluorescence is actually a desirable attribute because the blue hue helps cancel out yellowish tints in environments like sunlight. This makes a near colorless diamond look whiter!
Cons: Fluorescence is unpopular with consumers because of a negative stigma that it causes diamonds to look hazy. While fluorescence does cause diamonds to look milky in some cases, the majority of blue fluorescence diamonds are perfectly fine. In fact, their appearance and transparency will look identical to non-fluorescent diamonds.
Because many people view it as a “defect”, diamonds with fluorescence are harder to sell as well. If you are someone who is looking to sell your diamond in the future (fyi, it’s a really bad idea), it would be better for you to buy a diamond without fluorescence.
First of all, the culprit behind the diverse views stems from a study that GIA performed in 1997. In this study, it was found that 35 percent of all gem quality diamonds displayed fluorescent properties under ultraviolet lighting conditions.
The study also found that 10 percent of diamonds showed visible differences in their body color when seen under UV light environments. The key takeaway here was that fluorescence actually enhances the diamond’s appearance! For example, in day lighting conditions, fluorescence can make diamonds with warmer colors (lower color ratings) appear “whiter”.
Next, GIA claimed that less than 3 percent of diamonds with medium – strong blue fluorescence possessed foggy appearances. Such diamonds were dubbed as “overblues” in the industry and were considered undesirable. On this note, GIA has repeatedly stated that it is super rare to find a hazy or oily looking diamond caused by the presence of fluorescence.
Personally, I disagree with GIA’s claims that a diamond’s fluorescence rarely impacts its transparency. Fluorescence DOES cause haziness in diamonds and it is more prevalent than most people think it is!
Out of 18 random diamond listings with color grades or D-F and clarity ratings of IF-VVS2, I found 2 such examples where the diamond takes up a slightly foggy and milky appearance. You can view the links here: #78154 & #219602.
On the next page, I will debunk this erroneous study and point out the contradictory results that were presented.