Yes it does.
You’ve read that right and these cases are NOT rare.
Time and time again, I have had people sending me emails asking me whether fluorescence in diamonds is a good or bad thing. Most of the time, they have heard that buying diamonds with fluorescence is recommended for lower colors and you won’t have any issues with undesirable appearances. Well, let me tell you this, the people who believe this only get half the equation correct.
Before we delve deeper into this topic, here’s an example of a diamond with an oily appearance as a result of ‘undesirable’ fluorescence.
There are a lot of misinformation on this topic, with many of the ‘so-called’ gurus who say that medium, strong or very strong blue fluorescence won’t cause a diamond to look milky or take up an oily appearance only in the exception of very rare cases.
And where does all these misinformation stem from? It goes all the way back to this report by GIA on a study performed with visual examinations. I strongly encourage you to download the study and read it yourself as we will be making regular references to this article. Some very contradictory statements were made and I believe many people who read the report were misled by the way the study was worded and explained.
The report itself is 16 pages long and admittedly, isn’t the most exciting paper most people would devote 1 or 2 hours of their time to. Because of this, I highly doubt that people guilty of spreading the misinformation had read through the entire study, fully understand it and thought about the results/findings in a critical manner.
Now, I come from a background in science and research where my previous job requires me to pour over statistics and read scientific journals all the time. Outside the laboratory, I am your typical geek who spends a lot of time studying and researching on specific topics. Unlike most people, I have a huge appetite for boring journals and can dissect information with the skills developed with my previous work experience.
For the record, here are the extracted sentences causing the misinformation.
Without singling out any other online resources, whenever the topic of haziness or transparency in relation to fluorescence is brought up, this GIA study would usually be quoted. Along with it usually follows bad advice that the consumer won’t have to worry about any cloudiness or undesirable appearances of a diamond with medium or strong fluorescence.
Let me attempt to explain the study in plain English. I am limiting my scope on the portion of fluorescence and its impact on transparency.
Basically, a group of observers from the industry (majority) and general public viewed 4 colored sets of diamonds (E, G, I, and K) with varying degrees of fluorescence under 5 different lighting conditions. They were then required to fill up a questionnaire based on their observations.
As you soon as you start to break down the results of the experiments, many unanswered questions and inconsistencies begin to surface.
If fluorescence had NO EFFECT or whatsoever on the transparency of the diamonds as claimed by GIA, why did 50% of the observers (indicated by red arrow) say that there is a perceived difference being noted?
Next, if fluorescent diamonds with milky appearances are indeed so rare, what accounted for the huge amount of observations that medium/strong/very strong fluorescence was observed to be ‘least transparent’?
I am not making this up. Verify this against the diagrams in the study yourself.
Looking at the results for experiment 3 and 4, the same questions above are raised again. Why did people report noticing differences amongst the diamonds? Surely it can’t be that many people who can spot them since it is merely a “negligible percentage of super rare diamonds” which will cause this issue.
In the last environment condition (5) that is under indirect sunlight, 50% of observers noted something going on with the diamonds when viewed beside the window in day lighting.
On first glance, you might probably wonder: “Isn’t a diamond with NO fluorescence (circled in blue) supposed to have no effects on transparency?” Why did 3 out of 24 people (12.5%) say these diamonds were the least transparent?
On the contrary, this corresponded to people who observed that strong/very strong fluorescence (circled in red) actually made the diamonds clearer than they are. Since the comparison in transparency is relative, this result comes as no surprise.
From this experimental finding, it might appear that fluorescence is actually helping the diamonds look transparent! What a paradox. However, the sample size is way too small for any meaningful conclusions. To put in simple words, you can ignore the findings from experiment 5 except for the fact that 50% of the observers in this test noticed differences in transparency between the diamonds. To be fair, GIA did mention that more research was needed to look into this.
I worked as a research officer in a top government research institute in my previous job. During that time, I had penned and published several scientific papers in respectable journals. Whenever I see statistics and anomalies like this, it immediately brings the entire experiment under scrutiny.
Concrete explanations about findings are clearly lacking and nowhere to be found. In the scientific community, you will NEVER get away with contradicting results without any sound explanations in a report. This will surely cause your paper to be rejected by the reviewer.
Based on results that were NON-CONCLUSIVE, guess what happened in the summary?
“First, we try to impress people with nice figures and numbers that diamond fluorescence will NOT have an impact on transparency except for super rare cases.
Oh, the results are telling us a different thing? Never mind, let’s just hope no one will notice and ask questions.
Then we say that it might actually help improve transparency.
But hey, we are not sure and require more studies. Oh no… We just shot ourselves in the legs. Oh boy, what a mess… But we really need to stand by what we said earlier.
Ok, since we can’t convince them (or ourselves), let’s just try to confuse everyone.”
Don’t get me wrong here; the study is still valid to some extent. I can agree with the results that were shown on perceived colors of diamonds. GIA had gone to great lengths and details to explain their results and findings on that aspect.
However, when it comes to perceived transparency, things aren’t quite right there. To start off by making a claim that diamonds with undesirable fluorescence effects are SUPER RARE and contradict it later in the results doesn’t help the readers at all.
Based on my own observations of viewing diamonds physically, let me tell you that diamonds with medium – strong – very strong blue fluorescence impacting a diamond’s transparency are much more common than you think it is.
Here’s where people and even jewelers themselves get confused because they never ASK questions and simply accept what is thrown to them!
The degree of haziness doesn’t necessarily have to show itself to be as severe as the example found at the beginning of this article. Such extreme cases are what GIA termed as rare and based on the study, they only seem to consider such stones and excluded the rest with less degrees of haziness!
You see the point I am getting here? In the study that GIA conducted, 30% of the observations concluded that the transparency of the diamonds was impacted. Here’s my take, because these diamonds didn’t appear to be “super oily”, these stones were wrongly classified by the researchers to have no haziness. Gosh…
The best analogy here is eating a packet of potato chips with 80% reduced fat. Just because the chips had less fats don’t mean the chips didn’t have fats! Likewise, just because the diamonds didn’t exhibit an extreme haziness effect doesn’t mean they didn’t exhibit slight haziness effects.
In my opinion, it is definitely NOT SUPER RARE as claimed by GIA in their study. In fact, they published another article titled “About Fluorescence” in recent times stating that “fewer than 0.2% of the fluorescent diamonds submitted to GIA exhibit this effect”. Geez…
On a side note, I personally love fluorescence and it is really a matter of your individual preferences when it comes to this. What you need to take back here is to exercise due caution when making a purchase. You don’t want to end up with a hazy diamond that costs you thousands of dollars.
With proper selection techniques, you can enjoy significantly lower prices. On the next page, I’ll show you how prices vary across diamonds with different fluorescence properties.