The phenomenon of diamond fluorescence has always interested me, even before I became a Graduate Gemologist. How could something so shiny and sparkly also appear to “glow” from within? Once I discovered that this trait was not only a rare occurrence in natural diamonds but exists in a variety of different strengths and hues, I had to take a deep dive.
When a diamond emits a soft glow of light (typically blue, but more on that later) upon exposure to a UV light source such as sunlight or a black light, that’s called fluorescence. Turns out, this luminous oddity of nature occurs in natural diamonds from around the world, proving that there isn’t just one source.
What Makes Some Diamonds Glow?
For many years, the exact cause of this trait was not understood at all. And still to this day, every aspect of natural diamond fluorescence cannot be fully explained. But the general theory behind the phenomenon tells us that atoms of trace amounts of elements trapped in the stone during its formation “align” in a triangular formation within its crystalline structure; scientifically these are called “N3 Centers”. When exposed to ultraviolet light, they absorb the energy and “excite” the particles, therefore causing what our eyes perceive as emitted light.
In some instances the fluorescent glow can be yellow, red, orange, green and even white; although these hues tend to be emitted from certain fancy color diamonds (such as the blue “Hope Diamond”, which fluoresce red) and are exceedingly rare to see.
How Many Diamonds Exhibit Fluorescence?
While somewhere around a third of all-natural diamonds show this phenomenon, a much smaller amount of those stones—around 15 percent, according to the American Gem Society—emit a ‘noticeable’ amount of light. Out of the five different strengths of fluorescence observed by major gemological labs, the bottom two are negligible as the light emitted is faint. More easily seen are the higher grades of medium, strong and very strong that emit the most amount of light; less than 6% of natural diamonds hold such rankings.
How Can I Get a Fluorescent Diamond?
For decades diamond fluorescence was misunderstood by the jewelry trade, and, in turn, the public. It was mistakenly maligned as something that took away clarity in the stone and thus was often undervalued. Now in modern times, many are taking a different approach to how these beautiful rarities are used to maximize a stone’s potential.
Designers, brands and collectors of the phenomenon are finding more unique and captivating ways to use natural fluorescent diamonds. Houston based diamantaire Brian Gavin has been using the stones in his “Blue” collection of engagement rings since 2008.
Edward Fleming, a London based maker, created a pavé initial pendant in which the letters glow radiantly on their charm.
Even Joseph Arthur Rosenthal (better known as the revered jeweler JAR) has been known to use the glowing effect of these stones in his celebrated designs.
More recently another European designer by the name of Cora Sheibani caught my eye. Her collection, perfectly entitled “Glow”, features natural fluorescent gemstones and diamonds that highlight the magic and wonder of the illuminated jewels. Featuring motifs such as rain clouds, city skylines and even the swirling action of a highlighter pen on paper, her creations truly light up social media feeds, where I—and many others—discovered her work.
The future of natural fluorescent diamonds in jewelry is also looking very bright, especially since Luminous Diamonds, a completely new brand solely dedicated to the rare jewels recently debuted.
Like the shimmer seen from a glacier under the aurora borealis, these diamonds shine with a dazzling intensity that I’ve never seen. Geometric shapes and patterns outline the glowing stones all while allowing negative space for them to shine from within. Not to mention, each piece will not only come with a box that emits UV light when opened, but also an illuminator charm with which to display the diamonds’ inner glow at any time.
One of Luminous Diamonds brand mantras is to “celebrate and follow your inner light”; their campaign, “Greatness Under Pressure”, has enlisted female leaders from attorneys to athletes to highlight. But all that being said, after J.Lo showed up dripping in Luminous Diamonds at the 2020 American Music Awards, you know it’s here to stay.
Something else I’m positive that wearers will personally connect with: Luminous Diamonds stones are exclusively sourced and guaranteed to be mined and cut in accordance with best social and environmental responsibility practices.
Personally, these glowing jewels add a special layer of something “just for me” to know about. That each fluorescent diamond is unique, individual and shines even brighter under pressure. Just like we all have in 2020.