The Science of Light and Diamonds

The Science of Light and Diamonds

Do you ever wonder why diamonds seem to sparkle? Well, it’s not exactly the reflection of romance; there’s actually some science behind it! In fact, the sparkle of a diamond is due to a combination of its natural internal properties and the way it is cut. It is the craftsmanship of the diamond, coupled with its natural reflective ability, which causes light to bounce off of the surface in a process known as total internal refraction.


Think of the surface of a diamond as a hundred tiny mirrors that reflect the light around them. This is how sensitive they are to reflecting light. Diamonds have a very high refractive index, which means they are able to reflect significantly more light than something like glass, for example. When a beam of light hits the surface of glass, it is refracted slightly, and when that same, refracted beam hits the other side of the glass, it is refracted again. Since this refraction is so slight, however, you wouldn’t often notice this happening if you were looking out a window.


A diamond, on the other hand, refracts a beam of light to a larger degree, which causes light to bounce around inside the diamond and along its surfaces with more differentiation. The result is that the diamond is able to refract/reflect every beam of light that hits it. This is why diamonds can sparkle in all different kinds of light. Next time you’re looking at your diamond, Turn it in the sunshine and check out its unique refractive surface.


At Frank Pollak & Sons, we’ve been buying, selling and evaluating the quality of fine diamond jewelry for over a century. Interested in selling your diamonds? Stop in today and let us help you get the most for your jewelry.



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