Is Diamond Fluorescence Good or Bad?
Diamond fluorescence is something people either like or dislike. When exposed to ultraviolet light (UV light), about 30% of all diamonds exhibit varying degrees of fluorescence, a soft glowing light. UV light is exhibited in different situations, such as when exposed to a black light source at parties or under natural sunlight.
It isn’t the diamond itself exhibiting this light, but certain elements such as nitrogen, aluminum, and boron captured within the diamond. These particles absorb the energy from the UV light and get “excited,” meaning the electrons of these particles jump to a higher energy state.
Remember that excited electrons always aim for a stable energy state if you remember your chemistry lessons. They can only achieve this by releasing the absorbed energy, resulting in blue light.
In 98% of the cases, the fluorescence color is blue. However, other colors, such as green or pink or faint yellow, are possible. There are also yellow fluorescence diamonds.
You will often find that diamonds with fluorescence are discounted about 10% to 15% because many people perceive it as a flaw. Back in the days, though, people paid extra to get their hands on a so-called “blue-white diamond.”
Today, there are still some people who prefer diamonds with fluorescence (including me). This leads to the question of whether fluorescence is per se something good or bad.
Unfortunately, the answer is not straight forward and depends on a few factors. Just know that if you choose the right diamond characteristics, fluorescence can improve your diamond’s appearance in terms of color.
And another note before we get started one more note: Unlike what many people think fluorescence does not affect the brilliance or sparkle of a diamond, which is primarily determined by a diamond’s cut and clarity.
Levels of Fluorescence
There are five different fluorescence grades: none, faint, medium, strong, and very strong.
The Effects of Fluorescence
None or Faint Fluorescence
About 65-70% of all diamonds do not exhibit fluorescence and therefore belong in the first category of “none.”
Faint fluorescence refers to a diamond exhibiting minimal amounts of fluorescence. A diamond with faint fluorescence will never look hazy or milky. You can confidently buy diamonds with this grade and save some money.
Medium Levels of Fluorescence
Unlike what many people say, medium levels of fluorescence can lead to hazy and less transparent diamonds. This is why you have to inspect your diamond before purchasing one!
You can make use of James Allen’s Diamond Inspection Service, where you can view each diamond at a 40x magnification. You can also chat with an expert 24/7.
If no haziness occurs, however, this grade can benefit a diamond if paired with lower color grades such as H-K, not so much though when you pick a diamond in the colorless range.
As you know, in this color, grade diamonds have visible shades of yellow. The blue fluorescence counterbalances the yellow shades, and thus your diamond will appear whiter when exposed to UV light.
Strong Blue Fluorescence diamonds and Very Strong Fluorescence
Many of these diamonds can indeed look hazy or even milky. Especially diamonds within the higher color grades are prone to these flaws. However, keep in mind that every diamond is unique.
And that’s why I recommend inspecting each loose diamond thoroughly before making a purchase. If you buy diamonds with high color grades (D-G), your diamond can get a beautiful blue-icy look when exposed to UV rays.
How Does Fluorescence Affect the Diamond Grading?
Many people think that fluorescence is a bad thing due to sneaky marketing in the previous century. While many people perceive white blue diamonds as extravagant and desirable, salespeople soon made use of this perception and marked lower quality gems with blue fluorescence.
This leads the Federal Trade Commission of the USA to ban the “blue-white” label.
Later on, the GIA published a study on diamonds fluorescence in 1997, claiming that most diamonds are not affected in terms of transparency by the blue light. However, their data clearly shows that 50% of the people did perceive a difference. Several other inconsistencies led to a lot of confusion surrounding the topic of fluorescence.
If you are confused by now whether the presence of fluorescence is bad or good, you are not to blame. But let me sum it up for you:
Fluorescence is neither good or bad per se. In some diamonds, fluorescence is beneficial and can make your diamond appear “whither.” That is if the diamond’s transparency is not affected by medium to very strong fluorescence grades. If you buy lower color grades, the blue light and the diamond’s yellow body color can counterbalance each other.
In general, faint fluorescence does not affect your diamond, yet you can still get a discount.
You can benefit from an icy blue look of your diamond if you intend to buy a diamond with a higher color grade and a medium to very strong fluorescence.
Hence, in conclusion, if you know what to look out for and learn how to benefit from fluorescence, you can only profit.