A lot of people assume that diamonds of higher clarity must also be brighter. But is that really the case? Let’s see how diamond clarity affects brightness and whether there are other factors that can make a stone look more brilliant.
What Exactly Is Diamond Clarity?
Diamond clarity is a quality characteristic that refers to how numerous and visible the natural flaws in a stone are.
The internal imperfections (inclusions) in a diamond occurred at the time of its formation and can look like lines, black spots, crystals, etc.
The more of these defects a stone has, and the bigger they are, the lower the clarity grade assigned to the diamond.
How Much Diamond Clarity Affects Brightness
Diamond clarity does not affect the brightness of a stone as much as many people think.
A diamond with a lower clarity grade is not necessarily less bright than a higher-clarity stone, and vice versa.
There are two main reasons clarity does not necessarily equal brightness.
First, most diamond inclusions are very small and not visible enough to affect brightness noticeably.
Second, even in stones with visible inclusions, the flaws do not take up as much space to affect significantly how light passes through the stone and diminish its brightness.
For all these reasons, top-clarity diamonds do not look much different in terms of brightness from mid- to low-clarity stones of similar color and cut.
What Affects Diamond Brightness?
In general, how bright a diamond looks is determined by how much light is allowed to enter the stone and be reflected by it.
The characteristics affecting diamond brightness the most are the stone’s cut, color, and cleanliness.
Overlooked by many people, cut is probably the most important factor determining how bright and sparkly a stone looks.
The reason for this is simple: The shape and proportions of a diamond affect how it bends light, how much of it will be reflected, and how much will leak out of the stone.
Well-cut diamonds reflect most of the light that falls onto them and thus appear brighter.
Poorly cut stones, on the other hand, let most of the light entering them leak out without being seen, and that’s why they look dark and dull.
Cut is so important for brilliance and brightness that poorly cut stones of top clarity can look less bright than poor-clarity diamonds with a very good or excellent cut.
Although color does not fundamentally affect how a diamond reflects light as much as cut does, it can still make a stone look brighter or darker.
This effect depends very much on what tints a stone has and how intense they are.
Generally, the whiter a stone, the brighter it appears, and whiteness in diamonds simply refers to how colorless they are.
Diamonds whose color is graded lower have stronger yellowish and brownish tints than higher-graded stones.
So, diamonds that have more color can appear less bright compared to stones that are more colorless and look whiter.
How clean a diamond is also affects its brightness.
Stones that haven’t been cleaned for some time often look dark and lifeless because the dirt accumulated on their surface stops light from entering them.
The flaws in such diamonds also become more visible because the stone’s brilliance and sparkle that can make its inclusions less noticeable are now diminished, making all imperfections stick out.
Where to Buy Diamonds and Diamond Jewelry?
For diamond jewelry, we highly recommend James Allen because it shows real photos and videos for each diamond so you can take a 360-degree look at any stone before buying it.
For colored diamonds, we recommend Leibish & Co., which specializes in fancy color diamonds (use code JewelryNotes200 at checkout to get a 5% discount).