The term fire is commonly used to describe a diamond, but what does it refer to? The ancient Greeks thought that fire in a diamond symbolized the eternal flame of love. Fire in a diamond is the dispersed light that appears as rainbow-like flashes of color. You can usually observe a diamond’s fire in places like restaurants or clubs where the light is lower. The amount of fire depends on how the stone is cut and faceted. Older cut diamonds appear as if they have more fire because they’re cut with steep crown angles and flatter tables of the facets.
Other characteristics that are used to evaluate a diamond include brilliance and scintillation. Brilliance requires both brightness and contrast in the diamond and refers to how light is reflected back to the viewer, or return-of-light in the diamond trade. To many jewelers, it’s the most important quality in a diamond, and is what people react to when they exclaim over a diamond.
Diamonds also have a quality called scintillation. Scintillation refers to how light disperses from the stone when it’s moved. While brilliance is the quality of dispersed light when the diamond is in a stationary position, scintillation is observed when the diamond moves in the light. They’re closely related qualities, while fire is a different attribute.
The way a diamond is cut will determine how much fire or brilliance it has, and often one may have to make a trade-off for one quality or another. Which way is the best way to go? For the most part, most diamonds are cut more for brilliance and scintillation rather than for fire. When shopping for a diamond remember that it’s in investment, yes. But what really matters is whether you love it. Qualities like brilliance vs. fire really do pale in comparison to that one critical element!