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Diamond Fluorescence

by on June 7, 2013

What is fluorescence?

Fluorescence is the visible light some diamonds emit when they are exposed to invisible ultraviolet (UV) rays. On a GIA diamond grading report, Fluorescence refers to the strength, or intensity, of the diamond’s reaction to long-wave UV, which is an essential component of daylight. THe light emitted lasts as long as the diamond is exposed to the ultraviolet source.

Is fluorescence common?

Yes. Of the diamonds submitted to GIA over the past decade, approximately 25% to 35% exhibit some degree of fluorescence. However, only 10% of those show strengths of fluorescence that may impact appearance (i.e., strengths noted on laboratory reports as medium, strong or very strong). In more than 95% of the diamonds that exhibit fluorescence, the color seen is blue. In rare instances, the reaction is yellow, white, or another color.

What impact does fluorescence have on the appearance of a diamond?

GIA studies show that, for the overwhelming majority of diamonds, the strength of fluorescence has no widely noticeable effect on appearance. In many instances, observers prefer the appearance of diamonds that have medium to strong fluorescence. In rare cases, some diamonds with extremely strong fluorescence may appear hazy or oily; fewer than 0.2% of the fluorescent diamonds submitted to GIA exhibit this effect.

Does fluorescence compromise the structural integrity of the diamond?

No. A diamond that fluorescence has the same integrity as with with no reaction to UV. Submicroscopic substitutions and/or shifts in the diamond structure can cause fluorescence as well as prevent it. Nothing in either instance inherently weakens or is bad for the diamond.

Bottom line with fluorescence.

Don’t let fluorescence unduly influence your choice when selecting a diamond.

If industry experts can’t agree on the influence of fluorescence and constantly split hairs over its effect, we feel it falls into the range of minutiae that simply serves to confound and confuse, rather than inform the diamond buying public.

However, because of industry debate and prejudice (which appears unfounded), you may find colorless or near-colorless diamonds that exhibit fluorescence have slightly lower prices than those that do not. Our opinion? Enjoy the lower price.

Of course, if you are buying diamonds as an investment and intend resale, you’ll want to pay attention to how the industry prices diamonds with fluorescence — independent of whether the price difference is justified.

**All of this information was taken from the Gemological Institute of America (G.I.A.) website: www.gia.edu

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