Skip to Content

25% off Site-Wide at James Allen
50% off Select Jewelry at Blue Nile

What Light Makes Diamonds Sparkle Most?

What Light Makes Diamonds Sparkle Most?

Apart from being the hardest substance on Earth, diamond is one of the most gorgeous-looking gemstones that charms with its fantastic ability to sparkle. 

When selecting a diamond, you would want to see how the stone looks under different light sources to ensure it doesn’t have imperfections you might not like. 

So, this begs the question: What light makes diamonds sparkle most?

While the natural light will ensure your diamond has no unwanted imperfection, the stone will sparkle the most under certain conditions that are usually met in jewelry stores. Jewelry shops typically position incandescent lights in a way that the diamonds will sparkle the most.

However, the light source isn’t the single, crucial factor in a diamond’s ability to sparkle – it’s the diamond’s cut. In this article, we’ve covered everything about the diamonds’ striking characteristic known as sparkle. Without further ado, let’s jump in!

What Makes Diamonds Sparkle?

Before we get into the actual shapes, let’s take a look at what makes diamonds sparkle in the first place.

A diamond’s sparkle is based on its ability to take in light and reflect it back to the viewer’s eyes. The more light is reflected from the diamond’s facets, the more sparkly it will appear.

To achieve this sparkly look, diamonds are cut into shapes with numerous facets. Think of each facet as a tiny mirror: It reflects the light from one part of the stone to another, and then it bounces back out of the diamond to make that beautiful sparkle.

With that being said, it’s essential to break down what “sparkle” means in this sense since gems can reflect different light sources. This ability to reflect light is commonly referred to as brilliance, fire, and scintillation.

  • Brilliance indicates a diamond’s ability to reflect white light. The higher the amount of white light a diamond can reflect off its table, the more brilliant it is. That’s why diamonds sparkle and look particularly impressive and beautiful.
  • Fire refers to a diamond’s capability to disperse colored light. A stone with great fire might produce colored reflection, giving it distinct character and beauty. Fire can take the form of any color – from violet to blue, green, yellow, orange, and red.
  • Scintillation is a result of movement. That means that either the stone, the light source, or the viewer must be in motion to see scintillation. Blinking flashes of light from facets towards the center of the diamond makes it a unique and gorgeous stone.

Can Light Source Impact Diamond’s Sparkle?

Have you ever noticed that the lights are arranged in jewelry shops so that diamond sparkle is enhanced? That’s due to the type of light a diamond is exposed to in that particular environment. 

That’s another vital factor that impacts how much brilliance, fire, and scintillation you will see in the shop. 

That brings us to the main point: Not all types of light are equal – different types of light have ranging concentrations, which impact specific features of the diamond. 

A good combination of light sources increases the diamond’s sparkle and overall appearance, though. So, yes, the sparkle does depend on the light source. 

For instance, a direct beam of incandescent light hitting the diamond would draw out its fire because the beam of light is suppressing white light within the stone. The diamond darkens and draws attention to colored sparkle.

On the other hand, diffused or scattered fluorescent lighting will bring out diamonds brilliance because of the light that enters the stone from multiple directions.

Always remember that lights in jewelry shops make the diamond appear more sparkly than it would be in daylight. That’s why it’s crucial to inspect the diamond in natural light before deciding to purchase it.

Related Read: Why Does My Diamond Look Dark?

How Does The Cut Affect The Sparkle?

The cut quality can make or break its brilliance, fire, and scintillation. When light enters the diamond, it bounces around, and where the light reflects is determined by the proper cut of the diamond.

If the stone’s cut in ideal proportions, it will bend and reflect light in such a way that brilliance, scintillation, and fire will be maximized. On the other hand, the further away from the ideal cut, the less brilliance, scintillation, and fire the stone will show.

For instance, if a diamond is cut too shallow or too deep, the light will leak from its bottom and won’t return to the viewer’s eyes. As a result, the diamond will appear less lively and dull.

When a diamond is mined, diamond cutters assess the rough stone to determine the best cut and shape to maximize its size and properties. Whatever the shape, the Excellent cut grade’s always going to be the best choice.

However, if you want to get a good amount of sparkle and still save some money, going for Very Good or Good cut grades is advised – but never settle for Fair and Poor grades.

Which Diamond Cuts Sparkle The Most?

As you may already know, the sparkliest diamond cut is the round brilliant cut. These gems are cut to have 58 facets, allowing the light to enter the stone and reflect off of every single facet to produce the most beautiful sparkle.

And interestingly enough, the round brilliant cut was explicitly designed to have the strongest sparkle.

An engineer and diamond cutter by the name of Marcel Tolkowsky published a mathematical formula for achieving the ideal diamond sparkle back in 1919. It resulted in the making of the round brilliant cut – now the most popular diamond shape.

So, if you’re looking for a diamond shape that produces the most sparkle, the round brilliant cut diamond is the shape you’ll generally want to go for here.

Radiant, Cushion, And Princess Cuts

These cuts are also known for their gorgeous sparkle. They’re great alternatives for round brilliant cuts that provide similar levels of sparkle at a lower cost per carat weight.

The radiant cut is designed to combine the best aspects of the round brilliant and emerald cuts, with stunning 70 facets that give the stone a remarkable ability to reflect light and produce a beautiful sparkle.

The cushion cut is also great at reflecting light, giving the stone a high level of sparkle. While it doesn’t match the brilliant cut, it still offers an intense brilliance and fire at a substantially lower price.

The princess cut has a perfect ability to chop up and reflect light. And in a higher cut grade, a princess cut diamond can have a stunning sparkle, too.

Heart, Pear, Oval, And Marquise Cuts

Even though the round brilliant cut provides the strongest sparkle, it’s not the only diamond cut that can take in and reflect light magnificently.

A few other diamond cuts share some of the round brilliant cut’s characteristics – including the pattern of facets engineered to reflect as much light as possible. 

These include heart, pear, oval, and marquise cuts.

Heart cut, or heart-shaped, diamonds are cut similarly to round brilliants, with between 56 and 58 facets. What this means is that when heart-shaped diamonds are cut well, they can produce a truly stunning level of sparkle.

However, finding a well-cut heart-shaped diamond can be a difficult task.

The pear cut, more commonly known as pear-shaped diamond, has a similar pattern of facets to the round brilliant cut diamond. As the matter of fact, just like the round brilliant, a pear-shaped diamond has 58 facets that allow it to take in and reflect a substantial amount of light.

Unfortunately, many pear-shaped diamonds are cut pretty poorly – resulting in lower levels of sparkle. 

As one would expect, oval diamonds are cut in an oval shape that has a similar pattern of facets to the round brilliant cut. This elongated shape means that this cut makes the diamond appear more prominent than some other diamonds of the same carat weight.

The oval cut has 56 facets, allowing this shape to exhibit beautiful sparkle when it’s cut well.

The marquise cut was designed back in the 18th century when the famous King Louis XV asked for a diamond to be cut into the shape of his mistress’ lips – the Marchioness Madame de Pompadour, Jeanne Antoinette Poisson.

With its stunning 56 facets, this diamond-cut also has a similar pattern to the round brilliant cut, which gives it excellent brilliance and fire, resulting in plenty of sparkle and shine.

Additionally, the marquise cut diamonds look a bit larger than differently cut stones of the same carat weight. That makes them an option worth considering if you want a stone that combines gorgeous sparkle and an impressive appearance.

Related Read: Are Oval Diamonds Less Sparkly? Do They Shine Less?

Emerald And Asscher Cuts

While gorgeous in their own right, these cuts aren’t well known for their sparkle. Why?

Because of their design and facet pattern, these diamonds generally don’t provide that much brilliance and fire – not as much as those with shapes similar to the round brilliant cut, anyway.

However, emerald and Asscher cuts are still prized for their clarity and luster. When cut well, these diamonds can have a unique and elegant appearance.

Choosing A Setting The Lets In A Lot Of Light

The setting you pick for your diamond can have a substantial impact on how much it sparkles.  

For excellent brilliance and fire, we’d recommend you go for a prong setting that allows light to enter the diamond from every angle – thus maximizing its sparkle.

Bezel settings, which cover a segment of the stone’s surface, should be avoided, as they can obstruct light entering the diamond.

Halo settings feature a loop of tiny diamonds that surround the centerpiece. That boosts the perceived size of the center stone and gives a ring that “extra” presence on your soon-to-be wife’s finger.

As one would expect, more diamonds result in more sparkle. So, while opting for a halo setting won’t increase the sparkle of your center diamond, the small diamonds will add up to the overall appearance.

For a more subtle appearance, however, a pave setting can be a great choice. These settings use a line of tiny diamonds that wrap around the band and add a tasteful amount of additional sparkle to complement the centerpiece.

Related Read: Do Small Diamonds Sparkle More?

Keep Your Diamond Properly Cared For

It’s common for diamonds to pick up dirt and oils over time. Even touching a diamond is enough to transfer natural oils from your fingers onto the diamond’s surface, which will dull its shine and reduce its brilliance.

For optimal sparkle, make sure you clean and properly care for your diamond ring. Keeping a diamond clean will help it sparkle and shine brightly!

Stick To Diamonds With GIA Certification

When choosing a diamond, it’s imperative to stick to the ones with an Excellent cut grade issued by the GIA.

In general, it’s important to choose diamonds certified by the GIA as its the most trusted and most reliable diamond grading entity in the world. GIA provides objective and accurate assessments of a diamond’s quality.

Other diamond grading entities such as EGL or IGI aren’t as reliable and sometimes provide high ratings that make a stone seem better than it truly is.

While these usually impact clarity and color more than cut, it’s better to stick to diamonds that come with GIA’s certificate to ensure that you’re getting what you expect.

Related Read: Is IGI As Good As GIA?


When choosing a diamond, you want to check every aspect of it, and you might wonder how the diamond looks under different light types. On that note, what light makes diamonds sparkle most?

Typically jewelry stores have set incandescent light sources that boost diamond’s sparkle. While these lights make diamonds sparkle most, it’s advised to take the diamond and inspect it under natural daylight to see if it has any imperfections that you might not like. 

That’s the thing: You couldn’t see these imperfections otherwise – at least not under incandescent lights.

While the lighting source plays a role in the diamond’s ability to sparkle, the diamond’s cut is a much more important characteristic. So, always stick to the Excellent cut grade if you want your diamond to have the best sparkle.