Do Sapphires Sparkle Like Diamonds

sapphires sparkle in a ring setting

The simple answer is that the sapphires do not sparkle as much as diamonds. This could be a heart breaking finding for some. Why? Because a lot of us wants to know the potential of sapphires to replace diamonds for jewelry making. However there are ample reasons why you should not be disappointed. Sapphires can effectively be a fine alternative for diamonds. The more you know what is sparkling of a sapphire or a diamond and how it happens, the more the chances for you to make the right decision.

What Does Sparkling Mean in a Sapphire or a Diamond

Have you had that experience of seeing a fine piece of jewelry stealing your attention across the room? ‘That must be an expensive diamond’ is the first thought that came to your mind. Well, once you finish reading this article, you are better equipped to appreciate many more things than what just meets the eye.

Diamond held with a tweezers
Brilliance and Fire Makes up Sparkle

Sparkling is little over rated just by itself as a scale for evaluation. Sparkle of a sapphire or a diamond comprises of two main parts. The ‘brilliance’ and the ‘fire’. You may have heard this before, you may not have. A fine blend of both brilliance and fire of a precious stone is what we call sparkle. Let’s take one after the other.

What is Brilliance of a Diamond

Everything we see with our eyes is the light that gets reflected out of objects and things. As a result of light reaching our eyes makes us see the world. A diamond is no difference. But why does it stand out from rest of the background? Because a lot of the objects we see tend to absorb the light in varying proportions. Some of it just simply go through it and exit the other end. Only a portion of it will be reflected and happens to be in the right direction to meet our eyes.

Whereas a well cut diamond or a sapphire takes the light into the stone and reflect it largely out from it’s top surface. But how does it happen. This is where the topic becomes technical.

Sapphires Sparkle is Nothing But Science

Physical properties of light is such that it gets slowed down and bend when it passes through different mediums. This phenomena is also known as refraction of the light. Recall your high school science lesson. It teaches you why the bottom of a water table looks like slightly elevated than it actually is. Because light travels from one medium to another from water to air and it gets bend.

refraction of light
Refraction of Light

How hard the light bends will depend on the density change of the two mediums it travels through. The denser the medium it gets into the more the bend of the light is.

Well, now diamond is the hardest and most dense material naturally available. When light hits the diamond on top of its surface, it gets refracted and travels into the stone. When that light reaches the other end of the diamond, say the bottom surface, it gets refracted again. But here’s the important bit. When that light hits in a certain angle, it gets refracted so much that light turns back into the stone. And again into the stone and ultimately it escapes the stone when the angle is right for it to refract out.

Science behind sapphires sparkle
Light Traps and Exit from Top

So this is where the gem or diamond cutter’s expertise comes into the equation. A gem cutter will shape the surfaces of the stone in such a way that most of the light enters the diamond or the sapphire will not travel through the bottom of the stone, but from the top of the stone. This is what we call the brilliance of a diamond.

What is Fire of a Diamond

Fire of a diamond or a sapphire is the flash of colors from the top of the stone. This time we go back to the kindergarten, where they showed us the spectrum of colors coming out of a prism. When light enters and exits a prism, the white light gets divided based on the different wave length of each color that contributed building the white light in the first place.

Sapphires sparkle
Fire is the Light Dispersion

The area along the circumference of a diamond which is also known as the crown of the stone simply acts as a prism. It is cut in a certain angle that the light refracted out of the surface gets dispersed into different colors of the spectrum. This is what we call the fire of a diamond.

Sapphires Sparkle is Not a Match for a Diamond

What we discussed above is happening in varying proportions in a diamond and a sapphire. The intensity of the brilliance and fire of the stone depend on many factors. Some of them are composition of the material and resulting density, clarity and cleanliness of the stone along with it’s purity and importantly the cut of the stone.

Diamond is built with single element carbon in a unique structure. Whereas sapphire is a material called corundum which is a natural formation of Aluminium Oxide. The inherent properties of these chemical and material compositions govern the display properties of the two stones.

Diamond (left) vs. Sapphire Sparkle
Diamond (left) vs. White Sapphire Sparkle

The chemical build of corundum and the trace elements make up the color of the sapphires. Nearly absence nature of trace elements of diamond makes it colorless, hence plays with light remarkably. Sapphires also tend to have more natural flaws than the diamonds.

Diamond is the hardest and most dense material out of the two. Diamond scores a 10 on the Mohs scale whereas Sapphire is the next in line at 9. The more the density, more likely the light gets trapped inside the stone and then reflect out from top. This is the main reason why sapphires sparkle is not as intense as of a diamond. You see less sparkle and less fire.

Why Cut Plays a Major Role in Sapphires Sparkle?

When the inherent nature of the diamond is superior to that of sapphire, the cut of the stone plays a major role. An expert gem cutter can significantly improve the sapphires sparkle by getting the depths and angles right.

A well cut white sapphires sparkle
A Well Cut White Sapphire Ring Sparkles Just Fine

A shallow cut sapphire will simply send the light across the stone. A too deep cut will also do the same. It has to be within a precise range with respect to the diameter of the stone to trap light inside the gem. You can always enhance the features of a sapphire by a re-cut, but only with expert consultation.

Sapphire vs Diamond: What is Best for My Jewelry

Having known what gives the sparkle to a sapphire and diamond, what would you prefer more. Well, it is up to your personal preference. Sparkle is not the only factor you should look at when choosing a stone. As you have now learned, sapphires sparkle is nothing but science and also the workmanship of the gem cutter.

Specially for engagement rings, the symbolic value of the stone matters a lot. In terms of the uniqueness and rarity of the stone, both diamond and sapphire are at the top. Sapphire will take the lead in cost-wise. Both diamond and sapphire are well rigid and durable to wear and tear. So I hope you will make the right decision.

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