Contrast brilliance is a critical factor of diamond light performance. Yet is is one of the most overlooked characteristics of the selection process. Perhaps it is because most people make the mistake of thinking that the overall cut grade tells the full story.
In other words, people wrongfully assume that an overall cut grade of GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal is good enough. After all, that is the highest rating available from the labs, so it should guarantee the best light performance.
However hidden factors of diamond cut quality, such as contrast brilliance can make or break a diamond in terms of our perception of sparkle.
The 1.708 carat, E-color, VS-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond featured to the left, exhibits a high level of contrast due to the overall diamond cut quality, and as a result it will look fantastic in practically all lighting environments!
Why Diamond Contrast Brilliance Is Important:
A high degree of contrast brilliance is critical to diamond visual performance. Because it creates a visual separation between the light and dark areas of a diamond. In that case, it improves the visual experience that our eyes perceive by creating depth and sparkle.
In terms of actual sparkle, most people are familiar with brilliance thatis white sparkle. And dispersion or “fire” that is colored sparkle. There is also scintillation, which is the sparkle created by the difference in contrast between the light and dark sections of a diamond when the diamond is in motion. This is also known as dynamic contrast and it is improved dramatically by higher levels of optical symmetry, which is the precision of facet shape and alignment.
Another type of contrast is the static contrast that is created by the visible difference between the light and dark areas of a diamond while the diamond is sitting still.
The static contrast of a diamond can be judged by looking at the degree of contrast exhibited between the arrows pattern and the lighter sections of the diamond in clarity photographs like the one provided for this 1.708 carat, E-color, VS-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond.
Notice how it seems to POP off the page even though it’s not moving! By the way, the arrows pattern is dark because of the shadow created by our heads blocking light from reflecting off of the pavilion main facets which are located on the underside of the diamond.
Benefits of High Contrast Brilliance Diamonds:
The effect that the diamond is sparkling when in fact it is not moving is known as contrast brilliance. It is the direct result of proper proportions combined with exceptional levels of optical symmetry.
Subtle differences in the offset for the crown and pavilion angles of a diamond, combined with variations of lower girdle halves measurements and star facet length, as well as any variation in the indexing of the facets, will have a dramatic effect upon the degree of contrast exhibited by a diamond.
For instance take a look at the wide range of contrast exhibited by these round brilliant cut diamonds that were produced by my search for diamonds on James Allen. Be sure to use that link because it contains my preferred selection criteria.
In other words, it contains my presets for polish, symmetry, table diameter, and total depth. And will limit the results to those with an overall cut grade of either AGS Ideal-0 or GIA Excellent.
Contributing Factors of Contrast Brilliance:
The primary difference between the diamonds above are the crown and pavilion angle measurements. That combined with different levels of optical precision that is the consistency of facet shape, size, and alignment. The diamonds also feature different lower girdle halves and star facet measurements.
The degree of contrast brilliance between them and the 1.708 carat, E-color, VS-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond is clearly visible. Of course, it is also apparent that James Allen offers diamonds that exhibit varying degrees of contrast brilliance. In that case, you just have to look through their inventory to find the ones that perform better.
It just takes a little more effort to find them because they offer a wider range of diamond cut quality than Brian Gavin. After all, he specializes in the niche of super ideal cut diamonds that exhibit high levels of contrast brilliance. As long as you stick to the collections within his private label, you've got it made.
Where to Buy Diamonds with High Contrast Brilliance:
In my experience, most standard ideal cut diamonds do not exhibit strong contrast brilliance. That is because they lack the degree of optical precision to really make them sizzle. In the event that you're looking for the best light performance, then I suggest a super ideal cut diamond from:
One of the things that I appreciate about these vendors is that they provide the images necessary to verify the light performance. In other words, they provide ASET and H&A Scope images so you can check for light leakage and contrast brilliance.
Once you know what to look for, it’s easy to flip through the clarity photographs and eliminate the options that exhibit low levels of contrast. Or, those that show signs of uneven distribution of light, tips of arrows that fade out, missing arrow shafts, etc.
Of course, I'm happy to help if you'd like help finding a diamond. Just click on the banner below to send me a message.