Fluorescence

This discussion has been reprinted from Winter 1997, Volume 33, Issue 4 of Gems and Gemology, which is distributed by the GIA, Gemological Institute of America.

A Contribution to Understanding the Effect of Blue Fluorescence on the Appearance of Diamonds

Thomas M. Moses, Ilene M. Reinitz, Mary L. Johnson, John M. King, and James E. Shigley

Some gem diamonds fluoresce, most commonly blue, to the concentrated long-wave ultraviolet radiation of a UV lamp. There is a perception in the trade that this fluorescence has a negative effect on the overall appearance of such a diamond. Visual observation experiments were conducted to study this relationship. Four sets of very similar round brilliant diamonds, covering the color range from colorless to faint yellow, were selected for the different commonly encountered strengths of blue fluorescence they represented. These diamonds were then observed by trained graders, trade professionals, and average observers in various stone positions and lighting environments. For the average observer, meant to represent the jewelry buying public, no systematic effects of fluorescence were detected. Even the experienced observers did not consistently agree on the effects of fluorescence from one stone to the next. In general, the results revealed that strongly blue fluorescent diamonds were perceived to have a better color appearance when viewed table-up, with no discernible trend table-down. Most observers saw no relationship between fluorescence and transparency. Photo © Harold and Erica Van Pelt