During this unprecedented time, there has never been a more meaningful moment to overcome challenges, to make a connection to products that are symbolic, and to maintain a positive outlook. That’s the idea behind the movement to promote fluorescent diamonds, a naturally occurring characteristic that occurs in 25–35% of diamonds.
Simply put, fluorescence is the presence of nitrogen in carbon that, when exposed to UV, or black, light, emits an inner glow, primarily blue in color. In the past, the fine jewelry industry misjudged these naturally occurring characteristics as flaws and a reason to discount the gems using milkiness as the main argument. But milky fluorescent diamonds are extremely rare, and the vast majority of fluorescent diamonds are not milky.
In fact, fluorescence is a valuable identifying feature of natural diamonds and can add to the aesthetic beauty of the stones. HRD Antwerp, a European authority in diamond certification, conducted a study in 2018 and found that fluorescence, under normal conditions and even when outdoors, has a positive influence on the color of diamonds. And jewelers are taking advantage of optical attributes, specifically glow-in-the-dark characteristics, for their designs. You won’t see the underlying pattern until the right conditions are met—a secret that the consumer may choose to share with others, or not.
Rebecca Foerster, president of the Alrosa, USA Inc., an affiliate of the world’s largest diamond mine, Russia-based Alrosa Group of Companies, is on the forefront of changing the industry’s perception of fluorescence. The company is developing a new line of fluorescent diamonds in commercial quantities, launching a brand.
“It’s a new story to tell, a new customer experience, and a business opportunity,” says Foerster, adding that Alrosa’s consumer studies reveal the majority of respondents said they would be willing to pay premium prices for fluorescent stones. “Our values may realign, our priorities may shift, and what better time to apply this same kind of thinking and perspective to diamonds? We need today’s consumer to find new ways to connect to natural diamonds.”
One might question whether promoting fluorescent diamonds during a pandemic is a viable opportunity. However, historically, diamonds do well in times of crisis, as people turn to more symbolic and emotional purchases. And the concept of inner light certainly resonates in a time of darkness.
The venture is also supported by ongoing science and gemological research on fluorescence. Jason Quick, executive director of American Gem Society Laboratories, explains: “One of the ways we like to think about fluorescence is to compare with fancy color diamonds; both phenomena are due to very interesting optical centers within the crystal lattice that absorb or interact with light at different wavelengths. Is a fancy vivid pink diamond due to something that went wrong during its natural formation? Or is it due to a natural process that went amazingly, beautifully right? Likewise, fluorescence can also be viewed and appreciated as a cool natural phenomenon adding character and dimension to the diamond.”
As the industry grapples with the current pandemic, Alrosa believes fluorescence is the way of the future. “We believe fluorescence is relevant, especially during what we are experiencing today,” says Foerster. “We must all look inside ourselves and find our inner light, for positive energy and moving forward.”