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Understanding Gemstone Brilliance and What Makes Moissanite Out-Sparkle Other Gems

Jul 14, 2017
Understanding Gemstone Brilliance and What Makes Moissanite Out-Sparkle Other Gems

What is gemstone brilliance?

Your gemstone’s sparkle, or brilliance, is an optical property affected by its brilliance refractive index or BRI. When talking about brilliance in gemstones, we are referring to the light refracting in the interior of the stone, not the light reflecting off its surface. Brilliance is one of three terms used to describe the appearance of a gemstone as it reflects light. The other two are fire and luster. You can read more about a gemstone’s fire in this blog post.

What makes moissanite more brilliant than other gems?

A stones refractive index is determined by directing light into the gemstone and then measuring the speed light reflects or refracts off its facets. The numerical result is calculated by comparing the speed of light in air vs. the speed of light in the gemstone.

All minerals are measured on a scale and range from 1.2 to approximately 3. With a brilliance refractive index of 2.65 to 2.69, moissanite is the world’s most brilliant gemstone. This means the speed of light refracting in moissanite is 2.65 to 2.69 times slower than the speed of light in the air. Similarly, the refractive index of a diamond is 2.42, meaning the speed of light in the diamond is 2.42 times slower than the speed of light in air. 

Gemstone Refraction Index
Moissanite 2.65 - 2.69
Diamond 2.41 - 2.42
Ruby 1.76 - 1.77
Sapphire 1.76 - 1.77
Emerald 1.56 - 1.60



When looking at your gemstone, it’s brilliance is simply the amount of light reflecting out of the crown of the stone to your eye. Each gemstone’s angle of refraction is unique, meaning every stone will refract light differently. This helps jewelers distinguish between gemstones such as rubies and garnets.

Does Moissanite Retain Its Brilliance?

Yes. Your moissanite’s brilliance will be the same on day 3,570 as it was on day one.  Additionally, Charles & Colvard provides a warranty on every gemstone, guaranteeing that every Charles & Colvard created moissanite gemstone will maintain its brilliance and fire for the lifetime of the stone.

The brilliance of moissanite is unrivaled among popular gemstones today. For more information about moissanite’s qualities, refer to our Moissanite FAQ Section.

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