Understanding the Optical Properties of Cut Gemstones

Cut GemstonesThe optical properties of cut gemstones refer to how light behaves on or in the stone. Although many of these characteristics can only be revealed or measured using special instruments, some of them can be seen with the naked eye. For example, the luster, transparency, and color of cut gemstones can all be easily identified without equipment.

  • Luster – The luster of a gemstone is how much light is reflected off of the surface and the quality of this light. Although every stone has a naturally inherent luster, the actual luster on any given stone may vary based on whether or not inclusions are present and if chemical or physical changes, such as oxidation, have occurred that may have an effect on the gem’s surface.
  • Transparency – Transparency is one of the most easily identified optical characteristics of cut gemstones and refers to how much light is capable of getting through the gem. The transparency of a gem is affected not only by its crystalline nature, but also but the condition of its surface and any inclusions.
  • Color – Selective absorption of wavelengths of light determines the color of a gemstone. Although light appears colorless, scientists have found that it is made up of a wide spectrum of hues. Due to selective absorption, the color of a gem depends on which wavelengths of light are absorbed and reflected back to the eye of the viewer.

At Mosteller American Gemstones, we are the only place you need to turn to for all of your gemstone needs. If you want to know more about the optical properties of a gem, we’d be more than happy to give you further information.