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: Gemstone Brilliance & Luster
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) / Gems With the Most Brilliance and Fire

Is there a Difference Between Brilliance and Luster in Gemstones?

Gemstone Brillance Versus Luster

Brilliance, fire and luster have loose meanings in everyday language, but they are technical terms in gemology. Brilliance refers to the light reflected back to the eye from the interior of a gem. Thus only transparent gemstones can be said to exhibit brilliance, particularly those that have faceted-cut. Luster, on the other hand, refers to the light reflected from a gemtone's surface. Brilliance is graded from low to high, but luster is usually described in terms such as vitreous (glass-like), adamantine (diamond-like), silky, resinous and greasy (jade and opal). Pearls and gemstone cabochons are often graded by their luster, while faceted gemstones are often graded by their brilliance (in addition to color). View our refractive index chart to see which gemstones exhibit the most brilliance. Read more about gemstone brilliance, luster and fire and in our in-depth article.

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  • First Published: February-20-2006
  • Last Updated: August-09-2017
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Size and Weight

Gems are always measured in Millimeter (mm)

Dimensions are given as;
length x width x depth,
except for round stones which are;
diameter x depth

Select gems by size, not by weight!
Gem varieties vary in density, so carat weight is not a good indication of size

Note: 1ct = 0.2g

Size Comparison Chart