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Gemstones that Sparkle – Which ones have the most dazzle?

Gemstones that Sparkle
Gemstones that Sparkle

We use a lot of different words when talking about gemstones. Some such as sparkle, dazzle and shine are just personal opinions while brilliance, fire and luster are technical terms that can be measured scientifically.

Some gemstones have much higher levels of brilliance, fire and luster than others and not only can this give them a quite spectacular appearance but can also be used to identify particular stones.

What do these technical terms mean? With the simplest possible explanation:

  • Brilliance – how the light bends and bounces inside the gemstone
  • Fire – when white light enters the gemstone, it scatters and breaks up into the colors of the rainbow
  • Luster – refers to the surface of the gemstones and how much light is reflected back. It can be described as adamantine as in a diamond or waxy as in turquoise with various stages in between.

So, using the above scientific properties, as well as our own eyes, to examine some stunning stones, we have come up with the top 8 gemstones that have the most sparkle or dazzle.

There are a few candidates that are at the top of our list of the most dazzling gemstones but I want to lay out a few rules first.

I really only want to include gemstones that are readily available – no point in including ones that are so rare and expensive that they belong in museums not at jewelers.

Some gemstones may have all the chemical and scientific properties – refractive index, dispersion and so on – needed to be ‘dazzling’ but are simply too dark to show any gleam or glimmer. We have selected gems that come in bright colors, light enough to glitter as well as sufficient clarity for all that light to get in and out.

Then we have cut. A gemstone with the right properties, excellent clarity and gorgeous color can be as dull as dish water without perfectly placed facets and, generally speaking, the more facets, the merrier.

A final point before we get onto the gemstones.

If you are going to get your bright and shiny gemstone made into jewelry, all the sparkle in the world can be ruined by a poorly set piece. Make sure your stone is in a setting that allows in light.


Diamonds are probably the most famous of the sparkling gemstones with many of the famous facet cuts designed especially to show off its ‘scintillation’ – the classic Round Brilliant cut for example with its 58 facets. All other gemstones are compared with diamonds when discussing their brilliance.

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Zircon has such intense fire and bright luster that they are often compared to diamonds and make a great substitute for them. Zircon can be easily distinguished from a diamond in a laboratory as it has strong double refraction – where rays enter the gemstone and then splits into two separate rays.

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Demantoid Garnet

Demantoid Garnet is a truly amazing gemstone with a green color that can rival or even beat that of an emerald and a fire that defeats diamonds. They are exceedingly rare and usually found in small carat sizes. The general preference is for deep green colors but for the fire to really blaze, the color needs to be slightly lighter, either way a stunning stone.

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Sapphires are famously blue but can be found in just about any color you can imagine – except a particular red then they become rubies. The deep blue sapphires with an almost velvety appearance do not have much of a sparkle but lighter blues along with the yellow, orange and pink gemstones can really blaze and dazzle.

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Sphene is a gemstone that you may not be familiar with as it is rarely found in jewelry stores but it has much more fire than a diamond. Sphene has one of the highest dispersion rates of any gemstone and this high number means it flashes yellow, gold, orange and red against its green background in a very impressive display of colors.

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Even less known than sphene is the very rare Sphalerite gemstones which can sparkle at three time the rate of a diamond! Add to this the intense color, outstanding luster, very high refraction and we should have one of the most famous gemstones on the planet but unfortunately it is a relatively soft stone so is more one for the collectors than the jewelers. Its rarity means it should not make our list but I just had to include it.

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Spessartite Garnet

Spessartite is another member of the versatile and colorful Garnet family. This one is usually a bright orange color with such a beautiful brilliance that they could be the best value gemstone on our list. Available in decent sizes with excellent clarity and an array of cuts and shapes, spessartite garnet presents great value for such a gorgeous gemstone.

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Tanzanite was forged by the volcanic activity that created Mt Kilimanjaro and brought to man’s attention by wildfires that turned dull brown rocks into what the President of Tiffany’s described as the most beautiful gemstone to be discovered in 2000 years. Vivid blue colors flash with red, violet and purple as this amazing gemstones is moved from angle to angle.

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For more technical information on dispersion, refraction and luster please click here

Our Informal Gemstone Sparkle Rating

Rank Gemstone Colors



Yellow, orange, red, green, colorless



Colorless, yellow, brown, green, blue, red, orange, gray, black



Yellow, brown, green, reddish


Demantoid Garnet

Yellow-green, green to emerald green



Colorless, yellow, brown, orange, red, violet, blue, green


Spessartite Garnet

Orange, orangey-yellow, red-brown



Blue, violet



Blue, colorless, pink, orange, yellow, green, purple, black

  • First Published: June-24-2021
  • Last Updated: June-24-2021
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Gems are always measured in Millimeter (mm)

Dimensions are given as;
length x width x depth,
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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

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