Glow Up

When Andy and I were looking at diamonds for my engagement ring years ago, I fell in love with my current stone because it is sparkly, crisply white, and a well-proportioned oval. I remember our consultant mentioning in passing that the diamond had some fluorescence. When I pressed her on the implications of that, she explained that fluorescent diamonds can sometimes look “oily” in bright light (whatever that means). I didn’t think much of it at the time. But for years thereafter, when I would glance at my ring in full sun, I had a nagging feeling that its fluorescence was somehow a flaw–even though, had I not known, I never would have thought a thing of it.

Fast forward to this year. I was recently scrolling through Instagram and saw an ad for Luminous Diamonds, which are marketed as being extra fancy because they are fluorescent! Somewhere along the way, this unusual property has been elevated from a less-than-desirable characteristic to an actual selling point:


So what exactly is fluorescence? According to the Luminous Diamonds website:

When conditions are just right, the nitrogen atoms in natural diamonds form patterns of perfect triangles, or ‘N3 centers,’ which reflects light in a truly unique way. Rather than being transparent in UV light, diamonds with sufficiently high quantities of these ‘N3 centers’ absorb and transform invisible UV ‘black light’ into a beautiful blue glow.

The way to test fluorescence is to shine a black light on a diamond and see if it glows (side note: it’s interesting that so many things that are invisible to the naked eye magically appear under black light–I’m looking at you, gross hotel rooms!). Simple as that.

Here is a demonstration with my very own engagement ring that shows its medium fluorescence:

Naturally, I was curious to test my other diamond pieces, as well. I discovered that, of the 17 individual diamonds on my eternity band, 3 are fluorescent–one extremely so (see below)–and 14 are not at all:

The center stones in my diamond studs, featured in this post, are not fluorescent at all, but some of the supporting diamonds in the halo are:

If you’d like to test your own jewelry at home, you can purchase an inexpensive black light here (and when you’re done investigating your diamonds, you can look for bed bugs and dog urine around your home. How exciting!).

Photo showing the intensity of diamond fluorescence described as: None, Faint, Medium, Strong and Very Strong under UV lighting (top) and under normal lighting (bottom).

So, does fluorescence affect the value of a diamond? According to this source, it depends on the underlying color of the stone and the strength of the fluorescence. For diamonds with a hint of yellow, blue fluorescence can actually make the diamond appear white or colorless. So very strong fluorescence in a diamond with color I through M (where D is colorless and the closer you move to Z the stone becomes yellower) can increase the value of the stone up to 2%, whereas the same fluorescence in a colorless diamond can decrease the value by 3-15%. Read more here and here.


Who knows whether Luminous Diamonds will have real sticking power or be a (glowing) flash in the pan. In any case, I’ve come to appreciate my fluorescent diamonds as exemplars of a pretty cool and unique scientific phenomenon.

The Thing That Shall Not Be Named

There are few (if any) things jewelry-related that I despise more than the term for a gift a mother receives upon birthing a baby (here’s a hint: it rhymes with “smush schmesent”). Seriously hate. To me, this term implies the mother is nothing but a means to an end, a beast of burden whose sole worth is determined by her ability to produce a baby. It’s such a harsh term, so devoid of love and romance–not to mention that it completely excludes same-sex parents, parents who adopt, parents who use surrogates, WOMEN WHO HAVE C-SECTIONS, etc. So I will not be using that term here, or ever. Mmmm-k?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the concept of giving your partner a gift upon the welcoming of a child. In fact, I think that gesture can be quite lovely. So please don’t call me a hypocrite when I tell you that I received some of my most favorite jewelry from my husband, Andy, to commemorate the births of our own two kids.

In advance of my son Theo’s arrival in January 2017, Andy and I picked out (read: I picked them out and announced to Andy that I really wanted them, so could he please order them and pretend to give them to me as a gift to celebrate Theo’s birth, but definitely not as a you-know-what, and also please don’t wait until Theo is born to give them to me, because that would start to look an awful lot like a “reward” for birthing our child, which is really gross, you know?) this beautiful pair of diamond studs. They’re from True Facet, which sells both new and consignment fine jewelry. (Though my earrings were new, I’ve had great experiences buying pre-owned jewelry here, too!) I wear these earrings almost every day, and especially love their unique octagonal shape and delicate halos. They remind me of winter ice crystals, which is fitting with Theo’s January birth:

Before my daughter Sloane joined the brood in February 2019, I picked out this diamond spiral ring in “black gold” (“The Graduate Ring“) from Noémie to commemorate her impending arrival. (Note: black gold doesn’t exist; it’s just black-rhodium-plated white gold.) This ring is so different from anything else I own, and so very, very sparkly. I’ve raved about Noémie here before but I’ll say it again: they sell stunning, ethically sourced, fairly priced diamond pieces that ship overnight for nearly instant gratification.


Here’s a photo of me wearing my ring with a very small Sloanie:


I cherish these pieces and their sentimental connection to my kids. They remind me of the special times in my life when Andy and I were so focused inward on our burgeoning family unit, contemplating the arrival of our babies, and all the anxiety and excitement and uncertainty and anticipation and joy that came with that. So, rather than calling these the term I refuse to say, I prefer to think of them as beautiful, lasting reminders of the wonderful little lives we created together–Partnership Presents, if you will.


What special gifts have you given or received to commemorate the welcoming of a child?