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The Distinction Between Shine and Reflect with a Focus on Diamonds

The Distinction Between Shine and Reflect with a Focus on Diamonds

Diamonds have always held a special place in the hearts of people across the globe. It is likely that you have wondered whether diamonds shine or reflect.

If, like many others, you believe that diamonds have an exceptional shine, let me assure you that this is not true.

Diamonds do not shine; instead, they reflect light. Rather than emitting their own light, diamonds reflect any incoming light due to their physical properties.

Let’s also discuss the difference between shine and reflect. When an object emits its own light, it shines, while when it reflects, it bounces the light.

This means that the amount of light reflecting off a diamond will be significantly greater than any amount it could emit on its own. It’s this reflection that gives diamonds their famous sparkle and makes them so captivating.

The reflective properties of diamonds are due to two key elements; the diamond’s hardness and its refractive index. The former is simply how hard a diamond is, which means light can’t be absorbed or penetrate it easily. The latter refers to the angle at which light enters and exits an object, and it’s the angle that allows light to be scattered and reflected in multiple directions.

Let’s learn more about the two questions in depth.


Shine is a way of describing how bright and reflective something appears. Shine is caused by light reflecting off a surface.

Examples of things that shine include the sun, stars in the night sky, metal objects like jewelry or cars, glass surfaces like windows, polished wood furniture, and even certain types of fabrics. 

Define shine
A bunch of diamonds

The amount of shine an object reflects depends on its surface and how it interacts with light. Shine can also be used figuratively to describe something that appears attractive or impressive.

For example, someone might say a show’s production value “really shines” if the set design and costumes are incredibly stunning.


Reflect is the process of throwing back or reflecting light, sound, heat, or other energy.

An example of this would be a mirror or a polished surface such as metal, glass, and water. Other examples of things that can reflect are surfaces with a metallic finish, certain types of paint, and reflective tape. 

Objects that emit their own light, such as a firefly or glow-in-the-dark stars, can also be considered reflective. In addition, certain fabrics are designed to reflect light and heat, such as liners used in tents or material that is made with reflective yarns.

Objects that appear to shine include diamonds and other gemstones, which have many tiny flat surfaces that reflect light, and some types of metal, such as chrome or stainless steel.

Shine vs. Reflect

Shine Reflect 
Definition The ability of a surface to emit light and create a bright appearanceThe ability of an object or material to redirect light in a specific direction
Process Emitting light when an external source of energy is directed onto a surfaceRedirecting the existing light in different directions
Usage Used for creating bright appearances and boosting visibility in dimly lit areasUsed to enhance visibility by redirecting light from one place to another
Effects Makes surfaces appear more vibrant and attractiveEnhances visibility in dimly lit areas by redirecting light from one place to another
Examples Mirror, polished metalsMirrored surfaces, polished metals, reflective paints, and diamonds
Differences Between Shine and Reflect

Do Diamonds Shine or Reflect?

Diamonds reflect light in a brilliant and dazzling show of sparkles. The light entering a diamond is refracted or split into its component colors, like a prism breaking white light into a rainbow.

Do diamonds shine or reflect?
Girl getting amused by the diamond’s shine

Each facet of the diamond acts as a tiny mirror, reflecting the light back out to create intense flashes of color.

As it turns out, the amount of color a diamond reflects is directly related to the cut quality and how much light it can capture. Diamonds that are expertly cut are expensive and will sparkle more than those with an inferior cut.

The brilliance of a diamond is also dependent on its clarity, which determines the number of inclusions present and how much light can pass through them without being blocked. The better the clarity, the more the diamond is likely to sparkle and shine.

How to Differentiate Between Fake and Real Diamonds?

When it comes to diamonds, you want to ensure you know what you’re getting. Natural diamonds are formed in the earth’s mantle under tremendous heat and pressure over millions of years and contain carbon atoms arranged in a specific pattern – called a “crystal lattice” – unique to natural diamonds.

On the other hand, fake diamonds are created in a laboratory by combining elements like carbon with trace amounts of other minerals and metals.

Simulated diamonds usually lack flaws or imperfections common to real diamonds, making them look more brilliant. In addition, fake diamonds often contain visible lines on their surface, whereas real diamonds will not.

Finally, real diamonds are much more expensive than fake ones, as the former has a longer and more complex creation process.

Overall, if you’re looking for a diamond, it is essential to learn about the differences between real and fake to ensure that your purchase is authentic and valuable.

Watch this video if you want to learn how to distinguish real and fake diamonds.

Real vs. Fake Diamond

Do Diamonds Shine in the Dark? 

Diamonds do not shine in the dark. Diamonds are known for their ability to refract and reflect light, giving them their characteristic sparkle.

This can only happen when there is a source of light present. Without any source of light, diamonds will appear black or dull in the darkness.

However, if there is some ambient light present, you will be able to see the diamond’s sparkle. It is important to note that some diamonds may appear brighter than others due to their cut or clarity.

A poorly cut diamond with fewer facets will not have as much sparkle as a properly faceted one. Similarly, diamonds with inclusions can also prevent light from reflecting off them and consequently appear duller.


  • Shine is the term used to describe how bright and reflective something appears; it is caused by light reflecting off a surface.
  • Reflect is the process of throwing back or reflecting light, sound, heat, or other energy. Mirrors and polished surfaces like metal, glass, and water are examples of things that can reflect.
  • Diamonds reflect light in a brilliant and dazzling show of sparkles. The amount of color a diamond reflects is directly related to the cut quality and clarity.

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