Good Question. What is diamond refractive index ?
First it is important to know what “refractive index” means. In the most basic of terms, a refractive index is a comparison of the measure of the speed of light from one medium to another. In this case we are talking about the measure of the speed of light as it travels through diamond compared to speed of light through air. Diamonds refractive index is a measurement of 2.417. This means that light travels through a diamond 2.417 times faster than it travels through air.
According to Websters dictionary, this is their definition of refractive index is : the ratio of the speed of radiation (such as light) in one medium (such as air, glass, or a vacuum) to that in another medium.
Different gemstones will have different refractive indexes. However, if i am not mistaken, diamond has the highest refractive index of most natural gemstones.
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Joseph R. Villarreal, Graduate Gemologist (G.I.A.)