Difference between Diamond and Brilliant. The words “diamond” and “brilliant” have been borrowed from French into the Russian language. It’s not surprising, as many luxury items that made their way to Russia from Europe also brought their names along. Often, “brilliant” and “adamant” are used interchangeably to refer to items made from cubic allotropes of carbon, or simply put, diamonds. But is such usage of these words correct? To answer this question, let’s try to understand the differences between a diamond and a brilliant and what they have in common.

Etymology of the Terms

Although the word “brilliant” came into the Russian language from French, it cannot be considered a French invention. This language, belonging to the Romance group, borrowed heavily from the speech of Roman legionaries. The word “berillare,” derived from “berillus,” which in Vulgar Latin means “precious stone,” made its way into the French language, leaving its form “brillare” in Italian (which is a descendant of Vulgar Latin), meaning “to shine, sparkle.” Interestingly, the name of the chemical element beryllium is etymologically related to “brilliant.”

The word “diamond,” on the other hand, has German origins (diamant). Most linguists believe that the term was borrowed indirectly through the French language, but the question remains a subject of debate. This word means “diamond.” So, what is the difference between a diamond and a brilliant? Anyone familiar with this topic knows that a brilliant is a faceted diamond that has been shaped and polished by a jeweler to make it sparkle in the light.

Diamond or Brilliant?

Now that we’ve explored the origins of the terms, let’s determine if there are any semantic (meaning-based) differences between them. Most dictionaries treat the word “diamond” as obsolete, while also providing its meaning as “diamond, brilliant.” In other words, whether a diamond is faceted or not, you can use the word “diamond” to refer to it. On the other hand, “brilliant” has a more precise semantic criterion: it exclusively refers to faceted diamonds.

Does this mean that these words are not synonyms? Some sources argue that “diamond” is the same as “brilliant.” The first word is now rarely used in everyday language and has moved into the realm of marketing: there are many production and trade companies with similar names, all somehow related to the jewelry industry. From the information presented, we can draw one conclusion: diamond and brilliant are synonyms. There are slight semantic differences between them, as with most synonyms, but these differences are not critical. As a final note, it’s interesting to mention that in the German-French typographic system, “diamond” and “brilliant” are used to denote font size in 4 and 3 points, respectively, corresponding to 1.5 and 1.128 millimeters.