An efficient method to enhance visible luminescence in a visibly non-luminescent organic-soluble 4-(tert butyl)benzyl mercaptan (SBB)-stabilized Au25 cluster has been developed. This method relies mainly on enhancing the surface charge density on the cluster by creating an additional shell of thiolate on the cluster surface, which enhances visible luminescence. The viability of this method has been demonstrated by imparting red luminescence to various ligand-protected quantum clusters (QCs), observable to the naked eye. The bright red luminescent material derived from Au25SBB18 clusters was characterized using UV-vis and luminescence spectroscopy, TEM, SEM/EDS, XPS, TG, ESI and MALDI mass spectrometry, which collectively proposed an uncommon molecular formula of Au29SBB24S, suggested to be due to different stapler motifs protecting the Au25 core. The critical role of temperature on the emergence of luminescence in QCs has been studied. The restoration of the surface ligand shell on the Au25 cluster and subsequent physicochemical modification to the cluster were probed by various mass spectral and spectroscopic techniques. Our results provide fundamental insights into the ligand characteristics determining luminescence in QCs. © The Royal Society of Chemistry.