Laying eyes on the miraculous beauty of Diamond must make you wonder- “what is it that lends such character to it?” Most of all, “what helps it sparkle so phenomenally?” And so on and so forth. To your surprise, most of the answers to such questions lie in a simple three-letter word- ‘Cut’ of the Diamond.
Yes, you heard that right. In fact, a great deal of refined craftsmanship is required to cut a Diamond since it impacts or more specifically, elevates its beauty like no other C (clarity/ carat/color). Also, contrary to how it may sound, the term is somewhat technical. It is NOT SIMPLY a geometric shape and goes much beyond that.
The sparkle you so dearly admire about Diamond has a lot to do with its Cut. So, without further ado, let’s get to know all about it.
What does the term Diamond Cut mean?
Diamond Cut defines the proportions of its dimensions, positioning (arrangement) of its facets on the surface, and the finishing polish.
Talk about its proportions, positioning, or simply the polish, exceptional efforts are made by craftsmen to bring out the best in each one of them. That is because all of them go on to maximize the brilliance, sparkle, and in turn, the overall beauty of a Diamond. Your Diamond could have an excellent clarity grade or a beautiful color but still look dull if it isn’t cut properly.
Types of Cut
First things first, before we delve deeper into what a good cut should look like, let’s get to know the different types of cuts we can get to witness.
Technically speaking, Cut is what sets a Diamond apart the most. Different Cuts reflect the different arrangements of facets that help the Diamond exude the perfect sparkle which ultimately works as its USP.
- Brilliant Cut
Just as the name suggests, a Brilliant Cut is directed at maximizing the diamond’s brilliance, fire, and overall sparkle. This cut has a total number of 57 or 58 facets that are arranged in a symmetrical pattern. Most of the facets are angled toward each other.
The top facet, i.e., the table is the largest and the remaining facets are arranged in a series of concentric rings. This arrangement of facets helps to create a nice kaleidoscopic effect as light enters the diamond, is reflected and refracted within the diamond, and then exits to the viewer's eye. As a result, it exudes the kind of bright sparkle that we all admire.
Plus point: The best part about this cut is that the carefully calculated arrangement of facets also helps in concealing the inclusions present in the Diamond.
- Step Cut
A step-cut design, in complete justice to its name, creates a stair-step appearance that is distinctive and equally elegant. This design emphasizes on the diamond's clarity and color contrary to the fire and brilliance (as is the case with brilliant-cut).
To no surprise, all the credit goes to its unique facet arrangement. Facets are arranged in a series of parallel lines, with each line consisting of several smaller facets. As light enters the diamond and is reflected and refracted within it more straightforwardly, softer and more subdued light and color are displayed.
The most common types of Step Cut Diamonds are Emerald and Asscher Shapes. These Shapes are often chosen for their ability to showcase the diamond's clarity and color.
How do we grade the Cut of Diamond?
Since we’re now well versed with the term Cut, haven’t you been wondering- “how do I differentiate a Good cut from a poor one?” Actually, you don’t have to do much.
A Diamond Cut is graded by certified laboratories based on its symmetry, brightness, fire, and overall visual appearance. That tells you of its quality. A Cut with higher quality grade comes with a higher price tag as well.
We have the different quality grades assigned to diamond cuts laid out here:
This is hands down the highest quality grade out there for Diamond cuts with only the top 2-3 % of Diamonds belonging to it. Ideal Cut is not only popular for reflecting most of the light that enters the Diamond, but also for possessing a uniform pattern of light and dark areas. The proportioning is done and facets are arranged in a manner so as to maximize its brilliance, sparkle, and fire, making it all the more aesthetically pleasing.
Note: To no surprise, an Ideal Cut Diamond comes at an equally high price tag.
- Very Good
Only second to the Ideal cut, this quality grade is home to only 15 % of Diamonds. They exude a phenomenal sparkle close to the Ideal cut. That is because most of the light that enters the Diamond is reflected. But if you look closely, you’d notice that diamonds that belong to this category are slightly darker in the center along with the edges. They also possess a splintery pattern (that keeps them away from moving a grade up). That, in turn, makes them fetch a slightly lower price tag than Ideal Cut
Figuratively, only the top 25 % of Diamonds fit in this quality grade. Most of the light that enters the Diamond is reflected, though not as much as in excellent and very good quality grades. But you can expect it to be comparatively dark around the girdle and possess a pattern not as uniform as the higher-grade diamonds.
Diamonds belonging to this category are less sought after since they possess very little brilliance and sparkle. Apart from that, what makes them not as desirable is the fact that they are dark around the girdle as well as the table.
Diamonds belonging to this category are least desirable since they exhibit negligible brilliance and sparkle. As a result, they are dark and dull in appearance. On top of that, they are also proportioned poorly.
Features that determine a well-cut Diamond
If you get into the depth of it, you’d detect that the visual appeal that a good cut lends to the Diamond is all about its play with light. AND the factors that contribute to the light interaction make all the difference. These 3 most crucial factors are- Brilliance, fire, and scintillation. These help a Cut fetch a higher quality grade.
You can consider Brilliance to measure the brightness of a diamond. Precisely, Brilliance describes the amount of white light reflected from the surface and interior of a Diamond.
Ever got mesmerized witnessing a spectral play of colors in Diamond? Actually, when light enters a diamond, it is split into its individual spectral colors, which are then reflected back to the observer. This rainbow-like effect of light dispersion is often known as fire.
The slight flashes of light that you see (and admire) when you move a diamond or when the light source changes are termed as scintillation. This is a result of light reflecting off the diamond's facets and surfaces, creating sparkles and glitter.
But, don’t undermine the importance of these physical components of a cut:
The weight ratio is nothing but the ratio of the weight of a diamond to its diameter. A well-cut diamond will have a balanced distribution of weight, with the right balance between the depth and diameter of the stone.
The polish refers to the smoothness and shine of the diamond's surface. It’s only fair to include this component since a well-cut diamond would any day reflect light more effectively.
Symmetry refers to the alignment of the diamond's facets and the uniformity of its shape. The grading laboratories place great significance on it since a well-proportioned, symmetrical diamond is always efficient at reflecting light. That in turn makes the diamond appear aesthetically pleasing.
Don’t be surprised to note that this factor actually comes in handy while grading diamond cut too. It simply means that the facets must be strong and the overall cut must be durable enough to withstand any damage sufficed by the diamond.
Difference between Diamond Cut and Shape
The terms- Diamond Cut and Shape have been home to long-term confusion. You can call this confusion a result of the similarity between the picture that both of these terms paint in our minds, or passing on of the long tradition of using them interchangeably. But the important part remains that it may be high time to end the confusion once and for all.
- Diamond Cut:
Unlike shape, the cut is more on the technical side. This simple term goes on to describe the quality of the Diamond’s finish, symmetry, and proportions, which together dictate how well it interacts with light. You’d be surprised to note the difference a good cut can bring in the diamond’s sparkle and in turn, its overall visual appearance.
- Diamond Shape:
Shape, on the other hand, just defines the physical outline of the diamond. Round, Princess, Oval, and Asscher shapes are some of the many examples. What also differs it from the cut is the fact that the shape of the Diamond can never impact its sparkle and brilliance in the way that the cut does.
Let’s understand the anatomy of Diamond
The terms associated with a Diamond’s physical structure may (understandably) sound foreign to a layman. But understanding them enough isn’t as tough as it may look with this go-to anatomy guide that you can always rely on:
The largest and the topmost flat facet of a Diamond is called the table.
The crown of a diamond refers to the upper part of the diamond above the girdle. It is comprised of the table and the bezel facets (the smaller, sloping facets that surround the table and extend to the girdle).
The girdle of a diamond refers to the narrow band that separates the crown from the pavilion. It is the widest part of the diamond and is used to hold the diamond in place in the setting.
The pavilion of a diamond indicates the bottom part of the diamond below the girdle. It includes several pavilion facets, which you will see as the smaller, sloping facets that direct light back up to the crown.
The diameter of a diamond simply means the measurement of the widest part of the diamond, from one edge of the girdle to the other.
The depth of a diamond is described by the measurement of the distance between the diamond's top surface (table) and its bottom surface (culet).
The Culet refers to the small, pointed facet at the bottom of the Diamond.
Note: In case you got confused, Facet simply means a flat surface cut into the diamond to reflect light efficiently. A diamond typically has many facets, each with a specific angle and shape, which together determine its sparkle, quality, and overall appearance.