When buying a diamond, one of the decisions you have to make is what cut to select. Let’s see how important diamond cut is and learn more about how to choose the right cut for your stone.
What Is Diamond Cut?
Cut is one of the four most important diamond quality characteristics (the other three being color, clarity, and carat).
It refers to the way a diamond is shaped, or cut, into a polished, faceted stone out of a rough piece of material. More specifically, cut denotes the configuration in which the facets of such a stone are arranged, as well as their form.
Diamond Cut vs. Diamond Shape
Diamond shape is often used to denote diamond cut, but these two terms do not mean exactly the same thing in jewelry.
While shape refers to the visible outline and general form of a diamond, cut has a more comprehensive meaning that also includes the number, shape, dimensions, and arrangement of the stone’s facets.
For example, the princess cut, the Asscher cut, and the radiant cut all have a rectangular shape, but these cuts differ in their proportions and the way their facets are shaped and aligned.
How Important Is Diamond Cut?
It is fair to say that cut is perhaps the most important quality characteristic of a diamond, sometimes more important than color, clarity, and carat weight. This does not mean that it is not important how clear or colorless a stone is.
However, the way a diamond is cut determines how well it will reflect light and as a result, how much brilliance and sparkle it will have.
And a diamond cut with the right proportions can look so brilliant that its sparkle could make a not-so-perfect color or clarity less visible.
Conversely, a diamond of the same clarity and color grade but with a poorer cut will not have as much sparkle. Not only will such a stone look less bright, but its natural flaws and yellowish tints will be more visible because of the reduced brilliance.
What Criteria Should You Use to Select Diamond Cut?
For diamonds that are graded and come with a certificate, you can select a cut by looking at the cut grade of each stone.
You can also compare diamonds on their level of brilliance, and since this is a characteristic that is directly affected by the stone’s dimensions, you will be indirectly selecting for a more proportional cut.
Sometimes, you can also select a cut with certain proportions that fit some specific need you have in mind.
For example, for a setting that hides a diamond’s bottom, you can opt for a stone that is cut more shallow than usual so that when mounted, more of its surface will be visible and it will look bigger.
How Diamond Cut Is Graded and How to Choose a Grade
Each diamond of a certain cut can be graded depending on how close its proportions are to some predetermined benchmark.
For example, for the classic round cut, there is the so-called “ideal cut,” which has dimensions that make the diamond reflect light in a way that maximizes brilliance.
The closer a round stone’s proportions are to these ideal dimensions, the more highly its cut is graded.
Since the round brilliant is one of the most popular cuts, there are several well-developed grading standards in place to evaluate it.
One of the most often referenced systems is the one used by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America), which assigns the following grades (from highest to lowest): Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor.
There are other cut grading systems, and their grades are very similar to the ones used by the GIA. For example, the AGS (American Gem Society) uses the following grades: Ideal, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor.
It is not recommended that you go below a cut grade of Good on the GIA scale, as Fair and Poor cuts have limited brilliance and look somewhat lifeless.
There are other diamond cuts such as the pear cut, the emerald cut, the princess cut, etc. The grading systems developed to evaluate these cuts are not as sophisticated as the ones used to assess the round cut.
However, you can still use the grades such cuts are assigned when making your decision, and their grading scales are very similar to the ones used for the round cut.
How Diamond Color and Clarity Affect the Selection of Cut
When selecting cut, color and clarity become increasingly important the lower their grades are.
This is because the closer a diamond’s proportions are to the ideal dimensions, the more brilliance it will have, and the added sparkle will help conceal the inclusions and color imperfections of the stone.
So, if you decide to go down the color or clarity scale, do not also relax your cut standards. Rather, opt for a higher cut grade to compensate for the lower color and clarity.
Cut Quality vs. Diamond Size
One of the most often asked questions by diamond shoppers is whether they should opt for a bigger diamond with a lower cut grade, or if they should sacrifice size for higher cut quality.
First, as long as you don’t go as low as a cut graded Fair or Poor, you should be fine.
Don’t forget, however, that bigger diamonds are more visible, and if there are some yellow tints and noticeable inclusions, they will be more prominent.
As already mentioned, a lower cut grade means less brilliance to mask these imperfections.
If you are getting a diamond with lower clarity or color quality and are concerned about the visibility of your stone’s flaws, choose a smaller diamond with a better cut.
Diamond Cut and the Choice of Setting
Don’t forget to consider the setting for your diamond when selecting cut. For instance, cuts with thin or sharp edges should be put in mountings that protect their vulnerable parts.
As an example, the pointed ends of a pear-cut diamond should be covered by metal (V-shaped prongs can be used) for the sake of safety.
Diamonds with visible yellow tints and a lower-grade cut that cannot mask them are best set in yellow gold, which will absorb the tints and make the stone look whiter.
Such stones should not be put in metallic settings such as those made of platinum or white gold, as the diamond’s poor color will stand out against the brighter backdrop.
Where to Buy Diamonds and Diamond Jewelry?
For diamond jewelry, we highly recommend James Allen because it shows real photos and videos for each diamond so you can take a 360-degree look at any stone before buying it.
For colored diamonds, we recommend Leibish & Co., which specializes in fancy color diamonds (use code JewelryNotes200 at checkout to get a 5% discount).