Diamond Cut

One of the most defining characteristics of a diamond is its cut. While high grades of color, clarity, and carat weight also contribute to a diamond's appeal, it's the cut that determines the symmetry of the stone's facets, its overall proportions, and its ability to reflect light. An expertly cut diamond will achieve high levels of brilliance, sparkle, and durability. Even if a diamond is graded well in other areas, a poor cut can result in a dull, muted effect.

Diamond Cut Description

A diamond's cut is an integral factor in determining its brilliance and fire. Even a flawless diamond will appear dull and muted if the cut is poor. When evaluating the cut of a diamond, there are some core characteristics that should be considered:

Depth & Depth Percentage

A diamond's depth can be determined by measuring the entire stone's height from the table to the culet and is described in millimeters. The depth percentage measures the ratio of the stone's depth (from the table to the culet) to the diamond's total diameter. To learn about the ideal depth percentage for each diamond shape, visit our Diamond Shape page.

Table & Table Percentage

A diamond's table is the largest facet of the stone, comprising the flat surface on the top. The table percentage is the ratio of the width of the diamond's top facet in relation to the width of the entire stone. The right ratio results in a large amount of fire and brilliance. To learn about the ideal table percentage for each diamond shape, visit our Diamond Shape page.

Measurements

Measured in millimeters, the measurements of a diamond's length, width, and height are used to evaluate the symmetry and quality of its cut.

Proportions

A diamond's proportions, a measure of the number and size of facets and its overall length and width, are integral in determining the quality of its cut. When a diamond is cut with the ideal proportions for its shape, it will reflect more light out of the top, resulting in higher levels of fire and brilliance. A poorly cut diamond with incongruous proportions will allow light to escape out the bottom and sides, resulting in a dull, dark appearance.

Crown

A diamond's crown extends from the top of the stone (the 'table') down to the girdle (the widest point of the diamond). Crowns can be comprised of step cut facets or brilliant cut facets.

Girdle

This is the portion of the diamond between the crown and the pavilion, essentially spanning the width of the stone from side to side. The measurement of the girdle represents the perimeter of the diamond. A diamond's girdle can be rough, polished, or faceted, and does not typically affect the quality or appearance of the stone.

Pavilion

Located at the bottom of the diamond, the pavilion is integral to the stone's light reflecting properties. A properly cut pavilion will allow the maximum amount of light to reflect from the surface of the stone. An excessively deep or shallow diamond can cause light to escape out the bottom and sides, reducing its sparkle.

Culet

The smallest facet of a diamond, the culet is located at the very bottom of the stone. If the diamond ends in a point, the diamond grading report will show a value of 'None' for the culet designation. This small facet was originally intended to protect the diamond's pavilion, although today's settings are usually strong enough to render it unnecessary.

Facet/Faceting (Step-cut/brilliant-cut)

With modern diamond-cutting techniques, there are two common methods of cutting facets, each with its own unique light reflection properties:

Step-cut faceting

In this approach, the facets are elongated and placed in rows to simulate a mirrored staircase.

Brilliant-cut faceting

This technique creates triangular-shaped facets that face outwards from the center of the diamond.

Cut & Value

The quality of a diamond's cut has a significant impact on its value. A well-cut stone sacrifices more of the rough diamond during the cutting process, resulting in a higher market value. It will also exhibit better light reflecting properties, exuding greater fire and brilliance. Improperly cut diamonds will have less visual appeal and a decreased value. To ensure the best value, look for a certified diamond with polish and symmetry ratings of 'Good' or better.

Cut & Depth

It's the cut of a diamond that determines how much light is reflected back to the wearer, directly impacting its brilliance and fire. Diamonds are generally categorized into three main types of cuts:

  • Shallow cut
    Although a shallow cut diamond will create the illusion of a larger stone, it allows light to escape out the sides instead of reflecting off the top, creating a lack of brilliance and sparkle.
  • Ideal cut
    If you're seeking a high quality diamond that beautifully reflects light, this is the cut for you. This premier cut style is well-proportioned and carefully angled to achieve a luminous appearance.
  • Deep cut
    This type of cut poorly reflects light, resulting in a dull, muted appearance.

Light's Effect on a Diamond

There are many factors that determine a diamond's brilliance, the most important of which is its ability to reflect light. As a diamond is moved through a light source, tiny flashes will be visible within the stone. Commonly known as sparkle, this is also referred to as scintillation, an effect of the stone's reflection and refraction of light.

  • Reflection
    When light enters the surface of a diamond, a portion of it is reflected back out of the top.
  • Refraction
    The remaining rays of light travel into the center of the diamond and bounce off its internal walls, an effect known as refraction.
  • Dispersion
    As light exits the diamond, dispersion causes the white light to be separated into multiple colors. Some light will escape out the bottom and sides, and some will reflect out of the top of the stone. The light that is reflected is referred to as the 'fire' of the diamond.