Cut: Shoppers Buying Guide
The cut of a
diamond is the physical measurement and relative proportion of a
polished diamond and is the most important characteristic in
producing a diamonds beauty. A single number does not define
cut. Instead, it is a myriad of measurements, relative percentages,
angles, finish, and performance of light within the diamond.
and sparkle of a diamond is the result of the reflection and
refraction of light within a diamond and is the cumulative effect of
the many facets on the surface of the three-dimensional diamond
shape. What makes judging cut difficult is that beauty is in the eye
of the beholder. Different people perceive the beauty of a diamond
differently in terms of what they perceive as beautiful.
years, major diamond grading laboratories like the Gemological
Institute of America (GIA) and the American Gem Society (AGS) have
established cut grades to help the consumer make better decisions for
purchasing diamonds based on cut characteristics. However, the cut
grading systems are different from each other and constantly
changing. As a result, there is no single official cut grade but the
current systems are a giant leap ahead of the past with no cut grades.
The quality of
the cut is most visible in terms of how light performs in a diamond
to produce Brightness, Fire, and Scintillation.
the visual effect of all the internal and external reflections of
white light. This brightness (also known as brilliance) results
primarily from the angles of the facets and the relative size of the
top facet called the table.
Fire is the
visual effect of rainbow colored flashes of light caused by the
separation of white light into various colors when the diamond acts
as a prism.
is the visual effect of sparkle and patterns of light and darkness.
Sparkle is the points of light that flash as the diamond, the light
source or the observer moves. The arrangement and contrast between
the bright and dark areas is important to what the eye perceives as
beautiful. An all-bright diamond or an all-dark diamond is less
attractive than a diamond with a balanced, symmetrical and
contrasting pattern of reflection.
Some of the
more important diamond measurements influencing the cut grade are
depth percentage, table percentage, crown angle, and pavilion angle.
The initial cut grade research focused on round brilliant diamond
shapes but the grading laboratories are slowly introducing cut grades
for the fancy shapes like the princess, emerald, oval, radiant,
cushion and others. Each diamond shape has its own set of cut
parameters that produce the optimal light performance and beauty for
that particular diamond shape.
If the cut of
the diamond is the key to its beauty, why would anyone purchase a
diamond without great cut? Probably the main reason is lack of
knowledge by the consumer. Until recent years, it has been difficult
for the consumer to assess the cut of the diamond because jewelers
focused on color, clarity and carat weight. The jeweler used the
bright lights in the showroom to mask the light performance of the
diamond. As the diamond shopper becomes more aware of what
constitutes cut and has access to the GIA or AGS cut grades on the
diamond grading reports, they will be able to filter out the average
and poor cut diamonds in their purchase decisions.
budget is a factor in purchasing something less than the best cut.
However, cut is typically a real bargain since there is little visual
difference between the top echelons of diamond cut and the price
difference between average and exceptional cut is often minimal.
Perhaps the real cost of getting better cut in a diamond, is the time
and effort to learn about cut and to find a retailer who can provide
diamonds with exceptional cut at reasonable prices.
Once a diamond
shopper has determined what shape of diamond they want to purchase,
they need to research what cut parameters contribute to desirable
appearance. Some diamond shoppers fall into a trap of narrowly
defining their acceptable range for every diamond measurement, not
realizing that the beauty of the diamond results from the
interrelationships of all the facets. Simply picking the middle of
the range for each parameter can lead to a mediocre result. The cut
grades are an attempt to rate how a combination of factors work
together in the diamond.
the cut grade systems today or in the future, only the diamond
shopper can determine what is most appealing to their eye. Cut is
critical to the beauty of the diamond so making the best diamond
purchase decision means understanding the importance of cut and
finding that special diamond that is beautiful to behold.