Diamonds — Cuts


Diamonds — Cuts

When a round brilliant cut diamond has been cut to precision, it means that it has been cut to mathematically correct proportions. This allows all the light entering from any direction to be totally reflected through the top and dispersed into a gorgeous display of color.


Even until recent years little importance was attached to the quality of the cut.


Before that time, grading was restricted solely to color and clarity. Until the beginning of 20th century, the forms of diamond cuts developed through trial and error as the optimal brilliance effect was pursued.


Only since 1910 have calculations been employed which consider the optical and physical properties of diamond – such as hardness, light refraction and dispersion, in order to achieve maximum brilliance through correct proportions and symmetry.


This style of cut has probably experienced the longest and most intensive history of development; it began as long ago as the first century B.C. and only in the 20th century did it mature in the form of a round brilliant cut.


Uncut diamonds hide the unique optical properties of the cut stones.


Rough diamonds have a yellow,

brown, or grey non-transparent

skin which covers them.


Only cutting can transform the unattractive ‘pebble’ into that crystal clear stone which, in clarity, luster and play of color surpasses all other precious stones.   uncutdiamonds


Uncut diamond

After being roughcut with a saw Most of the beauty of a cut diamond is in its amazing optical properties, particularly in the way it bends light, and its play of color. The round brilliant displays these properties in the cut state where all of the factors blend in optical harmony with one another to create the highest degree of brilliance. Color and Clarity are rarity factors given to us by nature. As the cut reveals these qualities, it also serves as a beautifying factor that is influenced by mans’ skill alone.


Judgment of cut is based on one hand, on the impression gained at first sight, in which beauty and brilliance are judged purely on personal standards. Thereafter, attention must be directed to the proportions of the cut stone. Here, facet angles and proportions must be tested for accuracy.


The grading of the quality of the cut is therefore always made up of two components: a subjective opinion of the brilliance effect, and an objective judgment determined by checking the craftsmanship and measuring the proportions. In contrast, to color and clarity grading, where a natural degree of rarity exists, in cut grading it is the manual skill of the stone cutter which is judged, because it has a direct influence on how beautiful the stone is.




The factors which contribute to the proportions are:

  1. girdle diameter
  2. table diameter
  3. total depth
  4. crown height
  5. thickness of the girdle
  6. pavilion depth
  7. angle of the crown facets to the plane of the girdle
  8. angle of the pavilion facets to the plane of the girdle


The more the cutter deviates from the mathematically correct proportions, the more the brilliance is affected, and the lower is the quality of the cut. However, a very slight departure from precise standards does not enable any loss of brilliance to be seen even by the specialist. It is therefore normal practice not to apply exclusively one value, but to extend this value upwards and downwards within narrow tolerances.


Only when a “Brilliant Cut” varies beyond these limits of tolerance can it no longer be graded “excellent” but only either very good, good, fair or poor.

In the modern Brilliant Cut the requirements for maximum light emission, through the table and for the greatest possible play of color on the upper crown facets, are fulfilled by a mathematical blending of the proportions.



Maximum Brilliance

The inter-play of luster, light refraction, total reflection, color dispersion and scintillation. All this is the result of the practical experience and craftsmanship of the cutter, along with his applied understanding of optical law; for only when precisely calculated planes and angles are used in the brilliant cut does the stone attain its’ greatest possible beauty.



External Brilliance

Luster, produced by the reflection of light on the surface of the facets.



Internal Brilliance

Refraction of total reflection of light on the pavilion facets. Dispersive Brilliance: Splitting and scattering of light into its spectral colors.



Scintillation Brilliance

The sparkle of the stone when moved, caused by light reflections of the light source. It is the term used for the changing colors, the radiance and sparkle of the rays when the stone is moved or when the light source changes.



Total Depth

The ratio of the crown to the pavilion, and the thickness of the girdle, are the most important considerations when judging total height. Checking the correct relationship of these proportions is far more important than measuring the total depth alone.



The Table

The smaller the table, the more play of color will come through the sloping crown facets. The quantity of light reflection generated depends on the number, size and symmetrical arrangements of the facets, as well as on the quality of the polish.



Crown height

Because of the steeply rising prices of rough diamonds, there has been a tendency over the last few years to save weight when cutting rough. This practice has led to round brilliants with a very shallow crown and the resultant larger table. These shallow brilliants look larger than a precision cut stone of equal weight, but the dispersion based on the color separation is diminished because of the smaller crown facets. In a brilliant cut with a shallow crown and large table, the major part of the light reflected on the pavilion facets passes through the table without being scattered.



Girdle thickness

The girdle is the dividing line between crown and pavilion. Its function is to protect the edge of the stone from damage and fracture. The girdle should be very thin, so that it is just visible to the unaided eye as a light line. A thick girdle can adversely affect the color of a cut diamond, and also diminish the light yield and therefore, reduce the brilliance (light rays in the region of the girdle width are refracted into the air and not totally reflected). This applies to girdles left in a natural state, as well as to polished or faceted girdles, which only reinforce the perfection of a well made stone if it is also thin and even. Completely or partially knife-edge girdles are dangerous, as they easily fracture during setting of the stone and can thus produce nicks and cleavage cracks.



Pavilion Depth

In order to understand the important function of the pavilion facets, it must be realized that the light falling from above into a brilliant can only be reflected back by total internal reflection on the pavilion facets, if and only if the angle between the pavilion facets and the girdle corresponds to the mathematicallycorrect angle.



Too deep





Proper proportions






Too shallow


— Author unknown