Brilliance is the first thought that comes to everyone’s mind while talking about diamonds. Referring to diamonds, the term ‘brilliance’ is the amount of light that is allowed to enter the stone and the way it gets reflected back through different angles. Many times, when reading about diamonds, you come across the four C’s of diamond, in which, ‘Cut’ is a very significant characteristic that adds a lot of value to the piece.
Diamond’s cut is an important aspect to decide the intensity of its sparkle. A too shallow cut leads it to appear dull while a highly deep cut makes the piece appear quite dark in the center. There are two categories of diamond cut, namely brilliant-cut and step-cut. Brilliant cut ensures the diamond sparkles with maximum brilliance possible while a step-cut greatly improves the clarity of the piece.
In an ideal brilliant cut, diamonds have 58 facets/ faces, with 33 facets placed the top portion/crown of the diamond and the leftover 25 facets on the pavilion or bottom of the diamond. The step cut diamond consists of parallel facets cut below the table (flat top of the stone), in different steps. These facets are less in number than brilliant cut diamonds. A modification to step cut is emerald-cut that has rounded and clipped corners.
Most of the diamonds are of octahedral shape in their raw state. They are then slashed into round brilliant cuts with 58 facets. In this way, they acquire the maximum radiance by intelligently dividing among all its parts, i.e. crown, girdle and pavilion. Hence, the most popular and traditional diamond cut is the round brilliant cut and approximately 55% sale of diamonds account for this cut. People prefer round cut diamond as they find a circle to be the symbol of endless love. In fact, three carat round cut diamond ring, along with pave-set diamonds on the band, was the choice of engagement ring for pop diva Britney Spears. And it was the brilliant round diamond that denoted the eternal love between Jennifer Hudson and David Otunga.
However, all diamonds aren’t cut to this standard; hence, not all of them exhibit the same intensity of glare. The intensity of light that is reflected depends upon the alignment of edges of facets with each other. For different shapes like oval, pear or marquise, the facet patterns are also different. As they do not exhibit the ideal facet pattern of a brilliant cut, they are better known as modified brilliant cut. Before we explore various diamond shapes, let's take a look at the history of diamond cutting.
Mysterious history behind diamond cutting
The cutting of diamonds is still a mystery, and no one exactly knows when and where the first time cutting of diamonds took place. Typically, Europe is considered the destination where the cutting of diamonds originated. However, there is a common story carried through ages, which says that post declination of Roman Empire, diamonds vanished from the European jewelry market and then Indian came out as the only source of diamonds. Thus, India overtook the diamond market in the whole world, where all processes were carried out such as grinding of poor quality diamonds, cleaving, and then polishing it to bring the dazzling sparkle.
In the past times, diamond cutting was merely understood as external polishing of the rough, but the first brilliant cut was invented in the 17th century, which contained 17 facets on the crown. These were commonly known as double-cut brilliants. Later, the number of crown facets was increased to 33, and in the 18th century, the old European cut/old mine cut came into existence. This cutting technique added to the brilliance of diamonds. Henceforth, with the invention of advanced-technology lathe machines in the 1900s, round brilliant cut overtook the diamond market. A few years later, Marcel Tolkowsky came up with a new balanced model to enhance both brilliance and fire in diamonds. Thereafter, professionals have been using computer models and innovative designs to cut the diamonds.
Cut refers to the pattern of angled facets on the surface of the stone. Do not confuse cut with shape, shape refers to the physical form or contour of the stone, while cut is fine combination of features like symmetry, depth, crown and pavilion angles, uniformity of facets, quality of polish and the overall skill of the cutter who is sculpting the stone.
Facets act as mirrors reflecting light that enters the stone. This essentially means more the reflection, better the brilliance. In a well cut diamond, facets are arranged such that of all the light that enters the stone, maximum amount is reflected, enhancing brilliance.
Width and depth play a huge role in the way light travels in the gem. A well cut diamond can create a beautiful brilliance, and a poorly cut diamond may appear dull. In a shallow cut or a deep cut diamond the brilliance is dulled because of the lack of proper reflection of light within the facets.
Styles of Cut
Irrespective of the shape, a stone can be cut in different styles depending on a number of factors including physical structure of the rough crystal, the inherent color, clarity and of course popular demand. Traditionally, diamonds were enjoyed in their inherent shape with only polishing of the crystal faces as the basic cut. The detailing and designing of the stone's cut evolved with time. In modern times, the most popular styles of cuts can be characterized as:
Brilliant Cut maximizes the brilliance and fire of a diamond. A brilliant cut diamond has more facets (57 or 58 if the culet facet is also included) as compared to other cut styles. Brilliant cut is the most popular style of diamond cut. Usually brilliant cut applies to round stones; other shapes in this cut style include marquise, heart, trillion, oval and pear.
Step Cut consists of linear facets arranged parallel to the girdle, resembling a set of steps. This cut style accentuates the color, clarity and luster of a diamond with a subtle brilliance as the number of facets is less. The cut applies to stones that are square, rectangle or trapezoid shaped.
Mixed Cut couples the best of both brilliant and step cuts; it combines the dimensions of step cut with the brilliance of brilliant cut. In a Mixed Cut, typically the crown is brilliant cut and the pavilion is step cut. The most popular shapes within the mixed cut category are princess, radiant and cushion.
As compared to the other characteristics of a diamond, Cut is the most difficult to grade. This difficulty is because Cut is a combination of a number of aspects including crown depth, crown angle, pavilion depth, pavilion angle, symmetrical arrangement of facets, polish amongst others; a perfect balance is difficult to determine. Although the variance in the proportions between an Ideal Cut and a Poor Cut can be difficult to discern, the industry cut grading standard helps in determining the quality of the Cut.
A cut can be classified as:
Excellent Cut/Ideal Cut
Perfectly proportioned with the highest grade of polish and symmetry, these stones reflect virtually all the light that enters. They are the most brilliant, rare and one of the finest diamonds money can buy.
Very Good Cut
Usually cut to maximize the size of the diamond, a Very Good Cut stone falls a little short of the preferred diamond proportions. A Very Good Cut Diamond reflects most of the light that enters the stone, creating a good deal of brilliance.
When a cutter chooses to create the maximum possible size diamond out of the rough crystal, the proportions of the stone fall out of the ideal range. Much of the light that enters the stone is reflected back, exhibiting a good brilliance. An ideal choice for shoppers who want to stay in budget without sacrificing quality or beauty
Fair and Poor Cut
A diamond in this grade reflects only a small proportion of the light that enters it. These gems are created to maximize carat weight over other considerations.
Symmetry & Polish
Symmetry refers to the appropriateness of the shape and facet arrangement of the stone - how identical and exact the size as well as placement of each facet is. Symmetrical imperfections include off-center table, wavy girdle, misshapen or extra facets, asymmetrical girdle outline, crown and pavilion mismatch, off-center culet amongst others.
Polish refers to the quality of finish or smoothness of the facets. Polish defects make the surface of the diamond appear dull and blurred eventually dimming scintillation.
Diamond Shapes and Brilliant Cut
A hybrid of brilliant- and step-cut, princess-cut is next in the popularity after round brilliant cut. This includes the diamond cut in a square shape and can be worked out in any style of ring. Princess cut diamonds are less expensive than round cut, but exhibit a close sparkling appearance like the round ones.. Moreover, princess cut is always set well into a prong setting. If you want some ideas to flaunt a princess cut engagement ring, look for Sherri Shepherd’s, Kendra Wilkinson’s and Ali Carter's engagement rings for some designer ideas.
This is the altered brilliant cut diamond having wonderful uniqueness in shape. Oval diamonds generate almost the same amount of fire as produced by round cut. An added advantage of elongated shape and greater size made it the perfect choice of Ryan Reynolds for his ladylove Blake Lively. Similarly, Behati Prinsloo, Salma Hayek and Katharine McPhee also flaunt mesmerizing oval diamond engagement rings.
Another alteration to the brilliant cut is the elegant rugby ball shaped marquise diamond. The elongated shape gives a larger look. Marquise diamonds own the largest crown surface area, exhibiting the wearer’s finger long and slender. The lovely Catherine Zeta Jones' exclusive 10 carat marquise diamond ring, surrounded by 28 diamonds around the main band and stone is a stunning example of marquise rings.
A combination of marquise and round, a large diamond with a narrow point at one end resembles a sparkling teardrop. A pear shaped diamond should have excellent symmetry. While opting for a pear shaped engagement ring, it is important to note that the tapered end should point towards the hand of the wearer. This pear shape makes your finger look long and elongated. The American actress Katherine Heigl shines bright in her 3-carat brilliant pear cut halo diamond ring, set on a platinum band.
This belonged to the old mine cut, and has a square shape with rounded corners forming a shape of a cushion or pillow. This cut display less brilliance than the finest round cut diamonds, but showcases modern shape. Golf fame Rory Mcllroy stole the heart of tennis superstar Catherine Wozniacki by sliding a massive cushion cut halo diamond in her ring finger.
Appears as a square cut, which has the exact brilliant cut facet pattern, very well imposed to crown and pavilion. It consists of a striking and spectacular square diamond with cropped corners. It has a cutting style known as step cut and displays sufficient radiance as its name. Hilary Duff’s 14 carat engagement ring enthralled the public with its extraordinary gleam.
Thus, a bride has a variety of brilliant cut diamond engagement rings to choose. The world of diamond engagement rings has a lot to explore and customize. These are few examples of brilliant diamonds you can choose for your special ring. Certainly, each of them has a uniqueness that creates a magic and whether you choose an oval, a round or any other shape for your diamond ring, you will definitely dazzle.