Carats | Clarity | Color

What Is Cut?

As one of the “4C’s” of judging diamond quality, cut is extremely important in determining a diamond’s value and price. Yet it is probably the least understood of the “4C’s.” So what exactly is “cut?” The diamond cut has 2 meanings, the one which the "4C's" refer to is actually the shape of a diamond and not the real meaning of the word cut. However, in the world of diamonds, the phrase "CUT" has another meaning and that is:

Cut refers to the skill of the diamond cutter in unlocking the full beauty of a diamond during the cutting and polishing process. While nature determines the clarity and color of a diamond, cut is a man-made factor that influences a diamond’s quality and value. Even if a diamond has exceptional color and clarity, a poor cut will cause it to lose sparkle and fire. When evaluating cut, a number of factors are considered, including the execution of the diamond’s overall design, the skill in which it was cut, the quality of its polish, its roundness, depth, width, and the uniformity of its facets.

A diamond is cut according to an exact mathematical formula. The most common cut, the round brilliant, has 58 facets – small, flat, polished planes designed to yield the maximum amount of light to be reflected back to the viewer. This reflection, known as brilliance, gives a diamond its unparalleled sparkle and fire. A diamond’s proportions – particularly its depth compared to its diameter, and the diameter of the table (the largest and topmost facet of the diamond) determine how well light will travel within the diamond and back to the eye.

A well-cut diamond has the right angles and proportions to release the inner brilliance of the stone and project its maximum sparkle and fire. A poorly cut diamond – one that is cut too deep or too shallow – loses light and becomes a “dull” diamond that may even have some “dead” spots inside.


Two keys to a diamond’s brilliance are its crown and pavilion. The crown is the top portion of a diamond extending from the girdle (the outermost edge of a cut gem) to the table. The pavilion is the part of the diamond below the girdle. Above the girdle of a round brilliant cut diamond are 32 facets plus the table. Below the girdle are 24 facets plus the culet, or point. Just a few degrees off the standard can have a dramatic impact on a diamond’s brilliance. However, cutters can compensate by adjusting crown angles, table sizes and pavilion angles to produce the best possible results for each diamond.


The second meaning of the "4C's" "CUT" is the shape of the diamond

Finding the Right Diamond Shape.

Sometimes, people refer to a diamond’s “cut,” when what they really mean is its shape. Although diamonds are available in many different shapes, the most common and popular, by far, is the round brilliant. According to the Diamond Promotion Service, more than 75% of all diamonds sold are round. The reason for this is because many experts consider round the “ideal” shape for a diamond because it maximizes a stone’s sparkle. However, non-round diamond shapes, called fancy shapes, are beautiful in their own right – and they allow the wearer to express their unique style and personality.

Name Description
Round Brilliant: A 58-faceted shape featuring a facet arrangement that appears to radiate out from the center of the diamond toward its outer rim, maximizing its brilliance. The round brilliant diamond is a timeless, classic shape that is appropriate with any outfit and for any occasion.

Princess: A square or rectangular shape with numerous sparkling facets. The princess is a relatively new shape and is particularly popular in solitaire engagement rings and diamond stud earrings. Because of its design, this shape requires more weight to be directed toward the diamond’s depth than a round brilliant in order to maximize brilliance. A princess diamond offers its wearer a more modern, individual look compared to the classic round diamond.

Many more shapes are found in the world of diamonds:

Name Description
Asscher: Also known as Square Emerald. Square step cut with cropped corners.

Emerald: Rectangular step cut with cropped corners.

Radiant: Typically square to slightly rectangular with cropped corners.

Cushion: Similar to a radiant cut, with rounded corners.

Oval: Similar to a round brilliant in sparkle and brilliance.

Marquise: Elongated brilliant cut with pointed ends.

Pear: Hybrid cut, combining the best of the oval and the marquise brilliant in sparkle and brilliance.

Heart: Ideal when perfectly symmetrical in appearance where lobes are of even height and breadth making it truly brilliant.