The cut of a diamond refers not to its shape, but to the balance of proportion, symmetry and polish achieved by the diamond cutter. The extent of how well the diamond is cut is directly related to the diamonds overall beauty. When a diamond has been correctly cut, the diamonds ability to reflect and refract light is greatly enhanced. By understanding the way that light moves through diamond crystals, modern diamond cutters have established a specific set of proportions and angles that are known to harness the diamonds internal brilliance and to show it in its best light. A diamonds cut grade is actually a combination of three different types of reflection:
Brilliance, or brightness, refers to the white light that is reflected back to the eye from the diamond. Light that enters through the top of the diamond (the table), is broken down into a rainbow of spectral colors, and is reflected back and forth in the interior of the gem by bouncing off the mirror-like facets. Light exits through the table, recombining as white light.
Dispersion is the rainbow of colors that is reflected back to the eye from the diamond. Light enters through the top of the diamond, is broken down into a rainbow of spectral colors, and is reflected back and forth in the interior of the gem by bouncing off the mirror-like facets. When it leaves through the crown, it stays separated and reaches the eye in flashes of color.
Scintillation is the play of light you see with movement of the diamond, demonstrated by sparkling on the diamonds surface. A diamond is evaluated on its ability to reflect and refract light in all directions. Cut is considered to be the most important of all of the diamond characteristics, as a well-cut diamond will often appear larger than a poorly cut diamond of the same carat weight, and have the appearance of enhanced color and clarity.
The quality of cut is determined by how well the symmetry, polish, and proportions of the diamond produce the most attractive balance of the three different types of reflection. Several proportion factors have the most immediate impact on a diamonds ability to reflect light correctly. The table size and depth of a diamond relative to the diameter greatly impacts the light return from a diamond. A well-cut diamond is proportioned so that most of the light entering the gem exits back through the top of the stone, perfectly balancing the white light (brilliance) with intense flashes of fire (dispersion). A poorly-cut diamond, with facets cut only a few degrees out of alignment, can result in light exiting through the bottom of the diamond, known as light leakage, instead of from the top where it is visible. This creates a diamond with dulled brilliance from poor light performance within the gem, making the center of the gem look dark.
The best cut diamonds have proportions that are within tried and true ranges known for maximizing brilliance, fire, and scintillation. The cut grading scale for diamonds is based on the reflective properties of the diamond, according to these carefully calculated diamond measurements. It also allows you to easily identify a well-cut diamond, without having to assess each individual cut characteristic.
Cut to the most exacting standards. On the diamond certificate, graded as "excellent" or "ideal" for cut, polish, and symmetry. These diamonds will also show a "hearts and arrows" facet pattern, have the most desirable girdle and culet dimensions, and be proportioned to return the maximum possible light.
Exquisite quality cut to create the optimal combination of brilliance and fire. Reflects nearly all light that enters the diamond. Top 3% of diamond quality based on cut.
Superior quality cut that reflects nearly as much light as the ideal cut while at a substantially lower cost. Top 15% of diamond quality.
Premium quality cut to optimize the size without sacrificing quality or beauty. Reflects most light that enters. Top 25% of diamond quality.
Adequate quality cut which reflects some light while maximizing weight. While not as brilliant as a good cut, still a quality diamond. Top 35% of diamond quality.
Inadequate quality cut that reflects minimal amount of light. Diamond Exchange does not provide diamonds with cut grades of poor.
The top portion of the diamond, from the girdle to the table.
The lower portion of a diamond, from the girdle to the culet.
The facet or point on the bottom of the diamonds pavilion.
The narrow rim around the widest part of a diamond, separating the crown from the pavilion. Also referred to as the setting edge, where a diamond is held when set in jewelry.
The height of a gemstone, from the culet to the table. Determined as a percentage of the overall diameter of the gem.