A Comprehensive Guide to the Diamond Cut Scale

A diamond is an important symbol of love—whether set in an engagement ring or piece of fine jewelry. That’s why it’s crucial to choose the perfect one to cherish for a lifetime and longer. 

When shopping for a diamond, it’s important that you understand how to choose quality based on the 4Cs. This is especially true when considering diamond cut as it’s one of, if not the most, important quality characteristics. 

We put together a comprehensive guide to reading the diamond cut chart. From fire to scintillation and depth, you’ll understand the most important characteristics to consider when shopping the diamond cut scale

What Are the 4Cs of Diamonds?

First off, to understand diamond cut you first need to know the 4Cs of diamond quality. Diamonds are graded based on cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. Each of these aspects informs how much a diamond costs, its overall appearance and weight. 

The 4Cs of diamond quality include:

  • Cut Grade: Though commonly confused with shape, diamond cut grade actually has to do with how a diamond’s facets interact with light. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) cut scale ranges from poorly cut to perfectly precise.  
  • Color Grade: Diamond color grade actually refers to the lack of color. Perfect starts at D (colorless) and goes all the way to Z (visible color). Grades beyond Z are considered a “fancy color.”
  • Clarity Grade: Both mined and lab diamonds have inclusions and blemishes that occur during the growth process. A diamond’s cut clarity scale ranges from Flawless to Included, with multiple variations in between.
  • Carat Weight: Carat weight does not necessarily refer to the size of the diamond, but the weight of it. While carat weight differs from couple to couple significantly, the most commonly purchased diamond is around 1-carat. 

What Is Diamond Cut?

Diamond cut is how well-proportioned the dimensions of a diamond are, including how the facets and surfaces are positioned and interact with light to create sparkle and brilliance.

Since sparkle factor is one of the most awe-inspiring parts of owning a diamond, cut should be carefully considered when shopping for diamond engagement rings. The better a diamond is cut, the better it reflects and refracts light. 

A perfectly cut diamond features maximum brilliance and light reflection, while a poorly cut diamond is dull and features dark areas when viewed face-up. 

Difference Between Diamond Cut vs. Shape

Now that you have a deeper understanding of what diamond cut is, you’re well on your way to purchasing the best quality diamond at a fair price point. Even still, you may have some questions about diamond cut. Such as, “What’s the difference between diamond cut and shape?”

Many consumers get cut and shape confused, and rightfully so. After all, they do sound similar. But you may be surprised to find out that the two are very different. While diamond cut refers to the dimensions and proportions of a diamond, diamond shape refers to the actual silhouette of a diamond. There are a variety of different shapes gemstones come in, some of which include round brilliant cut diamonds, princess, oval, and emerald. 

As you can see, the two are very different though each is important when shopping for your forever diamond. 

What Is the Diamond Cut Scale?

While understanding how a diamond’s proportions and dimensions interact with light return is an important part of the cut scale, it’s also essential to learn about each of the different grades. 

We put together a comprehensive key to the diamond cut scale and outlined the most important factors that determine diamond cut quality. 

Super Ideal

A Super Ideal cut diamond includes those with perfect dimensions and proportions. This affects everything from brilliance to dispersion and even scintillation. To put it simply, a Super Ideal diamond is the most sparkly of all the diamond cuts. 

Ideal

An Ideal diamond is comparable to the untrained eye to a Super Ideal diamond when it comes to brilliance and fire. The difference is likely related to a small amount of light leakage. With an Ideal diamond, you can get the look of perfection at a slightly lower cost without compromising brilliance. 

Very Good

A Very Good cut diamond is slightly less brilliant than Ideal but still features great white light return. A Very Good grade has less than ideal cut proportions that affect the way the light is returned, though it’s usually unnoticeable to the untrained eye. This is the most popular cut grade as it’s the best brilliance for the price point. 

Good

Good cut diamonds feature proportions that are imperfect resulting in a slightly duller appearance, though they reflect the majority of the light return. While not as brilliant as Very Good or Ideal diamonds, they will still look beautiful to the untrained eye and make a great forever adornment. 

Fair

Fair cut diamonds have a visible reduction in brilliance and scintillation as their proportions are not perfectly symmetrical. This results in light leakage, making them less sparkly even to the untrained eye. Given the visible reduction in brilliance, we don’t sell any diamonds lower than Good at 12FIFTEEN. 

Poor

Lastly, a Poor cut diamond allows significant light leakage making it less brilliant than all other diamond cuts. These do not make good center stones and because of this, 12FIFTEEN does not sell Poor grades. 

Read our diamond buying guide to inform your cut grade

The Anatomy of a Diamond

The anatomy of a diamond is significant when it comes to diamond cut because each piece of the diamond affects the sparkle it emits. Only when a diamond is cut perfectly in each of these parts is it graded as Super Ideal. 

Diamonds are most commonly cut to Very Good standards when weighing each of the important aspects related to the anatomy of a diamond. 

Here are the most important parts diamond cutters look at when diamond grading:

  • Table: The table is located on the top of the diamond and is the largest facet of a gemstone.
  • Crown: The crown is the portion of a diamond located from the girdle to the table. The crown angle is important when it comes to light return. 
  • Girdle: The girdle is the intersection of the crown and pavilion and defines the circumference.
  • Diameter: The diameter is the measurement from one girdle edge of a to the opposing side.
  • Pavilion: The pavilion is the bottom portion of a diamond located from the girdle to the culet.
  • Culet: The culet is the facet at the tip of a gemstone. 
  • Depth: The depth is the height of a gemstone located from the culet to the table.

An excellent cut grade means each of these pieces is up to ideal standards. Your cut grade will be documented on your grading report, which your jeweler will provide you upon purchase. 

Which Diamond Cut Is Right for You?

When it comes to choosing the right diamond cut, the quality you choose depends on the appearance you want and the price point that fits your budget. This is especially important when assessing lab vs. mined regarding ethical implications and cost. 

While a Super Ideal diamond cut is the gold standard, you don’t have to break the bank to get the sparkle you want. An Ideal, Very Good, or even Good diamond will sparkle almost as brilliantly depending on its characteristics and can save you money. 

The important thing to remember is that no matter what diamond quality you choose, your diamond will represent the love you share with your significant other. So choose one that best represents your unique bond.

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