A primer on modern diamond cuts

The Brilliant Cut

The most popular and easily recognized diamond cut is the modern round brilliant, whose facet arrangements and proportions have been perfected by both mathematical and empirical analysis.  The overall shape resembles that of a cone and provides maximized light return through the top of the diamond. This cut style consists of 58 facets (or 57 if the culet is excluded), with 33 facets on the crown and 25 on the pavilion.

But there are many more cuts to consider!  Let's explore.

The Emerald Cut

Although not as flashy as the brilliant cut, many people love emerald cut diamonds. This cut is a square or rectangular-shaped diamond with cut corners. On the crown, there are three concentric rows of facets arranged around the table and -- on the pavilion, there are three concentric rows arranged around the culet. This type of cut is also known as a step cut because its broad, flat planes resemble stair steps.

The Princess Cut

GIA.

GIA.

The princess cut is generally said to be the second most popular cut, right after the round brilliant cut. Looking at the stone from the top, a princess cut appears square or rectangular. Most designs have sharp corners, although you might also see some with rounded corners. When you investigate the princess cut from the side, you will notice the diamond resembles an inverted pyramid. The cut features chevron-shaped pavilion facets paired with table facets cut similar to a round brilliant, for a total of either 57 or 76 facets. A princess cut stone will almost always be placed in a four prong setting to protect the corners.

The Asscher Cut

This type of diamond cut is named after its creator Joseph Asscher, owner of the Amsterdam-based diamond company. The Asscher cut was developed in the early 20th century at the same time the Art Deco movement was born. It has a rectangular-faceted pavilion in the same style as the emerald cut and usually has 58 facets. With its deep pavilion, faceted culet, high crown and small table, the Asscher cut allows for tremendous lustre and creates a fascinating optical illusion known as the “Hall of Mirrors” effect. The Asscher cut is referred to as a Square Emerald cut on a laboratory certificate, such as GIA or AGS.

The Cushion Cut

The cushion cut is a square or rectangular shape with rounded corners. It resembles a pillow! One of the fabulous features of a cushion cut diamond is that it has large facets allowing for a greater separation of white light into spectral colors. This cut originated in the 1800s and since that time, several variations of the cushion cut have been developed such as adding an extra row of facets on the pavilion that result in the “sparkling water” or “crushed ice” effect. You might also hear this cut called the pillow or candlelight cut.

This BBC image shows an astounding example of a cushion cut diamond: the Archduke Joseph. The 76.02 ct, D-color Internally Flawless cushion cut diamond sold in 2012 for $21.5 million.

This BBC image shows an astounding example of a cushion cut diamond: the Archduke Joseph. The 76.02 ct, D-color Internally Flawless cushion cut diamond sold in 2012 for $21.5 million.

The BBC image below shows an astounding example of a cushion cut diamond: the Archduke Joseph. The 76.02 ct, D-color Internally Flawless cushion cut diamond sold in 2012 for $21.5 million.

The Trillion Cut

GIA.

GIA.

The trillion cut was first developed in Amsterdam, although the design varied dramatically depending on the rough form of the stone. In 1962, the Henry Meyer Diamond Company of New York designed and trademarked the modern Trillion cut and over time the trillion became the generic name for all triangular brilliant cut diamonds.

This cut is a triangular shape comprised of three equal sides and 31 or 50 facets depending on whether the diamonds are used as solitaires or accent stones. For solitaires, a curved or convex cut is employed, whereas accent stones are cut uncurved or concave. There are numerous variations employed on trillion cut diamonds. Although they are commonly used for side stones, they also make for a perfect solitaire stone themselves considering their unparalleled brilliance and fire. You might also hear them called trilliant, trillian, or trielle cuts.

The first recorded heart shape diamond appears in a portrait entitled “The Gonzaga Princess,” painted circa 1605 by Frans Pourbus the younger. The large piece of jewelry on the princess’s left sleeve contains a variety of different cuts, some of which are thought to be versions of the heart-like ‘drops’ popular in France at the time.

The first recorded heart shape diamond appears in a portrait entitled “The Gonzaga Princess,” painted circa 1605 by Frans Pourbus the younger. The large piece of jewelry on the princess’s left sleeve contains a variety of different cuts, some of which are thought to be versions of the heart-like ‘drops’ popular in France at the time.

The Heart Cut

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GIA.

In earlier times, from the 1600s and on, triangular diamonds with rounded edges were referred to as "heart-shaped." The exact origins of the heart brilliant are unknown although it may have appeared as early as the 16th century in a modified form. The modern brilliant heart shape diamond usually has a total 56 - 58 facets. On the main pavilion, there can be anywhere from 6 - 8 facets. In addition to an appropriate ratio, one of the main concerns with the heart shape is the possibility of a “bow-tie effect” -- that is when light passing through the diamond casts a shadow across the central facets of the stone.

Recently heart shaped diamonds were considered too girly but, along with other heart styled jewelry, they are making a comeback.

The Marquise Cut

GIA.

GIA.

The marquise brilliant cut diamond is shaped like a long oval which has been stretched out to a point at each end. In most cases, the marquise should have an aspect ratio of 2:1 for the classic boat shaped stone. (Speaking of boats, a marquise cut is also called “navette,” meaning “little boat.”) It is generally comprised of 58 facets, with 33 on the crown and 25 on the pavilion, although the number of pavilion facets may range between 4 and 8. As with the heart shaped diamond, the marquise can suffer from a “bow-tie effect” when light passing through the diamond casts a shadow across the central facets of the stone.

Along with other elongated shapes, the marquise can make fingers appear longer and more slender.

According to legend, King Louis XV commissioned the court jeweler to create a diamond that resembled the smile of his lovely mistress the Marchioness Madame de Pompadour. Thus! In 1745 or thereabout, the Marquise cut diamond was born.

Beloved by history, Madame Pompadour and her smile.

Beloved by history, Madame Pompadour and her smile.

The Oval Cut

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GIA.

An oval cut diamond has an elongated rounded shape and usually 58 facets. A longer shape will have a larger ratio while a more rounded shape with have a smaller ratio. The ideal ratio in this cut is simply a matter of personal preference but the typical range is between 1.33 and 1.66. A benefit of an oval diamond is that this shape helps to elongate that appearance of shorter fingers. Another advantage is that the oval cut optimizes carat weight... it appears larger than round stones of a similar weight. Oval cuts have recently become more fashionable to use as the center stone for engagement rings.

Oval diamond ratio chart from de Bebians to illustrate the difference between a large ratio and a small ratio.

Oval diamond ratio chart from de Bebians to illustrate the difference between a large ratio and a small ratio.

Although oval shaped diamonds were first introduced over 200 years ago, the modern oval cut was invented in the early 1960s by the famous Russian cutter Lazare Kaplan. The cut eventually earned him a place in the Jewelers International Hall of Fame, however, Kaplan also left his mark on the diamond industry with his unique ability to split a rough diamond into smaller stones with a single blow. This process is known as cleaving. When a rough material is poorly shaped or contains defective flaws that prevent it from being turned into a single stone, it must be split along the grain. Kaplan became famous for his expertise in taking stones that were otherwise deemed unworthy and transforming them into beautifully cut diamonds.

The Radiant Cut

The Radiant is a unique and hybrid cut comprised of 70 facets and distinctive trimmed edges. The radiant cut is a mix of step cut facets on the crown and brilliant cut facets on the pavilion. Because of its extra facets, the Radiant Cut can disperse more light through the stone making it one of the most brilliant of all square- and rectangular-shaped stones. It also hides inclusions more efficiently than other shapes.

The first Radiant Cut was designed by Henry Grossbard of the Radiant Cut Diamond Company (RCDC) in 1977. Prior to this invention, all diamonds with square or step-cut edges appeared less brilliant.

GIA.

GIA.