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Diamond Education


Cut: The Secret of a Brighter Diamond

While color and clarity are big factors in the cost of a diamond, it is the Cut that breathes life, beauty and dazzling brilliance into a diamond. The three diamonds shown below are all SI2 Clarity and G-H Color, but there is a big difference in their appearance, due to the quality of Cut.

SI2 Clarity, G-H Color, Fair Cut
A deep cut usually makes
the diamond appear dark
SI2 Clarity, G-H Color, Very Good Cut
A proper cut unleashes the
fire and brilliance within a diamond
SI2 Clarity, G-H Color, Fair Cut
A shallow cut usually makes
the diamond appear opaque

When it comes to Diamond Cut, usually consumers don't ask and retailer's don't tell.

The majority of diamonds sold at retail fall into the "poor", "fair" or "good" cut grades, which are below the acceptable standards for a diamond of exceptional beauty and brilliance. About 75% fall into this category.

Fast Fact:
Nearly all of the diamonds sold at are rated "very good", "excellent", or "ideal" Cut and display a dazzling shower of light back to the viewer's eye. These are the top 25% of all diamond cuts.

Our lowest priced diamonds are rated "good" for cut grade, and still represent an excellent value with lively brilliance, compared to the "fair" and "poor" cut grades sold in retail stores.

If Cut is so important, why aren't all diamonds cut to a superior standard?

Both the cutter and the seller usually have a strong financial incentive to offer diamonds with inferior cut. When a rough diamond is cut to superior standards, about 50% of the stone's original weight can be wasted in the process. By cutting a diamond that is too deep or too wide, the same piece of rough yields a diamond of greater carat weight. Unfortunately, these diamonds are dull, milky, or dark in appearance.

This 1 carat rough can yield a
.50 carat diamond with excellent cut and
extraordinary brilliance, dispersion and scintillation, or...
The same 1 carat rough can yield a
.75 carat diamond with fair cut
that is dull and milky in comparison

Both of the finished diamonds above will be rated the same for color and clarity. However, the .75 carat diamond on the right will fetch about $750 more in the public marketplace, when it is sold to a consumer who is unaware of it's inferior cut and thinks he is getting a bargain for his money.

In the trade, the larger diamond on the right is referred to as a "swindled cut", and it occurs on more than half of the diamonds sold in the market. It's not illegal or unethical -- it is done in response to the retailer's demands for both higher profit margins and lower retail prices. The consumer, however, ends up with a diamond that is not nearly as beautiful and brilliant as it could be.

How can I assure myself that I am getting the best diamond cut?

The best way to assure yourself of diamond quality is to have it certified by an independent gemologist with a graduate degree from GIA, the world's most highly respected source on diamond grading.

Fast Fact:
All of the diamonds sold at are hand-picked by our expert buyers, then sent to an independent gem laboratory, where they are rated for cut, clarity, color and carat weight. A Certificate of Appraisal is included, which should be sent to your insurance company to establish the retail replacement value. We encourage you to have your diamonds re-appraised by a local gemologist of your choice. The American Society of Appraisers will provide you with a list of qualified gemologists in your area.

The GIA grading scale for diamond cuts is shown below. Notice that the better cuts toward the right reflect more light toward the viewer's eye. Imagine a diamond as a tiny house of mirrors. If the mirrors (or facets) are lined up correctly, there is less light leakage through the sides of the diamond, and more brilliance is released through the top of the diamond to the eye of the viewer.

GIA Scale for Grading Diamond Cut:
light leakages from bottom
minimal light releases through diamond table
some light releases through diamond table
Very Good
exceptional light releases through diamond table
nearly all of the light releases to the viewer's eye

The mathematical formula for a round diamond works like this: for a cut with exceptional brilliance (rated "very good" or better), the depth of the diamond will measure between 57% to 65% of the total diameter. In other words, a 1 carat diamond that is 6.5mm wide and 3.9mm deep will display an exceptional return of light to the viewer's eye.

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