Your Guide to Diamond Cuts

Diamond engagement rings from Fink's Jewelers

Diamonds are hailed for their intense sparkle and magnificent shine. When we hear the term diamond cut, most of us conjure up images of diamond jewelry with various diamond shapes, from round to marquise. However, a diamond cut refers to how well a stone’s facets interact with light.

While this is a common mistake, and most use the terms diamond shape and cut interchangeably, there is much more to understand when it comes to shopping for diamonds. We’ll take you inside a diamond’s anatomy and why cut quality may be the most essential aspect affecting diamond quality.

  • What is Diamond Cut?
  • Why is Diamond Cut Important?
  • Anatomy of a Diamond
  • Understanding Light and Diamond Cut
  • GIA’s Diamond Cut Grading System
  • What is Diamond Depth?
  • Understanding Diamond Shape vs. Diamond Cut
  • What is Diamond Shape?
  • Most Popular Diamond Shapes
  • The 4Cs of Diamonds
  • The Fifth C of a Fink’s Diamond

    What is Diamond Cut? 

    Forevermark Setting 18K White Gold Solitaire Engagement Ring

    A diamond’s cut refers to its dimensions and how well-proportioned they are. Cut examines the stone’s facets or surfaces and how their positioning creates the stone’s brilliance, sparkle, and fire. 

    The beauty of your diamond jewelry may be most determined by the quality of its cut more than any other factor. While all 4Cs of a diamond – diamond cut, diamond color, diamond carat weight, and diamond clarity – are vital to diamond quality, its beauty depends more on cut quality than anything else. Each precise cut magnifies a stone’s ability to reflect light through three critical components: 

    1. proportions: the alignment and placement of facets, creating the overall diamond shape or outline of the stone
    2. symmetry: a finished diamond’s arrangements and precise measurements of its facets
    3. polish: the quality of work on a finished diamond to achieve a glass-like surface and pristine smoothness

    Why is Diamond Cut Important?

    Yellow Gold and Platinum Round Diamond Engagement Ring

    The cut of a stone is essential to overall diamond quality, as it determines each diamond’s performance. A well-cut diamond is a work of art, creating magnificent diamond jewelry pieces, as evidenced by its dazzling light reflection. The cut is responsible for influencing diamond quality through its brightness, fire, and scintillation.

    • Brightness refers to the total reflection of all white light from a diamond.
    • Fire describes the reflected light’s dispersion into colors of the spectrum.
    • Scintillation is the sparkle created from a diamond’s movement as patterns of both light and dark areas are present.

    Poor diamond cut may result in a lifeless, dull stone, regardless of the diamond’s clarity and color grading. Diamond quality is maximized if the cut quality allows proper reflection and refraction of light. 

    Anatomy of a Diamond

    Diamonds on Black Background with one Picked Up by Tweezers

    Before we dive deeper, it may be helpful to get to know the anatomy of a diamond. Learning all the intimate details of a stone may help you appreciate your diamond jewelry pieces, as well as help you knowledgeably select new diamond pieces for your jewelry collection. Let’s take a look at the diamond’s various parts and terminology to help you understand the essential role cut plays.

    5 Parts of a Diamond

    A diamond is made up of five main parts that will help you understand how diamond cut and light affect its radiance. Having a bit of background on common terminology will also aid you in the remainder of our guide.

    The 5 diamond portions include: 

    1. Table
    2. Crown
    3. Girdle
    4. Pavilion
    5. Culet 

    What is a Diamond’s Table?

    Oval Center Diamond and Split Diamond Shank Engagement Ring

    A diamond’s table partially determines diamond cut quality. The table is the largest facet of a stone. The table refracts light rays and directs them to additional facets as they pass through the stone’s center. 

    While we may love the saying bigger is better, this is not necessarily the case for your diamond jewelry. A diamond table that is too large may be hindered when dispersing light. The diamond’s upper facets, located on its crown, will not have ample room to disperse refracted light brilliantly if the table is too large.

    Conversely, if the diamond’s table is too small, its brilliance and overall diamond quality will be affected by its inability to let light in to begin with. 

    What Is Table Percentage?

    The physical size of a diamond’s table will vary from stone to stone. Table sizes may vary according to cut quality and overall size of the stone, as you may have noticed in your various diamond jewelry pieces. To ensure proper grading, jewelers measure by table percentage to yield a fair and accurate diamond cut grade.  

    To calculate table percentage, jewelers determine the ratio of the width of a stone’s table in relation to the entire diamond’s width. Naturally, ideal table percentages vary according to each diamond’s shape. These percentage differences may seem insignificant, but they can significantly impact the overall diamond quality. Ideal ratios may mean the difference between Good and Excellent ratings of brilliance and fire. 

    What is the Diamond’s Crown?

    Fink's Exclusive Platinum ASHOKA® Three Stone Engagement Ring

    The crown of a diamond refers to the top portion of the stone. It is located below the table and above the girdle. Crowns may have brilliant-cut facets or step-cut facets. Crowns and their facets play a vital role in a stone’s light performance by:

    • driving the return of light
    • dispersing light, much like a prism
    • determining the level of brightness and amount of fire we see

    What is the Diamond’s Girdle?

    The girdle refers to the thin perimeter of the stone. It makes up the outer edge where the pavilion and crown meet. If you envision one of your diamond jewelry pieces, the girdle is the stone portion that is in direct contact with the setting, no matter your diamond’s shape. The girdle is the widest part of a diamond and is used to measure the total diamond perimeter. Diamond girdles do not affect the overall diamond quality or appearance and may be left rough, faceted, or polished.

    Diamond Girdle Ratings

    Diamond Measuring

    When diamonds become certified, various points along the girdle are measured in millimeters to determine their thinnest and thickest areas. Girdles are most often rated in ranges to explain the variance between these thick and thin points more accurately. However, both points may fall into the same category, resulting in it receiving a single rating.

    The Girdle Rating Scale includes ratings of:
    • Extremely Thin: The diamond may be prone to chips or breakage. Extreme care should be exercised when this stone is being set.
    • Very Thin: This diamond’s girdle shows. There is good stone proportion, but care when setting should still be taken.
    • Thin, Medium: This rating reflects an Ideal gemstone proportion.
    • Slightly Thick, Thick: This stone’s girdle represents “Excellent” to Ideal gemstone proportions.
    • Very Thick: The proportion of this stone’s rating is considered “Good.”
    • Extremely Thick: Diamonds of this rating tend to appear smaller for their carat weight, as the girdle takes up much more of the diamond’s depth.

    What is the Diamond’s Pavilion? 

    Diamonds on Bright Background

    The pavilion connects the diamond’s cutlet and girdle, making up the bottom portion of the stone. The pavilion plays an essential role in a diamond’s light-reflecting properties. When a pavilion is cut correctly, it allows the maximum amount of light to reflect from the stone’s surface. An excessively deep or shallow diamond can cause light to escape from the bottom and sides, reducing its sparkle.

    While girdle diamond cuts on either end of the grading scale do not necessarily impact the stone’s overall appearance, the differences between the thinner and thicker points on the girdle are considered in the diamond’s symmetry assessment. As you’re shopping for your next diamond jewelry piece, consider, along with diamond clarity and diamond shape, that any significant variations may cause the diamonds to look disproportioned and of lower diamond quality.

    What is the Diamond’s Culet?

    The culet is the stone’s smallest facet and is found at the bottom of the diamond. All the pavilion’s facets meet up at this tiny point. Initially, the culet was intentionally cut to protect the stone’s pavilion. Today, diamond jewelry settings are generally created to be strong enough to provide ample protection to the pavilion. Even the metal you choose can help ensure its durability. 

    Most diamonds’ pavilion facets are cut uniformly. These proper angles meet up at a perfect point, resulting in no culet or sometimes referred to as a pointed culet. If the facets do not meet at a perfect point, the culet can be polished, rough, or faceted. Diamonds with a point will reflect a value of “None” under culet designation. A culet’s presence will add one additional facet to the stone’s total number of facets listed.

    The Effects of Diamond Culets

    Pear Shape Diamond Twist Shank Engagement Ring

    The lack of a culet is preferred in today’s diamond jewelry. However, culets were once widely used in Old European Cut and Old Miner’s Cut diamonds. Today, modern diamond cutting standards prefer to refrain from “Large” to “Extremely Large” rated culets, as they:

    • are visible through the table when viewing diamond jewelry from above
    • allow light to pass through the bottom of the diamond
    • cause the culet to mimic a dark circle 

    The presence of culets with “Small” to “Medium” ratings will give the appearance of a point at the stone’s pavilion base. Light reflects beautifully through these diamonds and makes them more desirable than most. While a pointed culet may seem the best choice, it’s important to note there are risks of chipping, both while being set and worn. In fact, some diamond cutters intentionally cut a small culet to minimize this risk.

    Understanding Light and Diamond Cut 

    There are a variety of factors that play a vital role in a diamond’s brilliance. A stone’s ability to reflect light is the most essential. When light enters the surface of a diamond, A portion of the light is reflected through its table after entering the stone’s surface. The light rays that remain continue traveling to the stone’s center while bouncing off the diamond’s internal walls. As the remaining light leaves the stone, dispersion creates colorful flashes or sparkle.

    GIA’s Diamond Cut Grading System

    Emerald Center Diamond with Side Diamond Accents Engagement Ring

    GIA’s Diamond Cut Grading System is used to help determine the stone’s overall diamond quality, while each of the 4Cs is assessed individually. Based on a relative scale from Excellent to Poor, each cut grade reflects a range of face-up appearances and proportion sets.

    Diamond Cut Categories of The GIA’s  Grading System include:

    • Excellent: Diamonds with this cut have superb craftsmanship. They emit a consistent pattern of dark and light areas, demonstrating brilliance and light dispersion. Diamonds classified as Excellent are of superior diamond quality.    
    • Very Good: The most commonly sought-after cut, this stone provides great diamond quality at an exceptional value. Stones with a Very Good diamond cut rating have a high level of craftsmanship, dispersing a very good amount of light and brilliance.    
    • Good: Stones placed in this diamond cut category disperse a good amount of light, although its scintillation is not quite as brilliant.  
    • Fair: Stones with a Fair diamond cut assessment have an average level of scintillation, offering a lack of contrast. This diamond cut generally appears darker, only emitting a fair amount of light.  
    • Poor: Diamonds of Poor cut reflect a low level of craftsmanship. They cannot adequately disperse light and brilliance.

    What is Diamond Depth?

    Close Up of Tweezers Holding Diamond

    As with a diamond’s table, the depth also helps define a diamond’s shape. Table and depth increase diamond quality by contributing to its radiant sparkle. So, what is diamond depth, and how does it directly affect your diamond jewelry?

    Diamond depth, sometimes referred to as height, is calculated by the distance between the stone’s table and its culet of the diamond. As with tables, jewelers grade each stone’s depth based on its depth percentage. A diamond’s depth is divided by the width of the stone to calculate its overall proportions. These percentages play a significant role in how light is reflected off the diamond’s facets, signifying diamond cut quality.         

    How Does Diamond Depth Affect Diamond Quality?

    We all want our diamond jewelry to possess that wow factor. Understanding how depth may impact diamond quality can help you make an educated decision when selecting your next diamond jewelry piece.

    A diamond’s depth impacts overall diamond quality by contributing to its sparkle appeal. Stone cuts may be classified as shallow, ideal, and deep, affecting sparkle and overall appearance. Let’s take a closer look at the differences in-depth.

    1. The Shallow Diamond Cut

    If a stone’s cut is too shallow, the light will enter the diamond only to escape through the pavilion. Shallow cut diamonds are unable to reflect light for this reason and lack brilliance while decreasing diamond quality.

    2. The Ideal Diamond Cut

    This cut is considered the premier diamond cut style. It offers well-proportioned and precisely angled cuts to achieve exceptional diamond quality with optimal performance and luminance.

    3. The Deep Diamond Cut

    When a diamond cut is too deep, it tends to make the stone appear much smaller than other diamonds of similar carat weight. Deep diamond cuts yield poor diamond jewelry sparkle and appeal.

    Understanding Diamond Shape vs. Diamond Cut

    Princess Cut Center Diamond and Diamond Shank Engagement Ring

    Many people often confuse diamond shape and cut. While the two may appear similar, they are actually quite different. We’ll take a deeper look into the two to help you understand what diamond shape and cut are and how they each affect the quality of your engagement ring.

    What is Diamond Shape? 

    The outline of a stone is known as its shape. While shape is not part of the 4Cs of a diamond, it still plays a very important role when selecting the perfect engagement ring or diamond jewelry piece.

    Selecting a diamond shape is usually more about her personal taste. If you've heard your special someone talk about princess cuts, don't be misled by the name. While it can be quite confusing, she may be giving clues about the diamond shape that appeals to her most. Besides, it’s usually a diamond’s shape that initially grabs a bride-to-be's attention, so it may be the most prominent aspect when you make your final decision. 

    If you're planning a special marriage proposal but have no idea what diamond shape she may prefer, you're not the only one. Don’t worry though; there are several ways to figure out what her perfect engagement diamond shape may look like. 

    It’s always a great idea to ask her friends or family for advice on her preferences or ring size, as long as they can keep your special plan a secret. It can also be worth paying attention to any little hints she may give you. Does she comment on diamond jewelry or engagement rings while you’re watching tv? Have you seen magazines lying around, bookmarked on certain pages? These are helpful clues she may be leaving you to help you select a style she desires.

    If you’re still a bit stumped on where to begin your diamond shape comparisons, our experienced engagement ring experts have several suggestions to help get you started. The most sought-after engagement ring diamond shapes include:

    • round brilliant diamond
    • princess cut diamond
    • pear-shaped diamond
    • oval diamond
    • cushion cut diamond
    • emerald cut diamond
    • ASHOKA diamond

    Why Choose a Round Engagement Ring? 

    Round Diamond and Cutout Diamond Shank Engagement Ring

    A round brilliant diamond shape continues to be the most-purchased diamond shape of all engagement diamonds. The round engagement ring is a classic stone, and any bride-to-be would fall in love with its sparkle. From round engagement rings to a stunning pair of diamond studs, round diamonds are always an incredible choice.

    The popularity of a round engagement ring stems from its undeniable versatility. Making up more than two-thirds of all center stones chosen for engagement rings, a round engagement ring diamond is a safe bet that she’s sure to adore. With a symmetrical shape and 58 facets, both color and inclusions can appear far superior in a round engagement ring to those of other diamond shapes.

    The round engagement ring is traditional, elegant, and cut for optimal sparkle. From a timeless round solitaire to breathtaking accent stone settings, her round brilliant diamond engagement ring will captivate all who lay eyes on it. 

    Why Consider a Princess Cut Engagement Ring? 

    Princess Cut Diamond Shank Accent Engagement Ring

    The princess cut engagement ring is known as the go-to diamond shape for the modern woman. The princess cut engagement ring offers a stone with a radiant square shape with many benefits. The stone’s shape may be most appealing due to its seemingly larger appearance. The princess cut engagement ring boasts a table and surface that can be cut to enhance the look of its carat weight when done properly.

    A popular choice behind the leading round engagement ring, the princess cut engagement ring is a classy choice for her forever ring. The cut of the diamond can be more affordable than other diamond shapes while also offering brilliant sparkle. A princess cut engagement ring can also keep inclusions well hidden in its cuts while presenting beautiful fire as it plays with light.

    What Makes the Pear-Shaped Diamond Ring Special? 

    Pear Center Diamond with Side Diamond Accents Engagement Ring

    The pear-shaped diamond offers a gorgeous and unique look she will treasure. An expertly cut pear-shaped diamond can keep inclusions, otherwise visible to the naked eye, hidden better than other diamond shapes. An incredible quality to note, it adds to a pear-shaped diamond’s uniqueness and worth.

    The most expertly cut pear-shaped diamonds are much harder to acquire, making them more desirable. While this may lead to a more expensive pear-shaped diamond ring, we promise you it is well worth the investment. A shape sure to leave an impression, the pear-shaped diamond is a must-see if your lady loves to make a statement all her own.

    Selecting a pear-shaped diamond also offers your fiancé added versatility. With no right or wrong way to wear a pear-shaped diamond engagement ring, she can dramatically change her look by wearing the pear-shaped diamond’s tip pointed up or down.

    Why an Oval Diamond Engagement Ring?

    Oval Center Diamond and Halo Engagement Ring

    Oval diamond engagement rings offer a very traditional feel with a bit of a modern spin. Unlike the pointed princess cut engagement ring or the pear-shaped diamond ring, some women prefer the look and reliability of an oval stone. Ideal for women who often wear delicate clothing or lead more active, outdoor lifestyles, the oval diamond engagement ring lacks the sharp edges that can cause concerns. 

    Its absence of edges also makes the oval diamond engagement ring a more durable stone. The oval shape diamond can be less susceptible to accidental snags, cracks, and chips. From oval halos to split shank settings, there’s an oval diamond engagement ring for every future bride.

    Oval diamond engagement rings pair traditional style with remarkable brilliance. Much like the round diamond, it performs well in light. One advantage the oval diamond engagement ring offers is its ability to appear larger in carat size than the round cut diamond. With a 10 percent larger surface area than round stones, an oval diamond engagement ring may be a worthy choice for your proposal. 

    What is a Cushion Cut Engagement Ring?

    Cushion Cut Center Diamond with Diamond Gallery and Shank Engagement Ring

    The cushion cut engagement ring offers a combination of a square shape with gently rounded corners, with a pillowy resemblance. This elegant shape has been around for nearly 200 years and was the most sought-after diamond shape for the first century of its existence. Up until the early 1900s, the cushion cut engagement ring was the ultimate choice of women, pairing perfectly with other cushion cut diamond jewelry pieces in their collections.

    Compared to modern cuts, traditional cushion cut engagement rings reflect light in a wider pattern, with an enlarged culet added for enhanced visual appeal when viewed through its table. While a cushion cut engagement ring may not be quite as brilliant as a round diamond, cushion cut diamonds tend to offer more fire. This unique look is still highly sought-after by brides-to-be who appreciate a beautiful antique look. 

    What Makes Emerald Cut Engagement Rings Remarkable?

    Platinum Emerald Cut Engagement Ring with Baguette Accent Diamonds

    The emerald cut diamond usually has 57 facets and is shaped in a rectangular form with cut-off corners. Rather than the typical brilliance and luminosity of round or cushion cut diamonds, emerald cut engagement rings boast radiant flashes of light. Thanks to its immaculate, long straight facets, the emerald cut engagement ring has a hall-of-mirrors effect that many women adore.

    Also referred to as the square emerald cut, emerald cut engagement rings offer sophistication and status. With emerald cut engagement rings gracing the ring fingers of celebrities, the emerald cut with its beautiful, large table is a desirable choice. Any lucky lady would love to have a stunning emerald cut engagement ring slipped upon her ring finger.

    What is an ASHOKA Diamond?

    Fink's Exclusive Platinum ASHOKA® and Shield Diamond Side Stone Engagement Ring

    The ASHOKA diamond is an exclusive diamond cut known to turn heads. The modified cushion cut is remarkable with its rectangular shape with softly rounded edges. This offers an intriguing variation of the antique cushion cut. The exquisite ASHOKA diamond is one of the most impressive stones you will find, hailed for its notable sparkle and distinctive cut.

    The ASHOKA diamond is incredibly rare, as only 10 percent of mined rough diamonds have the potential to be cut into an ASHOKA diamond. Often more expensive, an ASHOKA diamond engagement ring is an investment, but the unique find will be one she cherishes for her whole life. From solitaires to multi-ASHOKA diamonds, this unique diamond shape may be fitting for your future bride.

    The ASHOKA diamond can appear 30-50 percent larger than the carat weight of an emerald cut, making it a dream for your special lady. With 62 facets in comparison to a round diamond’s 58, the ASHOKA diamond is quite impressive.

    The 4Cs of Diamonds

    Before you start your engagement ring journey, we want you to be fully prepared. While you’re ready to search for the ideal cut and shape of your diamond ring, there are three additional Cs of a diamond to understand and consider. Weighing all 4Cs of a diamond offers a reliable way to evaluate and grade a stone’s overall quality. Once you understand how all four Cs work together to create a gorgeous diamond that meets your needs, you’ll know you’re ready to make your investment.

    The additional 3Cs of diamonds include:

    • Clarity
    • Color
    • Carat

    A Diamond’s Clarity

    One Diamond Next to a Stack of Diamonds on White Background

    The GIA Clarity Scale was designed to grade diamond clarity by helping categorize diamonds according to inclusions. The little imperfections factor in the location, size, and number of imperfections observed when examining the diamond under 10x magnification.

    A Diamond’s Color

    A diamond’s color refers to its lack of color. The GIA’s D-to-Z Color Scale grading system provides a way to rate stones consistently and objectively. At Fink’s Jewelers, we pride ourselves on our colorless selection of diamonds. We offer only the finest stones, worthy of our Superior Quality® color range, D-to-K.

    The slightest variations in color between stones impact their overall quality and price. At times, the slightest color variation may go unnoticed by the naked eye. This is one reason we encourage you to examine diamonds you are considering and compare them for yourself before making your selection.

    A Diamond’s Carat Weight

    Oval Halo Engagement Ring with Oval Side Diamonds

    There is a common misconception that a diamond’s carat weight refers to its size. The quality of a diamond will increase in price as its carat size increases. This is due to the rarity of larger diamonds. Understanding the difference between diamond size and carat weight will help you differentiate between stones that appear similar on a grading report yet may not look similar in their physical size.

    The size of a diamond is more closely related to its cut than its carat weight. Carat weight refers to how much the stone weighs in milligrams, and one metric carat is defined as 200 milligrams. Each carat is then subdivided into 100 points, offering a precise measurement down to the hundredth decimal.

    The Fifth C of a Fink’s Diamond

    At Fink’s Jewelers, we rely on a 5th C before you ever see one of our diamonds in our stores and online. For over two decades, our family-owned stores have put our trust in the expertise of Clif, our fifth C.

    Clif inspects each diamond individually, regardless of an impeccable grading report. He ensures every stone undergoes his rigorous inspection. If any diamond falls short of meeting his high standards, it will not be selected and certified as a Fink’s diamond.

    Clif inspects each diamond for impeccable:

    • cut
    • brilliance
    • light performance
    • durability
    Jeweler Inspects Diamond

    Roughly 99 percent of inspected diamonds are rejected each year, making any engagement ring you select from Fink’s a superior quality investment.

    If you’re ready to start your engagement ring search, we invite you to stop by our store or visit us online. Our dedicated team of diamond ring experts would be thrilled to answer your questions and help you select the ideal forever ring or help you create the perfect custom engagement ring. From an intriguing ASHOKA diamond to a radiant round engagement ring, we’re confident we have the engagement ring of her dreams.