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The Cut of a Diamond:  Beauty Revealed

By  Judith Anderson  GG, CGA

Uncut diamonds so closely resemble pebbles that most people would pass them by without a glance.  Only a skilled diamond cutter can unlock the fiery and brilliant beauty of this rare gem.  The diamond cutter cannot afford to make mistakes;  not only at risk is the diamond itself,  but also the several hours to months of work required to mine,  examine,  cut and polish each stone.  On the average,  each rough diamond crystal loses 50% of its original weight during this time-consuming process.

A beautiful Flanders Brilliant cut diamond. Since the diamond's beauty depends on the way it reflects light,  the cutter must shape the stone in such a way as to allow light to enter through the top,  bounce around the inside and return out the top again.  Proper cutting results in a maximum amount of light reflected so that the diamond sparkles with fire (spectral colors),  brilliance (white light),  and scintillation (sparkling effect).

Improper cutting can affect not only a gemstone's beauty,  but also its durability.  Unfortunately,  most diamonds on today's market are cut with a spread table (the large,  octagonal-shaped facet on the top of the stone).  This results in a stone that displays more brilliant white light but less fire and scintillation.  Also, such stones look bigger than their actual weight due to a shallow total depth,  which may be hidden in the mounting.  Diamonds with spread tables offer "more flash for less cash" because they look bigger,  are more brilliant and cost less.  Be aware that these stones actually weigh less than they look and are more susceptible to chipping and damage.

Another cutting mistake to avoid is an extremely thin girdle,  as this area is especially susceptible to chipping.  Think of the girdle as the waist or diameter of the stone.  This area is the most exposed region of the stone and thus more likely to receive abuse as your hand hits a hard surface.

Another section of the stone to consider is the pavilion.  This is the bottom region which is buried within the prongs of the setting.  Although this area receives minimal abuse,  its cut can drastically affect the beauty of the stone.  Deep pavilions result in a stone that is quite dark,  while shadow pavilions produce a watery or dead appearance.  Both of these problems are the result of "unplanned light leakage" - whereby light entering the stone does not bounce around and exit through the top,  but instead,  leaks out through the bottom of the stonme.

How can you compare the cut of diamonds and understand its affect on value?  There is a specific set of standards to which diamonds should be cut;  these "Ideal Proportions" best display a diamond's optical features and durability.  The jewelry store you visit should discuss the cut on either the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or AGS (American Gemological Society) scales,  which compares it to these "Ideal Proportions."

Another beautiful diamond. When shopping for diamonds,  remember to compare all of the four C's - Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat weight.  You should add a fifth "C" to the list - Confidence in your jeweler.  Choose a jeweler or gemologist who will explain each of the four C's to you and how these factors affect a diamond's beauty and value.  Also, be wary of "discount" or "bargain" diamonds  -  they may be a poor trade-off between quality and cost!

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