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The Four C’s – Getting to Know Diamond Cut

diamond cut | the anatomy of a diamond
The Anatomy of a Diamond

What is Diamond Cut?

Of all the 4C’s, diamond cut is the one most directly influenced by man, whereas the other three C’s; clarity, colour and carat weight, are dictated solely by nature. It’s by the polisher’s skill alone that the true beauty of a diamond is revealed and the diamond cut is often considered the most important factor when choosing your stone. This is because the diamond cut creates the extraordinary dancing light and coveted sparkle most have us have come to associate with diamonds. The cut or make of a diamond will dramatically influence the properties of fire and sparkle, so the better your diamond proportions, the better light will dance off your stone.

The cut of the diamond enables the stone to make the best use of light:

¹ When a diamond is cut to good proportions, light is reflected internally from one facet to another and then reflected through the top of the stone giving it maximum sparkle or brilliance.
² If the cut of the diamond is too deep, some light escapes through the opposite side of the pavilion.
³ If the cut is too shallow, light escapes through the pavilion before it can be reflected.

The Birth of Diamond Cutting

In the 13th century, diamonds were still kept as loose uncut stones, and for many years after this, diamond cutting was really only diamond polishing; this was more to make precious stones shiny more than anything else. The point cut, which follows the natural shape of the diamond to a “point”, is believed to be the very first true diamond cutting technique developed, although it is still more a form of polishing than cutting. Diamond cutting originated in royalty-owned Golconda, India, a major centre whose name took on the meaning “a place of great wealth” amongst Europeans. As more diamonds flooded the European market and demand increased further, the diamond cutting industry was born in Venice. From there, the industry stretched to Burges, Paris, and later to major cutting centre Antwerp.  Here cutting technology and styles flourished and were developed further, and over centuries the unsurpassed brilliance and fire of diamonds were slowly revealed.

Diamond Cutting | A diagram of old diamond cuts showing the evolution from the most primitive (point cut) to the most advanced pre-Tolkowsky cut (old European).
Image Source: WikiCommons
A diagram of old diamond cuts showing the evolution from the most primitive (point cut) to the most advanced pre-Tolkowsky cut (old European).

The Round Brilliant Cut

In 1650, Mazarin designed the cross-cut diamond and this is where the legacy of the round brilliant cut diamond really began. During the 1700s, diamond cutter Peruzzi refined the first fifty-eight facets and the round brilliant cut diamond further progressed through the 1800s. During this time titles like “old mine cut” and “old European cut” were often used. In 1919 the modern brilliant cut was invented by Marcel Tolkowsky, which to this day is the most popular cutting style used in diamond engagement rings, pendants, earrings, and more. This cut design is composed of 57 facets (58 if you count the culet), all mathematically perfected to bring out the most brilliance and fire in a diamond. 

The Four C's - Getting to Know Diamond Cut 1

The proportions and facet angles that were calculated mathematically by Marcal Tolkowsky to produce maximum brilliancy consistent with a high degree of fire in a round diamond brilliant are considered by many diamond men to constitute the “ideal cut”. These figures, computed as a percentage of the girdle diameter, are as follows:

TableTotal DepthCrown HeightPavilion HeightBezel AnglePavilion Angle
53%59.3%* 16.2%43.1%34°30′40°45′
Total depth includes the girdle thickness of 0.7% to 1.7%

The round brilliant cut diamond is the muse for the signature Mark Solomon four claw Solitaire diamond ring.

Round brilliant cut diamond ring | Mark Solomon Signature Solitaire Diamond Ring |
Our MS Signature Solitaire ring – minimalist elegance that allows your diamond to sparkle with maximum brilliance.

A handcrafted contemporary beauty, this ring heralds a round brilliant cut diamond in a strikingly minimal claw setting, crafted in your precious metal of choice, that exhibits the diamond to its fullest.  Seal your love in a timeless style to endure for years to come.

Fancy Cut Diamonds

Here follows a brief explanation of cuts used in the diamond industry:

Asscher Cut

A fully made emerald cut with larger corners.

Diamond Cut Education | Diagram of Asscher Cut Diamond

Barion Cut

A mixed cut comprised of 62 facets designed and developed by Jooste’s Diamond Cutting Works (Pty) Ltd., Johannesburg, South Africa. It is a combination of two cuts, the crown being a full emerald cut and the pavilion a modified brilliant cut.

Diamond Cut Education | Diagram of Barion Cut Diamond

Briolette Cut

A pear or drop shaped stone with a circular cross section, entirely covered with triangular facets. This form of cutting is very rarely encountered.

Cushion Cut

Stones with a rectangular or squarish outline and rounded corners with facets that are usually similar to the facet arrangement of the brilliant cut. Please see our special feature on Trendy Cuts including the Cushion Cut.

Diamond Cut Education | Diagram of Cushion Cut Diamond

Half-moon Cut

A style of brilliant cutting that produces a stone shaped like a half circle.

Diamond Cut Education | Diagram of Half Moon Cut Diamond

Heart-shaped Brilliant Cut

A heart shaped variation of the brilliant cut that is related to the pear shape. The round end is flattened and indented and the girdle diameter across the shoulders is widened until the diameter is approximately equal to the length.

Diamond Cut Education | Diagram of Heart Cut Diamond

Marquise Cut

A style of diamond cutting in which the girdle outline is boat shaped. The shape and placement of the facets is of the brilliant type. See picture of a marquise cut diamond with an authentic EGL certificate.

Diamond Cut Education | Diagram of Marquise Cut Diamond

Old-mine Cut

¹ A trade term that is applied properly to an early form of brilliant cut with a nearly square or cushion-shaped girdle outline. ² A term applied occasionally and incorrectly to a somewhat more modern style of brilliant cut that also has a much higher crown and smaller table than the modern brilliant cut, but whose girdle outline is circular or approximately circular – a style of cutting that is more properly called a lumpy stone or an Old-European cut.

Diamond Cut Education | Diagram of each side of an old mine cut diamond

Pear-shaped Cut

A variation of the brilliant cut, usually with 58 facets, having a pear-shaped girdle outline often with only 56 facets when the pavilion facets at the head and tail are eliminated.

Diamond Cut Education | Diagram of Pear Cut Diamond

Shield Cut

A many sided form of cutting, usually step cut, the length and angles of the sides of which may vary. Resembles a shield in outline.

Diamond Cut Education | Diagram of Shield Cut Diamond

Square Cut

An equal-sided, sharp-cornered form of step cutting.

Diamond Cut Education | Diagram of Square Cut Diamond

Trilliant Cut

A modern shaped variation of the brilliant cut consisting of 44 facets; 25 facets on the crown and 19 facets on the pavilion. The girdle outline is triangular shaped, or a rounded triangular shape.

Diamond Cut Education | Diagram of Trilliant Cut Diamond

Baguette Cut

A French word meaning rod. A style of step cutting for small, rectangularly-shaped gemstones.

Diamond Cut Education | Diagram of Baguette Cut Diamond

Bullet Cut

A modification of the pentagon cut, the shape of which is produced by varying the length and angles of the sides. Resembles a bullet in outline.

Diamond Cut Education | Diagram of Bullet Cut Diamond

Emerald Cut

A form of step cutting. It usually is rectangular but sometimes is square, in which case it is known as a square emerald cut. It has rows (steps) of elongated facets on the crown and pavilion, parallel to the girdle, and with corner facets.

The number of rows, or steps, may vary, although the usual number is three on the pavilion. The emerald cut is excellent for colourless stones and when it is desirable to emphasize the colour of fancy diamonds.

Diamond Cut Education | Diagram of Emerald Cut Diamond

Kite Cut

A four-sided form of cutting, usually step cut, that resembles a child’s kite outline.

Diamond Cut Education | Diagram of Kite Cut Diamond

Old-European Cut

A term applied to the earliest form of a circular-girdled full brilliant. It is characterised by a very small table, a heavy crown, and great overall depth. Improperly referred to as old-mine cut.

Diamond Cut Education | Diagram of Old-European Cut Diamond

Oval Cut

¹ A brilliant style of cutting in which the girdle outline is elliptical; i.e. a rounded oblong. Also called the oval brilliant cut. ² Also an obsolete barrel-shaped style of cutting with a circular cross section and covered with triangular facets.

Diamond Cut Education | Diagram of Oval Cut Diamond

Pentagon Cut

A five-sided form of cutting usually step cut, with the sides of equal length.

Diamond Cut Education | Diagram of Pentagon Cut Diamond

Princess Cut

An earlier name for the profile cut invented by Arpad Nagy in 1961. It has right-angle corners and is traditionally cut to a square outline but can be cut to a rectangular outline. The cut combines the triangular facets of the brilliant cut with the step cutting of the emerald cut.

Diamond Cut Education | Diagram of Princess Cut Diamond

Trapeze Cut

A four-sided form of cutting, usually step cut, with two longer, parallel sides of unequal length and two inclined sides of equal length.

Diamond Cut Education | Diagram of Trapeze Cut Diamond

Step Cut

One of the two basic classifications of cutting styles namely step cut and brilliant cut. In step cut stones, all facets are four-sided and in steps, or rows, both above and below the girdle. All facets are parallel to the girdle and therefore, except those on the corners, long and usually narrow.

The number of rows, or steps, may vary, although the usual number is three on the crown and three on the pavilion. Different shapes of step cuts are usually described by their outlines; for example, rectangular step cut, square step cut, octagon step cut. A rectangular step cut with cut corners is called a cushion cut, or, more popularly, an emerald cut.

Diamond Cut Education | Diagram of Step Cut Diamond

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