The fourth – and most important – of the Four Cs: Cut

Rated as the most crucial characteristic of the Four Cs, cut refers to the way in which a diamond is faceted to catch and reflect light. The overall quality of the cut is determined by the proportion and symmetry of the cut as well as the quality of the polish.

Cut grading

Diamonds are graded into the following cuts:

  • Ideal cut
  • Premium cut
  • Very Good (or Fine) cut
  • Good cut
  • Fair cut
  • Poor cut

As the names suggest, a diamond’s value is as good or poor as its cut. The Ideal cut allows light to enter the diamond, be refracted by its many facets, and bounce back through the top of the diamond, giving it its characteristic icy fire. This characteristic is known as ‘light return’.

A Poor cut diamond may be cut too deep or too shallow.

Diamond Cut

A deep cut diamond allows light to escape from the bottom and makes the table appear dull. Too shallow a cut gives the appearance of a black hole, referred to as a ‘fish eye’. In a diamond that is cut too deep, light is reflected through the sides, and the center of the diamond may appear dark.

Cut styles

Cut styles include Brilliant cut, step cut, or mixed cut.

  • The Brilliant cut is designed to maximize brilliance. It has 58 facets, 33 on the table (flat uppermost surface), 24 on the pavilion (lower half), and the culet (the bottom-most facet). In an Ideal cut, all 58 facets appear to radiate light from the center out through the top of the diamond.
  • The step cut resembles steps on a stairway because three concentric rows of facets are arranged around the table, the pavilion, and the culet. The Emerald cut is an example of a step-cut diamond.
  • The mixed cut combines elements of both the Brilliant cut and the step cut. For example, the crown may be cut as a Brilliant cut and the pavilion as a step cut.

Useful tip

If you are interested in buying a diamond of a specific size, color, and clarity, and have a limited budget, it wouldn’t hurt to compromise on the diamond’s cut. Going with a Good cut instead of an Ideal cut may be a way to save and still get the diamond you really want. The price difference between an Ideal or Premium cut and a Good cut can be as much as 20%.

While Cut is certainly one of the Four Cs that you should evaluate before you buy a diamond, it not the only one. We recommend that you take some time to understand more diamond basics before you start shopping.

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