Diamonds 101: The Four Cs – Cut

“I know a man who is a diamond cutter. He mows the lawn at Yankee Stadium.” – Anonymous

Perhaps the expression “a cut above the rest” originated with diamond cutters. They have a job in which one tiny wrong move can spell disaster. I witnessed a diamond cutter at work in Yellowknife. She calmly and repeatedly ground a rough diamond worth several thousand dollars against a spinning horizontal wheel, shaving off a few micro layers each time. Personally, I am not “cut out” for the exacting work.

Rough diamonds – what Naomi Campbell called dirty-looking stones – are the starting point:

Rough Diamonds

What does a diamond hunter (in the retail environment, that is) need to consider regarding cut?

The proportions are important. The key is to compare the pavilion depth to the diameter.

Cut 1

A diamond with a deep cut will have much of its weight below the setting, making the diamond appear smaller than a diamond of the same carat weight but with a shallow cut.


Another choice is the cutting style. Would you prefer a diamond with a Brilliant Cut or a Step Cut? According to these are the two most common cutting styles.

Round Brilliant Cut

The Brilliant Cut has triangular facets.

Step CutThe Step Cut diamond has rectangular facets.

The  Diamond Review web site gives this advice: If you want the shiniest diamond possible, select a brilliant cut. If you prefer a more glassy, elegant stone, the step cut is for you.

Mike Botha, a Canadian diamond expert, designed the world’s most intricate cut for optimal brilliance – 111 facets compared to the average of 57 facets. His design was named the Las Vegas cut. Of course, the price for such intricate workmanship is steep. A one carat diamond with the Las Vegas cut would set you back a cool $10,000.

So how does a consumer know if a diamond has a good cut?

Gemologists grade the cut as Ideal, Premium, Very Good, Good, Fair, or Poor. See for detailed descriptions of these grades.

Cut is not shape. The various diamond shapes, such as Pear, Round, Square, Emerald, Princess, etc., will be covered in a separate post.

My favourite cut is Brilliant. I love the light-reflecting sparkle.  What’s yours?


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