When people describe diamonds, there are a variety of words casually thrown out. Beautiful. Dazzling. Sparkling. Shining. Brilliant. They’re all true! Diamonds are one of the Earth’s most highly valued treasures. But when it comes to the word “brilliant,” there is a specific definition. Brilliant refers to the stone’s cut, and as many experts argue, cut is the most important of the 4Cs. What do you need to know when purchasing a brilliant cut diamond?

Information is critical for anyone in the market for a diamond, whether a retailer who wants to serve customers at the highest level or a customer looking for the perfect gift or self-gift. Start at the beginning: what is a brilliant cut diamond? It’s a good question, and the answer can be quite technical. Some key terms to know as you navigate the buying process:

  • Girdle: the widest part of the diamond
  • Crown: the portion of the diamond above the girdle
  • Pavilion: the portion of the diamond below the girdle
  • Culet: the small flat surface at the bottom of the pavilion (some diamonds exclude the culet)
  • Facet: the flat surfaces on the shape of the stone

It is also important to know that, as mentioned, brilliant refers to a diamond’s cut. When a diamond emerges from the earth, it is not the sparkling, dazzling showpiece we see on rings or other finished pieces. The stone is usually quite dull and… well, it looks like a rock! A brilliant cut is created by the hands of a brilliant cutter. 

How Many Facets Does a Round Brilliant Cut Diamond Have?

The next question: how many facets does a round brilliant cut diamond have? The brilliant cut has evolved over the centuries, and old stones will have different numbers of facets. In 2005, however, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) introduced a grading system for modern round brilliant cuts. 

These contain 58 facets: 33 of these are found on the crown and 25 on the pavilion. This includes the culet. Some brilliant cuts exclude the culet and have 57 facets; this does not impact the look of a finished piece as the vulnerable culet is protected by the setting.

Now, the number of facets is sometimes equated in people’s minds with shine and sparkle. Thus, the more facets, the more dazzle, if you will. But what actually increases a stone’s brilliance, fire, and scintillation are the proportion and symmetry of the facets. These terms refer to the play of light in a diamond:

  • Brilliance: the white light reflected off the facets
  • Fire: the dispersion of the reflected white light 
  • Scintillation: the interplay of light when we see the diamond in motion

A masterfully cut brilliant diamond, then, will maximize each of these factors - and the beauty of the overall stone.

Diamond Cut Quality

When it comes to diamonds, does size really matter? Perhaps. But what matters, even more, is cut quality. Today, most diamonds sold (70%) are round brilliants; they are highly prized by consumers, thanks to their dazzling displays of light and sparkle. 

In general, all factors being equal, when you invest in a higher cut grade, you are getting a more valuable diamond. An excellent or very good cut, for example, compensates for less than perfect grading in carat weight, color, and clarity. 

GIA, a world-renowned institute dedicated to providing impartial education and resources for the diamond-buying public, grades diamonds on the 4Cs. When purchasing a stone, it is essential that you receive a grading report. This will provide invaluable information so you can be sure you are getting the value for which you are paying. 

When GIA examines a diamond, they look at a number of different factors, as well as how those factors work together to create a stunning stone. With exhaustive research and consumer surveying behind them, GIA experts evaluate quality in terms of the appearance of a diamond when viewed face-up (looking closely at brilliance, fire, and scintillation), the design of the diamond, and the quality of the craftsmanship when it comes to aligning and polishing the facets. Remember, proportion and symmetry are crucial in maximizing sparkle and shine.

Taking these factors into consideration, they grade a diamond as:

  • Excellent
  • Very Good
  • Good
  • Fair
  • Poor 

Aim for the highest grade you can; this allows you to compromise a bit in terms of clarity, color, and carat weight. It also ensures your round brilliant will perform up to your - and your customers’ - highest expectations. 

The jewelry industry, like all others, is subject to ebbs and flows. But diamonds never go out of style. An investment in round brilliant cuts, the most popular diamonds on the market, is an investment in your business. 

Contact K. Rosengart to learn how we can serve as your in-house diamond department.