Single-Cut vs. Full-Cut Diamond – Here’s What to Know

If you’re confused by the terms single cut and full cut in relation to diamonds, you’re not alone. These terms are relatively unknown in the diamond industry. However, you may have already come across these cuts in your search for diamonds or diamond jewelry.

While deciding between single cut and full cut diamonds is not always a major decision that you will have to make, knowing the difference is handy and gives you a greater appreciation of the round cut diamond. Let’s take a look at what single cut and full cut diamonds.

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What is A Full Cut Diamond?

Platinum engagement ring with round shape diamond
Full cut round brilliant diamond. See more here.

A full cut diamonds refers to a round brilliant diamond that is cut according to standard cut specifications. The standard cut for round brilliant diamonds contains 57 or 58 facets, strategically placed to enhance the light performance of the stone. Round brilliants, or full cut diamonds, are the classic diamond shape and account for over 75% of all diamonds.

round cut diamond
Full cut diamond seen from different angles

You will sometimes come across round brilliant diamonds that contain a non-standard number of facets, often much lower than 57 or 58. Although these diamonds have the shape, they are not considered full cut diamonds as the number of facets do not match the standard.

What is a Single Cut Diamond?

So what do we call diamonds that look like round brilliants but don’t have the standard 57 or 58 facets? These are known as single cut diamonds.

While it may seem that a single cut diamond merely contains a single cut, this is not the case! The typical number of facets for such cuts is either 16 to 18, which is a very big difference from full cut stones.

single cut diamond
Single Cut Diamond Faceting Structure

Single cut diamonds don’t have the light performance that full cut diamonds have, due to their low number of facets. Their sparkle is quite low and this is noticeable in larger stones.

Most round diamonds are initially cut as single cut diamonds, before the other facets are added to turn it into a full-cut diamond. A number of factors impact the cutter’s decision on whether to leave the diamond as a single cut or to make it into a full cut. These reasons include the size, color, clarity and overall quality of the stone.

When Should You Buy A Full Cut Diamond Vs. A Single Cut Diamond?

whiteflash ring with diamond
Full cut diamonds have exceptional sparkle. See more here.

If you’re purchasing a diamond as a center stone, as in an engagement ring, the focus is largely on the diamond. In this case, you want the diamond to have the ultimate sparkle and beauty. It’s best to purchase a full cut diamond.

However, for certain settings and ring designs such as channel, cluster and pave, or designs that make use of accent stones, the individual diamond is not as important. In this case, single cut diamonds offer an equally beautiful choice. You’ll find that often jewelry designers use single cut diamonds in such designs.

So which is better?

In terms of light performance, you will notice that the sparkle in a full cut is unmatched by the single cut stone, especially in small sizes. The full cut has a crushed ice effect as the light hits the facets and is dispersed every which way. However, the single cut has an interesting depth and elegance, due to its large open facets. Many people prefer single cut diamonds in tiny melee sizes as the larger facets give off a more distinguished and clearer sparkle.

Full Cut vs. Single Cut Diamond Value

Floating double-halo engagement ring white gold
Full cut diamonds hold more value. See more diamonds on Blue Nile.

It goes without saying that single cut diamonds should be less expensive than full cut diamonds as they require less labor and time to create. Cutting 57 or 58 facets on a small diamond is more difficult and labor intensive than on a larger stone, so it stands to reason that if a small diamond were given a full cut, it would make the stone unnecessarily expensive. A single cut should save you more money if you choose it for your jewelry.

However, this is not always the case.

Single cut melees are highly sought after for luxury watches, meaning that most of these diamonds are used up by the watch industry. Because many people are willing to pay a higher price for single cut diamonds in luxury watches, they end up being quite costly. Single cut diamonds are also quite rare and therefore more expensive than full cut diamonds.

Wrapping Up

When it comes to diamonds, cut is king. This is because we focus on the sparkle, light performance, and proportional beauty of a diamond.

These factors are what makes a diamond individually beautiful and make them stand out. With this in mind, it’s best not to compromise on cut when selecting a diamond for your center stone. We recommend opting for the best in cut that your budget allows for. In other words, go with full cut diamonds wherever possible.

Looking for a diamond? Check out our review of the top online diamond retailers detailing the pros and cons of each.

Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years in the jewelry niche. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education. She has always been interested in expression through fashion and accessories, and her extensive experience in the field has made her a respected voice in jewelry trends and education. As the chief editor of Jewelry Shopping Guide, she not only leads the content strategy but also shares her insights through engaging articles. Her passion for storytelling is reflected in every piece she curates, exploring the intricate relationship between jewelry and personal identity.

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