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Diamonds are known for their exceptional brilliance and light performance. The sparkle of diamonds have been canonized in literature and praised in popular culture. It is this sparkle that places diamonds in a league of its own and makes it such a popular choice for jewelry, especially engagement rings.
When shopping for a diamond, one of the most important factors you will have to decide on is the cut. There are several diamond cuts to choose from, with each exhibiting varying levels of sparkle. The type of cut and the arrangement of facets have a direct relation to how brilliant the diamond will be.
Let’s take a quick look at the brilliance of each diamond cut and at what other factors affect a diamond’s sparkle!
Most Brilliant: Round Cut
It may come as no surprise that the round brilliant cut is the most brilliant of all the diamond cuts, standing above all the rest. After all, it is the most popular cut of them all!
With 57 to 58 facets, this gorgeous cut was specifically created to enhance the sparkle of the diamond. The round cut is able to reflect up to 92% of all the light that enters it. So if you’re looking for the best brilliance, the round cut will be your top choice.
Exceptionally Brilliant: Marquise, Oval and Pear
These three cuts have exceptional brilliance and are also cut with the ‘brilliant’ faceting pattern, similar to the round cut. These cuts are a great alternative for someone who wants to have brilliance similar to the round cut but are looking for something a bit different. Also, bearing in mind that the round cut is among the most expensive cuts, the marquise, pear and oval offer more budget friendly options without compromising on the look!
Highly Brilliant: Heart and Princess
The heart and the princess cuts exhibit about 70% of the light performance of a round diamond, making them very brilliant cuts. While the princess cut is the second most popular diamond cut for engagement rings, the heart cut is quite uncommon and unique.
Brilliant: Cushion, Asscher, Radiant and Emerald
These four cuts are brilliant cuts and exhibit good brilliance. On a side note, the cushion cut and the Asscher cut have modified modern versions known as the modified cushion brilliant and the Royal Asscher respectively, both of which are much more brilliant.
The Asscher and the emerald cuts are known as step cuts, consisting of long facets and in the case of the emerald cut, wide open tables. These two cuts are known for their reduced sparkle but have an exceptionally smooth and clear appearance with a ‘hall of mirrors’ effect when touched by light.
Least Brilliant: Baguette
This diamond shape is not a common shape, and can be difficult to find on popular diamond retail sites. The baguette cut is a step cut, like the Asscher and emerald and has less than half the amount of brilliance that a round cut displays.
The baguette is perfect used as accent stones, to embellish a ring design. As a center stone, it’s not a conventional choice but can be very intriguing and eye-catching.
Considering Cut Quality
Bear in mind that the cut of the diamond isn’t the sole deciding factor when it comes to sparkle. You will also have to consider aspects such as the quality of the cut and the quality of the diamond in general.
For example, a poorly cut round brilliant, with misaligned facets, will not display the same amount of brilliance as a well-cut stone. Often, you will come across pear, oval and marquise cut diamonds that have what is known as a bow-tie, which refers to the darkened area that lies across a diamond.
Oval diamond with severe bow-tie. Source
This diminishes the sparkle of the diamond and is a result of poor cutting that impedes with the light performance of the diamond. For the best cut, the facets of the diamond must be evenly spaced and have excellent proportion and symmetry.
GIA Grading Scale
Round diamonds come with a GIA cut grade that helps you to choose a high quality cut. This will be noted on the grading report. For the best quality, look for Excellent or Very Good cut grades which indicate cut quality that reflects most of the light that enters the diamond.
Good and Fair cuts are also good options as these diamonds also reflect much of the light that comes into them. Diamonds with these cut grades are priced lower and are budget friendly options.
Diamonds with a Poor grade have low brilliance and often appear dull. They are great on the wallet but may not have the look that you desire.
Fancy cuts are not graded by the GIA, meaning that the lab report will not make any mention of cut quality. However, you can look for the ratings of the Polish and Symmetry of the stone, which are aspects of the quality of the diamond’s cut.
Settings and Sparkle
Another important consideration is the setting of the jewelry. This impacts on how much light is allowed to touch the diamond and reflect off it.
For rings, prong settings are ideal, as they enhance the diamond’s visibility and allows for maximum light performance.
Halo settings are also a great way to enhance the brilliance of the diamond as they tend to accentuate the center diamond’s sparkle and size by adding a ring of sparkle to the stone. Tension settings are also another unique way to let the light touch the diamond allowing the stone to do its thing! However, this is more uncommon and not everyone will fall in love with a tension setting.
Bezel settings, on the other hand, tend to cover up the diamond making it appear smaller than it is and minimizing the amount of light reflection. However, they are a modern and contemporary style, and are a favorite among those who love minimalist styles.
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