Making the Cut: Why Diamond Cut Matters for Sparkle

While it may induce a slight sweat and a mild case of the shakes, buying an engagement ring is exciting. It’s also somewhat confusing. Helping you understand and identify what makes a diamond unique, and how you can get the most bang for your buck, though, will help with the entire process.

The cut of a diamond is one of the most defining characteristics. Essentially, the cut is a summary of the proportions of the stone that are evaluated using attributes like scintillation, fire, and brilliance. In other words, cut is a diamond’s ability to reflect light.

Sparkling diamonds

Shine Bright Like a Well-Cut Diamond

Sparkle is what most men and women care about – how does the stone look to your eyes? How does it look on her hand? How much does the diamond sparkle, adding to your lady’s radiance?

They say that women choose friends who will make them feel good about themselves, so her best friend (her diamond) should sparkle and shine. While having a certificate is important, and the polish is something to consider, it all comes down to the sparkle factor.

Make Sure Her Diamond Makes the Cut

When we think of a diamond’s cut, words like round, princess, and marquise probably come to mind, and while shape is certainly important to the wearer, it is the cut grade that, well, makes the cut. On the GIA certificate, the cut scale ranges from excellent to poor and tells you the cut quality of the stone. To give you a better understanding here is how the GIA grades round brilliant diamonds:

  • Excellent cut: Reflects practically all of the light entering the stone, giving you the most brilliance and sparkle.
  • Very good cut: Reflects most of the light entering the stone, giving you superior brilliance. Cheaper than an excellent cut diamond with a comparable sparkle.
  • Good cut: Reflects a better part of the light entering the stone, giving you a good amount of brilliance. Excellent value for money relative to better cut diamonds.
  • Fair cut: A good amount of the light that enters the stone escapes from the bottom or sides, which means that brilliance may suffer. A fair cut is acceptable in diamonds of 0.75 carats or less because sparkle differences are harder to notice in smaller stones.
  • Poor: Most of the light that enters the stone escapes before reflecting back making the stone look dull.

While the GIA makes use of the word “excellent” to determine the highest grade of cut possible, the AGS adds another category called “ideal.” Think of the AGS ideal cut as a stricter standard in which only the most sparkly diamonds are categorized into.

How Can You Tell If a Diamond Is Well Cut?

Shallow cut, ideal cut, and deep cut diamond visual
Diagram depicting how shallow cut diamonds, ideal cut diamonds, and deep cut diamonds reflect light

When we refer to a diamond’s cut, there are a few general terms that are used to describe its quality. These terms are not GIA or AGS cut grades, but they are useful for explaining how light is reflected.

  • Deep Cut Diamonds:Light escapes through the bottom of a deep cut diamond, taking away from its sparkle. If you look at a deep cut diamond from the top, it may look smaller, and that’s because a deep cut diamond is deeper and narrower. Deep cut diamonds come with lower price tags.
  • Ideal Cut DiamondsAn ideal cut diamond is one that is cut at angles that have been designed reflect back the most amount of light. These stones are visibly brighter and are the benchmark in quality diamonds. Overall, a well-cut diamond will maximize the light that shines back at you.
  • Shallow Cut DiamondsLight escapes through the sides of a shallow cut diamond, taking away from its sparkle. These stones are usually referred to as spread diamonds and are cut in such a way as to make them appear bigger. However, this illusion comes at the expense of reduced sparkle and brilliance.

Make Sure She Sparkles

When you’re on a budget, we advise picking a smaller, but well-cut diamond instead of a larger carat that has been poorly cut. After all, we’re pretty sure she wants her BFF to sparkle more than she wants it to act as a knuckle-duster!


About The Author
Tony Florida headshot

After saving $633 on my engagement ring when the price of the diamond dropped overnight, I built The Diamond App to track diamond prices. You can read about my story here, and also how The Diamond App can save you hundreds on your diamond.

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