The Jewelry Insider

February 4, 2008

What do all these have in common – round, princess, marquise, pear, Asscher, radiant?


They’re actually all types of diamond cuts. As most people know, diamonds come in all shapes, sizes and colors, but when it comes to diamond lingo, square, round rectangular doesn’t quite cut it?. There are literally over a hundred different types of diamond cuts, but understanding how they all look is a job that even hardened professionals find difficult.

A diamond’s cut refers to the precise angles and alignment of the stone’s facets and the way they affect the beauty and brilliance of the polished gem. The terms “shape” and “cut” are frequently confused. The shape is the geometrical form of the diamond, such as round, pear, or princess.

Diamonds are either cut in a ’round brilliant’ shape or a ‘fancy’ shape. (A fancy shape simply means the diamond is not cut in a round brilliant style. What can be confusing is that fancy shapes such as princess and radiant cuts are not listed on a diamond’s certificate by those names, rather, they are referred to as a ‘modified brilliants’.

Most diamonds though are cut in a round brilliant shape, in fact 75% of all diamonds sold today are round brilliants.


The Royal Asscher cut was first applied in the early 1900s by a Dutch firm called the Asscher Brothers, hence its name. Unlike a traditional emerald cut diamond, the Asscher cut features deeply cut corners and broad step facets which contribute to the pattern of concentric squares that appear in the center of the table facet.


This step cut diamond is rectangular in shape with clipped corner facets and broad, flat planes. The reason it’s called an emerald cut is that the original cutters of the emerald cut copied the shape from that of polished emeralds.


Based on the brilliant cut, heart shapes call for an exact degree of symmetry to ensure the top two lobes of the heart are of identical height and width. Usually the rough shape of the diamond crystal dictates whether the stone will be a heart-shaped when polished.


The marquise is an elongated shaped based on the brilliant cut, but in marquise cuts the diamond’s girdle is boat shaped, with pointed ends. The first marquise diamond was allegedly commissioned by Louis XIV, who was so taken by the smile of the Marquise de Pompadour, that he ordered a diamond be cut in such a way to match the Marquise’s winning grin.


Oval shapes are based on brilliant cuts and feature 8 pavilion main facets.


The pear shaped diamond is reminiscent of a drop of water. It is cut with 8 main facets.


The princess cut is called a square or rectangular modified brilliant in many diamond laboratory grading reports, as it combines the brilliance of a round cut with an overall square or rectangular shape.


The cut is a combination of both the emerald shape and round brilliant. It’s also a popular shape for fancy colored diamonds.


The brilliant cut was introduced in the 17th century, but has since undergone several re adjustments.The modern day round brilliant was introduced by Marcel Tolkowsky in 1919. He developed the current 57-facet diamond on which today’s cut arrangement and proportions of the round diamond are based.

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