Jewelry collections are as unique as the people that own them, and many pieces of jewelry develop priceless memories as they are worn to weddings, graduations, or even in daily life. However, there are objective ways to evaluate fine jewelry in Austin and elsewhere, of course, so it can be assigned a price. For diamonds, prices are usually determined by the “four Cs”: carat, color, clarity, and cut.
It is important to note that a diamond’s cut is not the same thing as its shape. The former refers to the proportions of the many tiny facets cut into a stone (traditionally fifty-eight, each two millimeters wide), how well they interact with light, and the overall finish of the gem, while the latter refers to the the basic form of the stone, such as round, square, tear drop-shaped, etc. Cut is the only one of the four Cs that is determined by human touch, and while it’s probably the most important characteristic overall, it’s also the most difficult to evaluate. The challenge is to create the most optically beautiful diamond without sacrificing size.
The cut of a diamond determines how much light it can refract, and therefore, how much it sparkles. If you have two flawless, colorless diamonds of equal carat weight, but one is cut well and the other is cut poorly, they will sell for two very different prices. The well-cut gem will appear clear and fiery, while the poorly cut one will appear lifeless and dull. Ideally, nearly all the light that passes through a diamond will be refracted back through the top of the stone, rather than being lost through its sides and bottom. A well-cut diamond is likely to appear larger than a poorly cut stone of similar carat weight, due to the increased sparkle.
Evaluation of a diamond’s cut includes three factors: brightness, or the total amount of refracted light; fire, or how the light disperses into the color spectrum; and scintillation, or how the light flashes and sparkles as the stone is moved. In 2005, the Gemology Institute of America released a scale for evaluating the cut of standard round diamonds on the D-to-Z color scale, although this system is still being tweaked. Following the current system, a diamond’s cut may be rated Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, or Poor. Diamonds with a cut rating of “Excellent” are very rare and refract nearly all light that enters them, while those rated “Poor” lose most of their light through their bottoms and sides.
Remember that in addition to affecting a diamond’s sparkle, its cut may improve or worsen the ultimate appearance of its color and clarity. However, despite the weight placed on cut relative to the other three Cs, all four factors must be considered together to determine the overall value of a diamond. At Copeland Jewelers our experts can help you understand all four of these factors and how they affect one another. And when it comes to expertly cutting diamonds, our bench jewelers are at the top of their game!