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What is Diamond Cut?

Kimberly Zerkel | June 2, 2022

Kimberly Zerkel | June 2, 2022

More than color or clarity, cut can have the most significant impact on a diamond’s overall beauty and value. An ideal cut invites in maximum light for breathtaking brilliance, fire and scintillation.

Cut can be the difference between a lower-color-grade lab-grown diamond appearing more expensive, or a nearly-flawless diamond appearing dull. A high carat weight diamond with a poor cut can appear smaller than a lower carat weight diamond with an excellent cut.

Finding the right balance between cut and the other 4Cs can sometimes be overwhelming. But understanding what diamond cut is and why it is so important will help you to find the perfect VRAI created diamond meant just for you.

Diamond Cut Defined

When it comes to the 4Cs of diamonds - cut, color,clarity, and carat - cut far too often gets confused with shape. Cut actually refers to the arrangement of a diamond’s facets. It affects the way the diamond’s surface interacts with and catches light.

A delicate balance of proportion, symmetry, and polish, this “C” is what delivers a diamond’s much-desired brilliance and is the only marker dealing in human touch and craftsmanship.

What Are Diamond Facets?

A diamond’s facets refer to the stone’s flat surfaces that are arranged in a geometrical pattern. These are the surfaces that affect how a diamond reflects and refracts light; it does not determine its outward shape.

Diamond Cut vs Diamond Shape

Shape refers to a diamond’s outward, physical form and is usually the most distinguishable feature. A diamond’s shape is considered its personality; it is usually symbolic and a form of self-expression.

VRAI’s engagement ring diamond shapes include Asscher, Cushion, Emerald, Marquise, Oval, Pear, Princess, Radiant, Round Brilliant, and Trillion shaped diamonds.

The cut of a diamond refers to its facets, symmetry, and dimensions. It describes the way a diamond reflects light. There are three types of diamond cuts: step cut, brilliant cut, and mixed cut. These cuts will affect what a diamond looks like when you look into it and how it will play with the light.

A clear distinction between shape and cut is made when you consider Emerald and Radiant shaped diamonds, for example. Both the Emerald and Radiant have similar shapes — they are rectangular. But they feature different cuts. The Emerald is step-cut; its long, linear facets create what’s known as a “hall of mirrors” effect when reflecting light. A Radiant features a brilliant cut, and will more closely resemble crushed ice when reflecting light.

diamond cut

What Is Diamond Cut Grading?

When it comes to diamond grading and evaluating cut, a trained gemologist is looking at the quality, not type, of cut. They are determining how light enters and exits each diamond.

How Is Diamond Cut Quality Determined?

A trained gemologist determines a diamond’s quality of cut based on its brightness, fire, scintillation, and proportions.

A number of measurements directly contribute to cut quality. The depth, culet, table, and girdle of diamonds with a higher cut quality will be more perfectly proportioned, symmetrical, and polished.

When a diamond’s proportions are cut to exacting precision, light enters and exits the diamond through the same surface, the table. In diamonds cut with proportions too shallow or deep, light escapes through the bottom or sides of the diamond, resulting in less reflection and a duller appearance.

Here is a breakdown of each factor that contributes to cut quality grade:


  • Brilliance: This refers to the total light reflected from a diamond
  • Fire: This refers to the dispersion of light into the colors of the spectrum. Color should only appear on outer edges of a diamond when exposed to light.
  • Scintillation: This refers to the flashes of white light when a diamond is moved from side to side.


  • Table: This is the flat, top surface of the diamond.
  • Culet: Pronounced cue-let, this is the small point at the bottom of the diamond pavilion where the facets meet.
  • Depth: This refers to the distance between the “table” (top of the diamond) and culet (the point of the diamond), or how “tall” your diamond is.
  • Girdle: A girdle is the outermost edge of a diamond, where the top meets the bottom.
  • Precision of cut: This refers to how the size and angles relate to the different parts of the stone.
  • Symmetry: This is how precisely the various facets of a diamond align and intersect.
  • Polish: Polish refers to the details and placement of the facet shapes, as well as the outside finish of the diamond.

What Are Diamond Cut Grades?


This is a grade reserved for Round Brilliant cut diamonds. It is a superior ideal cut with perfect optical symmetry displaying hearts and arrows-shaped patterns when viewed from the table down and up. This is also a rare quality held by <1% of all diamonds and takes up to three times the amount of time to polish.


This grade applies to Round Brilliant diamonds and is considered the top cut grade (outside of Ideal + Hearts). These diamonds are cut to maximize brilliance with perfect proportions. This is a rare quality held by <1% of all diamonds.


This grade is a perfect premium cut that applies to all diamond shapes. They are proportioned to return the maximum brilliance possible.

Very Good

This grade means that defects are invisible to the naked eye. This can be a wonderful choice for those prioritizing other Cs or looking for diamonds at a more accessible price point


This grade means that any defects are still invisible to the naked eye. VRAI does not offer diamonds of this grade.


Defects may become visible to the naked eye. VRAI does not offer diamonds of this grade.


Defects are visible to the naked eye. VRAI does not offer diamonds of this grade.

What Is The Best Diamond Cut?

The highest cut grade is Ideal + Hearts for a Round Brilliant cut diamond, and Excellent for other diamond shapes.

The best-selling diamond shape is a Round Brilliant diamond. True to its name, it often outshines all other diamonds by delivering optimal brilliance, fire, and scintillation. This is one of the reasons that the Round Brilliant diamond is the most popular diamond shape in the world.

When it comes time to buy an engagement ring, determining the best cut for you should be based on multiple factors. First, you and your partner should set a budget. Remember that an engagement ring budget includes both the engagement ring setting and diamond, so consider what you’re willing to spend for each before determining a final number.

Secondly, select your diamond shape. For certain shapes, like Princess, Radiant, and Round Brilliant diamonds, quality of cut should be prioritized. For others, like an Asscher or Emerald, an excellent cut is always recommended, but clarity and color should be prioritized, as well. Work within your budget to find the right balance of cut, color, and clarity grades when buying a diamond.

What Are Different Diamond Cuts?

There are three different types of diamond cuts. Remember that types of cuts do not determine quality of cut.

Brilliant Cut

The brilliant cut is composed of triangular and kite-shaped facets spreading outward from the diamond’s center. It is most commonly paired with round shapes — notably, Round Brilliant cut diamonds. But it is also used in fancy shapes, such as Cushion, Marquise, Oval, Pear, and Trillion shaped diamonds. Brilliant cuts look somewhat similar to crushed ice or a prism when reflecting the light.

Step Cut

The step cut is composed of rectangular facets ascending in size outward and descending in size down the diamond. Each facet is long and linear and known for creating a “hall of mirrors” effect when reflecting the light. Step cuts are most commonly paired with Emerald, Asscher, and Baguette shaped diamonds.

Mixed Cut

The mixed cut is true to its name and is composed of both brilliant and step cut facets. These cuts most resemble crushed ice when reflecting the light, and are usually featured in “newer’ diamond shapes, such as Princess, Cushion, and Radiant cut diamonds.

Diamond Cut FAQs

Because cut is often confused with shape, and quality of cut must be determined by so many factors, consumers have common questions and concerns when it comes to this “C.” Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about diamond cut and quality.

How Are Diamonds Cut?

A diamond is cut by cleaving or sawing the diamond with a steel blade or a laser. A rough diamond is usually placed inside a mold to hold it in place , then cleaved at its weakest point. If no point of weakness exists, sawing is used instead.

Cutting and polishing is performed by master craftspeople who are trained to perform such tasks. When a cut is graded by a gemologist, they are essentially evaluating craftsmanship. This sets cut apart from clarity and color, which are both naturally occurring.

Which Diamond Cut "Sparkles" The Most?

A Round Brilliant cut diamond is considered the most brilliant — or “sparkliest” — of all diamond cuts.

Brilliant cuts and mixed cuts are generally considered to sparkle the most, whereas step cuts highlight a diamond’s clarity.

What Diamond Cut Looks The Biggest?

Diamonds with optimal brilliance — or with the most “sparkle” —tend to appear larger to the naked eye than others similar in shape and carat weight. Because of this, Round Brilliant cut diamonds tend to look the biggest.

Cut is only one factor that determines perceived size, however. Diamond shape can play a large role. Because of its elongated form, a 1-carat Marquise shaped diamond will usually appear larger than a 1-carat Round Brilliant diamond.

A poor quality cut will alway make a diamond look smaller than its actual carat weight. This is why cut is perhaps considered the most important of the 4Cs; investing in flawless, colorless, 2-carat diamond, for example, is only worth it if its cut maximizes its brilliance and allows it to shine bright.

What Is The Most Expensive Diamond Cut?

Due to its popularity and high demand, a Round Brilliant cut diamond is the most expensive.

Brilliant cuts are generally more expensive than step-diamonds, depending on the quality of the cut. This is due to both higher demand and differences in the cutting process.

What Are Hearts And Arrows?

Hearts and Arrows appear in precision-cut Round Brilliant diamonds. When observed through a special tool, arrows are visible when looking from the top down, and hearts are visible from the bottom up. This pattern does not appear in other diamond shapes.

Ideal vs. Excellent Diamond Cut

Ideal is superior to excellent cut. For Round Brilliant diamonds, Ideal + Hearts is the highest grade.

Can Lab-Grown Diamonds Be Graded On Cut?

Lab-grown diamonds can and should be graded on all 4Cs and certified. It is inadvisable to purchase any diamond without diamond certification.

Lab-grown diamonds are cut and polished just like their mined counterparts. The quality of cut can determine how brilliant any diamond appears, and will also directly contribute to its overall value. Therefore, diamonds should go through a grading process to determine its cut quality and the quality of the other 4Cs, no matter their origin.

VRAI Created Diamonds: A Cut Above The Rest

VRAI created diamonds are cut to perfect proportions to reveal a superior, striking brilliance ranging from Ideal + Hearts to Ideal to Excellent. Our cutting and polishing studios are full of true artisans to ensure high-quality cuts each time.

The diamonds sustainably grown in our zero-emission foundry are inspected more than 1,300 times, from the moment the diamond seed is placed into a reactor to the finished ring. Fewer than 1% of all diamonds on the market meet this high standard of quality.

Naturally, the exacting precision and craftsmanship of higher cut quality garner a higher price, but because cut offers the greatest value, VRAI recommends investing in the highest cut quality one can afford.

Speak With Our Diamond Experts

Book a complimentary appointment with our diamond experts to find the diamond cut that’s right for you. Through personalized guidance and in-depth diamond education, they will help you complete your engagement ring setting with the ideal VRAI created diamond.

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