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Basic Diamond Cutting Styles
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Diamond Cutting
Basic Diamond Cutting Styles
Basic Diamond Cutting Styles

The three basic cutting styles for diamonds are the ‘ Brilliant cut' [a large number of triangular or kite-shaped facets. This is the most popular cut for this kind of stone], the ‘ Step cut' [a smaller number of facets in rectangular or trapezoid shapes] and the ‘ Mixed cut' , that mixed both cutting styles. Each allowed for a different number of facets and reflected light differently. The large number of facets on a brilliant-cut diamond allows for quality because it filters light from the bottom facet through the stone, making it sparkle. Light is reflected from facet to facet and then back through the top of the stone. If the facets are unbalanced the light will reflect poorly and at the wrong angles and will appear dark at the center. Cutting at too shallow angles is the common problem, as this makes the stone look larger and stone-cutters get more value from the bargain. These stones are less brilliant, as the light reflection is shorter and the diamond will have little depth. Cutting too deep is the result of poor workmanship and though the light does get trapped within the facets, they will not reflect outwards. The fewer the facets- less light comes through to demonstrate the clear color of the stone.

 

Proportioning the various cut facets determines the amount of brilliance and sparkle the stone has. There are several different formats for diamond proportions and stones cut to these difficult, precise proportions will have more market value. This is determined by two sets of relations: the first is the height of the crown in relation to the depth of the pavilion and the second is the width of the table facet in relation to the width of the stone.

Diverse proportional styles offer various advantages and disadvantages. Differing angles of cuts allow for either fire or brilliance, and the best proportions all balance themselves out in this fashion. Generally smaller the table facets display more fire- the flashes of different colors that reflect out the stone and larger tables reflect more brilliance- the liveliness of the stone. Obviously this can be determined with even the naked eye, as a diamond that has neither fire nor brilliance is poorly cut and poorly graded as a result.

 

The styles are normally named for the person who invented them. One of the more famous today is Marcel Tolkowosky's proportion for diamond cuts that were 53% table surface in relation to stone width. This became the standard American model for diamond cutting and several variations of this style have cropped up over the intervening years. There are formal, classic technical styles for almost all stone shapes available, but the round shape is the most common, and popular. Thus, examining the cut proportions on a round diamond will thus be easier than with any fancy stone, as there are known guidelines for the various cutting techniques. Fancy diamonds, on the other hand, may show a faulty cut called the ‘ butterfly effect' , which is a dark spot embedded deep within the center of the stone. This is a common fault in poorly cut pear or marquise shapes and can be seen through the loupe; the darker the spot, the worse the proportioning.

 

The main European cutting techniques are those we see in most fine jewelry predating the 1920's, when the U.S became the main center for diamond cutting in the world. The 16 th century ‘rose' cut , named for its similarity for an opening rose, was used for the most part on oval or elliptic shapes and was a very popular style of cutting that appeared flat at the base and radiated facets from its center. The ‘table' cut was even simpler as it used the most elementary cutting techniques. The ‘table' cut was created by wearing down the diamonds facets with another diamond as it was held in place by pincers. This style had a large, flat table surface-hence the name.

 

The ‘old-mine' cut came after and was basically a rounded square with a small table surface and a very high crown in relation to the pavilion. This was a deep-faceted cutting style that reflected light poorly, and so it lacked brilliance, but it was also very elegant and was easily mounted within ring-casings. In the 19 th century the ‘old-European' cut became popular, also with a small table surface but with more facets. The ‘old-European' cut had 58 facets and shallower cutting proportions that better reflected light and exposed the culet far less. By the end of this century the ever-present round-shape was finally beginning to lose its place as the most consistent shape and new shapes were being introduced. The artistic styles of this period contributed to this change and the people began to see the visual potential in harsh, linear designs. Square and rectangular shapes appeared, most prominently the ‘ Asscher' design that had a small table surface, a very high crown [reminiscent of the ‘old-mine' cut], harshly angular facets and deeply angled corners at its base. Asscher-cut diamonds therefore had great fire and brilliance in comparison to the other diamond cutting styles at the time. Today this may seem somewhat old-fashioned, as the innovative cutting techniques and the technology available produce far more facets and far more sophisticated designs. However, these stones have an intrinsic quality of their own and are prized for their beauty. The antiquated exposure of the culet point may detract from the stones potential in fire, but also generates an elegant-looking stone.

 

Today it is customary to re-cut old stones, as they usually lack the sparkle that we associate with diamonds. Many old diamonds lose whatever brilliance they had and re-cutting may revitalize a diamond that has become lackluster. For the most part, these stones retain their worth untouched if they are properly mounted and the original casing has some unique attractive qualities of its own. This is very much a question of personal taste and no one general judgment can be passed on the simpler diamond cutting techniques of Europe . Re-cutting may bring the stones beauty back to life, but there is always the danger that its new loss of carat-weight may adversely affect its worth. On the other hand this is the perfect solution for chipped or broken diamonds that lie useless at home and cannot be enjoyed or diamonds so poorly cut that if with substantial carat-weight still have no value.

 

Several new cutting styles have emerged since the U.S became world-nexus for diamond cutting in Tolkowosky's days in the early 1920's. The regular list of diamond shapes popular in the day evolved for reasons of improved technical inventions and the growing desire to capitalize on each stones potential for even more fire and brilliance. However, these innovations are not without their own vulnerabilities as they susceptible to the slightest inaccuracies. Among these are the ‘radiant cut' , which is rectangular in shape but outshines the regular cutting style of this shape, as it has more brilliance, the ‘Gabrielle' cut that has over a hundred facets and sparkles madly and the ‘trilliant' cut, which is thinly proportioned and so gives the illusion that the stone is larger than it actually is. All these have evolved over the century, and many more- the ‘princess' cut which is bluntly square but also allows for brilliance, Tiffany's ‘Lucinda' cut that incorporates a traditional ‘cushion' cut with more updated, square brilliance of a high crown and small table surface for the stone. There is the ‘Lily' cut , which is shaped like a four-leaf clover, the ‘New Century' cut of 102 facets and many more.

 

 

 

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