Our love of diamonds and admiration of their fire and brilliance has given rise to many different cuts of diamonds. While we still see some of the earliest styles of diamond cuts - such as the round and emerald-cut, there are many more cuts today, some of them patented by their designers and costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The most popular cut for a diamond ring today is still the round, brilliant cut. It was developed in the 17th century in Venice. It is still preferred when the raw crystal is in an octahedron formation. Even though as much as 50% of the stone is cut away in the process, often two stones can be carved from an octahedron.
More unusually-shaped stones are used for fancy cuts, such as a marquise, pear or heart-shaped diamond. The earliest brilliants had 17 facets on the top of the stone and were called double-cut. This was soon improved with stones cut with 33 facets and were called triple-cut brilliants.
The picture on the right depicts the relationship between various facets and angles that play as decisive factors in determining the diamond’s cut.
A proportioned cut will let the light traverse through the diamond in such a way that it will be reflected back to the viewer’s eye and give a boost to the other 4Cs.
In fact, a well-cut diamond will reflect more light and appear larger than it actually is. It can also make the face-up color look brighter, and at the same time, mask or camouflage inclusions. This is because a well-cut diamond has greater Fire (light dispersion), Brilliance (light reflection), and scintillation (intense sparkles when moved). That can easily conceal flaws.
Ok, so back to history.
In the 19th century, with the development of gem-cutting technology, more innovations in diamond cutting styles were developed. Marcel Tolkowsky combined the art of cutting with the science of light and refraction, in 1919 he even published a book. Diamond Design. These relatively recent geometric calculations were the forerunners of many diamond cutwork today and led to other more precise mathematical models engineered to enhance the beauty of diamonds.
There are now cuts such as the princess cut, trillions, ovals, pear and heart-shaped. Some innovative cutters have even fashioned star and butterfly-shaped diamonds. One interesting patented cut, the Ashoka diamond, is an oblong cut with rounded, brilliant ends, and requires a stone weighing 3 carats or more. It's an exceptionally beautiful diamond shape, it is also exceptionally pricey. Tiffany as well has patented the 'Lucida cut'. Any bride lucky enough to receive one of these diamonds will be the envy of all her friends.
Now, you must be asking 'Why?.. Why do people buy poorly cut diamonds then? Aren't the Fire, Brilliance, and Scintillation the reason we get diamonds?'
People pay more attention to the carat weight as it's usually the first thing you'll be asked. Because prices increase sharply for bigger carat weights than for better cuts. For this reason, many diamond cutters are intent on preserving as much weight during the cutting process. But since they also want to preserve more weight, they would have to risk the diamond cut.
Remember before buying your gems, always look for gems graded by GIA or AGS. They're graded from 0 to 10, highest to poorest quality for AGS. GIA grades them from Excellent to Poor.