How Are Diamonds Cut?

Diamonds are renowned for their brilliant sparkle and exquisite beauty. However, achieving that dazzling appearance requires a highly specialized and meticulous process. Let's delve into the world of diamond cutting and explore how these precious gemstones are transformed into works of art.

The Art of Diamond Cutting

Image credit: L'ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts


The process of cutting and polishing a diamond is highly specialized and requires skilled artisans, specialized equipment, and a controlled environment. The cutting and polishing process typically takes place in diamond cutting centers, which are often located in countries such as India, Belgium, Israel, and the United States.

1. Planning and Marking

The first step in diamond cutting is careful planning. Skilled artisans use specialized software that takes into account factors such as the diamond's size, shape, and internal characteristics. The desired shape and size are marked on the rough diamond. This planning is crucial to maximize the diamond's beauty and value.

2. Cleaving or Sawing

Once the diamond is marked, it's time to cut it into smaller pieces. This can be achieved using a specialized saw or through a process called cleaving, which involves splitting the diamond along its natural planes of weakness. The precision of this step is essential, as it sets the stage for the diamond's final shape.

3. Bruting

To achieve the desired shape, the diamond undergoes a process called bruting. Here, the diamond is rounded into its intended form. This is typically done by spinning the diamond against a spinning diamond-tipped wheel. It's a crucial step in shaping the diamond accurately.

4. Faceting

The true brilliance of a diamond emerges during faceting. Skilled cutters use a series of diamond-tipped wheels with progressively finer grits to cut and polish each facet. This process creates the diamond's unique pattern of facets, which are responsible for its dazzling sparkle. Achieving the correct angles and proportions is crucial to enhancing the diamond's brilliance.

5. Final Inspection

Once the diamond is meticulously cut and polished, it undergoes a final inspection to ensure it meets strict quality standards. This typically involves examining the diamond under specialized lighting and magnification to check for any defects or imperfections. Only diamonds that meet these high standards are considered suitable for the market.

The entire cutting and polishing process is highly specialized and often involves a team of skilled artisans, including cutters, polishers, and inspectors. The entire process can take several days to several weeks, depending on the size and complexity of the diamond.

The Influence of Diamond Shape

The shape of the rough diamond plays a pivotal role in determining the final cut and shape of the polished diamond. The goal is to maximize the diamond's beauty while minimizing waste. Here's how the shape of the rough diamond influences the final result:

1. Shape

The shape of the rough diamond often dictates the shape of the final cut diamond. Certain shapes, such as round brilliant, oval, or pear-shaped diamonds, are more efficient at maximizing the diamond's weight and beauty when cut from specific rough shapes. The choice of shape is a crucial decision that impacts the diamond's final appearance.

2. Size

The size of the rough diamond affects the size of the final cut diamond. Larger rough diamonds yield larger finished diamonds, while smaller rough diamonds may be used to create smaller diamonds or diamond accents. This consideration is essential in maximizing the value of the rough material.

3. Inclusions

The presence and location of inclusions or flaws in the rough diamond can significantly influence the shape and cut of the final diamond. Cutters must carefully plan the cut to avoid inclusions, which may result in a different shape or cut than that of a flawless diamond. This meticulous planning ensures that the diamond retains its beauty and integrity.

In summary, the shape and size of the rough diamond material significantly impact the shape and cut of the final polished diamond. Skilled artisans strive to maximize the diamond's beauty while minimizing waste, resulting in exquisite gemstones that captivate the beholder.

Evolution of Diamond Cuts: From Past to Present

The history of diamond cuts is a fascinating journey that has evolved over centuries. Let's explore the evolution of diamond cuts and how they have shaped the way we appreciate these exquisite gemstones.

The Round Brilliant Cut and Its Evolution

The round brilliant cut, known for its stunning brilliance, is the most popular and widely used diamond cut today. However, its journey to prominence was not without evolution. The modern round brilliant cut, as we know it, was developed in the early 20th century by Belgian diamond cutter Marcel Tolkowsky. Before the advent of the round brilliant cut, diamonds were cut into various shapes, often prioritizing weight over brilliance. Some earlier diamond cuts included the table cut, point cut, and rose cut.

The Table Cut

One of the earliest diamond cuts, the table cut featured a flat top with a faceted bottom. This cut was practical for its time but lacked the brilliance of modern cuts.

The Point Cut

Similar to the table cut but with a pointed top instead of a flat one. It was another early attempt to shape diamonds for jewelry.

The Rose Cut

Popularized during the 17th century by Cardinal Mazarin, the rose cut resembled the shape of a rosebud, with a flat bottom and a faceted dome-shaped top. The rose cut was a significant departure from earlier cuts and introduced a unique play of light and shadow. The evolution continued with cuts like the old mine cut and old European cut in the 18th and 19th centuries, each with its distinct faceting pattern.

The Old Mine Cut

Originating in India and brought to Europe in the 17th century, the old mine cut featured a high crown, small table, and a large, open culet, resulting in a more square or rectangular shape. Its uneven girdle and uneven facets were characteristic of the time.

The Old European Cut

Evolved from the old mine cut in the 18th century, the old European cut had a more circular shape than its predecessor. It featured a larger table and smaller culet, enhancing brilliance and fire. While it may not match the modern round brilliant cut in terms of sparkle, it has a unique and charming look prized by antique jewelry collectors.

The Modern Round Brilliant Cut

The breakthrough came in the early 20th century when Marcel Tolkowsky developed the modern round brilliant cut. It features a larger table and a smaller, shallower pavilion than the old European cut. This cut is designed to optimize the diamond's brilliance and fire by reflecting and refracting light within the diamond. Today, it remains highly sought after for its exceptional beauty and versatility.

Exploring Other Diamond Cuts

While the round brilliant cut is the most popular, there are numerous other diamond cuts that offer unique beauty and character. Let's delve into some of these exquisite alternatives:

The Princess Cut

Developed in the 1960s, the princess cut features a square or rectangular shape with pointed corners and a diagonal pattern of facets. Its 58 facets maximize light reflection and refraction, making it a popular choice for modern jewelry, especially for engagement rings.

The Emerald Cut

Dating back to the 16th century, the emerald cut is characterized by a rectangular or square shape with step-like facets parallel to the girdle . Its large open table allows for greater clarity and reveals the diamond's natural color and clarity. The emerald cut gained popularity during the Art Deco era for its clean lines and geometric shapes.

The Asscher Cut

Introduced in 1902 by the Asscher Diamond Company, the Asscher cut has a square or rectangular shape with a pronounced "X" pattern created by shorter facets on the corners of the diamond. It was particularly popular during the Art Deco era and has seen a resurgence for its vintage appeal.

The Radiant Cut

Developed in the 1970s, the radiant cut combines features of the round brilliant and emerald cuts, offering a rectangular or square shape with a brilliant and sparkling effect. It's especially favored for fancy colored diamonds.

The Oval Cut

Introduced in the 1960s, the oval cut features an elongated shape with rounded edges and 56 to 58 facets. It maximizes brilliance and creates a flattering and elegant look.

The Pear Shape

With a history dating back to the 1400s, the pear-shaped diamond combines a rounded end with a pointed one, resembling a teardrop. It's known for its versatility and timeless elegance.

The Marquise Cut

Named after the Marquise de Pompadour in the 18th century, the marquise cut is elongated with a curved body and two pointed ends. It appears larger than diamonds of similar carat weight, making it a popular choice for engagement rings. The art of diamond cutting has evolved over time, offering a diverse range of shapes and styles to cater to every taste and preference. Each cut has its unique beauty and character, allowing individuals to express their individuality through these exquisite gemstones.