No matter how big or how small it is, the brilliant cut diamond has 58 facets, including the culet and the table. A facet is a smooth surface ground on a cut gem, a culet is the small facet at the bottom of a brilliant cut gem, and a table is the flat surface atop a faceted stone. It is considered the largest facet.
Though it takes great skill to cut a brilliant diamond to perfection, the result is a cone-shaped gem that is unparalleled in its radiance, fire, and sparkle. This article will focus on the history and value of the brilliant cut diamond.
What is a Brilliant Cut Diamond?
In a brilliant cut diamond, the table or crown makes up about a third of the gem. The pavilion, which is the base, contains the other two-thirds of the gem. The thickness of an average brilliant cut gem is about two-thirds of the diameter of the girdle. The girdle is the widest circumference of the diamond and is the boundary between the crown and the pavilion.
The diameter of the crown is a third of the diameter of the entire stone, and the other third on each side is filled with facets that slope upwards toward the crown. These are called quoins, templets, stars or cross facets. Ultimately, there should be a pattern of “hearts and arrows” in a perfectly cut brilliant. When looked at from above, the buyer should see identical arrows in the crown and identical hearts in the pavilion.
The table of a brilliant cut diamond must be in the exact center of the gem and horizontal to the girdle. These dimensions are also true of the culet. The culet must also form a tiny, eight-sided star which can be seen by looking straight down through the crown. The ultimate brilliance of the diamond depends on the ratio between the angle of the crown and the angle of the pavilion, how well the gem is polished and the symmetry of the facets.
A rough diamond loses a great deal of its weight in order to be cut into a brilliant. Experts believe that a rough diamond can lose between 50 and 60 percent of its weight during the cutting process. Diamond cutters prefer octahedral stones for shaping into brilliants. Sometimes, two stones can be obtained from these crystals.
History of the Brilliant Cut Diamond
The modern brilliant cut diamond was invented in 1919 by Marcel Tolkowsky, though variations of round brilliant cut diamonds had been in existence since at least 1750. These are called old European style brilliants. Tolkowsky was a mathematician as well as a diamond cutter. He published a paper describing the type of cut that would bring a maximum return of light using the 58 facets and their precise angles. Clearly, this gives the brilliant cut its name.
Besides looking for the hearts and arrows that are the hallmark of a perfect brilliant, potential buyers should take the four C’s into consideration. They are the cut, clarity, carat, and color of the diamond.
Marcel Tolkowsky codified the ideal cut that would bring out a brilliant cut diamond’s maximum sparkle. Light enters the gem, bounces around its interior and exits as brilliance and fire. A stone whose cut is too shallow or too deep leaks light from its pavilion. This is the only one of the four C’s that is controlled by humans.
The clarity refers to whether the stone has inclusions, which are flaws or imperfections. Ideally, the stone should have none, but a flawless diamond is rare, especially if it’s large. The flaw or flaws should at least not be visible to the naked eye. Some quality jewelers will not sell a diamond whose flaws can be easily seen.
The carat is simply how much the stone weighs. Carats are made up of grains, and four grains equal one carat. One metric carat weighs 200 milligrams. Heavier diamonds are usually more valuable than lighter and smaller ones, though this might not be true in the case of a heavy diamond that has a dull polish, a lot of inclusions and has been badly cut and a smaller diamond that is flawless and perfectly cut.
The most valuable diamonds are colorless, or white but most diamonds have the slightest tinge of color. The color is usually yellow, and it is hard to see in a high-quality diamond. However, some buyers want colored diamonds, and quality colored diamonds or fancies can cost more than a colorless diamond of the same size. Their color exempts them from some of the rules that apply to transparent diamonds, especially if the color is the result of irradiation.
Fancy diamonds come not only in shades of yellow but can be brown, green, pink, blue, black, red, purple or gray. Naturally red or purple diamonds are the rarest.
Popular Settings for the Brilliant Cut Diamond
Brilliant cut diamonds can be placed in a variety of settings. An ideally cut brilliant does well as a solitaire placed in a prong setting atop a simple band of a precious metal such as gold or platinum. The prong tips can be rounded, pointed, flat or double. The basket setting is a somewhat exaggerated type of prong setting.
Other good settings include the channel setting, where the stones are lined up along a channel in the ring with no metal separating them. This creates the appearance of a continuous band of radiance. Grain and pave settings use tiny beads of metal to hold tiny brilliants in their seats around the ring. The smaller diamonds often set off a much larger one. Cluster settings use more than one large brilliant in a ring. These brilliants can be more than one size.
A bezel setting holds the brilliant in a metal ring, while a halo setting highlights a central diamond encircled by smaller gems. Flush set diamonds are sunk into the metal of the ring.
Round brilliant cut diamonds are as versatile as they are beautiful. They also have a fascinating history. Join the discussion for more information about them.