Brilliant Cut Diamonds: 5 Tips for Choosing the Best

My previous post was all about the vintage sparkle of step cut diamonds. This week, I’ll be giving you 5 tips for selecting the best brilliant cut diamonds. Step cuts such as asscher and emerald cut diamonds tend to have an antique, Art Deco look. On the other hand, brilliant cuts are incredibly versatile and can look modern, vintage, eclectic, or otherwise depending on how you style them.

Which diamond shapes count as brilliant cut?

Only round cut diamonds are classified as brilliant cuts. This is due to the specific guidelines associated with being a brilliant cut, which are designed only for round diamonds. 

What are the requirements for brilliant cut diamonds?

Standard brilliant cut diamonds have 58 facets – 57 if you don’t count the culet, which is the small point on the bottom of a round cut. The side of the diamond – known as the girdle – is also faceted, but these aren’t included in the total facet count.

Brilliant cuts with perfect symmetry between their table (top) and pavilion (bottom) are classified as Ideal cuts. You can learn more about these elite round cuts in my Ideal cut diamonds post. 

The 5 tips

1. You can accentuate your brilliant cut diamond with certain metals and settings.

embellished simple engagement rings

There is a reason why the classic Tiffany solitaire engagement ring has become so iconic and well-loved. The secret is in the setting. A minimalistic prong setting will hold your brilliant cut diamond high and position it as the focal point in a piece of jewelry. In addition to prong settings, other classic ring styles that will highlight a brilliant cut center stone include tulip, cathedral, and bezel settings.

2. Round brilliant cuts are the most popular diamonds.

Round cut diamonds have been the top-selling diamond shape for several decades now. At Ritani, over half of all the diamonds we sell are round brilliants. Because brilliant cut diamonds are the most popular, your options for comparison shopping are practically endless.  Don’t settle for the first round brilliant cut you find. Compare it with many other round cuts to find the stone that’s perfect for you.

HD image of a round cut diamond

3. Know your hearts and arrows.

If you are already in the market for a round brilliant cut, you have probably heard the phrase “hearts and arrows” many times by now. When shopping for brilliant cut diamonds, it’s important to know exactly what this term means. In addition to being the name of a company that sells loose diamonds, “hearts and arrows” refers to a visual phenomenon that happens in Ideal cut brilliant diamonds with Excellent symmetry.

IGL hearts and arrows chart
A hearts and arrows chart. Photo credit: IGL.

When you use a special hearts and arrows viewer called a Firescope, you can see an arrow pattern on the diamond’s crown and a heart pattern on the diamond’s pavilion. However, for many years there was no official industry standard for a hearts and arrows diamond. Some diamonds display the hearts and arrows patterns, but aren’t technically hearts and arrows diamonds. The term refers to a very specific cutting technique. So, make sure your diamond seller can back up any claims of having hearts and arrows diamonds. If they don’t have an official hearts and arrows grading report, don’t accept an unnecessarily increased price for the brilliant cut stone.

4. Cut is the most important 4C grade for brilliant diamonds.

This comes as no surprise, because cut quality can make or break a round brilliant stone. Because round cut diamonds have been so popular for so long, much research has been dedicated to improving their value and sparkle. In 1919, Marcel Tolkowsky developed the Ideal cut proportions for round cuts. Ever since, diamond cutters have been striving to get as close as possible to these proportions while still maximizing carat weight.

baguette diamond engagement ring

5. Size and sparkle matter the most for pricing.

Cut is the most important 4C grade for brilliant cuts because it determines the stone’s sparkle.  The next most important factor for round cut diamond pricing is size.  Because of a how a round brilliant cut diamond is cut, the larger the diamond, the more diamond rough is wasted during the cutting process.

Rough diamonds come in all different sizes and shapes.  When the rough is small, diamond cutters are willing to sacrifice some in order to make a round brilliant cut diamond that is more valuable than other shapes.  However, with larger rough, which is much more rare, cutters are not willing to lose out on carat weight to create a round stone.  A large piece of rough might yield a fancy shaped diamond with less rough wasted and maximized profit.  With brilliant cut diamonds, it takes a special piece of large rough to create a round diamond with minimal waste.  This is why size matters so much in price for round cut diamonds.

Do you have a round brilliant cut diamond? Feel free to share your photos, thoughts, and any additional questions about brilliant cut diamonds in the comments below!