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The cut of a stone refers to the arrangement of facets, or flat planes, cut into the stone's surface. It has nothing at all to do with the actual shape of the diamond, but instead reflects the craftsmanship of the stone cutter who cut the diamond out of the original rough stone. A quality cut is essential to creating a beautiful diamond. Of all the "Five C's" of diamond buying, the cut plays the biggest part in determining the brilliance and sparkle of your diamond.
From Rough to Regal
If you were to stumble across a diamond in its rough, natural state, chances are you would be pretty unimpressed. It’s a dull, dingy looking thing, resembling dirty lumps of melted glass more than a precious stone potentially worth thousands upon thousands of dollars. What will become of this rough stone is entirely dependent on the skill, patience, and talent of the craftsman whose hands it lands in. When a rough diamond crystal arrives at a stone cutter, his or her goal is to create the highest yield of finished diamonds out of that crystal. Since diamonds are sold according to carat weight instead of size, some cutters prefer to cut the diamond heavy, thereby sacrificing a perfectly proportioned cut in favor of one that results in more diamond in the final product. This is why not all diamonds are perfect triple-excellent cuts (the pinnacle of perfection) - because more time, skill, labor, and loss of profit is involved in making them.
Proportions and Angles
The very precise proportions and angles of a properly cut stone have a dramatic effect on the sparkle, fire and brilliance of the finished diamond. An immaculately cut diamond with the right proportions and perfect, precise angles has the maximum ability to reflect and refract light. That effect, which we call the brilliance and fire of a diamond will be dramatic, because light bounces freely within the diamond and is reflected back out of the top without escaping through the sides or bottom. The sparkle, essentially, is captured and magnified. A great jeweler knows the "golden ratios" of specific diamond proportions that, when skillfully executed, create the most beautifully finished diamonds out of the most unremarkable rough.
Polish and Symmetry
Polish and symmetry are also included in the cut's grade. Polish describes the smoothness of the stone's facets while symmetry refers to how those facets are aligned. A poorly polished stone is like a dirty mirror - the facets are dull and clouded, making the surface not reflective but blurry and any possibility for sparkle dies. When symmetry is poor, it means the facets were not cut into the ideal alignment. Instead of light being trapped and properly reflected out of the top of the stone, it’s misdirected, resulting in a dull sparkle and loss of brilliance. Creating a perfectly cut diamond is not unlike playing an excellent game of pool - it’s all about the angles. Light is the cue ball, and when the skilled hand of a cutter directs it just the right way, at just the right angle, he or she can ensure it bounces off multiple surfaces before it ends up right where we want it. Instead of in the corner pocket, it flashes out of the top of the diamond for all the world’s admiring eyes to see. When a diamond has excellent proportions, excellent polish and excellent symmetry, it is considered a triple-excellent cut - truly a brilliant and fiery diamond.