The transformation of a diamond from a rough stone into a glittering piece of beauty is one wonder that many of us will never grow fully used to. The best part is how so many skilled people collaborate on creating a polished and shiny jewelry-grade stone. The different diamond cuts can be broadly classified into two types: step cut and brilliant cut. The differences between these two are worth knowing before you buy a diamond.
Brilliant Cut vs. Step Cut
Before a diamond gets a cut decided for it, the master cutter assesses it thoroughly, and plots the unique inclusions it possesses. Based on this and the carat weight of the stone, as well as several other factors, the best cut is decided on. Most times the diamond happens to be an octahedral, which means that the round brilliant cut automatically suits it best. This is because you can render two faceted gems this way without losing a lot of carat weight. For this reason, the cut is one thing, which determines brilliance, fire, and scintillation, and can be adjusted with a view to raise or lower each of those things.
Non-octahedral rough stones exist as well, and for these, a fancy shape is usually the best option. “Fancy” simply describes any diamond shape that is different from a round brilliant. The step cut happens to be the best example, and is dissimilar from the round cut in the way it arranges the facets on a stone. To be precise, these are laid out in parallel rows to provide a minimal and clean look to the diamond.
What are Step Cuts?
A step cut is any diamond cut which has a rectangular or square shape, and in which the facets are laid out in a parallel arrangement. The cut gets its name from how these facets are arranged. They look bigger than the ones in a round brilliant cut diamond. Step cuts are preferred mostly by people who value clarity over shine.
Popular Examples of the Step Cut
- Emerald Cut: This cut comprises large facets, which run the entire length of the stone, and stay parallel to one another. When it comes to the emerald cut, you usually see the diamond polished in such a way as to make it look octagonal. This cut’s appeal is very different from what would draw you towards a round brilliant stone. The design exudes sophistication and glamour, which is why royalty cannot seem to get enough of it.
- Baguette Cut: This cut is a lot like the emerald, but has fewer facets, which means it usually gets used when a larger diamond needs its current look enhanced with side stones. Such stones are normally used in eternity ring designs and the like.
- Square Emerald Cut: Also called the Asscher cut, the square emerald looks a lot like the regular emerald cut, but has a square shape instead of a rectangular one. This beautiful cut was first brought out in 1902 by Joseph Asscher, and grew popular during the Art Deco era. It is marked by a high crown and typically high facets, giving off a look which is relatively unique among jewelry diamonds.
Popular Examples of the Brilliant Cut
- Round: No diamond cut has ever surpassed this one in popularity, mainly due to the exceptional beauty it is able to bring to a properly faceted stone. The diamond gets cut and polished following precise mathematical calculations which aim at optimizing brilliance and fire. The finished diamond has 57 facets in all, and works well for brides interested in timeless and traditional designs.
- Oval: This diamond shape was created in 1960 by Lazare Kaplan. It was designed in order to give brides the same level of brilliance, which they could get from a round brilliant, but with the bonus of bigger size after the ring is placed on its setting.
- Pear: This one perfectly combines the round brilliant and marquis diamond cut shapes, which means you get a tapered point on one of the sides, so that the stone ends up making the wearer’s finger look longer than it is. The narrow end normally gets worn pointing downwards. Diamonds in the pear cut can have different shapes and sizes, but they always possess good symmetry.
When considering the various factors that play into a diamond purchase, it is important to pay more attention to the 4 C’s, and of those, the cut is what most influences the quality and brilliance of a stone. The brilliant and step cuts are very different in this respect, which is why you need to be sure what matters more to you: bright sparkle or understated elegance. Deciding that early on can spare you a lot of confusion, and make picking out a good ring all that easier.