The 4 C's
(CUT, color, clarity, carat weight)
(Click to view each)
Diamonds are Graded - and Valued - on the basis of what is commonly referred to as "The 4 C's" - Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat Weight.

Decide on Cut.

The Cut actually refers to two separate aspects of a diamond's appearance:
1) shape, and 2) quality of workmanship.


Popular diamond shapes include Round, Princess Cut, Cushion Cut, Radiant Cut, Oval, Pear, Marquise, Emerald Cut, Asscher Cut, and Heart.

Choose two shapes, if possible, and write them down on your checklist.

There is only one way to find out what she wants in this regard ---- ask her. But, if you want to surprise her, you can find out by having her best friend ask her discreetly and tell you. Either way, you should definitely find out about this before you buy --- because some women are very attached to certain diamond shapes.

You could also pick one of the most popular shapes to increase your odds of picking her favorite. The most popular shapes in our experience, in order, are: Round Brilliant Cut, Princess Cut, Cushion Cut, Radiant Cut, and Emerald Cut.

The Make -- Quality of the Cut

It is extremely important to learn about the make of a diamond for three reasons:

1) the make varies greatly from one diamond to another
2) the make determines over 90% of the beauty of a diamond
3) a concise grade for the make is not included on most diamond certificates, including the GIA diamond grading report, since there are no universally accepting grading standards established for grading the cut or "make" of diamonds.

If you want perfection regardless of cost ----- go for the Ideal Cut of "1A" or "1B".

If you want quality and beauty ----- go for the Premium Cut of "2A" or "2B".

If you want a large stone ----- go for the Choice Cut of "3A" or "3B".

If you want the biggest "spread look" ----- go for the Value Cut of "4A" or "4B".

Cut - 
"Cut" is the single most determining factor of a Diamond's beauty.

Click to view the "Ideal Cut"

The actual term "CUT" refers to the proportions in which a Diamond is cut. It is the SINGLE most important of the "4 C's" and is the least discussed. One of the reasons for this lack of discussion is that there has never been a worldwide accepted grading system for CUT. The American Gem Society has established a Cut Grade System, but this can be used by only a small percentage of jewelers who are members of their organization (AGS). Their Cut Grading System applies only to Round Brilliant Cut Diamonds and not to any Fancy Shape Diamonds. AGS membership is currently limited to Diamond Retailers and Wholesalers in the United States and Canada. None of the Diamond Cutters in Antwerp, Belgium, Tel-Aviv, Israel, or Bombay, India belong to AGS.
Although their Cut Grading System had not been accepted worldwide, one Gemological Association has graded CUT on the basis of eight Grades:

CUT Grades
1A   "Ideal Cut" 
2A   "Premium Cut"
  3A   "Choice Cut"
  4A   "Value Cut"

- - Diamond Cut Vs. Shape- -

t is not to be confused with "Shape". The most popular "Shapes" of a diamond are:

Round Brilliant Cut
Princess Cut
Marquise Shape
Pear Shape
Emerald Cut Radiant Cut Oval Shape
Heart Shape

   All Fancy Shape Diamonds appear visually larger in size than comparable weights in Round Diamonds. There are three reasons for this:

1)   Round Diamonds can only be cut from a perfectly "symmetrical crystal" (or "Mackle", as it is called), whereas all Fancy Shape Diamonds can be cut from "Irregularly Shaped" Mackles. There is a much larger supply of irregularly shaped mackles than there is of the perfect symmetrical shaped mackles; hence the Old Law of Supply vs. Demand.
2)   There is a much greater "Weight Loss" in cutting Round Diamonds than in cutting Fancy Shape Diamonds. If one were to take two uncut mackles of Diamond "Rough", each "Rough" weighing the same and both mackles cut, one to yield a Round Diamond and the other to yield a Fancy Shape Diamond, the Fancy Shape Diamond could weigh as much as 40 - 50% more than the Round Diamond.

Who pays for this "Weight Loss"? Ultimately the consumer does, because the "cost" of this "Weight Loss" has been added into the Diamond's cost at every level of its marketing.
3)   Not only does the Fancy Shape Diamond retain more of its original weight after cutting, it also looks larger than its "Same Weight Counterpart". This is because all Fancy Shape Diamonds have two dimensions (a LENGTH that is longer than its WIDTH); whereas, a Round Diamond is one-dimensional. (It has a circumference.)

For example, an "Ideal-Cut" Round Diamond weighing exactly one carat (1.00 CT.) has a girdle diameter of 6.5 millimeters, whereas an "Ideal-Cut" Marquise Diamond weighing exactly one carat (1.00 CT.) has a length of 10.0 millimeters and a width of 5.0 millimeters. The one carat Marquise Diamond looks 35% larger.

Diamond shape is a matter of individual preference. A survey conducted by Modern Bride magazine in November of 2007 found the following
Diamond Shapes
chose a Round Brilliant Diamond
  26%   chose a Princess Cut Diamond  
  18%   chose a Marquise or Pear Shape Diamond  
  12%   chose an Emerald Cut or Radiant Cut Diamond  
  9%   chose an Oval Shape Diamond  
  7%   chose a Heart Shape Diamond  
  2%   chose all other shapes  


- - Cut Grading for Fancy Shape Diamonds - -

The small percentage of AGS retailers and suppliers grade the CUT of only Round Diamonds, but the cut grading system of 1A-1B-2A-2B-3A-3B-4A-4B can be applied to a Fancy Shape Diamond's cut as well. The procedure for assigning the Fancy Shape Cut Grade differs from that of a Round Diamond. A Fancy Shape Diamond's Cut Grade is determined by the percentage ratio of its length to its width.

"Ideal Cut" Diamonds reflect the maximum amount of light whether it is a Round Diamond cut shape or a Fancy Shape Diamond.

Click to view the "Ideal Cut"
For Fancy Cut Diamonds

- - Types of Diamond Cuts - -

   No one cut is more beautiful than another. Each one is unique and a work of art. The nature of the "uncut rough" determines what shape the Diamond Cutter chooses to cut the diamond. Contrary to public belief, all of the "Fancy Shape" diamonds (A "Fancy Shape" is any shape other than a "Round Brilliant Cut"), are more reasonable in price than comparable qualities and sizes of Round Diamonds.

Click the diamonds below to view detailed information on each Cut:

Ideal Cut   Premium Cut   Choice Cut   Value Cut

 A Diamond's Cut is what enables the diamond to handle light. The Cut Grading System is the means by which Diamond Merchants can identify the quality of a Diamond. It takes an expert to know an excellent cut from a passable one.

 An "Ideal Cut" Diamond - Cut Graded "1A" or "1B" - will be 20% - 25% higher in price
than a "Premium Cut" Diamond, Cut Graded "2A" or "2B".
 A "Choice Cut" Diamond - cut graded "3A" or "3B" - will be from 20% - 30% lower in price than a "Premium Cut" Diamond, whereas, a "Value Cut" Diamond - cut graded "4A" or "4B" will be from 40% - 50% lower in price than a "Premium Cut" Diamond. Therefore, a "Value Cut" Diamond - cut graded "4A" or "4B" should be priced from 60% - 75% lower than an "Ideal Cut" Diamond. Never buy a Diamond - whether it be from a "Bricks and Mortar" jeweler or an Internet Seller - unless the Diamond Merchant assigns a specific cut grade to an individual diamond - loose or mounted.


Click the diamonds below to view information on each Cutting Grade:

Round Brilliant Cut Princess Cut Marquise Shape  Pear Shape


Emerald Cut Radiant Cut Oval Shape

Heart Shape

The 4 C's
(CUT, color, clarity, carat weight)
(Click to view each)

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