For the traditionalist, there are only two diamond shape choices, the round cut, or the cushion cut diamond. In fact, the most purchased diamond, by far is the Round Brilliant diamond. This shape accounts for approximately 75% of all jewelry grade diamond sales throughout the world. The Round Brilliant diamond is popular because of its amazing fire, scintillation, and sparkle. No other diamond delivers the level of “flash” as a Round Brilliant diamond.
Interestingly, not all round diamonds are Round Brilliants. Some round diamond buyers choose other cuts such as: the Old European Cut, the Single Cut diamond (i.e. the diamond on our logo), or even the 88 Cut round diamond.
We will spend most of the time in this article talking about the Round Brilliant Cut because that is what most folks purchase. We will touch on the other variations a little later on – they are also discussed elsewhere on this site and are hyperlinked below.
The Round Brilliant Cut diamond has either 57 or 58 facets depending on if the diamond has a cutlet (i.e. if the point is flattened so that it does not chip). It is the placement of these facets that determines the reflective quality of the light entering the diamond. Placed incorrectly and the “light show” will underperform. Placed correctly, and a Round Brilliant diamond will display an amazing array of prism colors, white flashes, and everything in between as the diamond moves through different light sources.
The Round Brilliant diamond has a GIA grade for “cut” (most diamonds do not have a “cut” grade) which tells how precisely the diamond is shaped and the facets are placed. An “Excellent Cut” diamond means that GIA attests that this diamond is precisely shaped and as a consequence will display the optimal light performance. For buyers of Round Brilliant Cut diamonds, it is absolutely important that you choose the best cut that you can afford. Because cut, more than anything else, determines the beauty of the diamond. For example, most people cannot tell the difference between a D, E, or even an F colored diamond, but they absolutely can tell the difference between an excellent cut and a “good cut” diamond. More importantly the color and clarity of the diamond are determined by nature. A “colorless” diamond (i.e. D color) exists 1:5000 times. A perfect clarity grade diamond (internally flawless) is also about 1:5000 times. An excellent cut diamond, exists in about 1:20 diamonds. This means it’s not nearly as rare, which translates into far less expensive for “the best.” Given its importance, go for the best cut it’s only a little bit more, and it is SO worth the money. To learn more about “cut” read our article entitled the diamonds cut by clicking here.
Some people are not looking to maximize “the flash” of their diamond. For these folks the presentation of the stone itself is most important. They love the romance of the Roaring 20s, and still live by the values of that time in the world’s history. Enter the Old European Cut diamond. Before diamond cutters had the technology and geometric knowledge to create the optimal Round Brilliant Cut, they focused their efforts on its predecessor, the Old European Cut diamond (at the time it was just called a “Round European Cut” diamond). These elegant diamonds were made to be gazed into, not as a source of light brilliance, but like a clear pool of endless romance. As a consequence, they have a much smaller table (the flat part on the top of around diamond), and light play is minimal. Instead, the diamond is purchased for its shape and size. European Cut diamonds are particularly beautifully shaped, but they are also more difficult to find, and they are considerably more expensive than a Round Brilliant Cut diamond. Your best bet to find an Old European Cut diamond is to look to a jeweler such as Leigh Jay Nacht in New York City (one of our Diamond District Top 10 Jeweler’s 2017). You can also find great Old European Cut diamonds that are GIA graded online at eBay, by clicking below. Like a Round Brilliant Cut diamond, Old European Cut diamonds also have 57 facets, but as stated earlier, the table is smaller and not designed for light play the way a Round Brilliant diamond is.
The last round diamond discussed in this article is the Single Cut diamond. A Single Cut diamond is one that has not been taken through the “brillianting” process and as such has only 17 (or 18 if you count the cutlet) facets. This is the first step in the diamond cutting process on the way to a 57- facet diamond. By stopping at this point, the jeweler will have created a Single cutting process stone (i.e. the name) that has some of the characteristics of a Round Brilliant diamond, but the stone itself, like the Old European Cut stone, is made to be looked into, not made for its fire and brilliance.
Ultimately purchasing a round diamond comes down to what the buyer really wants. If you want fire, brilliance, and sparkle, then you want the Round Brilliant Cut diamond. 95%+ of the buyers of round diamonds choose the Round Brilliant Cut. This diamond also has the largest searchable inventory in the world. As a consequence, it is very easy to buy this stone online, in the highest quality, at near wholesale prices. Below we have links to James Allen’s website for each size of stone that most buyers seek. James Allen (our #1 rated online discount diamond store recommendation for 2016 and 2017) offers Round Brilliant diamonds at approximately 30 to 50% off retail prices. And James Allen’s inventory contains GIA graded stones that range from excellent to good cut, colorless to pale yellow, and stones that are completely clear to those that have inclusions that can be seen only through a jeweler’s lope.
To access James Allen’s online diamond inventory simply choose the size you are interested below and click to go.
To sum it all up, if you love the romance and sparkle of a traditional diamond, you will probably want the Round Brilliant cut. If so, you will be in good company…