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Cut Explained

Cut describes the workmanship and design of turning a “raw” diamond crystal that comes from the earth, into a vibrant gem. Learning about a diamond’s cut-design involves distinguishing the different characteristics of how light interacts with a diamond and choosing the characteristics you like most. It’s about your taste and what pleases your eye. A diamond cutter makes choices when he or she plans and executes how a raw diamond’s cut will interact with light. There is not a single way he or she can cut a “top-grade” that everyone prefers; you may prefer a diamond with a cut grade of Very Good over one graded Excellent –and that’s ok. But once you know the words that describe what a diamond does with light then you’ll be able to see each cut characteristic for yourself. How a diamond is cut, or designed, determines its Brightness, Fire, and Sparkle.


Brightness, sometimes called brilliance, is the level of light that radiates up from within the diamond. When a ray of light passes through the surface of a diamond, it will bend like a light ray passing through a prism. But with diamonds, light bends even more because they are so dense. Once inside the diamond, as the light ray continues on its path, it will bend two more times completing a U-turn so that the light ray returns a shower of brightness and fire back toward your eye but only if cut with a proper silhouette. Without a proper silhouette, light will bend upon entering the diamond’s surface but some light will escape through the side and bottom of the diamond and fail to complete the U-turn, causing less brightness and less of the rainbow-like fire that results from each bend.

Why don’t all diamonds have a desirable silhouette? This is the secret to what is called weight-ratio. Weight–ratio is the relationship between the diamond size (viewed from the top) and its weight. Almost all raw diamonds come from the earth with a silhouette that is too deep. Think of the diamond cutter like a butcher who must trim away fat. An example might be if a raw diamond, cut to a round shape, has a diameter of only 6 mm then its proper design would be as a ⅞ carat with a lean under-belly and a proper silhouette. If the underbelly “fat” were not removed, the 6 mm diamond would have the wrong weight-ratio. It will weigh one carat but will look like a ⅞ carat diamond lacking beauty. In most cases, in order to unleash a high level of brightness the cutter must slice away slabs from its “belly,” to steer light in a desirable U-turn. Perrywinkle Devotion diamonds come with a unique brightness grade that will help you determine what cut design you most prefer.


Fire, sometimes called dispersion, describes the colors-of-a-rainbow that appear in a diamond. Diamonds behave like prisms. Since its shape is different than prisms the colors don’t appear in straight rows but more like shards of color as in a kaleidoscope. As a diamond moves the shards of colors change like in a kaleidoscope, so it’s best to see fire in different lighting conditions, from different viewing angles. It is also best to view the diamond from a distance of over three feet because when viewed from up close the chards of color change to shards of white light. Each Perrywinkle Devotion diamond comes with its unique fire grade that will help you determine what cut design you most prefer. That’s why your personal taste plays an important role in selecting the perfect diamond along with guidance from a diamond expert.


Sparkle, often called scintillation, describes the sparkling or twinkling effect given off as diamonds are moving about. It looks as if you are seeing bright white flashes of mini-fireworks within the diamond. The sparkle, or flashes-of-light, comes from rays of light reflecting off the diamond’s many surfaces. All diamonds will have some amount of these flashes. Your eyes “notice”, or perceive, the flashes if there is sufficient contrast within the diamond just as stars against the dark night are lost in the daytime. These mini-flashes are more beautiful than one big blast which would appear “washed out” like a blaring headlight. The pattern of sparkle is also important so that you see an evenly spread out field of “stars” rather than a blotchy array.


Symmetry describes the alignment of the many surfaces on a diamond, called facets. If you could slice a diamond like a cake, would each slice have duplicate shaped facets that are mirror images? If not, your eye could be drawn to the slice that is dissimilar. Diamonds that are perfectly aligned appear more beautiful to us, just like the faces of supermodels which are said to be have perfect symmetry. Symmetry also describes how perfect the shape of diamond is. For instance, if the diamond is supposed to be round, is there a flat spot along the circle or an perceptible oval shape to the circle? The workmanship involved in creating excellent symmetry takes time, care, planning & attention to detail. The GIA symmetry grades are Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor. Trust your eye and your judgment. Don’t get too hung up on a grade of Good or Very Good because there can be symmetry “deductions” that are visible under a microscope that do not affect the visual beauty of the diamond.


Finish, often called polish, describes the quality of a diamond’s surface. Imagine a typical diamond’s many polished surfaces, called facets. Their shapes vary but most resemble either a triangle or a stretched or contorted kite. And, due to a diamond’s extreme hardness, creating a mirror-like finish on each surface can only be achieved after long and painstaking grinding then polishing. Why is this important? Because even if it takes a microscope to see the tell-tale parallel or circular lines that result from an improperly polished diamond, if not eliminated, they will interfere with the luster, or “pop,” that comes from light reflecting off its surfaces. Then these individual surfaces must join invisibly, with seamless edges, so that the diamond appears as a solid monolith. Finish is important but a grade of Very Good may result from “deductions” that are visible under a microscope but do not affect the visual beauty of the diamond.


Diamond is the hardest material in the world but that doesn’t mean you can’t break or chip it. The definition of “hardness” is the resistance to scratching. In fact, when a diamond cutter splits a raw diamond crystal into two pieces often times all it takes is a tap in the right spot. It is important to cut a diamond so that its outer edge, called its girdle, is not too thin. Otherwise, over time, the girdle may be exposed and susceptible to getting chips. Equally important is the tiny facet called the ‘culet’, that looks as if it’s a point that is on the very bottom of the diamond. Under a microscope you’ll notice that some diamonds don’t have the culet and actually do come to a point. Polishing a diamond without a culet is a signature of a diamond cutter’s expertise, though this type of diamond must be handled by expert setters so the point is not damaged.

The corners of some of the fancy shaped diamonds have “points” as well, which can be damaged when being set. The square Verrywinkle is a patented modified square-cut Perrywinkle design that eliminates this problem on both the point and the corners of the diamond.

Crystal Structure

Diamonds have a quality characteristic that is clearly visible in the unpolished (“rough”) crystal stage but harder to describe when viewing a polished diamond. This characteristic is the crispness or “pop” of the diamond and how well it takes a polish. There are differences in the hardness between crystal s that result from the formation stage of the diamond. One analogy is to think of two pieces of maple wood where one has smooth even grain and another has knots with wavy grain. With diamonds, a weaker crystal structure will appear as a dull, oily, or greyish diamond; a diamond can have a respectable grade but will be missing “the bling.” Perrywinkle’s Devotion settings have a diamond type from “sawable” material. It consists of well-formed unpolished crystals which have a different crystal structure than most all other diamonds, producing a vibrant, powerfully brilliant stone.

Every Perrywinkle center diamond is hand-selected ensuring that the crystal structure is indeed beautiful.

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