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The Anatomy of a Diamond

Diamond being held by tweezers.

In the world of diamonds, there are a myriad of criteria and terms used to describe the different attributes of these stones. From the 4Cs, to brilliance, fire, and scintillation, our fascination with diamonds has created a scientific approach to assessing them where we can accurately judge their value and visual appeal.

With this scientific approach, we’ve come to create nomenclature to describe a diamond’s anatomy. In this article, we’ll explore the different parts of a diamond so you’ll have a better understanding of the terms and descriptions used to describe them.

Note that there are a number of different diamond shapes, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll be addressing the anatomy of the round brilliant – the most popular diamond shape of all.

Understanding the Anatomy of a Diamond

Illustration showcasing the anatomy of a diamond

Each diamond shape has many different parts, but certain parts are common across all shapes. Each of these individual parts is purposely shaped by a diamond cutter and plays a crucial role in affecting how the diamond interacts with light. Below are the major components of a round brilliant cut diamond.

Facets:
Facets refer to the smooth, flat surfaces on a diamond. By definition, each diamond shape has a number of facets that are specific to that particular shape. In an expertly cut diamond, the facets are shaped, polished, and arranged in a way to optimize for brilliance, scintillation, and fire. A round brilliant diamond has 57 to 58 facets.

Table:
The table is the largest facet of the diamond and is located at the top, front-facing part of the stone. The facet is a particularly important part of the diamond since it’s where the most light enters it. An expertly cut diamond is efficient in that most of the light that enters the table also exits through it, reflecting back at the viewer – maximizing the stone’s brilliance.

Crown
The crown is the part of the diamond that extends from the table to the girdle. The crown on a round brilliant is composed of a few different “facet types” – star, bezel, and upper girdle facets. Each of these facets, along with the height and angle of the crown, plays a particular importance in dispersing light within a diamond. Together these components have a great influence on the overall scintillation and fire of the stone.

Girdle
The girdle is part of the diamond that forms its circumference and is located between the crown and the pavilion. While the girdle can come in different thicknesses, overall it doesn’t play a large role in affecting the brilliance of the diamond. That being said, it does lend itself to influencing a diamond’s durability; thinner girdles can be more susceptible to damage, while larger girdles can be a waste of carat efficiency, leading to a smaller profile when compared to a better-cut stone with the same carat.

Pavilion
The pavilion is the “inverted cone” part of the diamond that extends from the girdle to the culet. This part of the diamond plays an important role in directing the light back to the viewer once it’s entered the stone. It’s important when choosing a diamond to have one with a pavilion that’s neither too shallow nor too deep, and angled at the appropriate degree. A diamond that’s too shallow or too deep leads to light leakage or inefficiencies which can negatively impact the brilliance of a given stone.

Culet
The culet is the bottom point or facet of the diamond. It’s important to have a diamond with a small or even nonexistent culet. A large culet can lead to light leakage through the bottom of the stone. When this happens, viewing the diamond from the table can exhibit a small, dark circle, which can look like a blemish or imperfection.

Putting it Together: Diamond Cut & Anatomy

Many parts of a diamond come together to create the signature appeal we’ve all come to know and love. Each part of the stone is cut and shaped with purpose, in an attempt to maximize its light play to bring about a maximum amount of brilliance, scintillation, and fire.

By having a basic understanding of diamond anatomy and the nuances behind its cut, you can make an informed decision to ensure you purchase a stone that shines brilliantly and will be enjoyed for years to come.

With all this information, we understand that making the right decision can be daunting. As veterans in the jewelry industry, we’ve been helping our clients in San Diego and beyond on their diamond journeys for over 40 years. We invite you to get in touch with us or to visit our local showroom, to experience the world-class customer service and expertise we’ve come to be known for.