It is an undisputed fact that the cut is the most important of the four C’s as it has the biggest impact on a diamond’s fire, brilliance and scintillation. Statistics say that the most common options people consider are Excellent and Very Good cuts. However, understanding the difference between Excellent vs Very Good diamond cut grades and how they present themselves in a stone means looking at a bigger picture.
What Is a Diamond Cut?
The cut is one of the defining characteristics of a diamond which refers to the precision of angles, proportions, symmetry and polish which in turn directly impact a stone’s fire, brilliance and scintillation.
In terms of cut quality, the diamond cut should not be confused with both the diamond shape, which can be round, oval, cushion, pear, etc and the facet arrangement which can be brilliant or step.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) grades round brilliant diamonds on a five-point scale of Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor, where Excellent cut grade diamonds provide the maximum brilliance and sparkle. As for the other cuts, GIA does not provide cut grading, but some parameters help to evaluate the stone’s cut quality.
The diamond cut grade is based on seven factors – brightness, fire and scintillation (how the diamond appears when viewed face-up), weight ratio and durability (how well it is designed to ensure durability and optimal weight), polish and symmetry (quality of craftsmanship). The grade is set by the lowest assessment the diamond receives for five out of the seven factors. For example, if a diamond is graded Poor for brightness, then the highest overall cut grade can be Poor. However, there are exceptions for polish and symmetry. A diamond with Very Good polish and symmetry may receive an Excellent overall cut grade.
The cut quality is the biggest indicator of a diamond’s beauty and should be made a priority over other characteristics. A colourless or flawless diamond will look dull and lifeless if it is not cut exceptionally well. Poor precision, proportions and symmetry give no brilliance and sparkle.
How Diamond Cut Grade Affects the Price
Diamond cut prices are based on precision and quality. You can expect the diamond’s price per carat to increase as the cut quality improves, meaning Excellent cut diamonds cost the premium.
The reason for higher prices is that more rough diamond should be removed to achieve ideal cut proportions and symmetry. In other words, the loss in material for better cut quality has to be compensated with higher prices. Moreover, there are extra costs for skilled labour that is required to cut and polish a high-quality cut diamond.
It is worth mentioning that for cutters it is not feasible to turn every piece of rough material into an excellent cut diamond because it will not be profitable to do so. For example, fancy colour diamonds are cut to achieve the best colour possible and not maximize brilliance and sparkle. As for colourless diamonds, poor-quality stones are cut for weight retention for consumers who knowingly and unknowingly buy such stones to fulfil their carat weight expectations.
Excellent vs Very Good Diamond Cut
Excellent cut diamonds have an even clear pattern of bright and dark areas and provide the highest level of fire and brilliance because almost all of the incoming light is reflected through the table.
Very Good cut diamonds are quite similar to Excellent cut diamonds. They offer exceptional brilliance and fire as a large majority of the entering light reflects through the diamond’s table. However, the pattern of bright and dark areas is slightly uneven because of a combination of a particular set of proportions.
Both Excellent and Very Good cut diamonds make up a huge percentage of round brilliants available on the market today. Moreover, nearly 55% of all round brilliant diamonds graded by GIA receive an Excellent cut grade. However, as a diamond cut grade represents a range, many of these diamonds are not recommended by experts.
The truth is that there are suggested proportions for a round brilliant cut diamond which serve as a helpful guideline, but a change in a single factor influences the overall balance of a diamond. Knowing a stone’s cut grade is essential, but it is also important to see a diamond in person as two diamonds with an Excellent cut grade may look and perform differently.