In-Depth Round Brilliant Cut Diamond Buying Guide

Sharif Khan
Sharif Khan
Last Updated    EST 
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Round cut diamonds, also known as round brilliant cut diamonds, account for approximately 60-70% of all globally traded polished diamonds. In 2005, GIA introduced a standardized cut grading system for "unmodified" round brilliant cut diamonds.

To qualify as an unmodified round brilliant cut, the diamond should adhere to contemporary industry standards for cutting precision, featuring 57 facets (or 58 if the culet is faceted), with 33 facets on the crown and 25 on the pavilion.

In this comprehensive guide, we offer in-depth insights into a range of quality-related factors for round diamonds, including cut proportions, clarity, color, certification, and fluorescence.

In a nutshell, buy a round cut diamond with the following specifications:

  • A depth of 59 to 62%, a table of 54 to 58%, a crown angle of 34 to 35, and a pavilion angle of 40 to 41 (tolerance of 5% up or down on these parameters is acceptable).
  • The best approach is to avoid fluorescence in colorless (D-G range) diamonds and buy a round cut graded by GIA.

Four Ways to Prioritize the 4Cs

If budget is not a primary concern, consider a round diamond with specs like this: Example 1, FL-VS1/D-E range (investment grade). Conversely, if an excellent quality large stone is desired within a reasonable budget range, specs like these are what we would recommend: Example 2, VS-SI1/F-G range (best quality and value). If the budget is tight and the goal is to buy a decent gem quality big stone, buy something like this: EXAMPLE 3, SI1-SI2/H-I range (best value). For buyers looking for a big stone with a limited budget, consider compromising on color while maximizing clarity and cut, such as this one: Example 4, FL-VS/J-M range (large size).

round cut depth and table

Check these True Hearts and A Cut Above round cut diamonds for their brilliance and exceptional cut.

Round Cut Diamond Highlights


Round cut diamond is the most popular diamond shape. On account of its brilliance, it is often recognized as a symbol of the diamond trade itself.


For round brilliant cut diamonds, a total depth of 59-62.5% and a total table of 53%—58.5% are commendable. The crown angle should be between 33.8 and 35.2, and the pavilion angle should be between 39.5 and 41.2. Please see the chart below for detailed information and analysis.


Often a negative factor, it can be helpful in H or lower color grade diamonds. See more below.


GIA and AGS are the best grading labs. Buy a diamond that is graded by one of these two labs. Carefully review the section below on how to read a grading report.


While D to F are top color grades, we also recommend G color. Additionally, H and I are fantastic budget color options to consider.


Preferably, flawless to VSS/VS1 clarity ranges are great, but VS2 is also safe. SI1/SI2 are good budget options. When considering SI2 clarity diamonds, carefully review the clarity characteristics and location of inclusions to determine if the stone is eye-clean.


Round settings are available in many styles, from classics to halos, vintage to infinity, and swirl designs. Here is a list of our top round cut diamond engagement rings.

Round Cut Diamond Ideal Proportions

The establishment of standardized grading practices and increased transparency in trading diamonds has led to round diamonds being recognized as commodities. As a result, their prices have become progressively competitive with narrow profit margins.

Retailers might use phrases like "heart & arrows" and "hearts on fire." However, the fundamental standards and techniques for cutting a round brilliant diamond remain relatively consistent. So long as buyers adhere to the prescribed proportions outlined below, they can adeptly identify a well-cut round diamond regardless of its brand name.

round cut perfect shallow deep cut

While we extensively discuss 4Cs and other critical quality factors concerning round diamonds in the sections below, we advise against compromising the quality of a round diamond's cut. Cutters employ various techniques to maximize yield from the original rough diamond, which might compromise the cut quality of the diamond. Our proportions chart below serves as an invaluable safeguard against such practices.

Depth %

Poor/Fair: <56/>65%

Good: 57.6-58/63.4-64.5

Very Good: 58-59/62.8-63.3

Excellent: 59-62.6

Table %

Poor/Fair: <50/>68.5>

Good: 51-52/62-64

Very Good: 51-52/59-62

Excellent: 53-58.5


Poor/Fair: Medium

Good: Small

Very Good: None/Very Small

Excellent: None

Crown Angle

Poor/Fair: <28.5/>38.5

Good: 30-32/36-38

Very Good: 32-34/35-36

Excellent: 34-35

Pavilion Angle

Poor/Fair: <39/>46

Good: 41-42/44-45.3

Very Good: 41.3-42.6/43.3-43.8

Excellent: 40-41.2


Poor/Fair: Ex. Thin – Ex. Thick

Good: Very thin - thick

Very Good: Very thin - slightly thick

Excellent: Thin - slightly thick

Round Cut Diagram

Round Cut Diamond Illustration by GIA. Copyrights: GIA

This cutting-edge 40X 360°HD technology can be immensely helpful in assessing cut quality. The innovative tool empowers buyers to evaluate the diamond's cut, color, and clarity, enabling them to pinpoint the location of inclusions and identify problematic black crystals and other flaws. Buyers can also access 360-degree 3D videos of thousands of diamonds through this platform.

ideal cut proportions

Excellent vs. Super Ideal Proportions

The above chart is critical in discerning a super ideal cut diamond from an ideal or excellent cut counterpart, particularly when evaluating two diamonds both graded as excellent cut by GIA. Review the crown and pavilion angles and the girdle size to make an accurate distinction. Beyond the evident significance of depth and table, each of these factors contributes to the nuanced variations in cut quality.

round cut ideal scope HCA heart and arrows

For further insights, check our article on the importance of diamond cut. If budget constraints are factored in, there is leeway to consider a cut grade as low as "very good," provided certain conditions are met. A stone that isn't excessively deep—avoiding an overly small appearance—or excessively shallow—thus retaining brilliance and fire—can be a suitable compromise.

Here's an example of a very good cut diamond resembling an excellently cut one. Should buyers locate a diamond with comparable cut proportions, they shouldn't be overly concerned with it being graded as "excellent cut" by GIA. 

Ideal Color for Round Cut Diamonds

Color is considered as second most significant factor after cut when assessing a diamond's quality. White diamonds span from colorless (D-F) and near-colorless (G-J) to Z, encompassing shades ranging from faint to light yellow. While individuals with the means often favor colorless diamonds, G and H color diamonds offer remarkable choices. Opting for an H or I color diamond opens the possibility of utilizing faint to medium blue fluorescence, a trait that complements yellow hues and enhances the diamond's perceived whiteness.

diamond color chart

Pro tip: When deciding between a VVS1 clarity H color diamond and a VS1 clarity G color diamond, the former (VS1 G) is a better choice, all other factors being equal. Exercise caution with strong blue fluorescence, particularly in D-G color round diamonds. This type of fluorescence can often detract from the overall appeal of high-color-grade diamonds.

The chart below serves as a valuable reference for a more detailed analysis of color in round cut diamonds based on carat weight.

< 0.50 Carat
Poor/Far: >M/ L-M
Good: I-K
Very Good: G-I
Excellent: D-G

0.51 – 1.0 Carat
Poor/Fair: J-K / >L
Good: I
Very Good: H
Excellent: D-G

1.0 – 2.0 Carat
Poor/Fair: >J
Good: I/H
Very Good: G
Excellent: D-F

>2.0 Carat
Poor/Fair: >J
Good: H-I
Very Good: F-G
Excellent: D-E

Poor/Fair: Strong
Good: Medium
Very Good: Faint
Excellent: None

Additional insights can be gleaned from our comprehensive diamond color scale and chart.

Best Clarity for Round Cut Diamonds

GIA's clarity grading scale for diamonds ranges from flawless (FL) to I3, with FL being the highest and I3 being the lowest. Ensuring minimal visible inclusions is pivotal to a diamond's overall aesthetic and brilliance. Assessing clarity, among the 4Cs, is a highly technical task.

Which types of inclusions are deemed acceptable, and which should be avoided?

In brief, avoid prominent black crystals and visible inclusions on a diamond's table. Furthermore, small inclusions uniformly dispersed across the stone are best—this characteristic ensures that inclusions remain indivisible to the naked eye. Lastly, verify that the diamond's clarity grade is not based on clouds.

Although not necessarily unfavorable inclusions, if a diamond's clarity grade hinges solely on clouds, the stone can take on a hazy, oily appearance devoid of the desired sparkle.

diamond clarity chart

The chart below is a general guide for evaluating clarity in round diamonds:

<0.5 Carat
Poor/Fair: >I1/ I1
Good: SI2
Very Good: SI1-VS2
Excellent: FL-VS1

0.51 – 1.0 Carat
Poor/Fair: > I1
Good: SI2
Very Good: SI1-VS2
Excellent: FL-VS1

1.0 – 2.0 Carat
Poor/Fair: >I1
Good: SI2-SI1
Very Good: VS2
Excellent: FL-VS1

>2.0 Carat
Poor/Fair: >I1
Good: SI2-SI1
Very Good: VS1-VS2
Excellent: FL-WS2

Avoid a round diamond whose clarity grade is "based on clouds." These diamonds often lack the vibrant brilliance that characterizes a desirable gem. To ascertain whether a diamond's clarity grade is based on clouds, refer to the comment section within the GIA report, where it will indicate such findings. It is crucial to differentiate between the presence of clouds as inclusions, which typically pose no major concern, and a clarity grade based on clouds.

For further insights, refer to our diamond clarity guide.

How Read a Round Cut Diamond GIA Report

In addition to the well-known 4Cs, buyers must be familiar with the following key aspects of a round cut diamond grading report or certificate, as highlighted in the image below.

Round Cut Diamond GIA report

Watch HD Video of this Diamond.

Measurements: This is important because it will inform the buyer of the diamond's surface size (how big the diamond will appear in millimeters).

Fluorescence: This should be considered as the 5th C. In this particular example, avoiding fluorescence is advisable since the color is F. However, medium blue fluorescence is not as problematic as strong blue fluorescence.

Comments: This section will display clarity-related factors and highlight whether a diamond is clarity-enhanced (through methods such as laser drilling or color enhancement, etc.). Additionally, watch for comments like "clarity grade based on clouds," which is a concerning sign in clarity grades of VS2 and below. The laser inscription of the report number on the girdle is above the comment section (an optional service for additional verification).

Proportions: This chart is crucial for assessing a diamond's cut. Specifically, pay attention to the table percentage (58% in the example—excellent), depth percentage (61.1%—excellent), crown angle (34° —excellent), pavilion angle (40.8° —excellent), girdle (medium, 3.5%—excellent), and culet (none—excellent).

Clarity Characteristics: This section will indicate the type of inclusions and their locations. It can assist buyers in avoiding diamonds with visible inclusions at the center. These details are also helpful for matching the report with the diamond, as these inclusions act as the diamond's birthmarks.

How to Balance the 4Cs in Round Cut Diamonds

When striving to secure the finest diamond within a predetermined budget, navigating the intricate interplay of the 4Cs—carat weight, cut, clarity, and color—often poses a perplexing challenge for shoppers. To aid in addressing this quandary, consider the ensuing four scenarios prior to reaching a final verdict:

round shape diamond in a swirl engagement ring

Investment Grade (Pinnacle of Quality and Rarity): In this range, discerning buyers accord paramount importance to diamonds of unblemished clarity (flawless/VVS) and colorless attributes (D-E). They seek diamonds with ideal proportions, backed by esteemed GIA and AGS certifications, and displaying no fluorescence. This category caters to those valuing the highest quality and rarity in their diamond selection.

High-Quality Large Diamonds (Optimal Value): Within this range, purchasers set their sights on diamonds with VS2/VS1 clarity and F/G color, coupled with negligible to faint fluorescence. The focal point is securing excellent value by obtaining a large diamond without compromising quality. Aiming for the most "bang for the buck" guides a buyer's pursuit.

Striking a Balance Between Size and Beauty: This scenario sees shoppers in pursuit of a large diamond while concurrently maintaining a threshold of quality. As an illustration, these buyers opt for a 1.5 carat diamond instead of a 1 carat variant. For instance, they may select a 1.5 carat round diamond featuring SI1 clarity, I color, medium blue fluorescence, and a very good cut rather than a 1 carat diamond with E VVS1 clarity. This approach harmonizes size and quality.

Maximizing Size on a Restricted Budget: Buyers with limited financial leeway emphasize the diamond's size and radiance, willingly accommodating some visible inclusions or a faint yellow tint if the stone remains affordable. Their focus may lead them to acquire a 2-3 carat L to M color diamond, characterized by inclusions such as non-black carbon crystals like feathers near the girdle. Augmented by strong blue fluorescence to enhance the color and provide a very good to excellent cut for optimal luminosity and dispersion, this approach places paramount importance on size. Under this scenario, we recommend that buyers compromise on color and buy a large diamond with an excellent cut and clarity grade.

Round Brilliant vs. Old European Cut

Since 1750, round diamonds have undergone several changes, particularly in facet size and proportion variations. Ongoing modifications occur in the dimensions of a diamond's table, total depth, culet, crown, and the length of lower half facets. Nevertheless, diamonds from each era exhibit distinct and unique appearances.

Most buyers opt for round brilliant cut diamonds as they align with their contemporary aesthetic preferences. Round brilliant cut diamonds exhibit a closely-knit play of light and possess dark patterns due to their elongated lower half facets, a trait gemologists call "splintery."

Conversely, older cuts like the old European cut feature a small table, a prominent culet, a steep crown, and shorter lower half facets, resulting in a "blocky" or "checkerboard" pattern.

Round vs. Old European Cut

The Gemological Institute of America established the cut grading system specifically for unmodified round brilliant cut diamonds. To distinguish between the earlier iterations and the contemporary style, the term "unmodified round brilliant" refers to a symmetrical round cut diamond featuring 58 facets that are cut according to modern standards.

While GIA assigns five distinct cut grades (excellent, very good, good, fair, and poor) to assess the cut quality of modern round diamonds, AGS utilizes six cut grades by incorporating the "ideal cut" into the spectrum.

Key Differences between Old European vs. Modern Round Brilliant include:

Old European cut

  • Lower half facet length: 60 percent or less
  • Table size: 53 percent or less
  • Crown angle: 40 percent or greater
  • Culet size: slightly large

Round brilliant cut with 58 facets to be classified as a modern brilliant cut must adhere to the following criteria:

  • Lower half length: 60 percent or less
  • Culet size: medium or slightly larger
  • Star length: 60 percent or less.

Buying Round Diamonds Online

The diamond trade has undergone significant evolution in the past decade. The internet and the wealth of online information have empowered first-time buyers, eliminating the need to rely solely on local retailers for acquiring high-quality diamonds at reasonable prices. Instead, they can swiftly access diamond prices from various websites, enabling them to determine a competitive price range.

To illustrate, determining the cost of a 2 carat round cut diamond with VS1 clarity, G color, excellent cut, and no fluorescence graded by GIA or AGS is now relatively straightforward. Prospective buyers can explore prices on platforms like James Allen and Blue Nile to establish a reasonable value for the 2 carat diamond.

When buying round cut diamonds online, retailers should offer solid return options, lifetime warranties, and upgrade policies. A brand's reputation carries weight due to quality assurance considerations and the enduring support they offer. It might be worth investing an additional 5% for this assurance. Furthermore, opt for a seller offering complimentary repairs when a stone is dislodged from the mounting or when resizing the ring is necessary. For further insights, refer to our detailed article on the best places to buy diamonds.

Lastly, the popularity of lab-grown diamonds is on the rise, presenting viable budget-friendly alternatives to natural diamonds.

FAQ on Round Diamonds

What characterizes a round cut diamond?

As previously mentioned, round diamonds stand as the most prevalent diamond shape. Due to their expansive surface area, they typically carry a higher price tag compared to fancy cut stones. Crafting a 1 carat round brilliant cut diamond necessitates a larger rough diamond than that required for a 1 carat princess cut diamond.

What are the optimal proportions for a round cut diamond?

Kindly refer to our proportion chart to determine the ideal round cut diamond proportions.

What should I emphasize when considering the 4Cs while purchasing a diamond?

The four scenarios we've discussed offer valuable insight into prioritizing the 4Cs when seeking a round diamond.

Which certifications hold the highest reliability for diamonds?

As previously indicated, GIA and AGS stand out as the best diamond grading labs globally.

How does fluorescence impact a diamond?

To comprehensively grasp the matter of fluorescence, please delve into our detailed article on the subject. This is a significant consideration, as its effect can be either adverse or advantageous, contingent on the diamond's color.

Which shape serves as a viable alternative to round diamonds?

An oval cut diamond presents itself as an exceptional substitute for round cut diamonds, owing to their inherent resemblances.

Is purchasing diamonds online a secure option?

Indeed, buying loose diamonds online is now notably secure. The establishment of a standardized grading system has considerably facilitated the process of procuring diamonds online.