Round Diamonds Have the Most Expensive Cut: Here Are 4 Surprising Reasons Why
What’s the first thought that comes to mind when you picture a diamond? Hint: It should be along the lines of bling, and you’re about to find out the reason behind that. Diamonds, especially the rarest ones, rightfully take the title of the epitome of precious stones. If you‘re going to accessorize with diamond jewelry, the least you can do is get a sparkly gem.
Both jewelers and end-users/casual diamond shoppers research considerably before purchasing the ultimate diamond. The jewelers want the best gem-quality rough stones to cut them into loose diamonds that’ll uphold their reputation. Engagement ring buyers, on the other hand, want an ideal diamond, setting, and after-sale services.
The quest for jewelers to have the right in-demand diamond inventories and the yearning for shoppers to own an above-average stone comes down to the 4Cs of diamonds. The Cs—cut, color, carat weight (ct), and clarity of the diamonds are the tenets of diamond quality.
Depending on your priorities, either of the four can be crucial. But, typically, most shoppers go for an ideal cut and sizable stone. Unfortunately, that results in trading off color and clarity to get an almost exceptional diamond.
The only way to get an excellent stone is to buy a flawless caliber diamond that scores the highest grades in all 4Cs. And in the case of a round cut, that would cost an arm and a leg. Round shaped diamonds that fall into an ordinary-size (1ct or lower) category are already expensive as it is. So, don’t get ahead of yourself. Get all the facts right first before placing an order with an online diamond vendor.
Here are the little known reasons that make round cut diamonds the most expensive.
The Percentage of Rough Stone Used
Diamond cutters use two types of raw stones: mined diamonds or human-made ones grown in a laboratory. Either way, the stone is called rough for a reason. It has very little sparkle, if any, in the raw state, it’s shapeless, and requires extensive polishing.
The round cut requires the removal of a significant portion of the rough stone when cutting it into shape. An estimated 60 percent of the raw stone is cut away to achieve a crisp round cut with smooth edges. The portion of the rough diamond crystal chopped off usually ends up as a waste—a by-product
The development of a round cut leads to the loss of a significant amount of rough stone compared to the next most expensive cut (princess cut) that only losses about 20 percent.
Using laser cutting machines, which require extreme dexterity, doesn’t make much of a difference. The heavy raw material usage and cutting skills required profoundly impact the price per carat of round cut diamonds.
Of the 4cs, Cut Matters Most
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the shape of a stone doesn’t have anything to do with the cut. If anything, it’s the cut parameters that cause the diamond to assume a rounded shape. For the most part, diamond cutters meticulously develop all the proportions of a round cut to achieve a brilliant cut.
A brilliant-cut is one that maximizes the diamond’s light performance, meaning a round brilliant cut is one coveted stone. Round diamonds have several cut proportions that line the crown, girdle, and pavilion. The proportions used determine the cut grade that a diamond will exhibit.
Brilliant round cuts have 57 facets (the various surfaces of a diamond), on the upper and lower body. If the cutter includes a culet (flat face at the bottom of a diamond), the total facet count comes to 58. Brilliant round cuts have the most facets of all diamond shapes. For this reason, they have the highest level of light reflection and refraction.
The GIA grades round cuts into several classes, including (in descending order):
Excellent cut – an excellent round cut is the best cut classification. Such a round cut stone has the most sparkle and brilliance. The dance of light as it bounces off the facets is impeccable. And there is zero light leakage as it passes through the diamond.
Very Good cut - Very little light sips out of a round diamond that’s designated the very good cut grade. They have slightly lower fire and sparkle in comparison to the excellent cut round stones. A very good round cut comes in handy when you want to leave more room for color and clarity in your diamond budget.
Good – Even when cut to good proportions, the round cut is still expensive. Round diamonds in this cut grade fly off the shelf the most (around 25 percent of round diamond sales). The Good round cut helps to bridge the gap between having the most diamond sparkle and not having to break your wallet.
Poor cut – No cutter in their right mind will go to the length of developing a poor cut round stone. Diamond production is expensive and time-consuming. More importantly, it’s a well-respected craft. Unless you’re dealing with a quack, you’ll hardly see a poor cut stone, let alone a poor round cut.
That’s because poorly cut stones have the highest light leakage and an out-of-place brilliance due to overly deep or shallow cut proportions. Top vendors such as White Flash and Brian Garvin don’t stock poor cut diamonds.
Whether More or Fewer Carats, Round Cut Diamonds Shine the Brightest
You can either buy a cut and polished diamond from a vendor or have a jeweler customize one for you. Assuming you decide to go the customization way and start with a loose diamond before getting a hand-crafted setting: what C can you maximize on? The jeweler or cutter can only maximize on the cut or carat weight.
With diamonds, big is not always better. Going big on carat weight will get you a fairly large stone, but you risk it being dull, especially if the cut quality isn’t the best. You’re better of ordering a standard sized stone, say, 0.5ct to 1ct, and get an ideal cut or excellent cut.
If you can’t afford an excellent round cut, then an ideal round cut is the closest you can get to an excellent grade. Besides, ideal round cuts are the highest cut classification in the AGS cut scale, and help to remove excess weight, especially around the diamond’s girdle. An ideal round diamond can reduce the per carat cost without necessarily affecting brilliance and overall appearance.
However, don’t confine yourself to this analogy. The bigger and excellently cut the round diamond, the more prominent the sparkle, fire, and brilliance. A 5ct ideal round cut stone may be smaller than a quarter dollar coin but still relatively big. And if you can afford it, by all means, knock yourself out.
The Popularity of the Round Shape
Diamond vendors sell more round cut diamonds than they do any other type of diamond cut. According to diamond industry statistics, the majority of diamond engagement rings sold in the US have a round cut center stone.
Round cut stones make up approximately 70-75 percent of ready-to-sell diamonds in the market. It makes sense seeing as the round cut is one of the earliest developed brilliant cuts. Vendors and buyers are fond of it.
Upstream diamond supply chain players (wholesalers and retailers) are always ready to pay a premium price for gem worthy round diamonds. They know that inventory turnover for round cut diamonds is quick whether the stone is loose or mounted on a setting.
In the same vein, the high sales of round cut diamonds mean an ever surging demand force. It’s almost certain that a round cut stone will cost more than any of the other diamond cuts. A round cut stone that has lower a 4Cs quality rating can fetch as much as a princess cut stone with an impressive diamond report.
At the Blue Nile online diamond shop, for instance, this 1ct round cut diamond (cut grade: good, color: K, clarity S1) is in the price range of a 1.2ct princess cut stone (cut grade: good, color: K, clarity: VVS2). The point is that the brilliance of a round cut diamond speaks for itself. As long as the cut quality isn’t poor, round cuts have more sparkle and fire over other diamond shapes.
The dance of white and colored light in a round cut diamond is so intense. At times, it may not be easy to distinguish the stone’s fire from its body color when exposed to a light source. As a result, round cut diamonds have yet another trick.
The brilliance and sparkle of a round cut stone can hide inclusions in an SI1 or SI2 diamond. Such inclusions, especially tiny dark carbon crystals sitting on the girdle and in the crown close to the table, would otherwise be easily visible to the naked eye.
The diamond development revolution that Marcel Tolkowsky started nearly ten decades ago through the “Diamond Design: A Study of the Reflection and Refraction of Light in Diamond,” still lives on today.
Plus, the admiration surrounding the round cut, coupled with the proliferation of the modern round brilliant cut, are two influencing factors likely to maintain the expensive status of round cut diamonds.
Round cut stones the diamonds to buy when you want to make a jewelry statement. They’re also a priority offering for the shopper looking to buy a diamond with an outstanding sparkle that’ll last well into the future.