Round Diamonds Have the Most Expensive Cut: Here Are 4 Surprising Reasons Why
What is the first thought that comes to mind when you picture a diamond? Hint: It should be along the lines of bling, and you are about to find out the reason why. Diamonds, especially the rarest ones, rightfully take the title of the epitome of precious gemstones. If you are 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. Jewelers want the best gem-quality rough stones to cut them into loose diamonds that will 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 4Cs—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 a sizable stone. Unfortunately, doing so 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. But 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. Therefore, you must not place an order with an online diamond vendor before you get the requisite facts right.
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, is 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 loses about 20 percent.
Using laser cutting machines, which require extreme dexterity, does not 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 does not have anything to do with the cut. If anything, it is 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 that a round brilliant cut is one coveted stone. Round diamonds have several cut proportions that line the crown, girdle, and pavilion, each determining the cut grade that a diamond exhibits.
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, which is the reason why 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. The stone that is cut along these lines will possess enormous 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 the round diamonds that are designated the very good cut grade. They have slightly lower fire and sparkle when compared 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: 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 is a well-respected craft. Unless you are dealing with a quack, you will hardly see a poor cut stone, let alone a poor round cut.
That is 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 do not 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 act per the latter option 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 the cut or carat weight.
With diamonds, big is not always better. A full-frontal approach towards carat weight will get you a fairly large stone, but you risk it being dull, especially if the cut quality is not the best. Instead, you will be better off ordering a standard sized stone, say, 0.5ct to 1ct with an ideal or excellent cut.
But if you cannot 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, do not confine yourself to this analogy. The bigger and more 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. 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 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 given that the round cut is one of the earliest developed brilliant cuts, one reason why 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 is almost certain that a round cut stone will cost more than any of the other diamond cuts. A round cut stone that has a low 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 round cut diamonds speaks for itself, and as long as the cut quality is not poor, they have more sparkle and fire than other diamond shapes.
The dance of white and colored light in a round cut diamond is 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.
Besides, 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 are the diamonds to buy when you want to make a jewelry statement. They are also a priority offering for the shopper looking to buy a diamond with an outstanding sparkle that will last well into the future.