Feature Gems & Gemology, Fall 2004, Vol. 40, No. 3

A Foundation for Grading the Overall Cut Quality of Round Brilliant Cut Diamonds

GIA began its 15-year study of diamond cut by using a computer to model the way light behaves within a round brilliant cut diamond. From this model, GIA researchers developed proportion-based metrics to predict how diamonds would perform with regard to brilliance and fire. Continued research revealed several important variables that could not be evaluated effectively by computer modeling alone. Thus, the authors asked diamond manufacturers, dealers, retailers, and potential consumers to evaluate brightness (a term selected as more appropriate than brilliance), fire, and overall cut appearance of diamonds representing many different proportion combinations. These observations and discussions confirmed that additional factors, besides brightness and fire, contribute to diamond cut appearance, and that factors in addition to face-up appearance are important in assessing the quality of a diamond’s cut. With the trade interactions as a foundation, the authors (1) tested the brightness and fire metrics to find the best fit with human observations, (2) identified and quantified factors in addition to brightness and fire that contribute to face-up appearance, (3) developed a standard viewing environment that mimics common trade environments, (4) created the foundation for a comprehensive diamond cut grading system, and (5) began development of reference software to predict the overall cut grade of a particular diamond. The GIA diamond cut grading system described here includes the components of brightness, fire, scintillation, polish, and symmetry, as well as weight and durability concerns, into a single overall grade for cut quality for standard round brilliants.