DIAMOND GLOSSARY

To assist you further with your diamond education, We have compiled this useful glossary of commonly used terms when dealing with diamonds and precious gemstones.

Alluvial Stone

A stone that has been transported by water and deposited in seas, lakes or stream beds. Many gems, including diamonds, are found in alluvial deposits.

American Cut

Those proportions and facet angles calculated mathematically by Marcel Tolkowsky to produce maximum brilliancy consistent with a high degree of fire in a round diamond brilliant are considered by many diamond men to constitute the ideal cut. These figures, computed as a percentage of the girdle diameter, are as follows: total depth, 59.3% (without provision for girdle thickness); crown depth, 16.2%; pavilion depth, 43.1%. The bezel angle is 34° 30’ and the pavilion angle is 40° 45’. Girdle thickness as a percentage of the girdle’s diameter varies with size. The larger the stone, the smaller the percentage for a medium girdle. The variation is from about 1% to 3%.

Baguette

A French word meaning “rod.” A style of “step cutting” for small, rectangular or trapeze-shaped gemstones, principally diamonds

Bearded Girdle

If a diamond is rounded up too quickly in the fashioning process, the surface of the girdle will lack the smoothness and waxy luster of a finely turned girdle. Consequently, numerous minute, hairline fractures extend a short distance into the stone. A girdle with this appearance is referred to as being “bearded” or “fuzzy.

Bezel

(a) That proportion of a brilliant-cut gemstone above the girdle; same as crown. (b) More specifically, the sloping surface between the girdle and the table. (c) Still more specifically, only a small part of that sloping surface just above the girdle; the so-called “setting edge.

Bezel Facets

The eight large, four-sided facets on the crown of a round, brilliant-cut gem, the upper points of which join the table and the lower points, the girdle. Some diamond cutters further distinguish four of these as “quoin” or “top-corner” facets.

Black Diamonds

When a diamond is dark gray, a very dark green or truly black, it is referred to in the trade as a “black diamond.” Such a stone may be opaque to nearly semitransparent.

Blemish

Any surface imperfection on a fashioned diamond; e.g., a nick, knot, scratch, abrasion, minor crack or cavity, or poor polish. Also, a natural or an extra facet, visible on or through the crown, usually is considered a blemish.

Blue Diamond

A diamond with a distinctly blue body colour, even thought very light in tone, is a fancy diamond. Diamond that are blue in both daylight and incandescent light are rare, although fluorescence stones that show a blue colour in daylight are comparatively common. A blue colour may also be induced artificially.

Blueground

A miner’s nickname for “kimberlite,” the rock that contains diamonds in the South African pipe mines.

Blue White

A term that has been used for many years to refer to a diamond without body colour. However, it is applied frequently, but incorrectly, to stones that have a distinct yellow tint. Federal Trade Commission rulings state that is it an unfair trade practice to apply the term to any stone having a body colour other than blue or bluish. An American Gem Society ruling prohibits the use of the term by its members. Flagrant misuse has made the term meaningless.

Body colour

The colour of a diamond as observed when examined under a diffused light against a hueless background free from surrounding reflections. The diffused light eliminates glaring reflections and dispersion, which would otherwise confuse the colour determination.

Bombarded Diamond

A diamond that has been subjected to bombardment by fast electrons, neutrons, deuterons, etc. The purpose of bombardment is to make the colour of the stone more attractive and desirable.

Brillancy

The intensity of the internal and external reflections of white light to the eye from a diamond or other gem in the face-up position. It is not to be confused with scintillation or dispersion.

Brilliant Cut

The most common style of cutting for both diamonds and coloured stones. The standard round brilliant consists of a total of 58 facets: 1 table, 8 bezel facets, 8 star facets and 16 upper-girdle facets on the crown; and 8 pavilion facets, 16 lower-girdle facets, and usually a culet on the pavilion, or base. Although the brilliant style was devised to give maximum brilliancy and fire, many stones cut in this fashion do not have ideal proportions or angles for that purpose. Modifications of the round brilliant include such fancy shapes as the marquise, half moon, pear shape and many others.

Brillianteering

The placing and polishing of the 40 remaining facets on a brilliant-cut diamond after the main bezel and pavilion facets have been placed and polished.

Brown Diamond

Although not as frequently encountered as a yellow body colour, brown tints in diamonds are next to yellow in occurrence.

Bubble

Any transparent inclusion in a diamond; e.g., a tiny diamond crystal or a grain of a different mineral.

Break Facets or Girdle Facets

The 32 triangular facets that adjoin the girdle of a round brilliant-cut stone, 16 above and 16 below. Also called upper- and lower-girdle facets, upper- and lower-break facets, top- and bottom-half facets, skew facets or cross facets. Facets are sometimes placed directly on the girdle, in which case the stone is usually said to have a “faceted girdle,” to have a polished girdle or to be “girdle faceted.”

Canary Diamond

An intensely coloured “yellow” diamond. The yellow may be very slightly greenish or slightly orangey, but it must be deep enough to be a distinct asset. Such a diamond is called a fancy.

Cape

(a) A broad range of diamond colour grades that show a distinct yellow tint face up (except for small stones in the top part of the range). The term originally referred to the Cape of Good Hope, the popular name for the area that later became the Union of South Africa. Since the average colour produced by the South African mines was distinctly more yellow than the Brazilian average, the term “cape” became accepted for strongly yellow-tinted stones. The best grade in the group is variously called “top silver cape,” “top cape,” “light cape,” “fine cape” or silver cape,” depending on the system used by the grader. (b) Perhaps mostly commonly, “cape” is used as the colour grade below “top cape” in the “river-to-light-yellow” system

Carat

A unit of weight for diamonds and other gems. The carat formerly varied somewhat in different countries, but the metric carat of .200 grams, or 200 milligrams, was adopted in the United States in 1913 and is now standardized in the principal countries of the world. There are 100 points in a carat. It is sometimes incorrectly spelled “karat,” but in the USA karat refers only to the fineness of pure gold and gold alloys.

Carbon

An inclusion in a diamond that appears black to the unaided eye.

Carbon Pinpoints

The same as carbon spots but extremely small and somewhat more likely to be opaque.

Carbon Spots

Any black-appearing inclusion or imperfection in a diamond. Actually, black inclusions are rare, although some may occasionally be graphite or small particles of another mineral. Although many diamond contain inclusions that “appear” black under ordinary lighting, dark-filled illumination, plus magnification, shows most to be caused by reflection from cleavages or included transparent diamond crystals or other transparent minerals.

Cavity

An opening on the surface of a fashioned diamond. It may be cause by cleavage, by a blow, or may have been “pulled out” from the surface during the polishing operation.

Certified Gemmologist

A title awarded by various gemmolical associations to qualified jeweller-members. To qualify, a person must study diamonds and coloured stones and their identification and diamond grading and appraising. Also, they must prove their proficiency with several written examinations, a diamond-grading examination.,

Champagne Diamond

A greenish-yellow to yellow-green diamond of a sufficiently pronounced hue to be an asset. Such a stone is called a fancy.

Chip

(a) A curved break on a diamond that extends from a surface edge. (b) A small rose-cut diamond or single-cut melee. (c) A cleavage piece of diamond that weighs less than one carat. (d) A small, irregularly shaped diamond.

Clarity Grade

The relative position of a diamond on a flawless-to-imperfect

Clean

A term used by some jewellers to mean absence of internal imperfections only, and by others to describe diamonds with slight imperfections. It is prohibited by the American Gem Society for use by its members. It is also prohibited by the Federal Trade Commission, unless the stone meets the Commission’s definition of the term perfect.

Cleavage

(a) The tendency of a crystalline mineral to break in certain definite directions, leaving a more or less smooth surface. (b) The act or process of producing such a break. (c) One of the portions of such a mineral resulting from such a break. (d) A term sometimes used for a diamond crystal that requires cleavage before being fashioned. (e) A misshapen diamond crystal, particularly one that is flat and rather elongated. The term is used by diamond cutters to refer to such a crystal, whether or not its form results from cleaving. (f) A grading term used at the mines for broken diamond crystals above one carat, of reasonable thickness, and not twinned. (g) A break within a diamond.

Cleavage Crack

A break parallel to a cleavage plane. It is characterized by a two-dimensional nature; intersections with facets are usually straight lines. It is generally the most damaging kind of imperfection in a diamond, since it affects durability as well as beauty.

Closed Culet

A culet on a diamond that is too small to be resolved with the unaided eye and that can be seen only with difficulty under 10x. The term is rarely used to refer to a pavilion point or ridge with no “culet.”

Closed Table

A term used by the trade to designate a small table diameter. However, its interpretation and use varies. It may refer to a diameter less than the American cut 53% (of the girdle diameter) or, more frequently, to a table smaller than about 60%, because so many of the stones cut today have tables well over that figure.

Cloud Texture

A group of tiny white inclusions, composed of minute hollow spaces, or very small patches of tiny crystals or other impurities that produce a cottony or clouded appearance in a n otherwise highly transparent diamond. A cloud may be so minute that it is difficult to see under 10X, or it may be large enough to deprive the entire stone of brilliancy.

Cloudy Texture or Cloud Texture

A group of tiny white inclusions, composed of minute hollow spaces, or very small patches of tiny crystals or other impurities that produce a cottony or clouded appearance in a n otherwise highly transparent diamond. A cloud may be so minute that it is difficult to see under 10X, or it may be large enough to deprive the entire stone of brilliancy.

Commercially Clean

The common meaning of this term is “reasonably free from inclusions.” IF a diamond were without flaws or blemishes, logically, it would be called flawless or perfect. Sometimes, highly flawed stones are represented as “commercially clean.” The obvious misleading nature of the term has led the American Gem Society to prohibit its use by Society members. It is also prohibited by the Federal Trade Commission, unless the stone meets the Commission’s definition of the term perfect.

Critical Angle

The largest angle measured from the normal at which light can escape from and optically dense substance, and the smallest angle to the normal at which light is totally reflected within the dense substance.

Crown

That part of any fashioned gemstone above the girdle.

Cube

One of the seven basic forms in the highest symmetry (hexoctahedral) class of the cubic, or isometric, crystal system. It has six square faces that make 90° angles with one another, each of which intersects one crystallographic axis and is parallel to the other two. Gem-quality cube-shaped diamond crystals are so rare as to be regarded as collector’s items.

Cubic System

A crystallographic system, the crystals of which may be described by reference to their axes of equal length, each situated perpendicularly to the plane of the other two. Diamond belongs to this system.

Culet

The small facet that is polished parallel to the girdle plane across what would otherwise be the sharp point or ridge that terminates the pavilion of a diamond or other gemstone. Its function is to reduce the possibility of damage to the stone.

Cushion Cut

The older form of the brilliant cut, having a girdle outline approaching a square with rounded corners. Essentially an old-mine cut.

Carré Cut

A square step-cut diamond

De Beers Consolidated Mines

This company is the major factor in the diamond industry, because it holds a controlling interest in a number of diamond-mining companies and in companies having buying contracts with independent producers. It owns or controls all of the important pipe mines in South Africa and Consolidated Diamond Mines of South-West Africa, Ltd. Williamson Diamonds, in Tanzania, is owned by De Beers and the government of that country on an equal basis.

Depth Percentage.

The depth of a stone measured from the table to the culet, expressed as a percentage of the stone’s diameter at the girdle, is a relationship used in the analysis of the proportions of a fashioned diamond.

Diamond

A mineral composed essentially of carbon that crystallizes in the “cubic,” or “isometric,” crystal system and is therefore singly refractive. IT is by far the hardest of all known natural substances (10 on Mohs’ scale); only manmade Borazon and synthetic diamond are as hard. In its transparent form, it is the most cherished and among the most highly valued gemstones. It occurs in colours ranging from colourless to yellow, brown, orange, green, blue, and violet. Reddish stones are known, but those of an intense red colour approaching that of ruby are excessively rare. Its hardness and high refractive index (2.417) permits it to be fashioned as the most brilliant of all gems, and its dispersion (.044) produces a high degree of fire. The specific gravity is 3.52. Sources include various sections of south, west, southwest and middle Africa; Russia; central, east and northeast South America; India; Borneo; and Australia. It is also found in the United States, but not in commercial quantity. Read more about the origins of Diamond.

Diamond Certificate

A certificate awarded to those who complete successfully the “Diamond Course” of the Gemological Institute of America, which requires passing the diamond-grading and diamond-appraising instruction and practice.

Diamond Cut

A name sometimes used in the coloured-stone trade for brilliant cut.

Diamond Cutter

(a) Any workman engaged in the cutting and polishing of diamonds. (b) One who rounds up rough diamonds as a step in the fashioning of brilliants.

Diamond Saw

(a) A saw used for dividing or separating diamonds. (b) A diamond-charged blade used as a cutting edge in fashioning coloured stones or in various applications in industry.

Diamond Syndicate

In the early days of South African diamond fields, the word “syndicate” was used to refer to various groups of individuals and companies that held controlling interests in diamond production and distribution. In 1890, a syndicate consisting of ten firms offered to produce all of De Beers Company’s diamonds. This seems to have been the embryo of the famous diamond syndicate that became so well known to jewellers in the early part of the 20th century as the price-fixing and market-controlling factor of the diamond industry. In various forms, a diamond syndicate composed of different persons or firms functioned in this capacity, until the crisis of 1929 demanded a marketing organization of a more rigid kind with greater capital. Although the term syndicate is no longer meaningful, it is often applied to De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd., because it holds a controlling interesting in a number of diamond-mining companies and in companies that have buying contract with independent producers, including the Diamond Corporation, Ltd.

Diamond Trading Co., Ltd

The organization that markets to the diamond industry the gem diamond it buys from the Diamond Purchasing & Trading Co., Ltd.

Dispersion

The property of transparent gemstones to separate white light into the colours of the spectrum. The interval between such colours varies in different gemstones, but in practice it is measure by the difference between the refractive indices of the red and blue rays. Diamond has the highest dispersion (.044) of any natural, colourless gem.

Dodecahedron

One of the seven basic forms in the highest symmetry (“hexoctahedral”) class of the cubic, or isometric, crystal system. It has 12 rhomb-shaped faces, each of which intersects two of the crystallographic axes and is parallel to the third. This form is uncommon in gem diamonds.

Draw colour

When several diamonds are placed together in a diamond paper and light passes through one stone after another, each stone tends to intensify the slight colour of the other. The group of stones is then said to draw colour. The term is also used to describe an individual diamond with a visible body colour.

Durability

The durability of a gem depends both on its hardness and “toughness.” It may be quite tough but easily scratched, or it may be exceedingly hard but lack toughness because of easy cleavage. Diamond is highest on the scale of hardness and, despite it rather easily developed octahedral cleavage, it is among the toughest of gemstones.

Emerald Cut

A form of “step cutting.” It usually is rectangular but sometimes is square, in which case it is known as a square emerald cut. It has rows (steps) of elongated facets on the crown and pavilion, parallel to the girdle, with sets on each of four sides and at the corners. The number of rows, or steps, may vary, although the usual number is three on the crown and three on the pavilion. The emerald cut is seldom used for diamonds in the intermediate colour grades, since it tends to emphasize colour. It is excellent, however, for colourless stones and when it is desirable to emphasize the colour of fancy colours.

European Cut

Obsolete. A diamond brilliant whose proportions were worked out mathematically for light falling perpendicularly on the crown. It was never adopted as a common form of cutting. The angle of the pavilion facets to the girdle is 38° 40’; of the bezel facets, 41° 6’. The table is 56% of the girdle diameter; crown depth, 19%; and pavilion depth, 40%. It is not to be confused with the old European cut.

Eye Clean

A term used to imply that no internal flaws are visible to the unaided eye of a qualified diamond-clarity grader. It is prohibited by the American Gem Society for use by its members. It is also prohibited by the Federal Trade Commission, unless the stone meets the Commission’s definition of the term perfect.

Fuzzy Girdle or Bearded Girdle

If a diamond is rounded up too quickly in the fashioning process, the surface of the girdle will lack the smoothness and waxy luster of a finely turned girdle. Consequently, numerous minute, hairline fractures extend a short distance into the stone. A girdle with this appearance is referred to as being “bearded” or “fuzzy.”

Face

(a) A term used in brillianteering for the entire group of facets that can be placed won a diamond without reposition it in the dop; vis., two star facets and four upper-break facets or four lower-break facets. (b) In crystallography, a natural, plane surface on a crystal.

Facet

A plane, polished surface on a diamond or other gemstone.

Faceting

The operation of placing facets on a diamond or other gem.

Fancy Cut

Any style of diamond cutting other than the round brilliant or single cut. Fancy cuts include the marquise, emerald cut, heart shape, pear shape, keystone, half moon, kite, triangle, and many others. Also called the “fancy-shaped” diamond or “modern cut.”

Fancy Diamond

Any diamond with a natural body colour strong enough to be attractive, rather than off colour. Reddish (the pure red of ruby is extremely rare), blue and green are very rare; orange and violet, rare; strong yellow, yellowish-green brown and black stones are more common.

Feather

When the plane of cleavage or fracture in a diamond is viewed at right angle to it, the appearance is often reminiscent of a feather. Thus, cleavage and fractures are often called “feathers.”

Fire

Flashes of different spectrum colours seen in diamonds and other gemstones as the result of dispersion.

Fisheye

A diamond whose pavilion is exceedingly shallow, producing a glassy appearance and a noticeable dearth of brilliancy.

Fissure

An elongated cavity in a diamond’s surface. It may or may not have occurred along the line where a cleavage reached the surface.

Flat Stone

A diamond brilliant with a very thin crown and pavilion.

Flaw

Any external or internal imperfection on a fashioned diamond; e.g., a feather, fissure, carbon spot, knot, etc. Some diamond men limit its use to internal faults only, using the term blemish for surface faults. The terms “flaw” and ”imperfection” are usually used interchangeably.

Flawless

The recommended term for a diamond without external or internal flaws or blemishes of any description when viewed by a trained eye under efficient illumination and under a corrected magnifier of not less than ten power; binocular magnification under dark-field illumination is preferred. The American Gem Society advocates the use of the term “flawless” by its members, while at the same time denying them the use of the term perfect. The Federal Trade Commission permits the use of the term “flawless,” but only if a stone conforms to its definition of the word perfect, without reference to make or colour.

Fl or Flawless

The recommended term for a diamond without external or internal flaws or blemishes of any description when viewed by a trained eye under efficient illumination and under a corrected magnifier of not less than ten power; binocular magnification under dark-field illumination is preferred. The American Gem Society advocates the use of the term “flawless” by its members, while at the same time denying them the use of the term perfect. The Federal Trade Commission permits the use of the term “flawless,” but only if a stone conforms to its definition of the word perfect, without reference to make or colour.

Fluorescence

The property of changing the wavelength of radiation to one in the visible range; for example, the visible wavelengths emitted by a material when excited by invisible radiation (such as X-rays, ultraviolet rays or cathode rays), as well as by certain visible wavelengths. It is exhibited by ruby, kunzite, yellow-green synthetic spinel, some diamonds and opals, and many other substances. Read more about fluorescence

Four C’s

The Four Cs is a phrase coined for advertising purposes that sums up the numerous factors affecting diamond value into four categories: colour, clarity, cutting, and carat weight.

Fracture

The breaking or chipping of a stone along a direction other than a cleavage plane.

Full-cut Brilliant

A brilliant-cut diamond or coloured stone with the usual total of 58 facets, consisting of 32 facets and a table above the girdle and 24 facets and culet below.

Gemological Institute of America (GIA)

A non-profit educational institution that was established in 1931 to serve the diamond industry and the public. The GIA’s grading scales have become the standard for diamond grading all over the world.

Gemmologist

One who has successfully completed recognized courses of study in gem identification, grading and pricing, as well as diamond grading and appraising; e.g., a “Gemmologist” or “Graduate Gemmologist” of the Gemological Institute of America

Girdle

The outer edge, or periphery, of a fashioned stone; the portion that is usually grasped by the setting or mounting; the dividing line between the crown and pavilion.

Girdle Facets

The 32 triangular facets that adjoin the girdle of a round brilliant-cut stone, 16 above and 16 below. Also called upper- and lower-girdle facets, upper- and lower-break facets, top- and bottom-half facets, skew facets or cross facets. Facets are sometimes placed directly on the girdle, in which case the stone is usually said to have a “faceted girdle,” to have a polished girdle or to be “girdle faceted.”

Girdle Reflection

When a diamond has a pavilion that is too shallow or flat, the girdle is seen reflected in the table.

Girdle Thickness

The width of the outer edge, or periphery, of a fashioned diamond or other gemstone. In a rounded style of cutting, such as the round brilliant or pear shape, the girdle edges, when viewed parallel to the girdle plane, consist of undulating lines caused by the intersection of the flat facets with the curved girdle. In such stones, the girdle thickness is measured across the midpoints of opposing upper- and lower-girdle facets.

Girdling

The step in the fashioning process of a diamond in which the stone is given a circular shape. The stone is held in a lathe, or cutting machine, and another diamond, called a sharp, which is affixed to the end of a long dop that is supported by the hands and under an armpit, is brought to bear against the stone behind shaped. An older method consisted merely of rubbing two diamonds together until the desired shape was obtained.

Hardness

The resistance of a substance to being scratched. Diamond is 10 in Mohs’ scale of hardness. Tests prove that diamond is approximately five to 150 times as hard as corundum, the next hardest mineral. The variation stems not only from the differences obtained from different hardness-testing methods, but also from the fact that various directions on a given stone’s surface show a considerable variation in resistance to abrasion. The hardest direction in diamond is parallel to the faces of the octahedron.

Heart-shaped Brilliant

A heart-shaped variation of the brilliant cut that is related to the “pear shape.” The round end is flattened and indented and the girdle widened until the length is approximately equal to the width.

Imperfect

The diamond imperfection grade at the low end of the “flawless-to-imperfect” (or “perfect-to-imperfect”) scale. An imperfect diamond contains imperfections that are visible face up to the unaided eye or that have a serious effect on the stone’s durability. The Gemological Institute of America recognizes two grades in the imperfect category.

Imperfection

A general term used to refer to any external blemish or internal inclusion or flaw on or in a fashioned diamond; e.g., a feather, carbon spot, knot, fissure, scratch, natural, etc. The term “flaw” and “imperfection” are usually used interchangeably.

Inclusion

A general term used to refer to any external blemish or internal inclusion or flaw on or in a fashioned diamond; e.g., a feather, carbon spot, knot, fissure, scratch, natural, etc. The term “flaw” and “imperfection” are usually used interchangeably.

Knife-edge Girdle

A girdle of a diamond that is so thin that it can be likened to the edge of a sharp knife. Since such a girdle is easily chipped, an ideal girdle has an appreciable thickness.

Knot

(a) An included diamond crystal that is encountered at the surface of a stone during the polishing operation, and that stands out as a small, raised surface on the finished stone. (b) An included diamond crystal that is encountered by the saw blade. Since the softest directions available for sawing and polishing are used by the cutter, and since included crystals have a different orientation from the surrounding mass, they almost always have a harder direction than that being exploited. (c) A small section of a twinned stone in which the grain differs from the main mass.

Light Yellow

A trade term used by some dealers to cover a wide range of colours in the low end of the diamond colour-grading scale. Stones in the broad classification show a very obvious yellow tint to the unaided eye.

Lot

(a) A group of rough diamonds offered for sale by the Diamond Trading Co. to firms invited to view its “sights.” A lot usually includes a wide variety of material. (b) Also applied by diamond merchants to their regroupings of these diamonds according to colour, make, and comparative freedom from imperfections after fashioning.

Lustre

The appearance of the surface of a polished diamond under reflected light.

Main Facets

The large crown and pavilion facets of a brilliant-cut diamond or other gemstone; on step-cut stones, the center row of facets on the pavilion.

Melee

From the French, meaning confused mass. (a) In the trade, the term is used collectively to describe small (up to .20 or .25 carat) brilliant-cut diamonds, whether full cut or not. Usually, all small gemstones used to embellish mountings, setting or larger gems are called “melee.” (b) A grading term used at the mines for unbroken diamond crystals (round, octahedral or slightly distorted octahedral) of less than one carat that do not pass through a .070 sieve.

Natural

A trade term for a portion of the original surface of a rough diamond that is usually left by the cutter on a fashioned stone, usually on the girdle. The excuse for leaving naturals is to show that there was no unnecessary weight loss in the rounding-up and polishing operations. The American Gem Society considers that naturals that do not flatten the girdle outline nor extend beyond the width of a medium girdle should not be regarded as blemishes.

Nick

A minor chip out of the surface of a fashioned diamond, usually caused by a light blow. It is more likely to be found along the girdle than elsewhere, although it may also appear on a facet junction or on a face.

Off-centre Culet

A culet that, due to differences in the angles of the opposite pavilion facets, is off centre with respect to the girdle outline. It usually results from repairing or repolishing a portion of the pavilion or from attempting to retain maximum weight from a distorted piece of rough.

Old-european Cut

A term applied to the earliest form of circular-girdled full brilliant. It is characterized by a very small table, a heavy crown, and usually great overall depth. Improperly referred to as an old-mine cut.

Old-mine Cut

(a) An early form of brilliant cut with a nearly square girdle outline. (b) Incorrectly applied to a somewhat more modern style of brilliant cut that also has a much higher crown and smaller table than the modern brilliant cut, but whose girdle outline is circular or approximately circular—a style of cutting that is more properly called a “lumpy stone” or and old-European cut.

Open Table

A term that is sometimes used to refer to the table on a spread, or swindled, diamond. To some, any table diameter of 60% or more of the girdle diameter is open; to others, open means 65% or more.

Oval Cut

A brilliant style of cutting in which the girdle outline is elliptical; i.e., a rounded oblong. Also called the “oval brilliant cut.

Perfect

The Federal Trade Commission considers it an unfair trade practice to use the word “perfect,” or any other word, expression or representation of similar import, as descriptive of any diamond that discloses flaws, cracks, carbon spots, clouds or other blemishes or imperfections of any kind, including inferior colour and make, when examined by a trained eye under a corrected diamond eye loupe or other equal magnifier of not less than ten power. Because of flagrant misuse of this term in the sale of diamonds that do not fit this description, many jewellers avoid its use. The American Gem Society also prohibits its use by its members.

Pink Diamond

A term often used loosely in the trade to describe any pink diamond of pale reddish, purplish-red, purplish or violetish hue. Diamonds of colours other than pale reddish are sometimes described as rose pink, rose coloured, peach blossom, heliotrope and similar terms. Such a diamond is called a “fancy.”

Pipe

The common name for a vertical, columnar mass of rock that cooled and solidified in the neck of a volcano. When these rock masses consist of kimberlite, they often contain diamonds. They occur in Africa, India, Russia, Arkansas and elsewhere.

Point

In weighing diamonds, one-hundredth part of a carat, each hundredth being called a point; e.g., 32 hundredths (.32) of a carat is said to be a 32-point diamond, or a thirty-two pointer. 100 points = 1 carat, 141+ carats = 1 ounce, and about 2268 carats = 1 pound.

Polish

The relative smoothness of a surface, or the degree to which the finish of the surface approaches optical perfection. A well-polished diamond shows no wheel marks or burn marks under 10X.

Polished Girdle

A girdle that has been lapped to yield either a lustrous, curved surface or a series of flat, polished surfaces (facets).

Polishing

The reduction of a rough or irregular surface to a smooth flatness or curvature. In diamond fashioning, it is used to include both lapping, or blocking, and brillianteering, as well as the production of any facet; the final operation in fashioning a diamond, usually done with diamond powder on a horizontal disc, or lap, against which the diamond is held in a dop.

Polishing Mark

A groove or a scratch left by the lap on a facet of a diamond or other gemstone. Parallel grooves left on a diamond’s facet during its initial placement should be removed during the final polishing, so that they are not visible under 10X; otherwise, they are considered defect of finish.

Proportions

A term that meant originally the distribution of the mass of a fashioned diamond above and below the girdle. Use by diamond men has broadened its meaning to include the major factors that determine cutting quality; i.e., total depth as a percentage of the girdle diameter, table diameter, girdle thickness, facet angles, symmetry, and even details of finish.

Piqué

A French word, meaning ‘pricked’. A European clarity grading system abbreviated to P1, P2 and P3, and is applied to diamonds with inclusions visible to the naked eye. The GIA clarity grade equivalents are I1, I2 and I3.

Round Cut or Brilliant Cut

The most common style of cutting for both diamonds and coloured stones. The standard round brilliant consists of a total of 58 facets: 1 table, 8 bezel facets, 8 star facets and 16 upper-girdle facets on the crown; and 8 pavilion facets, 16 lower-girdle facets, and usually a culet on the pavilion, or base. Although the brilliant style was devised to give maximum brilliancy and fire, many stones cut in this fashion do not have ideal proportions or angles for that purpose. Modifications of the round brilliant include such fancy shapes as the marquise, half moon, pear shape and many others.

Rounding Up or Girdling

The step in the fashioning process of a diamond in which the stone is given a circular shape. The stone is held in a lathe, or cutting machine, and another diamond, called a sharp, which is affixed to the end of a long dop that is supported by the hands and under an armpit, is brought to bear against the stone behind shaped. An older method consisted merely of rubbing two diamonds together until the desired shape was obtained.

Red Diamond

The rarest of all fancy-coloured diamonds. However, the term is often used to mean red-brown or rose-coloured stones. Diamonds of an intense red colour approaching that of ruby are excessively rare.

Refraction

The bending of light rays. The deflection from a straight path suffered by a ray of light as it passes obliquely from a medium of one optical density to a medium of a different optical density, as from air into water or from air into a gemstone. The degree of bending is related to the change in velocity of light and the angel at which the light impinges.

Rose Cut

An early style of cutting that is thought to have originated in India and to have been brought to Europe by the Venetians. In its most usual form, it has a flat, unfaceted base and a somewhat dome-shaped top that is covered with a varied number of triangular facets and terminates in a point. The rose cut is now used primarily on small diamonds.

Rough Girdle

If a diamond is rounded up too quickly in the fashioning process, the surface of the girdle, instead of having the smoothness and waxy luster of a finely turned girdle, will be rough or granular. This condition may also be accompanied by numerous hair like fractures extending into the stone, in which case the term bearded (or fuzzy) girdle is applied.

Scintillation

The display of reflections from the polished facets of a gemstone seen by the observer when either the illuminant, the gemstone or the observer is in motion—a flashing or twinkling of light from the facets.

Scratches

Narrow, shallow, elongated, rough-edged depressions on the surface of a fashioned diamond, usually appearing as faint white lines under magnification.

Single Cut

A simple form of cutting that has a circular girdle, a table, eight bezel facets, eight pavilion facets and sometimes a culet. It is used mostly for small diamond melee.

Slightly Imperfect

A grade of relative imperfection in a diamond. It signifies a more flawed condition than very slightly imperfect but less than imperfect. In general, stones are called “slightly imperfect” only if the flaws they contain are not visible face up to the unaided eye of a trained observer.

Slightly Yellow

A diamond colour grade that is used by some dealers for a stone showing an obvious yellow tint to the unaided eye.

Solitaire

A term used to refer to a ring containing a single diamond or other gem.

Spread Stone

A term that is used frequently in the diamond trade to refer to a stone that has been cut with a large table and a thin crown, to retain greater weight from the two sawn pieces of an octahedron than is possible by using ideal proportions. In a strict sense, any increase in table diameter over the ideal 53% constitutes spreading; however, it is a general trade practice to apply the term only to those stones with tables that measure in excess of about 60%.

Square Emerald Cut

A form of step cutting with a square girdle outline but modified by corner facets.

Symmetry

The exactness of placement and shaping of opposed facets and other portions of a diamond. Symmetry is judged on the basis of the degree to which these opposed features yield exact mirror images.

Table

The large facet that caps the crown of a faceted gemstone. In the standard round brilliant, it is octagonal in shape and is bounded by eight star facets.

Table Size

The size of the table of a fashioned diamond, expressed as a percentage of the stone’s narrow-girdle diameter, is a dimension used in proportion analysis. On a round brilliant, it is measured from corner to opposite corner, rather than from flat side to flat side.

Top Cape

An early trade term still used by some dealers to designate the diamond colour grade between crystal and cape in the river-to-light-yellow system. Small stones in this range will face up colourless when mounted, but larger stones will have a yellow tint.

Trigon

A triangular indentation occurring as a growth mark on diamond octahedron faces. The sides of the trigon are reversed with respect to the face on which it occurs.

Twinning Lines

Visible line on or with in a fashioned diamond, caused by twinning in the crystal. Since the orientation on one side of a twin plane differs from that on the other, the best polishing direction for one is a poorer one for the other; as a result, a line remains at the surface. Also called knot lines.

Vs or Very Slightly Imperfect

A diamond-imperfection grade between very, very slightly imperfect and slightly imperfect. As used ethically, this grade includes stones that are lightly flawed, with flaws easily located but not obvious under 10X.

Very, Very Slightly Imperfect

The imperfection grade that is immediately below flawless, or perfect. Ethically employed, this term is applied to stones with minute surface or internal blemishes that are difficult to locate under 10X by a trained eye.

Vvs or Very, Very Slightly Imperfect

The imperfection grade that is immediately below flawless, or perfect. Ethically employed, this term is applied to stones with minute surface or internal blemishes that are difficult to locate under 10X by a trained eye