Brilliant Vs Step Cut Diamonds

When it comes to custom-designed jewelry, there are many different options to choose from. One of the most important decisions you’ll make is deciding between a brilliant-cut diamond and a step-cut diamond. Both of these primary cuts can look stunning when set in an engagement ring, but they have different characteristics and sparkle that may be more or less appealing to you. Here, we will discuss the pros and cons of each type of diamond so that you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you!

Sketch of a round brilliant cut diamond

Brilliant Cut Diamond - What you need to know

Brilliant-cut diamonds are the most popular type of diamond used in jewelry, especially engagement rings. This is because they provide the most sparkle and fire of all the diamond cuts. If you’re looking for a diamond that will stand out, then the brilliant-cut is the way to go. They have come in several diamond shapes and can have 58 facets (or small faces), 57 facets when there isn’t a culet, or 74 facets in the case of the Royal Asscher Round or Oval Brilliant, that reflect light brilliantly. This gives them their characteristic “sparkle.” A brilliant-cut diamond can come in quite a few shapes (Round, Oval, Cushion, Marquise, Pear, etc.) all available in brilliant cuts.

Old European vs Modern Brilliant

There are also Old European and modern brilliant. While Old European cuts draw light and the eye, the modern brilliant cut was designed to maximize light return (brilliance) and dispersion (fire). Because of this, old European cuts have a warmer charm to them, while the modern brilliant cut gives off a high degree of fiery white light, lending it its namesake brilliance factor. The primary visual differences are the quality of light the diamond reflects and its general brilliance. If you rock or tilt an old European cut, you will notice a different pattern of light and dark in the stone than you’ll see in a contemporary round shape brilliant.

Old European - More Unique Than a Machine Cut Diamond

Old European cut stones were often hand-cut, so they bear a greater degree of uniqueness than a modern round brilliant. The shape and placement of the facets can vary greatly from stone to stone, while the technical specifications of modern diamond cutting mean a modern round brilliant stone will have less variance on this front. Old European diamond cutters also generally used large culet to create the desired light output and sparkle. According to specifications from the GIA, “trade professionals characterize old European cuts as having small table facets, heavy crowns, and overall “deep” or “steep” proportions.” GIA will designate a round diamond as an old European cut as long as three of four of the following criteria are met. The diamond has a high crown angle greater than or equal to 40 degrees, a table size less than or equal to 53% of the crystal’s diameter, a lower half facet length less than or equal to 60% of the total crystal, or a culet size that is slightly larger than average.

Modern Brilliant - A Diamond Cut Above The Past

Another thing to consider is that because a brilliant-cut diamond has more facets, it can hide flaws more easily. So, if you’re looking for a diamond with fewer imperfections, a brilliant-cut diamond may be a good choice. A modern brilliant-cut diamond generally has excellent symmetry creating the perfect shape and sparkle with their numerous facets making them excellent as either a center stone or as side stones on an engagement ring.

Modified-Brilliant Faceting Style

Oval cut, marquise-cut, and pear-shaped diamonds are some of the most common modified brilliant cuts but can also come in heart-shaped, trillion cut, and half-moon diamonds among others. These diamonds also come under many different names. For instance, a marquise modified-brilliant cut is also called a navette which is french for “tiny boat”, and pear-shaped modified-brilliant are known as “drop cuts” due to their teardrop shape. It’s important to know the different names of these stones so that you won’t be “up sold” to a different name that means the same thing. With laser diamond cutting technology changing the market almost daily, your options for modified-brilliant shapes are practically limitless. Butterflies, dolphins, stars, and even horses are just a few of the new and interesting shapes on the market today with Lab-Grown Diamonds putting the possibilities into more people’s hands. Maybe someday we’ll even be cutting portraits into diamonds. With any modified-brilliant cut diamond that has sharp points, care is needed to avoid accidental breakage and insurance on these stones is highly recommended.

Is It Really a Princess?

Some diamond sellers and jewelry retail stores are classifying princess cut diamonds as “square modified brilliants“. While it’s true that princess cuts are square-shaped and have the multi-facets sparkle of a brilliant-cut, they are technically a mixed-cut shape. “Square modified brilliant” could also mean radiant cut, certain cushion cuts, and other diamond shapes as well.

Step Cut Diamonds - Just the Facets

Step-cut diamonds, on the other hand, have a rectangular or square shape and fewer facets that are parallel lines or in other words, step cuts that create rectangular facets. It’s worth noting that this makes them appear less sparkly than brilliant-cut diamonds, but some people prefer this look. They also tend to be larger than brilliant-cut diamonds and are known for their unique symmetry and clean lines. Three categories of diamond shapes fall into this cut: The Emerald cut, the Asscher cut, and the Baguette cut. Diamonds with step cuts also tend to be less expensive in today’s market because they require less labor to cut and polish. If you are looking for a larger diamond that is elegant and understated, you will be drawn to emerald-cut diamond engagement rings.

A World of Two Cuts

No matter which style of cut you pick, a diamond’s cut has various cut grades that depend on the quality of workmanship and are directly related to the raw diamond used. The higher cut grade brilliant diamonds reflect as much light as possible and sparkle with radiance when used as a center stone or accent stones in a diamond engagement ring.

Can't Go Wrong

So, which type of diamond is right for you? It depends on your personal style. If you want a sparkling diamond that is sure to capture attention, go with a brilliant cut. But if you prefer a more understated look or want to save money, choose a step cut. Whichever type of well-cut diamond you choose, a custom-designed engagement ring from Finer Custom Jewelry will help you create something truly unique and special that you’ll treasure for years to come!

Help is here when you need it!

If you are still undecided, whenever you’re ready to start shopping for custom-designed engagement rings, come look at our selection and options at Finer Custom Jewelry. We can help you find the right diamond cut and diamond shape and walk you through the design process. That way, you can get the perfect diamond for you, no matter what type of cut or shape you desire. If you’re interested in a custom-designed engagement ring, contact Finer Custom Jewelry today. We would be happy to discuss your options and help you find the perfect piece for your needs. Contact us via our web form or give us a call at (877) 507-1557 to get started.

Thank you for reading!