Understanding Fancy Cut Diamonds: Why They Lack a Cut Grade on Certificates and How to Find a Superbly Cut Gem

In this blog, we'll explore the CUT of fancy-cut diamonds. It's important to note that finding a beautiful fancy cut (regardless of shape) is incredibly challenging. Unlike round diamonds, there are no standardized criteria to define the cut grade for fancy cuts. Even the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) does not assign a cut grade to fancy cuts.

What Exactly Are Fancy Cut Diamonds?

Fancy cut diamonds are all diamonds not cut into the traditional round brilliant shape. These cuts vary significantly in shape and include designs like oval, emerald, pear, marquise, cushion, and radiant, among others. Each cut features unique characteristics and facet arrangements that affect the diamond's optical performance—how it reflects light and sparkles. Unlike the standardized and optimized round brilliant cut, fancy cuts offer a variety of shapes that cater to different aesthetic preferences and styles. They allow for personal expression in jewelry design and often appear larger per carat than their round counterparts due to their elongated or spread-out shapes. Fancy cuts are especially popular for engagement rings and fashionable pieces where uniqueness and individuality are desired.

Why Do Fancy Cuts Lack a Cut Grade from GIA and Others?

Since its inception, GIA has focused on round diamonds, where it has been relatively straightforward to establish standards for an excellent or ideal cut compared to cuts like an emerald cut. Many factors influence a diamond's beauty, such as fire and brilliance, primarily depending on the skill of the diamond cutter. Here are various examples of fancy cuts. Each has "Excellent" symmetry and polish noted on the certificate. However, this "Excellent" rating does not determine whether the fancy cut will indeed be beautiful!

Unlike round brilliant cut diamonds, which have standardized values, the quality of fancy cuts is unique. The outcome depends on skills mastered only by expert diamond cutters.

Comparison of Oval Cuts: "Normal" Excellent Cut versus Designer Diamonds Ideal Cut

Especially with an oval cut, there's a significant risk of a prominent black bow-tie effect. It's crucial to minimize this as much as possible. You can find more information about the bow-tie effect in fancy cut diamonds here.

Comparison of Radiant Cuts: "Normal" Excellent Cut versus Designer Diamonds Ideal Cut

Comparison of Cushion Cuts: "Normal" Excellent Cut versus Designer Diamonds Ideal Cut

Comparison of Emerald Cuts: "Normal" Excellent Cut versus Designer Diamonds Ideal Cut


Comparison of Navette (Marquise) Cuts: "Normal" Excellent Cut versus Designer Diamonds Ideal Cut

Comparison of Asscher Cuts: "Normal" Excellent Cut versus Designer Diamonds Ideal Cut

Comparison of Pear Cuts: "Normal" Excellent Cut versus Designer Diamonds Ideal Cut

Comparison of Princess Cuts: "Normal" Excellent Cut versus Designer Diamonds Ideal Cut

Are Certificates Indicating Cut Grades for Fancy Cuts Reliable?

Whether it's a certificate from GIA, HRD, IGI, EGL, AGS, etc., they all share the same issue: they only provide basic data, which does not describe the brilliance or fire of the diamond. Similar to a car, the color, horsepower, and interior features are mentioned, but these don't indicate whether the car—or the diamond—will be beautiful, have fire and sparkle, or might be milky, for instance.

Both cars are "Blue, 200hp, and leather interior" on paper.
Even though the cars have the same specifications, many issues only become apparent upon closer inspection.
The same applies to diamonds! Similar data on the certificate does NOT guarantee that the diamonds will be alike or beautiful!

Learn more about why a GIA certificate and excellent cut are no guarantees of a diamond's beauty here.

Fancy Cut Diamonds: Expert Selection Only

Since the same data on diamonds does not imply equal quality, it is extremely difficult to find a beautiful diamond. Many online retailers often show no photos, or claim that these are just "sample photos," to hide poor quality.

Online retailers are often just selling a piece of paper instead of a beautiful diamond! Lacking expertise, they mislead potential customers with certificates into a false sense of security. 
Online retailers often do not sell beautiful diamonds

Also, the same data on a certificate can mean completely different diamonds

These two diamonds are completely the same on the certificate. Here too, great caution is needed when buying based on these specifications.

Does the Aspect Ratio (Length-to-Width Ratio) Matter?

The aspect ratio might make a difference, not so much in terms of the quality of the cut but more because of the appearance. No matter the aspect ratio, a diamond can be well or poorly cut. An oval diamond might appear very "bulgy" or even almost round while still having an ideal cut. It's therefore crucial to find an expert like a GIA-Graduate Gemologist who can evaluate all the optimal data of a diamond, and, of course, assess its beauty in terms of fire and brilliance.

Only the Most Beautiful Diamonds for Our Customers!

At Designer Diamonds in Munich and Augsburg, our staff and our GIA-Graduate Gemologist ensure that you will receive a suitable diamond with a perfect ideal cut. Our expert team has the ability to recognize these features and understand and evaluate the subtleties of diamond cutting that might not be obvious. Our consultants are trained to identify the special ideal cuts (since this is an unlisted feature in diamond evaluation). Our team searches daily for the brightest and most beautiful diamonds for our customers.

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