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Even though each and every diamond is unique, they all share certain characteristics. A diamond's basic structure or 'anatomy' has a direct effect on its proportions, brilliance, dispersion, and scintillation. When it comes to inspecting any diamond, the three most important components are diameter, table and depth. You will also be able to divide any diamond into two key sections - the Crown and the Pavilion. It helps to have a basic understanding of each component and section, as this means you'll be able to find your perfect diamond. However, this knowledge should not supersede the importance of or be confused with cut grade.

The Basic Anatomy of a Cut/Polished Diamond

  • Table - The largest facet of a diamond or gemstone. It is typically the surface area at the very top of the stone.
  • Diameter - The width of the diamond at the widest point of the girdle (in fancy cut diamonds, the smallest diameter is used).
  • Crown - The crown is the top part of the diamond between the girdle and the table.
  • Pavilion - The pavilion is the bottom part of the diamond between the girdle and the culet. A pavilion that is too shallow or deep will result in light escaping from the side or bottom of the stone, as opposed to the desired finish of light reflecting out from the top of the stone.
  • Girdle - The girdle is at the intersection of the crown and pavilion which defines the perimeter of the diamond. Although a minor consideration, it's often recommended to avoid girdles graded either extremely thin, which makes diamonds more susceptible to chipping, or extremely thick, which puts too much weight in the middle of the diamond, as this will make it look smaller than diamonds of similar weight.
  • Culet - The culet is a tiny flat facet that diamond cutters sometimes add at the bottom of a diamond's pavilion. Its purpose is to protect the tip of the pavilion from being chipped or damaged. This is despite the fact a piece of jewellery's setting will generally provide the pavilion with sufficient protection from impact or wear. In the early part of the century, large culets were common in diamonds, although they are rarely seen today. Most modern shapes have either a very small culet or no culet at all.
  • Depth - The height of a diamond from the culet to the table. The depth is measured in millimetres.

While these are the main structural features of a diamond, you may see the following terminology also used when referring to a gemstone:

  • Facet - The smooth, flat faces on the surface of a diamond, which allow light to both enter and reflect off its surface at different angles. This is what creates the play of colour and light for which diamonds are famous.
  • Crown angle - The angle at which a diamond's bezel facets intersect the girdle plane. The sloping of the facets surrounding the table is what creates the diamond's dispersion or fire. This is because white light enters at different angles, breaking up into spectral hues of beautiful colour. The crown angle also helps to enhance the brilliance of a diamond.
  • Table percentage - The value which represents how the diameter of the table facet compares to the diameter of the entire diamond. For example, a diamond with a 60% table has a table which is 60% as wide as the diamond's outline. For a round diamond, table percentage is calculated by dividing the diameter of the table, which is measured in millimetres, by the average girdle diameter. With fancy shape diamonds, table percentage is calculated by dividing the width of the table, at the widest part of the diamond, by the millimetre width of the entire stone.
  • Symmetry - This refers to variations in a diamond's symmetry, such as misalignment of facets or facets that fail to point correctly to the girdle. Symmetry is an indicator of the quality of a diamond's cut, which can be graded as Ideal, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair or Poor.
  • Fluorescence - If a diamond is naturally fluorescent, it will emit a soft coloured glow when held under ultraviolet light. This is a unique quality that naturally occurs in only a number of gems and minerals.


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