A diamond’s proportions and their relationship to each other primarily influence the GIA cut grade assigned.  Grading the cut of a polished diamond begins with accessing brightness, fire, and scintillation.  Every proportion of a round brilliant contributes to its interaction with light.  If one proportion is “off” even slightly, a diamond could receive a lower cut grade.  To understand cut grade it is important to know how proportions are evaluated and their relationships to one another.

Grading Proportions – Crown, Table, and Girdle

(Diamonds are always measured in millimeters)

Average Girdle Diameter

Determining average girdle diameter is the first step in evaluating proportions and is the starting point for comparing the diamond’s other proportions.  To determine average girdle diameter, measurements are taken from one edge of the girdle to the other across the diamond in several locations.   Since no diamond is completely round it is necessary to take several measurements.

Total Depth Percentage

Total depth percentage determines why a diamond is underweight or overweight in relation to its diameter.   After obtaining the diamond’s average girdle diameter the total depth percentage can be calculated.  To determine total depth percentage the diamond is measured from table to culet.

Table Facet and Table Percentage

The largest cut facet on a diamond is the table.   The table facet along with the other facets allows light to enter and exit a diamond.  The size of the table facet is an important factor when determining proportions.  Table size is stated as table percentage, which is a percentage of the diamond’s average girdle diameter.

Star Facet and Star Facet Length Percentage

Star facets extend from the edge of the table toward the girdle.  They are very important to consider when evaluating a diamond’s proportions in relation to the rest of the crown as they affect both brightness and fire.

Crown Angle and Crown Height Percentage

Crown angle and crown height percentage are the two crown proportions that affect the diamond’s appearance.   Crown angle is the angle formed by the bezel facets and the girdle plane while the crown angle height percentage is the distance from the girdle plane to the table expressed as a percentage of the average girdle diameter.

The Girdle

The Girdle of a diamond basically prevents damage and provides an “edge” for setting the stone.  A girdle can be bruted, polished, or faceted.  Girdles should be thick enough to prevent chipping, but not too thick where it adds extra weight to the diamond.  Thicker unpolished girdles can created a grayish reflection in the stone which can be unattractive and a girdle that is too thin can create durability problems as well as issues when setting.

Grading Proportions – Pavilion, Culet, and Finish

The Pavilion

The pavilion facets take the light that enters through the crown and reflect it back giving the diamond its brightness.  The pavilion also takes the light and breaks it up into spectral colors known as fire.

Pavilion dimensions are known as pavilion depth percentage and pavilion angle.   The pavilion depth percentage is the distance from the girdle plane to the culet expressed as a percentage of the average girdle diameter and pavilion angle is the angle formed by the pavilion mains and the girdle plane.

Pavilion Depth Percentage

Estimating pavilion depth percentage is done by looking at the reflections seen through the diamond’s table which is most commonly done by rocking the diamond back and forth.   The pavilion facets serve as a mirror reflecting an image to the table.  The reflection should look like a round shape centered on the culet under the table.  It can appear grayish or black in color.  The most common preferred pavilion depth percentage is 43.5%.  Diamonds with a deep depth percentage will appear dark in the center.  Diamonds with a shallow depth percentage will have a grayish ring shape under the table.

Pavilion Angle

Usually, the greater the pavilion depth percentage is the steeper the pavilion angle will be.  Pavilion angles that are very shallow (less than 37.4 degrees) or very steep (more than 44.0 degrees) will have negative effect on a diamond’s appearance.  Steep angles will create a dark area under the table while shallow angles will create an unpleasant reflection under the table.


The culet is a facet located on the bottom of a diamond parallel to the table and its purpose is to prevent chipping on loose diamonds.  The diamond’s culet should be just big enough to prevent chipping, but if it is too large it will appear as a black spot through the table.   Not all diamonds will have a culet.

To learn more about the grading proportions of a round brilliant, click here

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