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Beyond the Round: Modern Diamond Cuts

Antwerp Twins cut diamond

The traditional round cut diamond, created in 1919 by a mathematician named Marcel Tolkowsky, might be the golden standard when it comes to engagement rings today—according to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), they make up 70 percent of all diamond sales—but that hasn’t stopped some of the world’s top jewelers from inventing a few new cuts in the quest to make a diamond look even more brilliant.

According to GIA gemologist Tom Moses, computer modeling techniques have made it easier than ever to create innovative new “boutique” cuts. “Rather than cutting the real diamond,” he says, “through retracing and other methods you can have these 3D models and project what the finished diamond or gem would look like.”

The last decade in particular has seen an explosion of new cutting styles, says Moses, some with a lot more facets than the 58 in the round stone. (If you’re curious about how a diamond is actually cut, check out this clip from Nature’s “Diamonds” series.)

For example, the “Eternal” cut diamond, sold through one of Britain’s oldest jewelers, Garrard & Company, has 81 facets and a distinctive “petal” design in the center of the gem. It was developed by Marcel Tolkowsky’s great nephew, Sir Gabi Tolkowsky, who later went on to create the “Gabrielle” diamond that boasts an incredible 105 facets.

Other cuts have moved away from the round cut completely in their attempt to create an equally dazzling diamond. There are diamonds such as Amsterdam-based jeweler’s Royal Asscher cut, a squarish shape that’s an update of the original 1902 Asscher Cut, extremely popular in Art Deco jewelry at the time.

Then there’s the work of Bernd Munsteiner, known as the “Picasso of Gems” for his amazingly beautiful, and unconventional, “fantasy cuts.” Approaching the rough gem like a sculptor might approach a slab of stone, Munsteiner is known for his bold techniques. He might turn flaws (known as “inclusions”) into spectacular design elements, or leave certain parts of a gem unpolished for artistic effect.

What do you think? Do more facets or an unusual cut equal a better diamond? Or do you like the traditional round best?

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