The Diamond Pro

Indecisive About Fancy Shapes

The following is a real email conversation between The Diamond Pro and a reader just like you who contacted us.
Personal information is always removed. Learn from these posts, or contact us yourself to get free personalized help.

As an extension of your post from June 24 titled, “What Makes a Fancy Shape have a nice Cut?”….

Does a cushion cut fall under the same rule (70/70) as the radiant does?

Also, you say the rule is 60/60 for rounds, but I saw one website that recommended 63 table/69 depth, which falls into the realm of what you call “hideous”, so I’m a little confused on this point.

Further questions:

Which would give off more sparkle (i.e. look prettier/flashier in general), a radiant cut or a cushion cut? And how do they stack up in that respect with a round? According to this website: the round and cushion cuts have the same number of facets, whereas the radiant has less. Does that affect the brilliance and sparkle of the diamond?

Also, I prefer more of a 1:1 ratio for radiants and cushions, but how far could that ratio be stretched and still look square (as opposed to rectangular and elongated)?

I could probably come up with more questions, but I’ll leave it here for now.

Thanks for writing. I was eager to write you back immediately, but my wife is in classes tonight (she’s studying to be a tour guide), and so I’m on domestic detail (5 kids under 9!).

Lets get right to it:

Regarding idea cushion cut makes:  In this regard, cushion cuts really are more like round-sided fancies (marquise, oval, pear, etc). There’s a wide range of possibly nice parameters, but you really need to see the diamond as there are no definitely nice sets of parameters. There are so many more relevant measurements with these fancies that they make evaluating them by their parameters alone very very difficult. For example, should the corners be sharp and to a point, or have a significant amount of width? How exactly should the facets be polished on? Unlike round diamonds, facet patterns on fancy shapes aren’t universally standard. All of these things and their interaction make a big difference in how the stone will look. So to answer you, a 70/70 cushion could look nice, and a 60/60 cushion could look nice.

Regarding the site that said that 63 table/69 depth was ideal for rounds — either the website made a mistake, or perhaps you misunderstood them, or they have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. Could you please send me a link so I can have a look myself? If you sent a round diamond with a 69% depth to the GIA, it would either receive a cut grade of Fair or Poor — guaranteed. If you sent it to the AGS, it would probably receive a cut grade of 7-9 (Their scale is 0 to 9, 0 being ideal).

Regarding radiant vs. cushion: Let me start by explaining the difference between rounds and radiants. When you look into a well-made round diamond, it has a lot of sparkle, yes, but what you really see is a very geometric pattern of reflected light. I like to think of it as “organized sparkle.” When you look into a well-made radiant cut, though, there’s no order to the sparkle. It’s just a little block of fire. So, I suppose it really depends on what your preferences are, and your personality. Do you like things more organized and neat and tidy in your life? Then you might like rounds. Do you like things a little more messy, but desire to have a more “spicy” life? Then a radiant might be more for you. If you look at pics of radiants and rounds on, then you’ll get an idea of what I’m talking about. Or take a look at one on my site:

Compare that pic with pics of rounds and you’ll get an idea of what i’m talking about.

I started with a round and radiant to explain the stark differences. A well-made cushion cut will have a “less organized” reflection like radiants, but it will most likely have less overall fire compared with a radiant. If you look and look and find a really really nice one, that might not be the case — I’m speaking from experience of seeing thousands of each. So I’m speaking “on average.”

Number of facets can have an effect on sparkle and brilliance, but only on equivalent shapes. Between different shapes, it doesn’t have any meaning. What I mean is that a 99 facet round might have more brilliance than a 58 facet round (Although not necessarily). But comparing facet counts between different cuts is fruitless.

GIA Defines “Square” as a ratio between 1:1 and 1.05:1. So you could follow that too. I suppose you could stretch it a tiny bit more to about 1.06 or 1.07:1, but not more than that.

I hope this helps! I wish I could give you a tight list of parameters to buy the best cushion, but I wouldn’t be being honest with you if I did.

All the best, and thanks again for writing. Please don’t hesitate if you have any more questions. If you are in the market for a stone, then I’d be happy to help you track down the best possible deal.

Sorry! I misstyped. It was supposed to be 53/59 (my brain was elsewhere and malfunctioning, that’s all I can say – that and I’ve been reading too many different websites). But I was wondering why the difference (as far as the table goes)? The info came from here:

Also, there was another website that was saying that the girdle should be medium (preferably) or thin, but never thick, which I’m assuming extends to slightly thick as well. Any thoughts on this?

I am in the market for a diamond for my engagement ring. My fiancé wanted me to pick it out since he knows I’m picky in general. ::grins:: I finally settled on a band – a Tacori (2565) that I tried on in a store. I’m not sure what color or grade the band stones are though, but the band itself will probably be white gold since I want to put more of the funding emphasis into the stone. The band has variations where the stone is fairly high set (that’s the pic on the website) or the stone can be nestled in close to the band (which is what I want). I’m not sure which stone to use. Obviously the round is classic (and I do like it), but I also like the square shape, but not sharp like the princess. The cushion and radiant both have that more rounded square shape, and I find both cuts attractive. Also, I don’t know what diameter would fit best in that band

I’ve attached pictures of the band so you can see what I’m talking about, but here’s the website:

I like the idea of online – having the vast inventory – but ordering blind sort of scares me, even though most websites do have return policies. As far as your services go, I must admit, the idea does intrigue me, but I was wondering what sort of cost savings you could get versus searching online. Is there a general percentage, etc. Who do your stones come from (at what layer in the process)? Also, can the stone be returned if it doesn’t look right in person versus what I tell you I want? That was a big issue I had searching for a band. There were a lot of things I saw online and in pictures that I rejected in 2 seconds after putting it on my hand.

Nice fingers 😉

There are generally two classes of fine round brilliant cuts. The “ideal” cut and the “60/60” cut. Classic Tolkowsky Ideal cuts generally have a smaller table. Usually between 53 and 57. So the website you quoted must be talking about Ideal cuts. What’s strange though, about what that site recommends is that the depth isn’t correct. A Tolkowsky ideal should have a depth between 60 and 62.5. I personally prefer the “60/60” to the “Ideal” make as the larger table gives the stone a larger look face-up.

Slightly thick is fine. You don’t want a thick girdle because then the weight is concentrated in the diamonds depth and not its diameter. You only want to pay for the carats you can see! If the carats are buried in a fat girdle, that does nobody any good. But slightly thick really isn’t so thick. What’s more important is to keep your eye on the GIA “Cut Grade.” If it’s Excellent, or Very Good, your diamond will look fantastic.

If I had the choice between a smaller diamond that had a Cut graded “excellent” or a larger stone with a cut graded “very good,” I would ALWAYS choose the larger diamond. Here’s why: my position is always to put your money to work for you in the way that will give you the most benefit. The easiest thing to see and appreciate on a diamond is size. The net benefit in upgrading from “very good” to “excellent” is quite small. Under normal lighting conditions (and not jewelry store overhead halogen lighting) and with a typically smudged up diamond with gunk collected underneath the stone in the setting, there is no net benefit. So I prefer to take that money and spend it on buying a larger diamond which you will always be able to appreciate, even with a dirty diamond in normal light.

Regarding my services, I wouldn’t recommend it unless your budget was over $10,000. Otherwise, with the commission, I probably wouldn’t be able to save you enough to make it worth it. To answer your question, though, I would be buying from “sightholders” — these are the companies that receive the rough directly from the Diamond Trading Company (aka De Beers). They’re the first link in the supply chain. Typically, sites like Blue Nile and James Allen mark up their costs by about 18%. I would only be charging you a 10% commission, so the difference is about 8%. It’ll probably be more because if I”m there face-to-face with them, I could negotiate them down a few more percentage points. So about 10% on a $10,000 could be about $1000 savings.

If your budget is less, then I have another service. You give me all the details of what you’re looking for, and then I will search through’s inventory and find the best diamond I can for you. I prefer JamesAllen because of their photography. They have a great return policy, so there’s no risk. I earn a 6% commission from them for referring clients to them. Just to let you know, I have the same deal worked out with Blue Nile, but I prefer JamesAllen because of the photos. My strategy is always to find the lowest clarity that I know (from my experience) will be completely clean to the naked eye (See my daily diamond recommendations, or the latest entry in the Q&A section for samples). The photos allow me to do this.

So either way, I’d be honored to help you in your search. And most importantly, congratulations on your engagement, and may you and your future husband live a long life together filled with love, happiness, and health.

Thanks! (For the finger compliment… LOL!)

Our budget is definitely smaller than 10,000. Probably more in the realm of 5-6k. Total budget is 8k or less, but the band itself is going to be 2-2.5 of that. I’m not sure how taxes will affect the band price or diamond price exactly. Do you know if the online diamond buying method includes taxes? I live in Louisiana.

I think I need to buy the band, then shop for the diamond. As I said before, there are several variations of that band, and I think some sort of petite and medium proportions – whatever that means. I’m thinking though that the different proportions and band size will affect the overall mm size of the stone, which means that I can’t shop until I get some definite parameters as far as what size stone that setting will take.

I don’t need an overly large stone. In fact, I think a larger stone would silly on my hand, given that it’s smaller than average. The overall look of my hands are long and thin, with obscenely thin wrists given towards hands that aren’t much wider, and fairly thin fingers. My ring finger is a size 5, and I’ve gained weight in recent years. It used to be 4.5. In any case, I want the overall look of the ring to be balanced. Not tiny, not huge. Delicate. And despite the head knowledge that certain factors being the best factors doesn’t necessarily make the stone look any prettier, I would like to have the best quality stone for the money, balanced with looking as pretty as possible.

I know you get commissions from Blue Nile and James Allen (I do like their pictures), but are there any other reputable online websites out there? I want to make sure to look at everything available, and some websites seem to have more inventory than others. Also, how often does their inventory turn over?

I’m sorry. I know that I’m asking a lot of questions, but it’s nice having found someone who’s willing to answer without having to ask a salesman.

Ok, here goes:

1) Taxes – you will only be charged sales tax if the company you buy from has a “business presence” in LA. The only vendor about which I can answer certainly is James Allen. They only charge sales tax in NY and MD. For other vendors, you’ll just have to check with them. Most of them answer this question in their FAQ.

2) Regarding the setting: you should buy the diamond first, and then bring it to the bricks & mortal store that is a tacori dealer and tell them the model number you are interested in (2565RD9). They will then order the setting from Tacori with the correctly sized head for your diamond. You can’t do it reversed because stores don’t stock different sized versions of the same empty engagement ring setting. They have a few in stock that are already mounted, and maybe a small number of empty ones for very standard sizes. But they’ll be able to get the right size ring that fits your diamond (and finger) perfectly from Tacori in a couple of days.

3) What I suggest are 2 different paths: You can either try to buy the best diamond for a specific budget, or, as in your case, if you don’t necessarily want a larger stone, then the goal is getting the best deal for the best diamond at a given size. So if, lets say, you didn’t want a diamond bigger than 1 ct, then you could most likely do significantly better than $5000.

4) There are plenty of reputable online vendors. There’s more than you can count. But there’s two basic categories of vendors, and it’s important to keep that in mind. The first category is for places like Blue Nile, Mondera, and maybe a small handful of others. These vendors don’t own their own inventory of loose diamonds. The list a “virtual inventory” that is sitting in the safes of their owners all over the world. When a customer orders one of these diamonds, the vendor that owns the diamond ships it directly to the customer with a specially arranged Blue Nile invoice. Since BN doesn’t have to invest any money into maintaining their inventory, they can afford to keep their margins very low (15-18%). The other benefit is that since their inventory doesn’t cost them anything, they have an insanely large selection of diamonds.

The other category are companies that own their own inventory. These are most of the smaller companies out there . Most of these have a special niche in the market.  But because they own their inventory, their inventory is much much smaller than the big guys, and they also need to charge a higher margin to stay alive.

James Allen is sort of a mix of the two. They list a virtual inventory like BN, but in contrast to BN, they only deal with vendors within walking distance to their office on 47th street in Manhattan. This gives them physical access to every diamond in their virtual inventory. They physically inspect every diamond before they ship it to make sure it looks great. It’s because of this close working relationship with their vendors that allows them to have photos of most of their diamonds.

Please keep the questions coming as long as you have them. That’s what I’m here for. It’s exactly for the reason you expressed that I created my site. You can’t trust sales people, and people like you don’t really have access to any unbiased experts out there.

Have a great day!

A:  A few more questions:

What is your opinion on the Hearts On Fire Diamonds? I imagine I know your answer, but still. I was reading this article here: There was a local vendor who was selling them and had a gorgeous stone set in a ring that he said he would sell for about 7.5k, but I really didn’t like the side view of the band and setting.

Also, is there any diameter size stone you would recommend for a size 5 finger? Just curious.

A:  Regarding HoF: Around the year 2000, De Beers created an initiative called “Supplier of Choice.”

(before I get into that, let me just give you a quick breakdown of the structure of the diamond industry. You have De Beers which controls slightly less than half of the world’s rough diamonds. They don’t sell their rough in an open market. They only sell to a select group of companies called “Sightholders”. Those sightholders make polished diamonds from the rough and sell it to retail chains or local diamond wholesalers)

So anyway, the supplier of choice initiative was an initiative that De Beers forced on the sightholders. They basically said that if they didn’t start investing massive amounts of money in branding and advertising, they would lose their status as sightholders. The reason for this was that De Beers saw that diamond prices were falling since they were losing their monopoly on the world’s rough. They saw branding as a great way to artificially keep prices high. Leo Schachter, the company I used to work for, was the most successful in the SOC initiative. THey created the “Leo Diamond” which is the most successful diamond brand to date. It’s a lower class stone sold at mall stores, but it’s very popular among the crowd that buys diamonds in malls.

To me, coming from my background, when I think of HoF, I see it as just another gimmick to get good people to spend more money than they need to. Each of these diamond brands offers a different value proposition, but none of them are really any better or brighter than a well made regular cut — they just cost more.

As far as the best sized diamond to get for your finger, I wouldn’t be honest with you if I attempted to answer that. My experience is limited to the back-end of the business. I never really interfaced with end-customers. I don’t think there’s any hard and fast rule about this. Buy what you think looks nice on your finger.

Now about the diamond you picked from Blue Nile. I have a few comments:

1) BN’s cut grades for fancies aren’t very accurate. There are no strict guidelines to classify cut on fancy shapes. That’s why you’ll never find a cut grade on a gia certificate on anything but a round cut. So take that “very good cut” with a healthy grain of salt.

2) IF is totally overkill! First of all, a cushion will hide inclusions decently, but that’s the issue. A VVS1, and all the more so a VVS2 are completely invisible under 10x magnification! You can only see them with a microscope! And a VS1, while you can see it with a 10x loupe, you could NEVER EVER see it with your naked eye. They usually take a few seconds of looking with a 20x loupe to find the VS1. While an eye-visible VS2 is possible (like if it’s black and right in the center — see my truth about clarity article), it’s highly unlikely.

Here are two alternatives very similar in everything except clarity and price. And there’s pictures to confirm that the VS2s are not visible:

0.98 Carat F VS2 “Ideal Cut” Cushion $4810

0.96 E VS2 “Ideal Cut” Cushion $4920

Like BN, you can pretty much ignore their “ideal cut” grade. If GIA won’t grade a cushion’s cut, then BN and JA shouldn’t either. But the pictures are really great on both of these. The cut looks great on both and they both will be 100% completely clean to the naked eye — just as clean as the much more expensive IF.

About the commission — the html code in the links above lets them know that I sent you to their site. It generates a cookie that lasts for 30 days. If you buy anything from JA within that time, so JA will know that I sent you to them. So if you decide to buy from BN anyway, then I’d really appreciate it if you let me know before so I can send you a link to enable to commission from their site also 🙂

If you’d like to spend up to your budget limit and get a larger stone, I’m not sure it’s even possible. I found a 1.20 F Si1 (also completely eye clean) for $6070, but it has basically the same diameter as the 90 point stones we found (it’s about .05mm larger — not enough to make a difference to your eye). I found a 1.12 E VS2 for $5930 (Click Here to See the Stone ), and it is only about 0.15mm larger. That’s JUST BARELY noticeable to your eye, so I wouldn’t advise the upgrade. It’s not really worth the extra $1000.

Anyway, let me know what you think. You should be dying to get a ring, you deserve it!

Regarding diamonds, the concept of $6-700 dollars difference doesn’t faze me too much. LOL! Maybe it should, but I see and handle the flow of so much money in my parent’s business (and we’re pretty small) that I believe my concept of money has become skewed. (This is probably not the case for Smink, but he kind of gave me the go ahead to pick this out for myself). This is something I’m newly working on given that I now have my own house and mortgage to pay. In any case, I have enough available cash on my credit card that I may just order the two you suggested plus the one I was looking at and judge them in person and pick one out that way, then return the others. Blue Nile claims that it’s returns only take a few days from when they receive it. Do you know how fast James Allen works on returns? If I do that, I want to have it all wrapped up in one card cycle!

Also, I’m still waffling on the concept of cushion versus radiant. I’ve attached photos of the ring I’m getting with a cushion and radiant superimposed on the image. I was just wondering which you think looks best in that ring. The ring came with a round set in. I’m thinking that I like the shape of the cushion better, but I haven’t seen one in person to compare with a radiant, and I like both shapes. I also have a habit of being indecisive. I’m working on that too… ::grins::

Here are a few radiants I looked at: $4240 $5130 $5610

Any other suggestions or thoughts on these?

Regarding the three diamonds you picked:

The first one: Looks good, just be aware that it will be noticeably smaller than the cushions you and I chose.

The middle one: I don’t like it’s picture. The make looks awkward. Also, it will be even smaller than the first radiant in your list.

The last one: 1.13 l/w ratio is not square and not rectangular. It’s kind of in between. But if you see the picture, and you like how it looks, then it’s really just a matter of preference. Other than l/w, it looks great.

Regarding which stone looks best on your setting, I personally like the cushion, but it’s really completely a matter of style and preference. You need to go with what you like the best.

Regarding JA’s return policy, I found this on their website:

All refunds will be processed within five days and done in the form of the original purchase method. Bank wires are refunded via company check.

So you should be OK from that standpoint.

Please stay in touch. I want to see pictures when you get your ring finished. I’m going to be opening a new section on the site called “success stories” and I’d love to write a piece about you and your fiance when you’re all done with the ring. So I’d like some cute couple pictures as well for that.

Please don’t hesitate to keep asking more questions. It’s a pleasure helping you out.

Thanks for all your help! I certainly will send you pictures when it’s all said and done!

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