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Glossary of Diamond Terms

Ring Advice

Shopping for wedding and engagement rings can feel a bit overwhelming (carats and fire and cushions, oh my!), so we’ve created this glossary of diamond terms to help you navigate the wide world of jewelry terminology. We’re planning to continuously add to this list, so if you’re looking for a diamond dictionary entry and don’t see it here, please email us at help@hiholden.com so we can define the term for you and add it to this list.

The Triangle Solitaire with an Asscher Diamond

AsscherInvented in 1902, this diamond shape evokes a square with rounded corners and a large table that emphasizes the center of the stone. This is similar to an emerald cut but features larger facets and a higher crown, making it a slightly sparklier cut. 

Shop Asscher Diamonds

Baguette: Typically featured in an eternity band or used as an accent stone, a baguette diamond features stepped cuts and fewer facets than an emerald cut diamond. Learn more about baguette diamonds.

Shop Baguette Diamonds

Blemish: A physical imperfection on a diamond’s surface (not to be confused with an inclusion, which is internal). Learn more about diamond grading and the 4 C’s.

Bowtie: A shadow found in certain diamond shapes (most commonly oval shaped diamonds) that’s shaped like a bowtie. The prominence of a bowtie shadow depends on the quality of the diamond’s cut. 

BrillianceAlso referred to as brightness, this is a combination of white light reflections from the surface and center of a diamond.

Brilliant CutTypically seen on stones that come to a point, this type of cut maximizes a diamond’s brilliance and fire. Typically a brilliant cut diamond features 57 or 58 facets (depending on whether or not the stone features a culet).

Carbon: A chemical element that makes up 0.025% of the Earth’s crust - and 100% of every diamond. Learn more about diamonds (lab-grown and natural) and how they’re formed.

Carat: Carat (not to be confused with karat!) measures the weight (and therefore size) of a diamond. A carat weighs 0.2 grams - about the heft of a paper clip. Learn more about carat and the 4 C’s.

ClarityA diamond’s clarity grade is based on the number of inclusions in the stone as well as its polish. Clarity ranges from flawless (FL) to eye visual inclusions (I). Learn more about diamond clarity (and see a visual chart).

Color: Ranging from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow, brown, or gray), the diamond color scale doesn’t specify hue (specific color) but rather a diamond’s tone (darkness) and saturation (intensity). See the scale and learn more about the 4 C’s of diamond grading.

Crown: The top part of a diamond, above the girdle and pavilion. Learn more about diamond cuts and see a visual diagram of a diamond.

Crown Height: A measurement taken vertically from the girdle to the top of the diamond’s crown. Learn more about diamond cuts and see a visual diagram of a diamond.

Cubic Zirconia: The cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide (ZrO2), cubic zirconia (often referred to as CZ) is the most commonly used diamond simulant.

The Square with a Cushion Diamond

Cushion: Blurring the boundary between a square and round shape, this diamond features softer-looking edges and a pillowy, cushion-like appearance. This vintage-style stone was extremely popular before jewelers had the technology to make a perfectly round stone.

Shop Cushion Diamonds

Cut: Not to be confused with shape, a diamond’s cut grade is determined by its proportions, symmetry, and polish. A well-cut diamond will result in a perfect combination of brilliance (reflected white light), fire (dispersed, colorful light), and scintillation (flashes of white and dark light, or sparkle, from within the diamond). Learn more about cut and the 4 C’s of diamond grading.

Culet: A flat facet that appears at the bottom of a diamond’s pavilion (not all diamonds have a culet!). It’s pronounced “cue-lit” in case you were curious (and yes, the writer of this article learned this the hard way!). 

The Domed Bezel with an Emerald Diamond

Emerald: A popular choice for art-deco inspired engagement rings, an emerald cut stone is similar to a baguette but features more facets and corners that are cut away (making it look more like a stretched out octagon than a rectangle).

Shop Emerald Diamonds

Eternity: An eternity band is a ring featuring stones set around the ring. Eternity rings are a popular choice for engagement, wedding, and anniversary rings due to the symbolism of eternal love. Learn more about eternity rings and how to choose between a full, half or ¾.

Facet: A single flat surface of a cut diamond. Each facet contributes to a diamond’s shape and sparkle. Different shapes feature different quantities of facets - a round brilliant cut diamond has 58 facets while a baguette has 14. 

Fire: Flashes of color in a polished diamond (not to be confused with diamond color!).

Girdle: The narrow middle section of a diamond between the stone’s crown and pavilion. This is the stone’s setting edge. Learn more about diamond cuts and see a visual diagram of a diamond.

Halo: A smaller set of stones wrapped around one large center stone. A halo typically draws attention to the center stone, making it look bigger.

The Eternity Solitaire with a hidden halo

Hidden halo: Similar to a traditional halo, a hidden halo features stones underneath the center diamond that add to the brilliance of the center stone.  

Inclusion: An imperfection within the diamond itself (not to be confused with a blemish) that impacts the diamond’s clarity grade. Learn more about clarity and the 4 C’s of diamond grading.

Lab-grown diamond: Chemically and physically identical to a mined diamond, a lab diamond is a 100% real diamond grown in a lab - it’s also more ethical, affordable, and sustainable. Learn more about lab-grown diamonds and why we prefer them.

The Marquise Diamond Signet

Marquise: Named for French King Louis XIV’s mistress’s smile, this diamond shape has an elongated body with pointed ends (think of a boat, eye, or football). The stone’s cut and length give it the appearance of a bigger carat weight.

Shop The Marquise Diamond Signet

Melee: Very small faceted diamonds, typically 0.08-0.13 carats each. They’re often grouped in rows or clusters to create a sparkling effect (FYI: melee rhymes with belly!).

Mined diamond: A diamond that is formed from pure carbon under the Earth’s surface due to high pressures and high temperatures. Learn more about mined vs lab-grown diamonds (and why we prefer lab-grown).

Mixed cuts: A mixed cut diamond features both brilliant and step facets. Typically the diamond’s step facets are on the crown and its brilliant facets are on the stone’s pavilion (but not always).

Navette cut: See marquise.

The Domed Solitaire with an Oval Diamond

Oval: An oval diamond is essentially an elongated round brilliant cut meant to represent the longevity of the wearer’s relationship. The shape accentuates the length of the wearer’s finger and makes a smaller carat look larger than a round stone of the same carat weight.  

Shop Oval Diamonds

Pavilion: Positioned below the girdle and crown, this is the lowest part of a faceted diamond. Learn more about diamond cuts and see a visual diagram of a diamond.

The Eternity Solitaire with a Pear Diamond

Pear: Also known as a teardrop diamond, this stone is rounded on one side and pointed on the other. The pointed end of this brilliant cut shape is typically directed towards the heart of the wearer. 

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The Floating Solitaire with a Princess Diamond

Princess: Traditionally the second most popular diamond shape after the round brilliant, a princess cut diamond is a square diamond featuring brilliant cuts. This diamond shape is known for its brilliance as well as its sustainability (its cut incorporates 80% of the raw diamond).

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The Domed Solitaire with a radiant diamond

Radiant: A rectangular shaped diamond with cut corners, this shape is very similar to an emerald diamond but features brilliant facets rather than step facets, giving the diamond more sparkle than an emerald stone.

Shop Radiant Diamonds

Ratio: Measured by dividing the length of the diamond by its width, a diamond’s ratio can be used to measure how proportionate the stone is with its shape.

The Channel Bezel Eternity Solitaire with a Round Diamond

Round: The most common diamond shape (as in 75% of the world’s diamonds!), a round brilliant cut diamond features 58 facets. Designed to maximize brilliance and fire, this is typically the most expensive diamond shape.

Shop Round Diamonds

Scintillation: Flashes of light and dark that you see when the diamond, light, or observer moves. Along with fire and brilliance, scintillation contributes to a diamond’s perceived sparkliness.

Stepped Cut: Typically seen on rectangular stones, this cut style creates a staircase effect leading to the center of the stone. Less sparkly than a brilliant cut, a stepped cut creates a minimal elegance that emphasizes a stone’s clarity and color grade.

Shape: Not to be confused with cut, shape refers to the overall shape of a diamond. All diamonds are either round or “fancy shaped.” Some popular fancy shapes are emerald, oval, cushion, princess, radiant, Asscher, pear, and marquise.

Table: A diamond’s table facet is the top surface of a diamond. Certain shapes (like an emerald cut) feature larger tables than others (like a round brilliant cut).

Teardrop: See pear.

Questions? Give us a shout at help@hiholden.com or a ring (pun intended) at 917.719.3634.

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