Four popular Cs are attached to a diamond’s quality: color, clarity, cut, and carat weight. While a diamond’s valuation is mainly affected by these four, you should also consider other elements.
One of them is the diamond’s culet. The term may sound unfamiliar, but once you find out what it is, you might experience a eureka moment.
It has a significant effect on a stone’s brilliance. That is why it is a characteristic that you should be extra vigilant about since most people overlook it.
Table of Contents
- What is the Diamond Culet? Its Evolution From Old-Cut to Modern-Cut
- Brief History of Culets
- The Diamond Culet’s Grading System and Which Is Best
- Diamonds With Pointed Culet vs. Old-Cut Diamonds
- The Benefits and Setbacks of Choosing a Pointed Culet
- Diamond Retailers Where You Can Buy Diamonds With Large and Small Culets
What is the Diamond Culet? Its Evolution From Old-Cut to Modern-Cut
A diamond has different parts. They include the crown area, table area, girdle, and culet. Each has its measurements, indicating if the diamond falls to the average and safe thresholds or not.
While buyers focus on the diamond’s 4Cs (cut, color, clarity, and carat weight) when assessing them, its other details are as important as the main elements.
The culet is the pointed tip where all the diamond’s facets meet at the bottom. It is the spot where the pavilion ends, and it is also viewable from the diamond’s face-up perspective. Buyers typically overlook this feature because some are unaware of its importance on a diamond.
Experts consider culets as part of a diamond’s cut evaluation because their presence or absence affects how light reflects within the stone. Light leaks if a diamond has large and open culets, resulting in an additional facet to the stone that affects its maximum brilliance.
Brief History of Culets
It was only in the 14th century when diamond cutting became popular. The diamond’s additional shine makes it a fancier piece that the rich go after in the ancient period. At that time, India was still the world’s diamond capital until the Diamond Rush occurred in the late 19th century when large deposits were discovered in South Africa.
The earliest cut of diamonds is the rose and old miner’s cushion cuts. By this time, European cutters used techniques that make a diamond’s cutting and polishing better and more refined. Also, they maintained an open and large culet in the diamonds to protect them from chipping.
These diamonds were the great grandfathers of the brilliant-cut diamonds today. However, its culet requirement has changed from larger ones to none. While the culet provides an architectural look on the diamond, this characteristic has been overpowered by its undesirable effect on the stone.
Other old-cut diamonds with the same culet features are the Old European and Old Miner’s cut. The former has a round shape while the latter is squarer than the cushion-cut.
Today, it isn’t easy to find an old-cut diamond, but some retailers still sell them. Those who go for these items love a vintage-looking diamond for an engagement ring and other fashion accessories. However, prominent diamond vendors, like Blue Nile and James Allen, avoid them because of their culets.
While picking a diamond is subjective and preference-based, you must still know what you are getting when you opt for these pieces.
The Diamond Culet’s Grading System and Which Is Best
Like other diamond qualities, culets are also graded based on the International Diamond Grading System, followed by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). It is a great contributor to the diamond’s cut quality. However, a feature this small requires at least 10x magnification to view its intricate parts.
Below are the different grades that you will find in a diamond’s GIA report.
- Very Small
- Slightly Large
- Very Large
- Extremely Large
In today’s standards, the ideal stones are those whose culet size falls to the ‘None’ group. A diamond passes this standard if all eight facets meet each other at the diamond’s pointed tip, signifying a closed culet.
Retailers and buyers prefer these stones because they lack the additional facet that a large culet provides. However, they require careful construction and are typically expensive.
Those falling in the Very Small and Small groups are also better choices than the larger ones. These diamonds have open culets, but they are minimal and do not result in a facet. ‘Very Small’ signifies that the culet is less than 1.5% of its average diameter while ‘Small’ is approximately near the 1.5% threshold.
Diamonds that have Medium to Extremely Large culets should be avoided.
A medium culet means its size is around 3% of the diamond’s average diameter. Those with slightly large and large culets are visible to the naked eye in mid-sized and large diamonds. Their measurements are 3% and 5% of the diamond’s diameter.
Very Large and Extremely Large diamonds are the most visible culets when viewed from the table area. The former’s size is 11% of the diamond’s average diameter, while the latter is 15%. Below are real-life examples of diamonds with large and flat tips from OldWorldDiamonds.com.
Another thing that we would like to point out is that most of these stones are EGL certified. Like the GIA, the European Gemological Laboratory Organization assesses a diamond’s qualities. However, its reputation is not as consistent and viable as GIA’s in the industry.
Diamonds With Pointed Culet vs. Old-Cut Diamonds
Modern-day diamonds have moved on from the old-aged requirement of having larger culets on a diamond. We already have machines and contemporary techniques that can protect a diamond’s tip from chipping. If you wonder how different the old cuts from the newer cuts are, this section will help you.
Below are two cushion-cut diamonds from different generations. The one on the left is from Old World Diamonds and is the shape’s antique version. The two have a good cut, color K grade, and an SI1 clarity quality. The carat weight is their only difference because the antique cushion weighs 1.71-ct, and the other is 2.02-ct.
As you can see, there is a huge round facet at the diamond’s center on the left photo. That is the flat culet reflecting on the table area. This antique cushion is one of the many diamonds reflecting how an 18th century stone looks like. On the right, Blue Nile’s cushion-cut diamond has a crushed ice glow with no hints of its culet from its face-up view.
Moreover, the color and inclusions on the left side are more detectable than on the right. Cushion-cut is one of today’s best shapes that conceals a diamond’s imperfections. It seems that the old design has not mastered that feature yet. The old cut even looks rounder than the modern piece.
The vintage diamond costs around $6,500, while the other stone is around $8,500.
If you wonder how an old-cut diamond looks when mounted on a ring, here is a V Barbone engagement ring standing beside a James Allen ring. The one on the left has less brilliance than the ring on the right. It also looks warmer on that yellow gold band.
The culet’s appearance also differs between the two. V Barbone’s ring has a detectable culet while James Allen’s does not. You can see that the latter’s look is finer than the old miner’s cut, and the yellowish pigments are not that prominent. What fascinates us the most is the $20,000 price of the old cut, which costs way lower than modern diamonds with the same 3.00-carat weight.
Diamonds indeed evolved from how it looked before. While more retailers sell diamonds with small to no culets, you may still find some antique finds online. However, it will help if you are extra careful when buying these pieces, as most of them lack the brilliance that people want in a diamond.
The Benefits and Setbacks of Choosing a Pointed Culet
A diamond with a pointed culet has become the norm these days. Most trustworthy retailers avoid old-cut diamonds because they have larger culets. It results in an unappealing look because of the dark shadow the flat tip gives to the diamond.
The greatest advantage of having a pointed culet is that you will experience the diamond’s maximum brilliance. Its tip allows light to pass freely on all the diamond’s facets. Moreover, it does not destroy the entire appearance of the stone.
Not all diamonds are round-shaped. Other unconventional pieces are the oval-shaped and marquise diamonds. We are highlighting these pieces because they have the most bowtie effect. A large culet adds more shadow to the bowtie, making the diamond appear darker than it should be.
However, a pointed culet is not free from any disadvantages. Its tips are prone to damages, which was the main reason why traditional lapidaries cut them into flat surfaces before. The chipping may occur during the stone’s setting or when wearing it.
Thus, a gem cutter or a jeweler must be extra careful when mounting it on a frame. You should also avoid hitting on any hard surfaces if you do not want them to become cloudy. A diamond may be the toughest stone, but it still has a weakness once polished and finished.
You can also prevent it from breakage if you choose a high setting for its frame. Some examples are pavé, bezel, and channel.
Diamond Retailers Where You Can Buy Diamonds With Large and Small Culets
Since people have varying preferences, it is best if you have more options to choose from when buying a diamond. The list of retailers that offer modern-day diamonds is endless, but it is rare to find one that talks about old-cut diamonds.
If you prefer a vintage stone over the sparkling look of today’s qualities, we have some good news for you. Below are three reliable websites that you can trust when it comes to old-cut diamonds. They may not be as prominent as Blue Nile and James Allen, but they have thousand of collections for you.
#1. Old World Diamonds
As its name suggests, it is obvious what this company offers. The soft and romantic glow of antique diamonds caught the attention of the brand’s creators. The stones may not have the best brilliance, but the diamonds have a timeless history to tell.
Most diamonds in OWD have large culets, indicating the 1800s and 1900s design of jewelry pieces. The brand’s goal is to give life to old-aged diamonds by selling them through modern-day techniques. They want to spread the story that these old diamonds have as they were passed on from one generation to another.
Its headquarters is located above the 47th street in New York City. It competes along with other brick-and-mortar retailers with more unique goods to sell. Some of their diamonds are GIA and EGL certified but expect those with large culets to have undergone EGL’s quality assessment.
Its website also reflects a vintage appearance with menus that can be browsed easily. Some of their accessories include loose diamonds, rings, necklaces, and earrings.
This company is another force to reckon with when it comes to old-cut diamonds. The ERA in its name stands for Estate, Retro, and Antique, signifying the product types that this brand sells. It began in 2006 and continues its race to success today.
It specializes in selling previously owned diamonds from different eras. They do not feel ashamed of selling old-cut diamonds because they were the original stones before all the fancy pieces became popular.
The company is not even a one-person show. It is a team of talented individuals gathered to achieve a single mission, and that is sharing to the world the history of their diamonds. Some of their members are professional photographers, diamond enthusiasts, digital marketing specialists, and others with fine jewelry expertise.
You will never go wrong with this brand because its talented pool ensures safe and reliable customer service. Even its website will not give you any anxiety because finding your way is a simple task.
Apart from accessories that spark women’s interests, Eragem’s website also has a menu for men’s jewelry pieces. They have that masculine vibe that would boost your man’s confidence and style.
#3. V Barbone
Attention to detail is at the heart of this company. Unlike the first two retailers, this one is the story of a granddaughter who learned a lot from her Abuelo. Andria’s dreams began with the influence of his grandpa to which he named the company after.
At her young age, she built an empire focusing on vintage diamonds with premium quality. She and her team follow strict quality control as they curate each diamond with a living legacy. The company’s driving force is to find their customers’ stories in their rings.
V Barbone is also located in the busy streets of New York City. With her rich background in gemology as one of GIA’s graduates, Andria knows her business well. She also knows how to identify an excellent old-cut diamond from those with poor qualities.
The femininity of the company reverberates in its pinkish-themed website and fancy font letters. You can also search their pieces by price, era, stone, and diamond ring. They also give importance to their customers’ education through their blogs that talk about vintage gemstones.
A diamond’s culet is an indicator of the stone’s cut quality. It may not be one of the major considerations when buying a piece, but it significantly affects the stone’s brilliance. If you do not want to compromise its quality, avoiding those with large culets is the best option.
Modern-day diamonds have small to no culets because they illuminate better sparkle than those with flat tips. However, if you are into vintage diamonds, some companies sell these pieces at a reasonable price. They do not only have that classic look, but they also have a legacy and a history to tell their new owners.
The old-cut diamonds include the antique cushion cut, old miner’s cut, and old European cut. We have highlighted these pieces because their culets are quite visible, adding an extra facet as you go over its table area.
While pointed culets are the most promising diamonds, setting them with a secured frame must be your top priority. They are fragile and prone to breakages despite the diamond’s reputation of being the world’s toughest stone.
If you want to know the diamond’s culet size, you can check its GIA report. For most old-cut diamonds, their certifications come from EGL. While the latter is also a prominent gemological institution, it does not have the same reliable reputation as GIA.