When referring to diamonds, brilliance is the amount of light allowed to enter a stone and how the angles cut into the stone reflect the light back to the naked eye. Marcel Tolkowsky developed a series of geometric calculations in 1919 that have been used as the basis for most of today's ideal cuts; those which possess optimum brilliance.
A diamond's cut or shape is essential to the gem's fire or sparkle. If a diamond is cut too shallow, the stone will appear dark or dull looking. If the cut is too deep, the diamond will appear to have a dark center, as light is reflected off too sharp an angle inside the diamond.
Brilliant cut diamonds are any diamonds that are cut to a standard of 58 facets, or faces, that reflect light. 33 facets are on the crown, or top portion, and 25 facets are on the pavilion, or bottom half of the stone. Stones cut to this standard do not always have ideal proportions, although they will all have 58 facets. Not all diamonds are cut to this standard, thus not all diamonds carry the distinction of being brilliant cuts.
The round brilliant cut diamond is the shape that maximizes the gem's sparkle. Traditionally, diamonds cut into this shape are often used in solitaire, four-prong settings to show off their brilliance. Other brilliant cut shapes are also recognized, yet are not as popular.
Emerald shaped brilliant cut diamonds are an easily recognizable cut with unique beauty, however, flaws or inclusions are more easily visible inside these diamonds. The princess shape brilliant cut has a lot of fire, but may appear smaller than other cuts of the same carat weight due to the depth of the stone. On the opposite end of the size spectrum, the marquise cut can actually appear larger than its carat weight due to the shallowness of its cut. Pear, oval and heart shaped cuts are also considered brilliant cuts, possessing the standard 58 facets.
Brilliant cut diamond rings are widely available in a multitude of settings. Purchasing a ring from a reputable jeweler who has already placed the diamond in a setting is the easiest way to acquire one, but other options exist.
If you want to buy a modern setting and have a ring made, the combinations of brilliant cut diamonds and ring settings are as varied as the people who seek them. Purchasing the setting and a loose stone also affords you the opportunity to closely examine the diamond prior to having it placed in the setting.
Since the standard for brilliant cuts has been available since the early 1900's, many brilliant cut diamond rings can be found in antique shops, pawn shops or can be purchased through estate sales or online. Because these purchase methods have an inherent risk associated with them, it's best to decide whether or not you can afford to lose money on any impending transaction. Whenever possible, have these rings appraised by an American Gem Society appraiser to be certain of the diamond's authenticity and to be aware of any flaws prior to purchasing the ring.
Deciding to purchase a brilliant cut diamond ring may be the easiest decision a bride-to-be has to make. However deciding on your favorite diamond cut and setting to showcase that diamond, may take a little while.