What Are Diamond Facets?

A diamond’s sparkle is legendary. And that ability to sparkle is most often spoken about in terms of the quality of cut. While that may be true, that sparkle is the direct result of the intricate cuts that form a diamond’s shape and exquisitely refract light throughout the stone. These cuts are known as facets. In our ultimate guide to diamond facets, we reveal the details behind what truly makes a diamond sparkle.

What Is a Diamond Facet?

A diamond facet is often described as a window into the diamond. In more simple terms, facets are the flat surfaces cut onto a gemstone and arranged in a geometrical pattern. When light enters the diamond, it refracts off of the intricately placed facets causing beautiful optical effects that make your diamond sparkle and shine. A diamond cutter seeks to angle and arrange the facets in the most advantageous way to ensure the right amount of light enters and reflects from the diamond.

A faceted gemstone consists of three main parts where faceting occurs: the crown on the top of the stone, the girdle in the middle that is the seat of the setting, and the pavilion at the bottom which has the culet. The faceting done to the crown and pavilion have the most influence on how light enters and exits the stone and interacts throughout the stone to create the stunning light show we see as sparkle.

What are the Types of Facets?

There are several types of facets, each with a different purpose for how it’s shaped and where on the diamond it’s placed. Each type of facet creates a specific desired effect for light interaction and the facets are placed throughout the stone in a methodical way to maximize a diamond’s cut. These are the types of facets to know:

Main Facets

Main facets will serve different purposes depending on the part of the diamond where they’re placed. In the crown, main facets allow new light in as well as reflect light that was brought in by the table and star facets. In the pavilion, main facets increase the light dispersion within the diamond.

Table Facets

The table facet is typically the largest facet of the diamond and is placed horizontally on the top face of the diamond. It allows the majority of light to enter the stone and provides a clear view to see inside the diamond.

Star Facets

Star facets will only be found on the crown of the diamond surrounding the table facet. Star facets work to supplement the light entering the stone from the table facet. They are angled so that the light coming in from the table facet is bent to begin reflecting off other facets.

Break Facets

Known for scattering light within the diamond, break facets disperse light so there is an overall sparkly and brilliant appearance to the eye. They are found adjacent to the girdle on either side of a diamond. The angle and number of break facets determine the amount of light reflected back to the viewer.

Pavilion Facets

Located on the underside of a diamond, the pavilion facets are precisely constructed to reflect and diffuse light from within the diamond. They aid break facets in returning light out through the crown toward the observer.

Culet Facet

Just like the table facet, the culet facet is a single facet but located at the base of the pavilion, opposite the table facet. A diamond can either have a sharp culet and basically come to a point, or there is a cut to create a flat surface. If it’s more flat as you find in emerald cuts, it’s called a keel.

How Many Facets Does a Diamond Have?

Not all diamond shapes will have the same number of facets. How many facets a diamond does have depends on the shape of the diamond and the quality of the cut. But there are some general numbers you can work with for how many facets a diamond will likely have.

While the faceting style will be different, 58 facets is often considered the "gold standard" for the number of facets on a diamond. This is the number of facets for the round brilliant, oval, cushion, marquise, pear, emerald, princess, and heart diamond shapes.

Other common shapes that fall outside this range are the Asscher cut (containing between 50-58 facets) and the radiant cut (containing 70 facets).

Breaking down the anatomy of the diamond, the crown typically has 33 facets and the pavilion comes in at 25 facets. This gets us to the magical 58 facets that are a hallmark of the "brilliant" faceting style, most closely linked to the round brilliant cut diamond. The girdle may also have facets or it may be polished smooth, but any facets there are not included in the final count.

radiant cut diamond engagement ring

Radiant cut diamond with 70 facets

old mine cut diamond

Old mine cut diamonds faceted to sparkle under candlelight.

Does More Facets Equal a More Sparkly Diamond?  

It stands to reason that more facets would create a more sparkly diamond, but that’s not the case. Achieving the correct proportion and symmetry of the facets that are appropriate for working with the unique characteristics of each diamond is more important than the number of facets.

Having more facets than a particular gemstone calls for may actually reduce its apparent brightness. It is a diamond cutter’s unique skill to determine the perfect combination of symmetry and proportions of the stone and its facets to create the most appealing fire, scintillation, and brilliance.

On a final note, facets themselves don’t contribute to the price of a diamond. One of the features that has the most impact on price is the quality of a diamond’s cut. So in one sense, the quality of the facets will play a role in the gemstone’s value, but it’s still going to be referenced in terms of the overall cut.

Choosing the best diamond cut for your budget and preference is going to give you the optimum sparkle. Understanding facets and their functions helps to build a deeper appreciation for the stunning center stone of your engagement ring, and hopefully helps you have a less stressful journey to pick that perfect stone.

Have questions? We're happy to help.