What’s up with the girdle?
You hear jewelers babbling on about the girdle and whether it’s polished or rough, thick or thin, but does it really matter?
Most people don’t really know anything about the girdle. A diamond’s girdle is the outside band that runs around the entire outer edge of your diamond (See picture)… Almost like a belt!
The widest part
The girdle literally is the widest part of the diamond.
The girdle’s width is what the rest of the diamond is measured by. The girdle separates the top part of the diamond, which is called the crown, from the bottom part of the diamond, which is called the pavilion.
Look at your diamond from a side view and you’ll see the edge splitting your stone. That’s the girdle! Observe the images below!
The girdle is always measured lengthwise as 100%, just because it’s the widest part of the diamond.
Just so you know, when they talk about the cut of the diamond and the table measurements being percentages, that table (the top flat part of your diamond) is compared to the width of the girdle.
So if your table is 56% (for example), it’s just over half the width of the entire diamond. Make sense?
Everything is relative to the girdle’s width
The craziest thing about the girdle is that it does make a BIG difference!
It makes a difference in a lot of areas…
If the girdle is very thin and almost comes to a point at the edge, it can be very brittle and chip easily. You’ll want to stay away from those.
If the girdle is alternating, thin to thick, that’s another sign of a bad cut.
When the crown facets and girdle don’t line up well, chances are your diamond will not have good proportions and will actually lose life and light!
If your girdle is very thick all the way around, your diamond is probably cut too deep and losing light. The diamond cutter was probably more interested in preserving carat weight and maximizing profit, vs cutting the diamond correctly for ultimate brilliance and sparkle.
What’s the best type of girdle to have?
Girdles can be graded with 8 different thicknesses:
- Extremely Thin
- Very Thin
- Slightly Thick
- Very Thick
- Extremely Thick
The best thickness for your girdle is either a Thin or Medium sized girdle. Not too thick, not too thin.
(Just like Goldilocks finding the right bed, it’s there, you just have to hunt for it).
With a thin-medium sized girdle, if it’s consistent all the way around, it will help protect the diamond from chipping, not interfere with the overall beauty of the diamond and aid in the correct proportions of the cut.
In fact, you can look at the girdle of the diamond and pretty much know if the diamond is cut well or not!
What about the girdle’s finish?
Diamond girdles can have three different types of finishes:
When the girdle has a rough girdle, it will look like a rough white chalk line drawn around the edge. What you’re really seeing is what a REAL DIAMOND looks like. It’s the true rough uncut stone. That type of girdle isn’t faceted or polished. It’s basically never been touched by man or machine. It’s the real deal.
The reason why some girdles are rough is to preserve carat weight, and literally by removing that little roughness it could drop your stone to a lower carat weight. The other reason to leave it rough is to create a better grip for your prongs. The prongs are what hold your diamond into the mounting and if your girdle is rough, they will hold the diamond better and keep it from loosening! But no matter, if the jeweler sets the diamond right, that shouldn’t be an issue.
A polished girdle is just a smooth consistent clean look and feel. It adds to the beauty of the diamond.
A faceted girdle actually has cut, polished facets all the way around it’s edge. When the girdle is polished and faceted, just like the rest of the diamond, the diamond’s edge blends well and doesn’t stand out.
A faceted girdle gives your diamond more polish, flow, symmetry and sparkle.
What do I prefer?
I prefer a polished girdle or a faceted girdle over a rough girdle any day. To me, polished and faceted girdles look cleaner and brighter. And if your diamond isn’t cut perfect (which most aren’t), a high-polished or faceted girdle can carefully mask those flaws better so you won’t notice them as much.
It can actually make your diamond look better!
So keep an eye on your girdle and you’ll always be seeing 100%!
Author Richard Scott. Certified Diamontologist and Gemologist. 30 years of experience.
Let Richard help you choose the best diamond, the most dazzling engagement ring, and save as much money as possible. Read more about the author here. Follow Richard on social media; Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest. Contact Richard Scott here.