Glossary of Terms

General Diamond Terms


Intensity of the internal and external reflections of white light returned to the eye through the crown of a diamond. Proportions, polish, symmetry, clarity, and overall workmanship all affect a diamond’s brilliance.


The standard unit of weight, not size, used for gemstones. One carat is equal to 0.200 grams.


The relative absence of inclusions and blemishes in a gemstone.


The basic hue (body color) of a diamond regardless of its brilliance and dispersion. The saturation of color is judged against a predetermined scale.

Only diamonds "I" or better are accepted by tiffany


The part of a diamond above the girdle plane.


Small, octagonal facet on the point of the pavilion on some brilliant-cut diamonds or a rectangular facet on the keel of some step-cut diamonds.


Proportions, polish, and symmetry of a diamond. Synonymous with “make,” it is one of the 4Cs. Does not only mean “shape.”


Mineral composed essentially of pure carbon crystallized at extremely high temperatures and pressures, formed many miles below the earth’s surface millions of years ago. Belonging to the cubic, or isometric crystal system, a diamond is the hardest of all known natural substances.


The breakup or separation of white light into spectral colors, each having its own wavelength and frequency. Synonymous with “fire.”


An unnatural process that alters the appearance, particularly the color or clarity, of a natural diamond or other gemstone. Coating, irradiation, high temperature, high pressure, fracture filling and laser drilling are all examples of enhancement. The only acceptable enhancements for a diamond are cutting and polishing. Synonymous with “treatment.”


The Flat, polished surface on a fashioned gemstone.

Facet junction seenunder magnification


The quality of a diamond’s polish, the condition of its girdle, and the precision of the faceting arrangement.


The breakup or separation of white light into spectral colors, each having its own wavelength and frequency. Synonymous with “dispersion.”


Emission of visible light by a material when it is exposed to certain energy sources, such as radiation or ultraviolet light. Fluorescence only continues as long as the material is exposed to the energy source.


The popular four factors—cut, clarity, color, and carat weight—that are commonly used to determine the value of a diamond. These factors alone are an insufficient measure of a diamond’s true quality,beauty, and value.


The narrow band that circumscribes the edge of the plane intersecting the crown and pavilion of a diamond. The girdle may be polished, faceted or bruted (rough surface).

Girdle seen under magnification

Master Diamonds

A set of polished diamonds of known body color and saturation to which other diamonds can be compared to assess their color grade.


A finishing detail on metalwork that produces a beaded effect along the edge of the metal.


Pavé literally means "paved with diamonds." When this technique is used on the band of an engagement ring, the metal is less visible—all you see is the brilliant sparkle of diamonds.


The portion of a diamond below the girdle, including the culet.


The overall condition of a facet’s surface on a fashioned diamond.


Tiffany & Co. created a designation for a series of key diamond quality evaluations, collectively called “Presence.” This evaluation includes precision of cut, symmetry and polish. Individually and as a group, they influence a diamond’s beauty and overall appearance.


Part of the metal setting designed to hold the diamond in place. Tiffany & Co. uses six prongs to hold one round brilliant in place.


The relative dimensions and angles of a diamond’s faceting and the relationships that exist between them.


The flashes of reflective light emanating from a diamond’s polished facets observed when either the diamond or light source is moved. Scintillation is often referred to as “sparkle.”


The entire metal mounting holding the polished diamond or diamonds. The design and workmanship of the setting is critical to the overall beauty of a diamond ring. Synonymous with “mounting.”

Shared Setting

A setting style in which a pair of centrally positioned prongs holds two stones—one to its right and one to its left.

Side Stones

Side stones frame a larger center diamond and are a different shape, such as baguette or pear-shaped.


A term used to describe the precision and exactness of the facet placement on a polished diamond.


The large facet in the center of the crown of a polished diamond. On a round brilliant-cut diamond, the table is octagonal in shape.

Three Stone

A three-stone ring features three stones of the same shape. The middle stone is usually a diamond. The surrounding stones may be diamonds or other gems, such as sapphires. They may also be smaller than the center stone.

White Light

Light containing a balanced mixture of all wavelengths in the visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.


The face-up girdle outline of a polished diamond or gemstone.

Brilliant Cut

Triangular and kite-shaped facets emanate from the center of the stone to the girdle edge on both the crown and the pavilion.

Cushion Cut

Term used to describe a diamond with a rectangular or squarish girdle outline, curved sides, rounded corners and brilliant-cut facets.

Emerald Cut

Rectangular or square step-cut stone with diagonally cut corners and two, three or four rows of facets parallel to the girdle on the crown and pavilion.

Fancy Shape

Any shape other than a round brilliant or single cut. Includes emerald, pear, marquise, oval and heart shapes, as well as Tiffany’s patented Lucida® diamond.


An elongated brilliant-cut diamond with two curved sides and two pointed ends.

Modified Brilliant

A type of faceting arrangement with varying rectangular girdle outlines and cut corners. The number of facets in this cut is greater or less than the standard 57 or 58 found on a round brilliant.

Oval Shape

A brilliant-cut diamond with an elliptically shaped outline having two curved sides and two rounded ends.

Pear Shape

A brilliant-cut diamond with a pear-shaped outline having two curved sides, one rounded end and one pointed end.

Princess Cut

A princess-cut diamond is shaped like a pyramid with a square top. It is sometimes referred to as a square modified brilliant.

Round Brilliant

A traditional diamond shape based on the octahedron rough crystal. It has 57 or 58 facets consisting of a crown, girdle and pavilion. The crown has a table, 8 kite-shaped bezel facets, 8 star facets and 16 triangular upper-girdle facets. The girdle circumscribes the diameter and may be either faceted or bruted. The pavilion contains 8 kite-shaped main facets and 16 triangular lower-girdle facets. It may or may not have a culet on the pavilion.

Step Cut

A cutting style in which narrow, rectangular diamond facets are arranged in rows parallel to the girdle on both the crown and pavilion.

Black Inclusions

Tiffany customarily rejects black inclusions. During formation, a diamond crystal may encompass black foreign minerals. These inclusions are quite obvious and unsightly and may affect the brilliance, dispersion or color of a diamond. Tiffany rejects black inclusions.


A term used to describe external characteristics on the surface of a diamond, such as nicks, scratches, polish marks, abrasions, naturals and extra facets.

Scratch seen under magnification


Shallow break on a diamond that extends from either a girdle edge or a facet junction. A chip is considered an internal clarity characteristic, and can pose a durability concern.

Common chip seen under magnification


A type of inclusion composed of numerous pinpoints. Pervasive clouds can cause a hazy or milky appearance in a diamond.

Extra Facets

For a variety of reasons, some diamond cutters will add an extra facets. Sometimes these are included to remove or hide a defect. Sometimes it is simply poor workmanship. Beware of extra facets.


Any cleavage or fracture on or below the surface of a gemstone. The appearance is usually white when viewed at a right angle to the break.


A badly proportioned diamond that produces a circular reflection of the girdle seen through the table of the diamond. The effect is seen on diamonds that have a pavilion depth less than 40 percent of the average girdle diameter.


Fine internal graining is a part of the crystal growth process and is found in all natural diamonds, including the very best. Significant graining, however, can cause flaws both on the surface and within the stone. It is characterized by lines, streaks or waves and cannot be removed by recutting the diamond. Any diamond with significant surface or internal graining is automatically rejected by Tiffany.


Any internal clarity characteristic of a diamond. A surface inclusion, which breaks the surface of the stone, is a potential threat to the diamond and can result in a chipped or cracked stone.


A diamond crystal within another diamond crystal. Such inclusions are considered flaws, compromising the overall polish of the diamond, and cannot be easily removed.

Common knot seen under magnification

Laser Drill Hole

An enhancement process used to disguise imperfections in diamonds by drilling holes with a laser into the stone and filling them with a foreign material.


When a round brilliant diamond is poorly proportioned with an excessive pavilion depth, the center of the diamond appears dark.


A portion of the original surface of the diamond which has been left rough on a finished, polished diamond. This practice maximizes carat weight but may compromise beauty.

Common natural seen under magnification

Surface Inclusions

Inclusions that break the surface of the stone are a potential threat to the diamond and are rejected by Tiffany. These particular flaws create weaknesses that can result in a chipped or cracked stone.

Common surface inclusion seen under magnification

Bezel Setting

The stone is secured in the mounting by a thin strip of metal surrounding the stone’s perimeter.

Channel Setting

A setting style where two parallel metal walls are used to hold gemstones in place, with no metal between the stones.


The Etoile features a bezel-set round brilliant diamond for a graceful and modern effect. When in gold, the Etoile ring embraces the diamond in a platinum cradle so that the integrity of the white light is not compromised. It is also available with a pavé band.


Introduced in 1999, the Lucida is a square mixed-cut diamond with a large brilliant table and proud wide corners. The sweeping lines of its exclusive setting hold the stone with consummate grace and respect.

Tiffany Bezet™

This exclusive Tiffany design is an ultramodern take on the classic bezel setting, a thin strip of metal surrounding the stone’s perimeter. The simple yet distinctive presentation flatters round brilliant, princess-cut, pear- or heart-shaped diamonds.

Tiffany Embrace™

Tiffany Embrace takes its name from the bezel of sparkling diamonds encircling a magnificent stone of spectacular brilliance.

Tiffany Grace™

A platinum band with scintillating round brilliant diamonds complements the pure radiance of a princess-cut diamond.

Tiffany Legacy

Introduced in 2003, the Tiffany Legacy™ ring features a patented cushion-cut center stone surrounded by bead-set diamonds for a look that evokes the glamour of an earlier time. This design is available with or without graduated side stones. The collection includes earrings, pendants and bracelets.

Tiffany Novo

Introduced in 2007, the Tiffany Novo features a brilliant cushion-cut stone inspired by the Tiffany Diamond, a magnificent 128.54-carat stone purchased by Charles Tiffany in 1878. The band shimmers with bead-set diamonds.

Tiffany Setting

This round brilliant diamond solitaire in a six-prong setting was designed by Charles Lewis Tiffany over a century ago. It lifts the stone up into the light where its precise faceting can release its superior brilliance, dispersion and scintillation. The Tiffany Setting has been copied but never equaled.

Tiffany Soleste

Named after the French term for celestial, Tiffany Soleste features two rows of bead-set diamonds around a cushion-cut or round brilliant center stone. Tiffany diamonds are also hand-set on the band as a brilliant final touch.