It's the honing that gives a diamond its unique appearance - and much of its value. The diamond cutter seeks to bring out the best in each stone THE SKILL OF a master diamond cutter adds much to the value of a stone. 'In the past, people focused on size, colour and clarity. Now they want better cuts,' said Winston Chow, deputy general manager of Chow Sang Sang Jewellery. The quality of the cut can have a significant effect on the appearance of a diamond. The cut affects how light entering the stone reflects back white light, or brilliance, and splits it into a rainbow of colours called fire. 'If you are buying a stone [with a lower colour grade] but very good cutting, it likely will look better than a higher colour stone with poor cutting,' Mr Chow said. The 58-facet round brilliant cut is a traditional favourite among diamond buyers, many of whom prefer standard prong settings. 'People like this type of setting because it shows the stone more. They also want thinner and narrower prongs,' said Tony Cheng, assistant manager, executive office, at Chow Tai Fook Jewellery. Ideal cuts and variations such as super ideal cuts are round brilliants cut to exacting mathematical standards to produce maximum brilliance. Hearts and arrows diamonds, created by precise symmetry, proportions and polishing, are popular in Hong Kong. By looking through the top of a stone with a special viewer, a pattern of eight arrows appears. Eight hearts can be seen from the bottom of the stone. 'Consumers are dazzled by the pattern inside the diamond. It was introduced by retailers to inject excitement into the product and to attract new customers,' said William Hui, brand manager for Just Diamond, which has sold hearts and arrows diamonds for about two years. While the round brilliant remains the best-selling cut, demand has risen in recent years for other shapes, known as fancy cuts. 'We're selling more heart, pear and teardrop shapes. Fancy cuts are a little more expensive, but when the economy starts picking up people want to spend more on luxury items,' said Mr Chow. A novel variation on the heart cut is the lady heart cut diamond, which combines a square-cut diamond and two half-moon diamonds to make a heart shape. 'It's mounted to look like one stone,' he explained, adding that the assembled heart appears larger than a single heart-shaped stone of the same carat weight, yet costs about one-third of the price. In August, French jeweller Cartier unveiled its 88 Fortune Facets Diamond, a round brilliant that features 30 extra facets. 'They add more brilliance and sparkle,' said Cornelia Callens, product manager for jewellery and high jewellery at Cartier. The cut is exclusive to Asia and plays on the double eight symbol of happiness and good fortune. 'The feedback on it has been good. People like the aesthetics of it,' Ms Callens added. The Cartier jewellery line, set with these smaller 0.15 to 0.20 carat diamonds is targeted at younger, first-time diamond buyers. Well-known United States brand Tiffany & Co's patented Lucida cut, which has been going strong for nearly 10 years, is a square mixed-cut shape with a high crown and wide corners. The cut's appeal lies in its fresh, contemporary elegance. 'The proportions of the cut and the cutting technique make the stone look bigger on the top,' said Cecily Chiu, marketing executive at the company. The one to two carat Lucida-cut diamonds are mainly geared for engagement rings and wedding bands, but other types of jewellery are also available. Arjav Diamonds in Belgium has in its possession a 45.4 carat yellow diamond in cushion cut valued at US$2 million. 'We opted for a cushion cut because of the class that a cushion cut can display. The cushion cut is a traditional, stylish cut that was used before in other famous jewellery pieces. This cut breathes heritage and creates a big brilliance,' said Arjav's marketing manager Steven Boelens. Called Yellow Grace, the diamond was unearthed in South Africa and sent to Antwerp, Belgium. It took more than six months to finish. Arjav has held on to the stone for the past 18 months, but is considering offering up for sale through auction. 'It was amazing that all kinds of people were willing to take over the diamond and it was especially remarkable that the stone was preferred by people who had a big respect for history and tradition. It could be that the stone refers to the old days because of its cut and colour. We don't know what the exact reason is,' he said.