Diamond Cutting: Repairs, Re-Cuts, and Custom Cuts

Diamond cutting is a skill that is practiced by relatively few craftsmen in the world. The vast majority of those craftsmen are involved in mass production where they provide only one specific function in the overall multi-stage process of taking a diamond from rough crystal to finished gem. Diamond cutting to repair damage or to improve the diamond in some way, is usually done by one cutter who handles the project from estimate to finished stone. Custom diamond cutting has also become available to consumers today through selected merchants, and is a different ball game altogether.
The most skilled diamond cutters have decades of experience and have the knowledge and skill to take a diamond through all the steps. These are the cutters who are assigned the projects with the most riding on the outcome - generally the bigger and more important (expensive) diamonds. And certainly, these are the cutters who you would want working on your custom cut as they have the ability to evaluate the starting material in light of the desired outcome and bring about a successful execution of the assignment, down to the smallest details.
Diamond on a Polishing Wheel
Diamond on a Polishing Wheel
Most diamond cutting for the commercial market is done in large factories with hundreds of cutters doing their individual part of the diamond manufacturing process. There is a plan for each piece of rough based upon the economics of the yield. Each stage of the cutting process will be executing a step in that plan.
Repairing damaged diamonds, or re-cutting a diamond to achieve better light performance requires a different approach. And custom cutting is another level altogether. In this article we will look at the considerations, risks, and potential benefits of each.

Repairing a Diamond

While diamond is the hardest substance in nature and indeed extremely durable, a faceted diamond is not impervious to damage. The normal places we see damage is at places on the diamond where there are thin areas or points. Diamond shapes with points like marquise, princess and pear can sustain damage from impacts at the points, and round diamonds can experience damage at the girdle line, particularly in areas of the girdle that are very thin. Facet junctions also can sometimes become abraded with wear.
Typically, damage from wear and tear is minor; small chips and scratches. These are relatively easy to repair, especially if they are isolated and do not require re-cutting the entire diamond. One of the reasons to repair minor damage is to lessen the probability that the damage could become worse. Any break in the surface of the diamond, even a chip, can expose very thin edges that are then more susceptible to further damage. Chips at points can be particularly problematic and should be addressed.
Princess Diamond Chipped on the Corner
Princess Diamond with a Chip on the Corner
Minor scratches or nicks are sometimes so minor that they pose no additional danger and might be difficult to see with the naked eye. In this case, it might not make a lot of sense to spend the money to repair the stone. Diamond cutting is not cheap – even minor repairs can cost hundreds of dollars.

Re-cutting a diamond

A full recut of a diamond is a pretty significant step to take. There are several good reasons that someone may decide on a full re-cut. First, it may be the only way to properly address a diamond that has sustained major damage. Any significant cutting and polishing at the site of damage will affect symmetry of the diamond. Depending on the quality of the stone, including the initial cut quality, re-cutting may be the only way to bring the stone all the way back to original condition, though somewhat smaller of course.
Diamond Chipped on the Girdle
Round Diamond with a Chip on the Girdle
Another reason to fully re-cut a diamond is to upgrade its overall cut quality and light performance. Because cut quality was not well understood in the market for a very long time (by consumers anyway), many diamonds were cut to retain as much carat weight as possible, with very little regard to optimizing light performance. This is especially true if the original diamond was at or slightly over a ‘magic mark’ such as 2.00 carat or 3.00 ct. In this case it is very common for the original cutter to have made compromises to cut quality in order for the stone not to drop below these thresholds, because to have done so would have yielded a diamond that would have traded at a significantly lower price on the market. Diamond manufacturing in general is still predicated on a philosophy based on economic self-interest, not on making the most beautiful diamond possible. However, the owner of a diamond can make a new decision to recut for maximum beauty, and this is when an experienced cutter can be of great value.
Below are before and after light performance images of a round diamond that originally weighed 2.01 carats and was recut to A CUT ABOVE® specifications now weighing 1.67 carats.
ASET Before Recut
ASET image of 2.01ct Before Recut
Diamond Before Recut
Diamond image of 2.01ct Before Recut
Hearts Before Recut
Hearts image of 2.01ct Before Recut
ASET After Recut
ASET image After Recut to 1.67ct
Diamond After Recut
Diamond image After Recut to 1.67ct
Hearts After Recut
Hearts image After Recut to 1.67ct

Cost of Diamond Repair and Re-cut

Because it is such a specialized skill, diamond cutting is expensive in general. Even minor repolishing will normally involve hundreds of dollars. The size of the diamond is a factor as well, with larger diamonds taking longer to cut and increasing the labor costs substantially. Costs are highly variable and dependent on the damage to be repaired and the approach that the customer elects to take based upon a cutter’s assessment.

Risks Associated with Diamond Cutting

Any time a diamond is put on the cutting wheel spinning at thousands of RPMs, even a seemingly minor repolish entails risk to the diamond. That risk includes up to total loss! It is very rare for such a thing to happen, but it is not unheard of. It is therefore important for a consumer considering a re-cut to be clear on who is bearing that risk. If the diamond is being repaired, it is usually the consumer who is assuming the risk. If it is a custom cut, the merchant has the obligation to provide a finished diamond according to the terms of the agreement, and thus assumes the risk.

Potential Lab Grade Changes

One of the reasons to recut a diamond, or benefits of recutting in certain situations, is that an inclusion may be removed that will improve the clarity grade when the diamond is re-graded at the lab. However, in rare cases an inclusion might become more visible after a recut, particularly if recutting brings an inclusion closer to the surface. This could potentially result in a clarity downgrade, but very unlikely.
Recutting for improved light performance can result in a diamond that appears whiter in the face up direction. This holds the potential of resulting in an improved color grade when the diamond is resubmitted to the lab, although it is rare. This can happen if the diamond was on the borderline before recutting. An even rarer occurrence, but one that cannot be dismissed altogether, is a re-cut resulting in a drop in color grade!
Since a recut diamond is essentially a new diamond that must be graded from scratch, it will be evaluated by a new grader or graders. If a diamond was originally graded in the very distant past, grading practices at the lab may have also changed slightly. These potential variables and exceptions should be understood before investing in recutting a diamond. A skilled cutter can give very good predictions based upon knowledge and experience, but cannot dictate or guarantee the grading by a top tier laboratory such as GIA or AGSL.

Custom Cut Diamonds

Some diamond vendors that offer repair and re-cutting services also offer custom diamond cutting. There are a couple of reasons why a consumer might consider a custom cut diamond. One is to make a specific shape or facet configuration that is not available off the shelf. Examples include proprietary diamond cuts that may be available only from a certain company with a limited range of inventory.
Another reason to do a custom cut is to guarantee that the specifications of the final gem fall within a very narrow range of precision. The best example of this is to ensure the making of a true “super ideal” with optimized light performance. While there are several companies operating within the super ideal niche, very few have a deep inventory in stock, particularly in larger sizes.
3.034 G VS2 A CUT ABOVE Round Diamond
3.034ct G VS2 A CUT ABOVE Round Diamond
Whiteflash has been providing a regular production of super ideal cut diamonds since the year 2000. Our A CUT ABOVE® hearts and arrows diamonds have found a wide audience of enthusiastic owners around the world over the last two-plus decades. The exceedingly stringent requirements for the brand ensure that these diamonds are elite in terms of fire and brilliance. In addition to providing repair services for owners of A CUT ABOVE® diamonds who experience damage (it’s rare), Whiteflash also provides custom diamond cutting when appropriate.
Even with the deepest and broadest in-house inventory of ideal diamonds of any retailer anywhere, Whiteflash sometimes has no A CUT ABOVE® diamond in stock or in the pipeline to satisfy a particular call. This is usually in larger sizes (2 carats or larger) and often in the finer color and clarity grades, such as our A CUT ABOVE® Collection Series. When a customer needs a diamond that is not in stock and not likely to be in stock in the near term, that customer might be a candidate for a custom cut project. The end product is guaranteed to meet all qualifications and specifications for our super ideal brand, and to meet or exceed estimates for weight, color and clarity.

The Whiteflash Custom Cut Process

When a customer inquires about a custom diamond cut, the first thing we do is evaluate the likelihood that we will have the target diamond in stock through our regular production within the time it takes to execute a custom cut (usually about 6 weeks).
If a custom cut makes sense, a firm quote is given that specifies a minimum carat weight, minimum color, and minimum clarity. Any upgrades from these minimums accrues to the benefit of the customer. That is, there is no additional charge if the finished diamond turns out to be a higher color or clarity, or weighs more than the minimum guaranteed. Upon acceptance of the quoted price and terms of the project a 20% deposit is required, and is not refundable unless the final product fails to meet all of the guarantees. The full process is outlined here including a form that you can fill out to request a custom cut diamond.
Depending on the goals to be accomplished, Whiteflash will determine the optimal approach, sometimes starting from a rough crystal, sometimes locating the perfect existing diamond as the starting material. (This is usually the case if a customer requires dual certification from both GIA and AGS laboratories.) Custom cutting provides predictability and deliverability with the final product having all the features and benefits of our A CUT ABOVE® brand, including Lifetime 100% Trade-Up Guarantee.


Diamond cutting is a highly specialized skill. Most diamonds are cut in a commercial production factory where each cutter performs a part of the overall multi-stage process. Some cutters specialize in performing repairs and re-cuts and can assess things like damage and the different approaches to correcting the issues and accomplishing the desired goals, and make educated prediction of the expected outcomes. There are also a number of risks associated with putting a diamond back on the cutting wheel, and these should be fully understood before undertaking a re-cut project.

Custom cutting a diamond is in a different category. It is intended for customers who want a diamond with features that are not readily available in the market, such as a unique facet arrangement or a precision cut diamond optimized for light performance. In so doing, some customers end up with a branded diamond with the benefits of the brand included.

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