round brilliant vs round modified brilliant gia terms what they mean

Round brilliant vs round modified brilliant – GIA grading report.

If you had been shopping around for a diamond engagement ring, you might have come across the terms “Round Brilliant” and “Modified Round Brilliant” in a GIA grading report. So, what do these terms mean and how do they affect the visual appearance of the diamond?

In this article, you will find out what they are and get an overview of most popular modified round brilliant cut diamonds in the market; the Solasfera and Star 129.

What is a Brilliant Cut And What is a Modified Brilliant Cut?

round brilliant facet arrangement 57 facets

The standard 57 facets round brilliant cut facet arrangement.

A brilliant cutting style simply refers to a facet design where the pavilion facets converge to meet at a single point of the diamond (culet). One distinct feature of brilliant cut diamonds is that their individual facets take on a triangular or kite shape and have a radiating layout.

The standard round brilliant cut diamond has 57 facets which behave like tiny mirrors to refract light into a spectrum of colors and return light to the viewer’s eye. Because of the sparkle the brilliant cut creates, it is the most prevalent cutting style found in modern polished diamonds.

round modified brilliant facet arrangement solasfera

A round modified brilliant cut diamond facet arrangement.

When the term “Modified” is used to describe a cutting style, it simply means that the diamond doesn’t possess a standard facet arrangement. Grading labs like GIA and AGS would use the technical term “Round modified brilliant” cut to describe such stones in their certificates.

Most of the time, this is due to the addition of facets into the design or even something as simple as a reorientation of facets. Now, there are plenty of round modified diamonds in the marketplace and you may have heard of branded diamonds like the Leo Diamond, Zale’s CelebrationGassan 121  Wylde Flower Diamond and 221 facets Brilliant Lady.

Basically, these diamonds are created by making modifications to the facet structure of traditional round brilliant cuts. The problem I have with many of these branded diamonds is that they are often falsely marketed to have “better sparkle” and aren’t worth the insane price premiums.

If you are looking for a super ideal cut diamond with the best light performance, stick with the standard round cut diamond. Whiteflash and Brian Gavin are vendors that specialize in high performance diamonds that have better sparkle than modified round cuts.

Solasfera Diamonds – A Quick Review

When it comes to modified round brilliant diamond designs, one of my personal picks is the Solasfera because of its light performance.

Interestingly, the name Solasfera is rather eloquent as “Sol” is Latin for “sun” and it literally means having the brilliance of the sun. On that note, even the internal facet structure of the stone is reminiscent of perfectly distributed sunbeams.


Technically speaking, a Solasfera diamond has 91 facets or 92 facets when a culet is present at its tip. The company claims that its creation is the “most brilliant” round cut diamond on Earth.

And if you had been following my blog long enough, I usually toss such claims out the windows until I see visual proof for myself. However, this case was an exception.

light performance comparison

The Solasfera really features vivid brilliance and scintillation that makes it well worthy of its name. In terms of craftsmanship, the Light Masters Corporation has set really high standards and quality control into the Solasfera’s cut.

What About Star 129 And Other Modified Cuts?

star 129 diamond review

The Star 129 diamond.

Besides the Solasfera, there is plenty of other modified round cut diamonds in the market but the truth is, most of them are mediocrely cut and sold under the guise of fancy sounding brand names.

However, I do want to mention some notable ones like the Eighternity and Star 129.

As the name suggests, Star 129 diamonds have 129 facets instead of the “standard” 57 facets that the standard round has. That’s almost twice as many facets and it is also dubbed as “absolutely the most spectacular diamond on the planet”.

If you think about it logically, a cutter needs to place 129 surfaces onto the diamond during the polishing process. If you try to divide all that up within the surface area of a small stone, what do you think you would end up with?

Well… it will result in 129 super small surfaces. And when light hits on hundreds of this small surface, it can create a very messy (though bright) appearance. Here’s a blown up view to let you see the finer details of the Star 129.

star129 modified round magnified image

Because of the small surface area of each facet, the diamond takes on an extremely splintery appearance and that can be a problem when buying small carat size diamonds.

The appearance of a Star 129 might come across kitschy if the diamond is not large enough to support all that brilliance. So, unless you are thinking of buying a diamond of least one and a half carat in size, you should probably stick with the standard round cut.

Visual Comparisons of Diamonds Under Various Lighting



As you can see, the Star 129 wins hands down in extreme spotlighting scenarios. I can honestly say this is almost the maximum brightness and brilliance any diamond can show under this type of controlled lighting condition.

However, I would still prefer a traditional 57 super ideal cut round diamond or the Solasfera over the Star 129 diamond. Why? It really depends on where the lady works.

Chances are, she is more likely to be exposed to “normal” environments with diffused lighting conditions (office lighting) or soft spotlighting most of the time. In these types of lighting, I feel that the Star 129 diamond loses out on the contrast aspect and doesn’t look appealing.

Is There a Winner Between The Different Modified Brilliant Cuts?

modified round brilliant cut ring

Are modified brilliant cuts more sparkly and lively?

Ultimately, it is what you prefer (or the lady prefers) that really matters. Different modified brilliant cut diamonds take on different appearances and flavor.

Remember, diamond carat weight is a factor that comes into play when you are looking at modified cuts with significantly more facets. When the size of the diamond is small (< 1.5 carats), every individual facet would also be cut relatively smaller and this results in a chaotic appearance.

If you are buying a smaller diamond, stick to the traditional round brilliant cut.

Personally speaking, I’m a traditionalist and given the amount of junk I had seen being marketed as superior, I would stay away from modified round brilliant cut diamonds. They aren’t worth the money and most consumers end up overpaying for inferior quality.

When shopping for a diamond ring, branding and fanciful marketing mean nothing to me. I would rather buy a high quality diamond ring with proven light performance and one that is made with a high standard of craftsmanship.

pave 6 prong diamond ring sleek affordable
stunning basket design side diamonds surprise engagement ring

Stunning and affordable diamond engagement rings from White Flash.

When unsure of the recipient’s preferences, the general rule of the thumb is to stick with the safest choice of buying a round brilliant cut diamond. Whiteflash and Brian Gavin both offer ideally cut diamonds that exhibit superb optical performance.

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  1. Roy Niswanger-
    May 6, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    Hi Mr. Paul,

    I just fell upon your site because like many out there, Costco seems to be an option when buying diamond rings, for me a new bridal set for the wife of 17 years.

    So, my budget is $3500. I have seen bridal sets with center stones in the .5c to .7c range for this price. Two things I’ve learned over the course of a week researching is that I should put cut at the top of the 4-Cs list and I have learned that cut isn’t always so easy to determine (often not listed very clearly).

    First, should I really invest in an Ideal Scope and learn how to use it on a mounted ring and if so which one would you recommend buying?

    Second, for Solasfera cut bridal sets w/in my budget and center stone specs. Is it even possible and if so where do I go to buy/find/look/try these bridal sets? I live in Austin, TX.

    Thank you,
    Roy Niswanger

  2. Paul Gian-
    May 7, 2015 at 1:23 am

    There are online vendors who can provide ASET/Idealscope images for their diamond listings. For a list of recommended vendors with reasonable prices, you can them here:

    Costco is not a place I would recommend for the uninitiated. You need to be extremely knowledgeable in picking diamonds and have to go through the hassle of finding a separate jeweler for resizing the ring if required. (Costco does NOT offer ring sizing services). Read our review of Costco here:

    If you want to spend 50-70 dollars for a scope, I recommend that you get an ASET scope and use this reference chart to help you determine light performance:

    As far as I know, Jared is a vendor whom you can find the Solasfera bridal set from in Austin. You can check the list of authorized retailers at this webpage:

    However, the branded Solasfera diamond won’t come cheap and if you are on a budget, I suggest that you stick to traditional round brilliant cuts to get the biggest bang for your buck.

  3. Janet Harper-
    August 30, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Thank you for this article and recommendation to stick with the traditional number of facets for smaller stones. I recently purchased a 98 facet 8 stone 4/10 carat total weight band off a home shopping network. All the reviews are raving about it, but I don’t think it has as much sparkle as a 58 facet 10 stone 3/10 carat band of the same style. Both are said to be H VS. The 98 facet ring does sparkle like crazy in certain light, but side by side under normal reading light or outdoor light, the smaller 58 facet stones have much more sparkle. The 98 facets on such small stones are less sparkly and can look rather flat, if that makes sense. Thanks for your explanation.

  4. Paul Gian-
    August 31, 2015 at 7:32 am

    Thanks for leaving a comment. Is the 98 facets stone called the Lilla Diamond?

  5. Janet Harper-
    September 11, 2015 at 3:20 am

    The 98 facet stones are not marketed as the Lilla Diamond. By the way, what do you know about the Tolkowsky diamond proportions and hearts and arrows diamonds? How is a hearts and arrows diamond different from a standard 57 facets round cut? I’ve also heard that the more facets a diamond has, the more sparkly it will be.

  6. Paul Gian-
    September 12, 2015 at 11:41 am

    The modern brilliant cut has been perfected with the aid of mathematical and empirical data since Marcel Tolkowsky’s days. Today, the proportions for brilliant cuts have been optimized so they yielded diamonds with maximum brilliance and fire.

    The traditional brilliant resembles a cone and has 57 tiny surfaces called facets. While the 57 facets style of brilliant cut is the “generic” round diamond you usually see, it is possible for a different look to be achieved by varying the number and orientation of facets.

    When inspected under a special viewer, a perfectly aligned round brilliant cut displayed patterns reminiscent of arrows when seen from the top and of hearts when seen from the bottom. For these reasons, such diamonds are often referred to as “hearts and arrows”.

    When the polishing of a rough stone is carried out with skilled labor and proper planning, the additional number of facets can yield an increased sparkle factor and brilliance.

    That said, you should not be tricked by the sheer number a diamond has since there are many other modified rounds that don’t appear as aesthetically pleasing to the eye. And the problem in the industry is that the majority of these branded diamonds are nothing more than marketing gimmicks.

  7. Jordan-
    July 24, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    I just found your amazing site! Thank you so much for the great advice and guides. It’s really helpful to someone who is trying to navigate engagement ring buying for the first time.

    I am a Canadian who’s living in Rome for 7 months and want to buy an engagement ring before my girlfriend visits me in Rome. From my initial research I feel that prices are much higher here in Italy than back in Canada and USA.

    My question: Do you think there is anywhere I can find an engagement ring for a decent price in Italy? Everything seems more expensive here. All the locals I ask can’t suggest any reasonable options. Wondering what your general recommendation is here.

    Would it be easier for me to just buy a ring online and have it shipped from USA/Canada? I’m nervous about idea of shipping something valuable, but I’m under the impression that the general price is higher here in Italy, even if I go to some small town to try and avoid the tourist trap pricing.

    Thanks for your time and thank you for the amazing website!

  8. Paul Gian-
    July 25, 2018 at 4:14 pm

    Shopping online is way “safer” than buying in a physical store because of the consumer protection and better quality goods you will get. Prices are definitely going to be cheaper as well. The more important thing is better light performance and sparkle

    Read this:

    Diamond rings in Italy would be more expensive because of the VAT they charge in the European zone. ANyway, BlueNile also ships to the EU: and buying from them may help you reduce hassle.

  9. Jordan-
    July 26, 2018 at 10:11 pm

    Thank you so much for taking the time to reply.

    I’ve looked through White Flash and James Allen and I can see the prices are much better the stores in Rome. Glad to see there are several with free shipping and insured shipping. Now I just need to sit down and compare these sites to Blue Nile and see what I like best :)

    So glad I found your website. I’m already feeling a lot less anxious about this search after reading about your search method. “Cut is king” makes sense to me.

    I had another question: If unsure about the ring size, is it better to go high, or go low? Which is easier to resize?

    I ask because I’m overseas in school right now, and planning to buy a ring online before my girlfriend comes to visit me. I bought her a cheap little ring years ago and I took a picture of it for scale before I left. She wore it on ring finger and she hadn’t changed over the years. This seems to measure at 15mm – so should I consider a ring size of 4.25 based on this ring size scale? Is resizing to make the ring smaller going to be easier than making the ring larger? I plan to buy a fairly affordable (but safe) setting for this first ring anyways, so I could just select a new ring when I get back to Canada if resizing is not an option.

    So glad I am looking online instead of in stores. Now I have a better feel for fair pricing before I even go into a store. Was wondering your thoughts are on feathering and wisps in the diamond? I found some diamonds I really like for their clarity, and they have thicker girdle that you mentioned. However they have these feathering and wisps in the stone and I’m wondering how this is usually perceived? I think they will add some nice character – but perhaps I am naive?

    Thank you so much. I will make sure to sing some praises for your site across social media and my blog once it’s safe to do so. I need to wait until the proposal at least ;)

  10. Paul Gian-
    July 27, 2018 at 10:01 pm

    It depends on the type of ring design. Slightly smaller is easier to resize by stretching the ring to a larger size. This is good for solitaire designs. The best is to get it right the first time round. Overall, I don’t like getting rings resized because of the additional trouble involved.

    The ring size of 4.25 or 4.5 (most vendors only provide increments of 0.5 sizes) would be recommended based on the old ring’s dimensions. Since yours fall under the 4.25 range, going slightly bigger to 4.5 is the better option.

    Twinning wisps and feathers are generally fine for SI1 and better diamonds. It all depends on a case by case basis. Let me know what you are looking at with the direct url links so that I can review the videos for you.

    Going online is the way to go. Better prices are just part of the benefits of doing so. The main reason I tell people to go online is getting better quality diamonds.

  11. THANH-
    May 19, 2021 at 1:06 pm

    Hi Mr. Paul,

    I found your amazing website when searched for round modified brilliant. I have a question and I really appreciate your advices.

    My aunt has a round modified brilliant diamond, GIA certified and she would like to sale it for me for a good price. The stone is 2.15 carats, excellent polish and symmetry, VS1, H color. My concern is the depth is 66%, I think it’s too deep. Table is 57% and crown angle is more than 35 degree. We don’t know the vendor who cut the diamond.

    Do you think it’s worth to buy it? Thank you so much!

  12. Paul Gian-
    May 24, 2021 at 6:30 am

    66% depth for a diamond is ridiculously steep and bad. This affects both the brilliance as well as face up size of the diamond by making it look smaller than its carat weight should be.

  13. JY-
    September 9, 2021 at 10:46 am

    (I am South Korean, a non-native speaker of English. Please understand that words, expressions, and grammar can be weird.)

    Hello, Mr.Paul.

    Thank you for sharing all your diamond knowledge.

    I’m looking for a Solasfera diamond in the range 1.01~1.09 ct.
    I read the above article you wrote, and I know you said buy a modified cut only if it’s over 1.5ct.
    But I’m a diamond-phile who is male, and in my opinion, a diamond over 1.5 ct would be unsightly on a man’s hand
    unless you choose a ring design that shows only the top surface of a diamond.
    But since I’m going with a design that shows the entire diamond, something in the aforementioned range would be as big as it can get, in my opinion. (Your opinions are most welcome and valued.)
    And I have one Brian Gavin Signature cut diamond, and so this time I want something different.
    Hence Solasfera I’m considering.

    The reason I’m seeking your advice is because
    when I googled Solasfera, it doesn’t seem like people are loving Solasfera as much as they love traditional round brilliant Hearts & Arrows diamonds, judging from the fact there are not many online vendors who deal with Solasfera – Good Old Gold is the only one I could find and even they have only two Solasfera diamonds in their inventory.

    Is Solasfera not popular? (I don’t mind buying something not popular as long as it’s beautiful but)
    If it’s not popular, is it because it’s not so beautiful in real life as it looks on Youtube?
    Would you recommend something else?
    If yes, what would it be?
    Oh and one more please.
    With Solasfera, is the best cut quality guaranteed?

    Thank you for all your trouble answering our questions.
    And thank you also for letting us know about Brian Gavin Diamonds.

    Warmest Regards


    The ring design I’m considering is like this :
    It is 0.2ct in the picture but the jeweler said he’d adjust the design so it could hold a 1ct diamond.
    Do you know any other design for men’s diamond rings that show as much of a diamond as possible (hopefully all of it)?

    Thank you, Mr.Paul

  14. Paul Gian-
    September 14, 2021 at 7:02 am

    Solasfera is not a popular brand but if the appearance speaks to you, then who is to say your taste is wrong or weird? In the same way, I personally like heart shaped diamonds but the majority of consumers dislike it. Most people go for a round brilliant cut or a princess cut diamond instead. Is there something wrong here? Absolutely not.

    In general, I find that most Solasfera diamonds are cut to extremely high standards and they are very consistent in the cut precision. I would go as far as to say you won’t find an ugly Solasfera or a poorly cut Solasfera which is completely opposite to some other brands like the Leo Diamond.

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