The most common clarity terms you'll come across when shopping for a diamond are feather, cavity, cloud, etc. The bearded girdle is one of the lesser-known clarity characteristics of a diamond. It might not substantially impact a diamond's beauty and value in many cases as other characteristics do. However, it does matter if it connects to diamonds of certain specs and settings of specific styles—or if you're merely a perfectionist.
This article will explain the basics of a bearded girdle, its impact on a diamond and how it compares to other girdle finishes, and we will share advice on buying a bearded diamond.
What is a bearded girdle, and how does it form?
Bearded girdle (a.k.a. fuzzy girdle, fringed girdle and feathered girdle) is one type of diamond inclusions, consisting of many micro feathers that extend from the girdle surface into the stone.
📜The bearded girdle is mainly formed during the bruting process, where two diamonds are rotated against one another, creating a basic shape and establishing the girdle plane—before being processed to the polishing process. This inclusion occurs when inaccurate manipulations or non-ideal pressure by the cutter is applied to the diamond.
Though more advanced and automatic equipment is utilized for precise diamond cutting and polishing today, bearded girdles can still happen on diamonds of regular quality. Beyond this, they can be found on estate diamonds that were cut in the old days.
What does a bearded girdle look like?
As the name indicates, the surface of a bearded girdle resembles a man's beard.🎅🏻 When the girdle is slightly bearded, there is a small number of tiny feathers scattering around the diamond's perimeter. In comparison, a heavily bearded girdle has many feathers that would create a fuzzy gray fringe all the way around the stone.
How does a bearded girdle impact a diamond's beauty and value?
When determining a diamond's clarity grade, gemologists inspect the gem from both above and below, and as per different orders of visually divided wedge-shaped areas on the stone; they should also thoroughly consider the size, nature, number, location and relief of the clarity characteristics.
Though the bearded girdle may not play a critical role in determining the final clarity grade as it isn't located close to the table and is generally not eye-catching when observed face-up and down, it can still impact a diamond's overall light performance to a certain extent. The fuzzy appearance of the bearded girdle would not only erodes your first impression of the sparkling stone but makes the girdle reflection (spotted from the side) appear more frosted and evident when the girdle is heavily bearded.
Whereas more importantly, a bearded girdle can lower the durability of the diamond and hence the value. Diamond jewelry with bearded girdles should receive extra care. These stones may need time-consuming and professional cleaning because the girdle of this type tends to absorb dirt and oils.💡 If the girdle is not well protected by an appropriate jewelry setting or is hit against a hard surface fiercely, chipping is vulnerable to being induced. That is to say, some settings more suit these diamonds, and sometimes you can save some money if these settings are your favorites.
Bearded vs. Polished vs. Unpolished vs. Faceted girdles
We've explained bearded girdles already, but what are polished, unpolished and faceted girdles?
Polishing is a process right after bruting. When the entire outer edge of a diamond is polished into a single, smooth and clear facet, it becomes a polished girdle. There are no other facets or distinct signs of roughness, only a smooth strip that circles around the perimeter of the diamond.
Contrarily, an unpolished girdle means at least the girdle has not been polished after the stone is shaped, in which case tiny beards could possibly exist as well. Unpolished girdles most likely occur on antique diamond cuts or in the old days when cutting techniques were not mature. As the "beards" are the byproduct during the bruting process, they do not always exist on unpolished diamonds.
Lastly, thanks to the advances in techniques and the aid of automatic machines and software, faceted girdles have gradually become the norm of modern, especially brilliant-cut diamonds. Any tiny feathers are removed, and a series of well-proportioned vertical facets are cut and polished around the entire perimeter of the stone. Though it's uneasy to spot the small facets, they do contribute a cleaner and more appealing look to the diamond, leading to better light reflection and providing more brilliance.
Advice on buying a bearded diamond
Diamonds with a bearded girdle do not necessarily mirror a forthright price reduction. Instead, it means you'd better switch to particular settings to secure the gem.
Prong settings are classic yet elegant and can hide the imperfections of feathers on the girdle, but when exerted sharp external force during daily wear, prongs are prone to chip the girdle if it is heavily bearded. Tension settings are renowned for allowing maximum light to enter the diamond for superior lightplay. But the diamond receives great pressure from both inner sides of the split shank for secure fixing, which would also be vulnerable to breaking the girdle.
Placing a bearded diamond in a bezel or semi-bezel setting is the most secure way to protect the stone. While the gem may sacrifice a slight brilliance, the warm glow it emits from the bezel may enchant you.😘 Furthermore, pairing a bezel setting in yellow gold with a bearded diamond of slightly lower color grade helps whiten the stone meanwhile saves you money!
Should you buy a diamond with a bearded girdle?
👉🏻The bearded girdle isn't the determining factor for the diamond's clarity grade. Despite that it could impact a diamond's beauty; in most cases, there's not much difference when the gem is placed next to one with a polished or faceted girdle and when detected with naked eye. What's most noteworthy is that it can cause risks regarding durability. It's always recommended to keep this concern in mind while choosing a setting for the stone.