A girdle is the outer edge, or outline, of the diamond's shape. The girdle is not graded, but rather it is described by its appearance at its thinnest and thickest points. The descriptions of girdle thickness range as follows: extremely thin; thin; medium; slightly thick; thick; extremely thick. While it is less desirable for a round diamond to display an extremely thin or extremely thick girdle, such girdle widths are more common and acceptable in fancy shapes. For example, shapes such as pears, marquises or hearts may be cut with extremely thick girdles at their points (and at the cleft, in the case of a heart) in order to protect these delicate corners from damage. Most diamonds have smooth girdles that are fashioned by a "bruter" (a diamond cutter who is responsible for shaping the diamond's basic outline) early on in the cutting process. In some cases, cutters go a step further and do additional cutting on the girdle. In these cases, they may decide to create a "polished" girdle or a "faceted" girdle. In both cases, the difference between these and a regular, smooth girdle is generally not distinguishable to the eye. A polished or faceted girdle doesn't improve a diamond's grade. Most labs grade a girdle's thickness, not its appearance.

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