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The Expert Guide to Diamond Shapes

The Expert Guide to Diamond Shapes

Decisions, decisions... whether you're building an engagement ring or a pair of investment studs, the cut of your diamond can be a debilitating choice to make. We've rounded out the top cuts for nature's top jewel and what to look for when choosing a stone.
round diamond

Round

Pros: Classic, timeless cut. High brilliance and fire. Since this is the most popular shape, there are plenty to choose from.

Cons: Because this cut is so popular, prices for less popular cuts can be more affordable than a round diamond of comparable quality.

What to watch out for: Shallow or deep stones. A disproportionate cut doesn’t reflect the light through the stone correctly and can greatly harm the diamond’s brilliance. The “ideal” depth of a round diamond is  between 58 and 64%.

Our recommendations:

Clarity: VS1 to SI2

Color: F to H

Cut: Excellent to Very Good

 

princess diamond

Princess

Pros: Cheaper price because of the higher yield when cutting the stone. Given the natural pyramid like shape of a well-formed diamond rough, cutting a princess diamond loses much less raw material than, say, a round. Because these roughs are also higher in clarity than others, it is also much easier to find a quality princess diamond.

Cons: Their sharp corners are vulnerable to chipping if not protected with a v-prong or similar setting.

What to watch out for: Symmetry. Look for a stone with excellent symmetry and a length-to-width ratio of 1.05:1 or less. A common rule of thumb with princess cut diamonds is to avoid those with a table % that is greater than the depth %.

Our recommendations:

Clarity: VS1 to SI2

Color: F to H

Cut: Excellent to Very Good

 

cushion diamond

Cushion

Pros: This cut creates soft, shimmery sparkle and dispersion of light, creating a rainbow “kaleidoscope” effect. Their rounded shape is soft and romantic, while still drawing attention as unique.

Cons: Being an over 300 year old cut, it was meant to sparkle and shimmer under candlelight. Because of this, its brilliance is somewhat subdued compared to the flashy round cut. It also shows color more than other cuts—but that makes it a choice cut for fancy color diamonds.

What to watch out for: Photographs. This fancy shape can be “looser” than other cuts, meaning that each stone has its own personality—whether it is a larger table, more pronounced or “pillowy” corners, or differences in depth. For this reason, it’s important to see a photo of the actual stone to evaluate its overall look.

Our recommendations:

Clarity: VS2 to SI1

Color: D to G

Cut: Excellent to Very Good

 

oval diamond

Oval

Pros: Can look larger than an equal carat weight cushion or round, and is the most brilliant of all diamond cuts besides the round. This shape also creates an illusion of length to the finger, which can be flattering for petite hands.

Cons: The dreaded bowtie. It’s a nature of the cut to have less light in these areas, but a stone with very good or better cut quality won’t show this effect. It’s important to have an actual picture of the stone to evaluate before purchasing. This cut, like the cushion and emerald cut, can also show more color than other cuts.

What to watch out for: Length to width ratio. This ratio describes how wide or narrow the stone is—most people prefer diamonds in the range of 1.3 to 1.7; we recommend diamonds between 1.4 and 1.6.

Our recommendations:

Clarity: VS1 to SI2

Color: F to H

Cut: Excellent to Very Good

 

emerald cut diamond

Emerald

Pros: Crisp, sharp lines and a bigger look than an equal carat weight round. They are also typically cheaper than more in-demand cuts.

Cons: This cut does not maximize the diamond’s sparkle like a brilliant round cut would. If you really like a diamond’s fire, you may be better suited by a radiant or cushion cut. This cut also makes inclusions and lower color grades more obvious, so you may end up spending more to get a stone with a higher grade clarity or color.

What to watch out for: The length-to-width ratio. This measurement gives you an idea of how narrow or wide this rectangular cut is. Most prefer their stone in the range of 1.33-1.6.

Our recommendations:

Clarity: VVS1 to VS2

Color: D to G

Cut: Excellent to Very Good

 

radiant diamond

Radiant

Pros: A gorgeous mix of the emerald cut silhouette and brilliant, glittery faceting. This cut can also be found square, making it an alternative to the princess cut. The truncated corners reduce the risk of chipping or breaking. Because of the cut’s 70 facets, small inclusions are actually better hidden with this cut, making it easier to find a lower clarity grade that is eyeclean.

Cons: This cut is naturally deeper than other cuts because of the number of facets, and that means that more of the diamond’s weight is hidden in its depth. For this reason, a radiant cut will often face up smaller than other shapes of comparable carat weight.

What to watch out for: Photographs. The overall look of a radiant’s faceting can vary, from “chunky” antique style faceting to elaborate “crushed ice” faceting. For this reason, it’s important to see a photo of the actual stone to evaluate its overall look.

Our recommendations:

Clarity: VS2 to SI2

Color: F to H

Cut: Excellent to Very Good

 

pear diamond

Pear

Pros: This cut is unconventional and memorable. Its brilliant facets help conceal inclusions, allowing for a lower clarity grade than cuts without brilliant faceting (such as the emerald cut).

Cons: Like the oval, marquise, and heart cuts, pears can sometimes exhibit dark, shadowy “bow-ties” in their faceting. Very good or better cut stones will minimize this.

What to watch out for: Cut. This shape can be difficult to get right, either with the right proportions (not “stubby” or too long), proper rounding along the bottom, or the graceful curve from base to point. Get photographs or see the stone in person to determine if it is an appealing look for you.

Our recommendations:

Clarity: VS2 to SI2

Color: F to H

Cut: Excellent to Very Good

 

heart diamond

Heart

Pros: This shape is quirky and unmistakable. Because this type of cut is challenging, and quite unique, heart wedding rings often increase in value with time.

Cons: The distinct shape of this cut can be hard to see for stones under ½ carat. Like the oval, pear, and marquise cut, the heart is also prone to the “bow tie” effect. This can be minimized or eliminated in very good or better cut stones.

What to watch out for: Cut. Like the pear, this cut is an artistic shape without uniform parameters. When choosing a heart, symmetry is a very important characteristic, since it is critical that the two halves of the heart are identical. The cleft (between the two lobes) should be sharp and distinct, and the wings (the sides as they curve down to the point) should have a very slightly rounded shape.

Our recommendations:

Clarity: VS2 to SI2

Color: F to H

Cut: Excellent to Very Good

 

marquise diamond

Marquise

Pros: Unconventional and memorable

Cons: Like the oval, pear, and heart cut, the heart is also prone to the “bow tie” effect. This can be minimized or eliminated in very good or better cut stones. Like the princess cut, its points are vulnerable to chips and breaks.

What to watch out for: Length to width ratio. Well cut stones fall between around 1.5 and 2.5, but individual preferences vary widely in this range. Stones with 1.5 length to width ratios resemble footballs, while stones with 2.5 length to width ratios can resemble narrow canoes.

Our recommendations:

Clarity: VS2 to SI2

Color: F to H

Cut: Excellent to Very Good

Tisha Vaidya, Contributor
I'm a sucker for hot sauce, dimples, and fat babies. Oh, and I have a massive sock collection, even though I don't like wearing socks.
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