Diamonds. Just saying the word gives you goosebumps right? A diamond is unique, rare, mysterious, intriguing and an all encompassing symbol of love. There are many diamond shapes (or ways a diamond can be cut) and like anything else in life, there are pros and cons to each. Our hope is that this article gives you food for thought, helps provide another perspective but ultimately helps your decide on the best diamond shape for your engagement ring.
Round Brilliant Cut
The most popular choice for an engagement ring is the round brilliant cut. Round diamonds provide the basis for exceptional sparkle and fire to the naked eye. Laboratories like GIA (Gemological Institute of America) have spent copious amounts of time studying the round brilliant cut diamond and what the cut grade needs to be in order to supply the human eye maximum sparkle. As of the writing of this article, GIA only grades cut on a round brilliant cut diamond.
Due to it’s exceptional characteristics, there are mostly pros for this cut!
Durability - the round brilliant cut is an excellent diamond shape for durability as there are no points exposed.
Did you know? While diamonds are the hardest substance on earth, they are also the most unyielding. A diamond will chip, fracture or break before it will give. While a lack of inclusions around the perimeter of a diamond will help, if struck at the right angle on the right surface, a diamond can break regardless of impeccable clarity.
Sparkle - as mentioned, the round brilliant cut is the hands down winner for light performance and brilliance to the eye.
Value - while the round brilliant cut is the most expensive shape of diamond, historically it also holds it’s value over other cuts. In part this is due to the aesthetics, in every other shape you must love the cut in order to make it your own.
Versatile - round brilliant cut diamonds are showcased beautifully by so many engagement ring designs. Whether you want a simple solitaire, three-stone or side stones, a round cut will take center stage and be the perfect diamond to show off your unique style
A princess cut diamond has the outline of a square. It is still considered a brilliant cut, meaning it has plenty of facets to catch the light and bring sparkle to your eye. This cut provides a modern, crisp and fresh appearance. There are a few important cons to note:
A classic princess cut has four distinct corners. A diamond is most fragile whenever it is cut into a point. It requires a highly skilled jeweler to set a princess cut diamond into a piece of jewelry without chipping the corners. Be sure your jeweler is up to the task!
Carat weight for carat weight, a princess cut diamond will look smaller to the eye compared with a round brilliant cut. Take for example a 1 carat diamond. A well cut round brilliant cut measures approximately 6.5mm in diameter. A 1 carat princess cut diamond measures approximately 5.5mm in diameter. If you were comparing these two stones side by side without any prior knowledge, you would assume that the round brilliant cut is bigger.
Color is concentrated in the corners, meaning if you were to compare a round brilliant cut and princess cut diamond of, for example, H color, the round brilliant cut will appear slightly whiter than the princess cut.
Oval cut diamonds have stolen the hearts of women all over the world in recent years. As their name suggests, oval cut diamonds have an oval shaped outline. They are romantic, feminine and, right now, one of the most popular diamond shapes for an engagement ring. Like their similarity rounded cousin, oval cut diamonds have many pros:
Pro: as they can be cut more shallow which still maintaining excellent light and brilliance, an oval cut may appear larger to the naked eye than other shapes.
Pro: their elongating graceful shape is attractive in a variety of settings. Also due to it’s lengthening silhouette, when set north/south it can have a slimming effect on the hand.
Con: and it’s not a big con! You’ll want to consider whether you want a long, skinny oval with dramatic length. A classic cut with a universally accepted ratio. Or one that is shorter and “fatter” which will more closely resemble a round cut. They all handle light slightly differently, so try on all three if possible and see which speaks to you.
Emerald Cut Diamonds
Emerald cut diamonds are classified in the “step cut” family, meaning the facets are long, narrow and have a “step” like appearance. Their overall outline or shape is rectangular. Unlike a princess cut, emerald cut diamonds typically have the points or corners cut off, making them less vulnerable to damage and easier for a goldsmith to set. A few considerations for thought:
An emerald cut diamond is also cut deeper than other cuts meaning that it will appear smaller than say a round brilliant or oval cut diamond of the same carat weight.
An emerald cut must be relatively free of inclusions. A step cut does not have the brilliant facets which will somewhat mask inclusions. They also have a large surface area so like looking into a window, any flaws will be more obvious to the naked eye.
Emerald shape diamond look amazing in bezel set diamond rings. The bezel enhances the already dramatic lines, giving the cut serious luxury vibes.
Cushion Cut Diamonds
Cushion cut diamonds have a soft pillowy outline. Think a square with rounded corners if that makes any sense! This cut evokes feelings of nostalgia and opulence. As a brilliant cut, this diamond shape also provides excellent sparkle. But a few items of note:
Like a princess cut diamond, cushion cuts have to be cut deeply to achieve the proper light return to the eye. Therefore, they will appear smaller than other cuts of the same carat size.
Unless you are shopping for a large carat size, from afar a cushion cut diamond may appear like a round cut, but smaller. Now that lab-grown diamonds are such an affordable choice, you may want to explore a larger carat size in order to achieve that dramatic effect.
Pear-shaped diamonds are one of my personal favorite shapes for a diamond engagement ring. I know, I’m supposed to write the cold, hard facts without bias but I am human! I absolutely adore the whimsy of a pear or teardrop shaped diamond. It can be worn point up for a true tear drop effect on the hand or point down, which somehow has a lengthening effect on the finger.
Pro: like an oval cut diamond, pear-cut diamonds can be cut shallow and still sparkle like nobody’s business so they can give you a better bang for your buck in the size department.
Con: they come into a dramatic point & remember what we learned about points? They are a diamonds most fragile area. To counteract this, a jeweler will often cover the point with a larger than normal prong or even a prong shaped like a “V” to provide added protection.
Marquise Cut Diamonds
A stunningly dramatic diamond shape is the marquise (also spelled marquis). A fresh, bold and specific elongated shape, you have to LOVE a marquise to put it in your engagement ring. You don’t want to buy this shape because it’s trending, or popular or you see it for the first time and think “how unique”. You have to be in love with with it because you don’t want to get tired of it.
If marquise is a new shape you are exploring, we recommend trying on a number of different engagement ring styles with this shape, and then going home. Leave it. See if it sticks in your head like your favorite song. Then, another day, go back and try it on again with fresh eyes. If you still adore it, then this might just be your diamond shape!
On a marquise you have two main points. Again, your jeweler may want you to have prongs covering the points (either one slightly larger or something in a “V” style) and possibly six prongs for added security. Discuss with your local jeweler to ensure you get the proper security for your lifestyle
Radiant Cut Diamonds
A radiant cut diamond is like a cross between an emerald cut (for the outline shape) and princess cut (for the brilliant cut and sparkle). Like an emerald shape, it too has the corners cut off for increased durability and stability. A radiant cut can either be cut into a square shape but more commonly it is cut into an elongated shape. We get all giddy when we see the rectangular shape of a radiant cut diamond on a simple solitaire band, it’s just so stunningly simple and yet bold.
Asscher Cut Diamonds
Asscher cut diamonds are like a emerald cut that is square. They are also a step cut meaning you’re going to see those step like facets, giving the effect of looking into a window. Like emerald cut diamonds, you will need impeccable diamond clarity otherwise you will see inclusions with your naked eye. That all being said, they are a very different diamond with a totally unique shape, something that you will mostly likely not see on another person!
Con: like most square cut diamonds, asscher cut diamonds look smaller than other shapes of the same carat size.
Pro: asscher cut diamonds lend very well to an Art Deco inspired engagement ring.
Heart Shaped Diamonds
Heart shaped diamonds are probably the least desired shape. Think polar opposite to the most popular shape. In our opinion like some of the other diamond shapes, you really have to be in love with a heart cut diamond. If you do have your heart set on it (pun intended), a few tips:
Try this shape on with some wedding bands. Surprisingly, many women don’t love the look of heart shaped diamonds combined with a wedding band. I don’t know why, all I can say is with 30+ years in engagement ring advice, you’ll want to be sure you love this look of this cut with a wedding band.
When shopping for a heart cut diamond, but sure the diamond is aesthetically pleasing to your eye. You will want graceful lobes, straight wings and a perfect point.
Mine Cut, European Cut & English Cut Diamonds
We won’t go too into detail in this article but if you are shopping for a vintage shape, consider either mine cut, Old European cut or even English cut diamonds. In a nutshell, these were the forerunners to our modern round brilliant. If you can find them, they are a lovely choice for sustainability (think no new earth was moved to produce them) and uniqueness. A bespoke diamond cut 100 or even 200 years ago? Yes please!
The best diamond shape is the one that you love. At Perrara we believe you should symbolize your commitment to each other with an engagement ring and center stone that expresses your personal styles. Shop together, visit your favorite rings more than once before choosing “the one”. A diamond is like a snowflake, there is only one of each. Which diamond shape will be your snowflake?
With Love, Perrara
Author: Lisa Maloney, Proprietor