History of Diamond Shapes and Cuts

Ever looked at your wedding or engagement ring with princess cut diamonds, or round brilliant cut diamonds, and wondered how the stones got to be shaped that way? Interestingly enough, there’s a lot of history behind the introduction of different diamond shapes and cuts.  Here are just a few examples of how certain diamond shapes came to be.

emerald Cut Diamond Emerald Cut Diamonds. This diamond got its name when a diamond cutter cut a diamond in an emerald shape, instead of an emerald. Cut in “stepped facets”, the facets on this diamond resemble steps on a staircase. This cut is also known for it’s precise long lines and it’s open appearance.
Round Brilliant Cut Diamonds Round Brilliant Cut Diamonds As far as historians know, diamond engagement rings date back to 1477, when Mary of Burgundy received a diamond ring as a symbolic promise of marriage. Then over a century ago, Russian mathematician Marcel Tolkowsky calculated the precise number of diamond cuts necessary to create the “ideal” diamond shape. This “ideal” shape is today known as the “round brilliant cut”. The purpose of this cut is to maximize brilliance and fire, and diamond cutters have been refining the original cut ever since.
RADIANT CUT DIAMOND Radiant Cut Diamonds. Henry Grossbard perfected this shape relatively recently, in 1977, in order to maximize the brilliance of fire of diamonds with straight edges and rectangular facets. His radiant cut design was one of the first patents ever established for a diamond cut.
Asscher Cut Diamonds Asscher Cut. The Asscher shape diamond was developed in 1902 by the Asscher Brothers of Holland. It is most widely known as a variation of the emerald cut, as it is a stepped square cut also known as a Modified Square Emerald cut. It has 72 facets, making it resemble an octagon and sparkle like a round brilliant. The Asscher brothers were renowned jewelry cutters and were widely praised for their Art Deco style.
Cushion Cut Diamonds Cushion Cut Diamonds. This antique cut resembles a cross between the Old Mine Cut (deep cut with large facets), which was common in the late 19th century, and the Modern Oval cut. It is also known as the pillow cut or candlelight diamond. Though it’s not as brilliant as some modern cuts, it has a very romantic look.

Understanding the Many Shapes of Diamonds

With so many diamond shapes available on the market today, how do you know which one is right for you?  Each diamond shape offers something a little different. The round brilliant cut and the princess cut offer the most sparkle and fire while the emerald cut offers a classic elegant look.

Here is a look at the top 10 diamond shapes for engagement rings sold today.

Round Brilliant Cut Diamond

More than 100 years ago, a Russian Mathematician named Marcel Tolkowsky, who was a member of a large powerful diamond family, calculated the number of cuts necessary to create the “ideal” diamond shape, known today as the brilliant cut.  Since that time, cutters have been using advanced techniques and mathematical calculations to intensify brilliance and fire.

The Round Brilliant (aka brilliant cut) shape diamond is the most popular of diamonds shapes.   It consists of 58 facets and displays the most brilliance, fire, and scintillation of all diamond cuts on the market today.

Asscher Shaped Diamond

The Asscher cut diamond was developed in 1902 by the Asscher Brothers of Holland and is a variation of an emerald cut.  The Asscher cut is a stepped square cut also known as a Modified Square Emerald cut.   This cut offers a small table (largest facet on a stone) high crown (top portion of the stone) deep pavilions (lower portion of the stone), and cut corners.   With its 72 wide step facets it resembles that of an octagon and sparkles like the Round Brilliant.   The recommended length to width ratio for this diamond shape is 1.0 – 1.05 which will provide for a square look.

Emerald Shaped Diamond

The “Emerald Cut” was originally developed for cutting Emeralds not diamonds and this is how it received its name.  The Emerald cut provides for a very elegant classic look and is known for its long lines.   The pavilion (bottom portion of the stone) is cut with large facets to create an optical appearance and because of this clarity, cut, and color are very important factors when considering this cut.  The recommended length to width ratio for this diamond shape is 1.30 – 1.40.

Cushion Shaped Diamond

The Cushion cut diamond is unique with its rounded corners and larger facets and is also known as a pillow cut or candlelight diamond.  The Cushion cut is an antique cut that is a cross between the Old Mine Cut popular in the late 19th Century, early 20th Century and an Oval cut diamond.   This cut provides for a classic look and is not as brilliant as the more modern cut diamonds.  The Cushion has large open facets so clarity and color are important factors when considering this cut.  The recommended length to width ratio for this diamond shape is 1.25 – 1.30.   A ratio between 1.0 – 1.05 offers a square look whereas a ratio greater would offer a more rectangular look.

Heart Shaped Diamond

The Heart shaped diamond is known as the most romantic of all diamond cuts.  The Heart is essentially a Pear shaped diamond with a cleft.   This cut is very distinctive and is beautiful when set.   Symmetry and length to width ratio are very important factors to consider when purchasing this shape.   The recommended length to width ratio for the perfect heart shape is between .90 – 1.10.

Marquise Shaped Diamond

The Marquise cut resembles the shape of a football or classic style boat when viewed from above.  The cutting method used for a Marquise is a “step cut” also known as a “table cut.”  The facets on a “step cut” are cut in steps.  The crown (top portion of the stone above the girdle), pavilion (bottom portion of the stone below the girdle), and table (largest facet on a stone) are cut in rectangular facets.  The Marquise is bright, clear, and has a great deal of sparkle because the facets span the length or width of the stone and decrease, as they get closer to the table.

Oval Shaped Diamond

The Oval is a brilliant cut and is an adaptation of the Round Brilliant.  With its 56 facets it usually looks larger than a round stone of the same carat weight.  It is a great alternative for someone wanting the look of the Round Brilliant, but also looking for something a little different.  The Oval is a classic choice and flatters the shape of the hand as the length of the Oval accentuates long slender fingers.

Pear Shaped Diamond

The Pear is a brilliant cut diamond and is half Oval and half Marquise.  The Pear resembles that of a tear drop pointed at one end and rounded on the other.  An ideal Pear cut has 58 facets offering a display of brilliance and fire.  The Pear is unique and is a great alternative to the round brilliant.

Princess Shaped Diamond

The Princess has sharp uncut pointed corners and with 58 facets are known for their brilliance and fire.  There is no other rectangular or square shaped stone that comes close to the Princess in terms of brilliance.

Radiant Shaped Diamond

The Radiant has the brilliance and fire of the traditional Round Brilliant, but the shape of the Emerald and Asscher cuts.  The Radiant was designed with 70 facets for the maximum amount of brilliance.  It has cropped corners and is often slightly more rectangular over square shaped.

To learn more about diamond shapes and our recommendations for each, visit our diamond shape education section

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How to Choose the Perfect Diamond Shape for Your Engagement Ring

Choosing the perfect diamond shape for your engagement ring is important and before making your decision you should consider much more than what shape you like best.  Your engagement ring will be one of the more significant purchases you’ll ever make and considering all your options is essential.

What diamond shapes are there?


diamond shape chart

Before making your decision familiarize yourself with each shape and the differences between them.  Do you like the fire and brilliance of the round brilliant cut, radiant cut or princess cut, the romantic look of the cushion cut, heart, or oval cut, or the classic long lines of the emerald cut.

While personal preference is extremely important here are some other things to consider.

Things to consider

Will the shape be practical to your life style?  Based on your life style certain settings may be better than others.  For example, if you work in the medical profession a diamond shape that can be set in a low profile setting may work better for you.

Size of your fingers and hand –certain shapes will enhance certain features.  For example, the oval elongates your fingers.   Also, a 1.00ct round brilliant will look much different than a 1.00ct emerald.

The quality of the diamond – we always recommend quality over weight.  Certain shapes will need to be purchased in a higher cut, clarity, and color grade than others.  For example, the clarity characteristics in a round brilliant will be less visible than in an asscher or emerald.

After choosing the perfect diamond shape for you make sure you take a look at several setting options.  You’ll want to find a setting that shows off your center stone and doesn’t hide it.

To learn more about diamond shapes, visit our diamond education section

What is an Asscher Cut Diamond?

The Asscher cut diamond was developed in 1902 by the Asscher Brothers of Holland and is a variation of an Emerald cut.  The Asscher cut is a stepped square cut also known as a Modified Square Emerald cut.   This cut offers a small table (largest facet on a stone) high crown (top portion of the stone) deep pavilions (lower portion of the stone), and cut corners.   With its 72 wide step facets it resembles that of an octagon and sparkles like the Round Brilliant.

The Asscher was designed to draw your eye to the center of the stone.  Because of this, cut, color, and clarity are very important factors to consider when choosing this cut.  Always purchase the best stone within your budget.  When choosing an Asscher weight should be the last thing you consider.

To learn more about Asscher cut diamonds visit our diamond education section

Asscher Cut Diamond