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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What is a Fancy Cut Diamond?

A fancy cut diamond is any diamond shape other than a round brilliant.  The most popular fancy cut diamonds sold today are asscher cut, cushion cut, emerald cut, heart shaped, marquise shaped, oval shaped, pear shaped, princess cut, and radiant cut, but there are many others.

The face up shape of a fancy cut diamond is usually the first thing people notice and the main reason why they are purchased.  Fancy cut diamonds provide a way for you to express your individuality and appeal to those looking for that less traditional look.  Fancy cut diamonds are also a great choice as side stones for a three stone engagement ring or accent stones on a solitaire setting.

Each fancy cut diamond has its own characteristics, so you should take the time to familiarize yourself with each.  Most fancy cut diamonds on the market today are cut using the brilliant cut facet arrangement allowing for the same brilliance, fire, and scintillation of that of the round brilliant cut diamond, but some are cut using step cuts or mixed cuts.  The round brilliant cut features triangular and kite shaped facets that begin at the diamond’s center and go out to the girdle.   A step cut has long, narrow, four sided facets arranged in rows parallel to the girdle on both the crown and pavilion.  Mixed cuts are a mix of both the round brilliant and step cuts.  They can either have brilliant cuts on the crown and step cuts on the pavilion or step cuts on the crown and brilliant cuts on the pavilion.

fancy cut diamond

Some Diamond Terms for Fancy Cuts

Belly – the center area of the side of a heart, marquise, oval, or pear where it curves out slightly.

Head – the rounded end of a pear

Shoulders – the curved edges between the head and belly of a pear

Lobes – the rounded part of a heart

Cleft – the v-shaped part of a heart

Symmetry and length-to-width ratio are important factors to consider when purchasing fancy cuts.  You always want a fancy cut that is symmetrical.  For example, both lobes of a heart should be the same size, both ends of an emerald should be the same width.  Length-to-width ratio determines the shape of a fancy cut.  There are preferred ranges for each shape, but this is also a personal preference.

To learn more about the characteristics of each fancy cut diamond visit our diamond education section.