Whether you’re shopping for the perfect engagement ring for your sweetie, or your secretly pinning the ones you love in the hope that, ahem, a certain somebody sees your picks (we know you do that!), it helps to know not only about the 4 C’s of diamond engagement rings, but about the diamond cuts themselves. If you can identify the diamond cuts you love the most as well, this will help you and your future Mr. or Mrs. pick out the style you really want. Below, we’ve identified the most common diamond shapes and cuts and what you need to know about each of them. But first, let’s get into the facts:
What is a Diamond Cut?
When you hear the term diamond cut, most people think this is referring to its’ shape, however they’re actually two different things. A diamond cut—which is part of the 4 C’s—refers to the stone’s symmetry, proportions, and polish, all of which affect its brilliance, fire, and scintillation (in other words, it’s sparkle!). A diamond cut is also graded according to these attributes, from Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor. However, unlike the other C’s used to grade a diamond (clarity, color, and carat), cut grades were not used by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) until the early 2000’s, so not all cut grades are based on the same scale.
WGM Says: When buying a diamond from a brick-and-mortar retailer or online, especially once that is over 1-carat, make sure it is GIA or AGS (American Gemological Society) certified, which will also include a printed certificate.
Technically, there are two types of cuts: brilliant and step. A brilliant cut refers to a diamond or other gemstone that has been cut with many facets. These facets are what helps give us the most brilliance and sparkle. A step cut, on the other hand, are facets that are long and rectangular and run parallel from one another like stairs. Examples of a step-cut diamond are emerald cut and asscher cut diamonds.
A diamond’s shape, on the other hand, refers to the outline of the stone, such as oval, round, and pear.
The Most Popular Diamond Cuts and Shapes
Now, lets get into the details about the most popular diamond cuts and shapes for engagement rings!
One thing you’ll notice we mention in the descriptions below is the length to width ratio. Every diamond shape has an ideal range that allow for the best appearance. For instance, round and square shaped diamonds should have a length to width ratio that is nearly equal. That means the diamond is a near perfect circle or square. For rectangular and oval diamonds, there is more of a range.
To calculate the ratio of a diamond yourself, you divide the first two numbers on the diamond’s GIA certificate (the length and the width). That result is your length to width ratio.
1. Round Cut Engagement Rings
We’ll start with number one most requested diamond cut—the round diamond! This is a brilliant cut with 58 facets (a facet is the flat polished surface on any side of the diamond which is created when a rough diamond is cut). Because it’s a brilliant cut, it reflects the most light, meaning the diamond appears brighter. Round diamond cuts tend to give you more flexibility when combining cut, color and clarity while still getting a beautifully brilliant diamond.
Ready to buy? Be sure to read our guide on How to Buy and Engagement Ring without her knowing!
2. Princess Cut Engagement Rings
Like the round, the princess cut diamond is also a brilliant stone. When a rough diamond is cut, there is actually less waste when creating a princess cut, because two stones can be cut from the same diamond. This means, the cost of a princess cut tends to be less than that of a round stone. However, because of its square shape, a princess cut diamond will actually appear nearly 15% larger than a round diamond, even though it has less surface area. Because of its’ shape and brilliance, the princess cut is one of the best values you can get when it comes to diamond engagement rings. When shopping for a princess cut diamond ring, keep in mind you’ll want a length to width ratio of between 1.00 and 1.05.
The Most Popular Engagement Ring Styles
From emerald cut to round and princess, see which engagement rings fit your style and budget on Blue Nile.
3. Cushion Cut Engagement Rings
The cushion cut is a square diamond with rounded edges. It has an almost pillow-like appearance, thus earning it the name cushion cut. It’s antique characteristics and heritage make it a timeless choice, and it’s one of the most popular engagement ring cuts today. Whether you choose a more square or rectangular cushion cut, the larger facets will increase the brilliance, making this specific cut still rather sparkly. For square shaped cushions, choose a length to width ratio of between 1.00 and 1.05, and for a rectangular cushion choose a ratio greater than 1.15.
4. Emerald Cut Engagement Rings
The emerald cut diamond, whose cut derived from the fancy-colored stone of the same name, is a classic choice, albeit with much less brilliance than other counterparts. What the emerald lacks in brilliance, however, it makes up for with its dramatic appearance. Because of its larger open table (the uppermost, flat surface of the diamond), the emerald cut really highlights the clarity of the diamond. Although we LOVE the emerald cut, you should be aware that it tends to be the least budget-friendly option, since you’ll want to make sure you get a nice size clarity and carat on this one. When looking for emerald cuts, keep in mind that standard emeralds have length to width ratios of between 1.30 and 1.40.
5. Oval Cut Engagement Rings
The oval diamond is a modified round, except for the fact that it elongates the finger because of its shape. So if you love the brilliance and elegance of a round diamond but want something more unique, you might want to opt for the oval. The shape of oval diamonds can vary, so make sure to choose the width and length that best appeals to you. Standard oval diamonds have length to width ratios of between 1.33 and 1.66.
6. Asscher Cut Engagement Rings
For a squarer, more brilliant version of the emerald cut, you might want to choose its cousin, the asscher. The asscher cut has larger step facets, a higher crown and a smaller table, thus providing more brilliance. When looking at an asscher, you’ll see tiers of squares, which provides its unique appearance. Keep in mind the rectangular facets of the asscher, like that of the emerald, make clarity of greater importance than other cuts. And, since an asscher is distinctly square, you’ll want a length to width ratio of between 1.00 and 1.05.
7. Marquise Cut Engagement Rings
With a distinct, elongated, shape with narrow points at both ends, the unique shape of the marquise makes it a choice for brides seeking something out of the ordinary. Because of its shape and the largest crown surface area, the marquise diamond often appears visually larger and is a great shape for trying to maximize your budget for the largest possible diamond. Symmetry is key with the marquise diamond and buyers should pay special attention to make sure the points align with each other and the right and left sides are nearly exactly the same. Traditional marquise diamonds have length to width ratios of between 1.75 and 2.25.
8. Pear Cut Engagement Rings
The pear-shaped diamond is a brilliant cut, and is a beautiful combination of the traditional round and the unique marquise. Rounded on one side with a point on the other, the pear resembles that of its name. As with the marquise, symmetry is extremely important when choosing a pear diamond. You’ll want to make sure the upper and lower portions form symmetrical curves without any straight edges. Also, the rounded top should appear like a semi-circle (not narrow). If you’re wondering how a pear diamond should be worn, the pointed edge should be directed to the hand of the person wearing the ring. For the most standard pear cut, choose a length to width ratio of between 1.45 to 1.75.
9. Radiant Cut Engagement Rings
The radiant diamond has the brilliance of a princess, but with the rounded corners similar to a cushion. It’s extremely vibrant, with 62 facets, thus creating a “fractured ice” appearance. For brides looking for a ton of brilliance but with a square shape, consider opting for these cuts. Like the cushion, you can opt for a square shape, with a length to width ratio of between 1.00 and 1.05, or a rectangular shape with a ratio greater than 1.10.
10. Heart Shaped Engagement Rings
The brilliant-cut heart shape is perfect for those brides seeking a sweet stone that takes love literally. 🙂 As with many other shapes, the key to the heart-shaped diamond is symmetry. Two things to remember is that you’ll want to make sure both sides of the heart look almost exactly the same, and that the shape of the heart becomes more apparent with larger carat sizes. For a traditional heart shaped diamond, you’ll want a length to width ratio of between 0.90 to 1.10.
Diamond Cuts and Shapes FAQ
The round brilliant is considered to be the most expensive of the diamond cuts, because it uses more raw material to make its shape. It’s also considered to be the most “brilliant” and sparkly, which makes it the most popular and therefore expensive.
The cut of a diamond is all about sparkle. A diamond’s “cut” is graded on it’s fire, brightness, and “scintillation,” which is a more scientific term for sparkle.
Fancy cut diamonds such as oval, marquise, and pear tend to be the most affordable. These cuts also tend to be appear larger than other cuts, which means you might not need to get as many carats as other shapes.