Diamond and gemstone cutting, also known as lapidary, is a skilled art which takes many years to perfect. Diamond, being the most precious of all the gemstones, needs expert cutting to allow the light to enter and refract and reflect back in the most alluring way.
As engagement rings will involve a central cut diamond or other gemstone, the diamond shape is of paramount importance and choice.
We have already talked about diamond cutting in our article here, but today we want to cover the most popular diamond shapes.
If you’re looking for a diamond engagement ring, this may help you decide on the shape and diamond cut at least.
Diamond shape refers to the overall outline shape of a diamond, as opposed to cut of the facets within that shape. Different diamond shapes obviously give an overall look. The cut refers to the shaping, facets and angles put into the diamond and the polishing, to increase the brilliance and fire within the diamond.
The Four C’s of a diamond are the four factors which make up the main criteria on judging if a diamond is “good” comparitively to a scale – it looks at the Cut. the Clarity, the Colour and the Carat.
All these factors are good to look into when choosing and engagement ring – although deciding on the overall shape is probably one of the first steps.
Popular Diamond Shapes
Round Brilliant Diamond
The most traditional diamond shape, a round brilliant cut diamond is, by far, the most popular of all the diamond shapes. Indeed, approximately three-quarters of all diamonds purchased are round brilliant cut diamonds.
Pave set diamonds, producing an effect much like paving stones, use round brilliant diamonds, albeit very small ones.
The round brilliant cut resembles a rose with the petals beginning to unfurl. It utilises the cut to allow the most light, creating a mesmerising display and reflection of light resulting in intense sparkle.
Each brilliant cut diamond has 57 facets cut into it: 33 on the crown (the top of the diamond) and 25 on the pavillion (the side of the diamond shape, beneath the crown).
As a brilliant cut follows the contours of rough diamond crystals, this also means that this cut has less wastage and is therefore the most cost effective cut.
A brilliant diamond oozes elegance and simplicity and is by far the most popular of the diamond shapes for any solitaire cut engagement ring, earrings or pendant.
The brilliant round diamond has the most exceptional sparkle and brilliance and is the most expensive of all the cut diamonds, like for like in weight, clarity and colour.
A round diamond shape is what is known as a brilliant round diamond shapes – please see Round Brilliant description above.
Princess cut diamond shapes are thought of as being “square” diamond shapes. Resembling an upside down pyramid shape, its sharp angles, clean lines it has a modern, clean and less “frilly” look.
Princess cut diamonds will appear to look larger than a brilliant round diamond of the same carat weight due to the area of the ‘table’ – the top part of the gemstone.
This diamond shape is the second most popular diamond shape for engagement rings.
This princess cut was only invented in 1980. Whilst most geometrically angled gemstones done reflect the light within the gemstone, called scintillation, as much as a brilliant cut diamond, the princess cut diamond is an exception. Due to the angle of the cuts the princess cut diamond is second only to the brilliant cut diamond for scintillation and fire.
A cushion cut diamond is shaped just like, well … a cushion or a pillow! This shaped is often referred to as the Old Mine cut and is also known as a pillow cut diamond.
Like princess cut diamonds but with rounded corners its a softer-looking, slightly more feminine and less minimalist look than a princess cut diamond.
Introduced almost 200 years ago, they remained the first choice in cut diamonds for nearly a century. Consequently, today they have a more vintage, traditional design.
There are huge variations in the design of the cushion cut diamonds – some have deeper sides, some are more elongated. All produce lots of sparkle and scintillation, making it a fabulous choice of diamond shape.
With 57 facets, just like a brilliant cut diamond, the emerald cut diamond has an elongated shape with corners which appear to have been cut off.
The linear cuts in the emerald cut diamonds produces less sparkle but more flashes of light.
Radiant Cut Diamond
Very similar to emerald shape diamonds, only the radiant cut features facets angled like round brilliant diamonds plus step cuts like an emerald or princess cut. This, therefore, produces more brilliance than an emerald or princess cut diamond. You will notice that the sides are bevelled.
The radiant cut was designed and created only in 1977 with the intention of increasing “brilliance” and “fire” in the diamond. It has 70 facets and is possibly the most brilliant diamond shape.
Pear Shape Diamond
As well as being known as a pear shape, sometimes these diamond shapes are called a teardrop shape, a pendeloque or briolette. A pear shaped diamond is normally less expensive than brilliant diamonds due to the demand for the latter.
Whilst this may seem to be a modern cut, this shape has been around since the 1400’s, although the shape had more angled edges back then instead of the modern, smoothed and rounded shape. It was invented by a man called Lodewyk van Berquem who invented the diamond polishing wheel.
This shape combines the brilliant cut diamond at one end and therefore had plenty of brilliance and fire, with a pointed end. This shape has a celebrity appeal to it – many celebrities have pear shaped diamond in their engagement ring, including Victoria Beckham, Paris Hilton and Ariana Grande.
Oval Cut Diamonds
Oval diamonds have soft edges and facets at the edge of the oval shape which accentuate its brilliance and fire. They are a feminine design and have a softer look to marquise cut diamonds (described below). The oval diamond shape give a lovely large ‘table’, with facets at the edges.
This shape, like the Marquise, creates the illusion of a larger diamond by its shape.
Marquise Cut Diamond
Marquise cut diamonds has very romantic beginnings. King Louis XV of France instructed his jewellers to create a marquise diamond shape – the instruction being to create a diamond in the shape of his lover’s, the Marquis de Pompadour, lips.
With pointed ends and 58 facets, Marquise shape diamonds can be long and thin or slightly fatter and rounder. The Marquise cut diamond, with its shape, creates the illusion of a larger diamond.
A heart shape diamond symbolises, of course, romance and affection. You would think that the heart cut diamond was a modern cut diamond shape but they have, in fact, been around for 600 years.
Whilst they are often used as engagement rings, with the symbolic romanticism woven into the design, they were, in times past, often gifted as signs of friendship and affection. Mary Queen of Scots famously gifted a heart shaped diamond to her half-sister, Queen Elizabeth (Queen Eliazbeth later had her beheaded – although nothing to do with the ring!).
It is not an easy shape to cut and it is suggested that only diamonds over 0.5 carat weight can carry the shape of a heart – a smaller stone will make it difficult to recognise as a heart shape.
Asscher Cut Diamonds
An asscher cut diamond is similar to emerald cut diamonds. With similar linear cuts, only in an asscher cut diamond the shape is square with cut corners.
Also similar to a a cushion cut but the asscher cut stone won’t have the sparkle that a cushion cut diamond has. Instead, the cut emphasises the clarity of the gemstone. With a whopping 72 facets cuts into an asscher cut gemstone, in a stepped design. This draws your eye into the centre of the stone.
Elizabeth Taylor, famous actress who was also famous for her fabulous jewellery collection, had a 33-carat Asscher cut ring – known as the “Krupp” diamond.
Baguette Cut Diamond
Baguette cut diamonds are often used as accent, or side, stones. A little like the emerald cut diamond, the baguette has 14 step-cut facets and is a long, rectangular diamond with a flat top. Sometimes the baguette diamond can be tapered. With only 14 facets the baguette shaped diamond produces less sparkle but really help to accentuate a central stone as they catch the light beautifully.
Trillion Cut Diamond
Trillion cut diamonds is a new fancy-cut, and can be quite a central point. With three equal sides, they produce a lot of sparkle and brilliance and can cost less than a brilliant cut of the same weight.
As they are a more unusual shape, these cut diamonds can be quite unique and much-admired in an engagement ring. This cut can be used in a solitaire, or as an accent stone – often being placed at each side of the main stone. They will have either 31 or 50 facets, depending on if the stone is a solitaire or accent stone.
Diamond Shape: To Conclude
Almost every lady, and many men, will start to research diamond shapes when they start thinking about getting engaged and which shaped diamond to have in their engagement ring.
As well as the round cut diamonds, diamond cuts involve all sorts of fancy shapes. If you don’t mind geometric angles , an emerald cut, a princess cut, square shape or the more unique shape of the marquise diamond may appeal to you. A more rounded shape lends itself to asscher cut diamonds, cushion cut or the much-loved classic round.
Whatever you decide, do make sure you try the ring on your finger. A ring can look very different when worn on your hand and this really helps narrow down the choice and eliminate certain designs.
It’s an important job, take your time – your engagement ring will stay on your finger forever.