Buying Tips / Jewelry

All You Need to Know About Diamond Cuts and Shapes

Briana Briana 13 Jun 2020 531

While other gemstones may go in and out of style with various trends, a diamond is a timeless gemstone that will simply never go out of style.

This is especially true when it comes to engagement rings. Diamonds remain the most popular gemstone in these types of rings and are likely to stay at the top for a very long time. While some people are choosing to go with cheaper diamond alternatives, the desire is to still have the look of a glistening diamond. 

When it comes to picking the right diamond, you need to understand two main aspects: the diamond cut and the shape.

These two terms often get used interchangeably, but they are two different things and are both equally important when deciding what the perfect diamond will be for you! 

Whether you just want to educate yourself more on various diamond cuts and diamond shapes, or if you are getting close to making a decision about an engagement ring or other special pieces of jewelry, here is everything you need to know about diamond cuts and shapes! 

Difference Between Diamond Cuts and Diamond Shapes

The cut of a diamond and the shape of a diamond are two different things. Often times, you will hear about different diamond cuts like a princess cut ring or a round cut ring, but those are actually shapes!

It can get confusing, but we are here to explain everything. The actual shape of the diamond is, well, the diamond shape. We will discuss all of the main diamond shapes later- but think terms like round, square, princess, cushion, and others. 

So, what is the diamond cut? This is, as the name does suggest, how the diamond is cut and, as a result, how much light it will reflect.

We all know that diamonds are sparkly (it’s one of the main reasons why they are so beloved!) but in truth, not all diamonds sparkle in the same way. In fact, some diamonds can actually be rather dull, and this is oftentimes the result of the diamond’s cut. 

The cut of the diamond will refer to various aspects like its symmetry, it’s depth, and even how well it is polished. All of these factors will combine to give a diamond a cut score.

Diamond cuts vs diamond shapes
Diamond cuts vs diamond shapes, source: Twitter

We’ll discuss cut scores and various diamond cuts later to help you understand the differences and so that you can better decide what you want. 

Hopefully, now you’ve got a good basic understanding of the difference between a diamond’s shape and a diamond’s cut. Like we said earlier- both are incredibly important when selecting a diamond.

You might think that the shape is more important, but we think that cut is at least equally important, if not more. The wrong cut can really throw off the appearance of a stone. This is something you definitely don’t want, especially when you are spending so much money.

Now that you know the difference between the two terms, it’s time for the fun part- let’s talk actual diamond shapes and cuts! 

Top Diamond Shapes

Here is a listing of the most common diamond shapes that you can choose from, along with some helpful information about each type. We are listing the shapes in alphabetical order, as all shapes are equal in our eyes!

Diamond shapes
Diamond shapes, source: Pinterest

One shape isn’t better than another, they are simply all unique and will give your ring a different look. Some shapes are more modern, timeless, or vintage, but all are equally gorgeous. 

💎 Asscher

This diamond shape is less popular than some other more well-known shapes, but it is a great option if you like a square shape diamond and want a good amount of sparkle.

It is similar to an emerald cut, but is square instead of rectangular, and will, therefore, have a smaller table (which is the flat part on the top of the diamond).

Asscher shape diamond
Asscher-shaped diamond, Source: TheJewelryHut

It will have more sparkle than an emerald shape, making it a great option if you like the look of an emerald shaped diamond but enjoy some sparkle. Think of an asscher shape as the modern emerald!   

💎 Cushion

Cushion shaped diamonds have enjoyed a lot of popularity over the past few years. If you have looked at engagement rings on Pinterest lately, you’ve likely seen a lot of cushion shaped diamonds.

These diamonds are also square-shaped, but the edges are more rounded to soften the look of the stone. A lot of times it will be referred to as a ‘pillow’ shape.

Cushion-shaped diamond
Cushion-shaped diamond, source: Brilliance

While this shape has been around for years, it is one of the most popular stone shapes today. It is a great choice if you want something that is vintage and romantic, yet modern. If you can’t decide between a square or a round shape, the cushion shape is the perfect compromise!

The rounded edges of this shape will make it slightly less sparkly than other shapes like a totally square princess shape.   

💎 Emerald

This shape is a classic vintage shape that has seen a rise in popularity in recent years. There are far less facets on this shape, meaning it will have less sparkle than most other shapes, but it has one of the bigger tables, making it appear larger.

Emerald-shaped diamond
Source: WithcCarity

If you love vintage rings and are okay with less sparkle, an emerald shaped diamond is perfect. The rectangular shape also looks great on your hand and helps to elongate the appearance of your fingers.  

💎 Heart

The ultimate romantic shape, a heart-shaped diamond is perfect for anyone who wants something unique. This shaped diamond will have a good amount of sparkle, making it a perfect choice if you want a shape that has a lot of brilliance and shine.

Heart-shaped diamond
Heart-shaped diamond, Source: Shimansky

It is recommended with this shape that you get a larger size so that you can really make out the shape of it. A smaller heart shape can end up just looking like a round diamond- just as a heads up!  

💎 Marquise

This is another lesser-known shape, but a great choice if you prefer an elongated diamond shape. This shape is similar to an emerald shape. However, it is much thinner and more elongated (as opposed to a rectangle shape). This is great at giving the illusion of a larger diamond and elongated fingers.

Marquise-shaped diamond
Marquise-shaped diamond, source: Shimansky

This is the longest shape of all the main diamond shapes, so if that is what you prefer, this is a great choice. It’s also got more sparkle to it than an emerald shape, making it a good choice if you know you want a lot of brilliance and shine with your diamond.

Known as the ‘football-shaped’ diamond, it’s a great and unique choice that we personally would like to see grow in popularity! 

💎 Oval

If you want something that is more on the traditional/classic side but is a bit more unique than a basic round diamond, the oval shape is a perfect choice.

These diamonds will also help make your finger appear longer since it has an elongated shape, similar to the emerald and marquise shape.

Oval-shaped diamond
Oval-shaped diamond, source: Shimansky

It will have great brilliance and is one of the best options if you want a lot of sparkle with your ring. Because of its elongated shape, this is a good option if you want your diamond to appear larger.  

💎 Pear

If you like elements of round and marquise diamonds, the perfect option for you is the pear-shaped diamond! It starts off looking like a round diamond but then tapers down into more of a marquise shape.

Also known as a ‘teardrop’ shape, we love the unique appearance of pear-shaped diamonds. This is a great diamond shape if you want something unique, but that will not go out of style.

Pear-shaped diamond
Pear-shaped diamond, source: Pinterest

This is not something super trendy that you may end up not liking years from now, but instead is something unique that you do not see all that often. It is gaining popularity but is still a more unique shape. 

💎 Princess

It doesn’t get much more classic than a princess-shaped diamond. Known for its square shape, it is a great choice of a diamond because of its brilliance and its flexibility.

Princess-shaped diamond
Princess-shaped diamond, source: AliExpress

Princess shaped diamonds look good in just about any setting, and they are some of the most sparkling diamonds you will find. If you are undecided about what shape diamond you want, you really can’t go wrong with a princess shape.

💎 Radiant

This is a great shaped diamond if you want something that is in between a cushion, princess, and emerald shape. This shape diamond is slightly more square than an emerald shape, but its corners are shaped slightly different; they aren’t as sharp as a princess or as rounded and soft as a cushion shape.

It’s a really great diamond that combines the best elements of a lot of different shapes. If you want something that is brilliant and with lots of sparkle, but that is more unique than a basic round stone, you can’t go wrong with a radiant shape.

Radiant-shaped diamond
Radiant-shaped diamond, source: Shimansky

Because of its unique corners, it can also work well with both square-shaped and rounded diamonds. A great hybrid choice!

If you love an emerald shaped diamond but want more sparkle, you will be very happy with a radiant shaped diamond. 

💎 Round

Similar to the princess shape, it doesn’t get more classic or timeless than a round diamond. Round diamonds remain the most popular shape and are great because they are incredibly sparkling and can work in nearly any setting.

Round-shaped diamond
Round-shaped diamond, source: WithClarity

If you want to get a diamond that is likely to be the most sparkling and brilliant, we recommend going with a round shape. 

Everything to Know About Diamond Cuts 

Now that you understand the most popular diamond shapes, it’s time to discuss various diamond cuts.

A diamond’s cut is a bit more complex than just talking about its general shape, but it’s just as important because it will have a big impact on how the actual stone looks.

If you compare two diamonds that are the same shape but that are cut differently, you will notice a big difference. 

There are a few different factors to discuss when dealing with diamond cut. The first is the various cuts of diamonds that refer to how the diamonds are literally cut and how that impacts their sparkle.

Remember earlier, we mentioned that certain diamonds like emerald shapes have less sparkle, where others like round or princess cuts have a lot of sparkle? That has to do with how they are cut.

Here are the most common cuts:

Brilliant cut

A brilliant-cut diamond will have the maximum amount of sparkle. The more facets a diamond has, the more brilliant and shining it will be.

Typically round diamonds are brilliant-cut, which is why they are not only the top-selling diamonds but the best option if you want a diamond with the most sparkle.

Brilliant cut diamond
Brilliant cut diamond, source: Shimansky

Be sure to look for this type of cut if you want to have the most possible shine with your diamond.

Modified brilliant cut

This is very similar to the brilliant-cut, with plenty of facets resulting in lots of light and sparkle. The only thing that makes this cut different is that it is applied to diamonds that are in other shapes than round.

Modified brilliant cut diamond
Modified brilliant-cut diamond, source: WithClarity

You can find a modified brilliant-cut in oval, pear, and marquise, and heart-shaped diamonds. If you want a lot of sparkle and a unique shape that isn’t round, these are your best options. 

Step cut

As the name suggests, diamonds with a step-cut are cut to have ‘steps’ on the sides of the diamond and going towards the top. The top usually has a large flat surface (known as the table).

A diamond in a step cut will not have a lot of brilliance or sparkle and instead is typically described as looking into a hall of mirrors.

Step cut diamond
Step-cut diamond, source: WithClarity

The most popular step-cut diamond is the emerald shaped diamond, although asscher shaped diamonds are also in this family (but they will have slightly more sparkle). 

Mixed cut

Diamonds with a mixed cut will have the top cut in a brilliant-cut for maximum lightness, but the bottom will be in a step cut.

Mixed cut diamond
Mixed cut diamond, source: Ritani

This typically gives the stone more weight while still giving it a lot of sparkle. Typically, princess, cushion, and radiant shaped diamonds are found in a mixed cut. 

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In addition to those various cuts, you also need to consider the cut of the diamond as it relates to the overall quality of the diamond.

If you have done any diamond research, you have probably heard about the “4 c’s” which are carat, cut, clarity, and color. The cut is one of the 4 c’s and arguably the most important!

While most people pay a lot of attention to carat (as that will correspond to how big the diamond is), you really need to give a lot of attention to a diamond’s cut, as this will really impact how the diamond looks. 

How are Diamond Cuts Determined?

A diamond’s cut takes into consideration various qualities of the diamond, including its symmetry, proportions, and polish. The best cut diamonds balance these qualities along with also preserving the most weight possible. 

A well-cut diamond will have great proportions and will allow for light to hit the diamond and reflect back, which is what gives the diamond the gorgeous sparkling appearance you want to see.

If a diamond is too deeply cut or too shallow of a cut, the light will refract and pass through the diamond instead of reflecting back, resulting in a much more dull appearance. 

A diamond’s cut can also impact its appearance in terms of its actual size! For example, a deep cut diamond will look smaller because more of its carat weight is ‘wasted’ on the deeper cut.

For that reason, getting an ideal cut diamond that is a smaller carat weight can often look larger than a lesser quality cut diamond that is technically larger. 

Different Diamond Cuts Grades

So, when shopping for a diamond, what cut should you look for? Diamonds are all given a cut grade that will be on a scale ranging from excellent to poor. However, it is important to keep in mind that there are various standards.

Determining diamond cuts
source: Quora

We recommend shopping for a diamond that is GIA certified, as they have a set standard and apply their ratings to all diamonds. This will help ensure that you get a diamond that is of the right quality that you want. 

Here are the cut ratings that a diamond can receive:

Excellent: This is the highest rating a diamond can receive and means that the diamond will have the maximum amount of sparkle and brilliance. As you can imagine, this will also mean the diamond will be more expensive. 

Very Good: This is also a great rating to receive for a diamond, and in fact, to the naked eye, you cannot easily tell the difference between an excellent cut and a very good cut diamond.

For that reason, it is often times, okay to save some money by opting for a very good cut diamond instead. It will still have a lot of brilliance and sparkle. 

Good: Much of the light that hits a good cut diamond will reflect back to the eye, though some at this cut quality will refract.

If you have a more limited budget, going for a good cut quality can save you a large amount of money. You still will get good sparkle with this cut quality, however it will be less than a very good or excellent cut.

Fair: You do lose a good bit of sparkle and brilliance once you are down to a fair cut stone. While you would likely not want this level of cut for the main center stone, it may be okay when dealing with smaller side stones that are not the focal point. 

Poor: This is the lowest quality cut, meaning that almost all light refracts instead of reflects, meaning that the diamond will be very dull looking.  

Finally…

There is a lot that you have to consider when purchasing a diamond, but two of the main components are the diamonds shapes and the diamond cuts!

Now that you know the difference between the two, you are well on your way towards making the right decision. While the shape is certainly important when deciding what you want your diamond to look like, the cut is just as important and will help determine how much brilliance and sparkle your ring (or other pieces of jewelry) will have.

Which type of diamond do you prefer? Do you want the maximum amount of sparkle, or do you love the vintage look of an emerald cut? Let us know!