What are the Different Diamond Cuts?
If you’re shopping for your engagement ring, your local jeweler is likely your best guide when it comes to determining the quality of the diamond you choose.
But there’s one element in the diamond buying journey that’s purely aesthetic: diamond shape—also referred to as “cut.” Diamonds can be cut into nearly any shape imaginable, and shape is subjective, so it’s important to figure out which one resonates with you, now and in the future. Start by discovering what’s out there.
But First: What Does Diamond “Cut” Mean?
Before we dive into the different shapes diamonds can be cut into, it helps to understand this question: What does diamond “cut” mean? The answer to that is twofold.
Technically, “cut” in diamonds refers to one of the “4 Cs”—the system gemologists use to grade the quality of diamonds. The 4Cs rate a diamond’s cut (more on that in a minute), clarity (how clear the gem is), color (how colorless it is), and carats (weight).
“Cut” refers to how perfectly or imperfectly the diamond was physically cut, a.k.a. faceted. Why is how it was cut important? Cut has the most impact on a diamond’s brilliance, sparkle, and fire (many of the visual components that make diamonds so beautiful), so most gemologists consider it the most important “C.”
A diamond’s cut is graded as Poor, Fair, Good, Very Good, and Excellent (the crème de la crème). And cut matters a lot when it comes to price and value. A 1 ct. diamond with an “excellent” cut will be more valuable than a 2 ct. diamond with cut graded only “fair.”
Only roughly 3% of diamonds are graded “excellent” in cut—but up to 15% of diamonds achieve the “very good” designator. And the distinction between the two, to the naked eye, is usually imperceptible, so feel good about investing in “very good”-cut diamonds. For more information on how diamond cut is graded, see the Gemological Institute of America’s detailed explanation.
Now, jewelers and jewelry designers also use the term “cut” to describe the shape of a diamond. In product descriptions for jewelry, you often see terms like “oval cut diamond” or “emerald cut sapphire.” These terms are referring to a gemstone’s shape—the terms “shape” and “cut” are interchangeable when describing a gemstone’s general form.
What are the different diamond cuts?
Round Radiant Cut
If you’re asking yourself, what is the most popular diamond cut? And which diamond cut sparkles the most? Round radiant is it! Round radiant diamonds are cut to feature 58 facets (flat surfaces, which in diamond cutting are teeny-tiny) that reflect ambient light, resulting in scads of sparkle—more than any other diamond cut out there.
Set into an engagement ring, round radiant diamonds simply look round, but they have a conical-shaped underside, called the pavilion, that makes them sparkle machines. Round diamonds account for over two-thirds of diamonds sold, making it the most popular shape by far.
Princess cut diamonds are essentially round radiant diamonds with pointed edges that turn the gem into a perfect square shape in engagement rings.
This cut still has the conical pavilion, so emits loads of sparkle.
Emerald cut diamonds are rectangular with stepped facets that appear as tiny, stepped edges on all sides of the stone. The super-trendy shape is a great choice for buyers looking for a diamond that appears larger than its actual carat weight—there’s a lot of surface area on emerald-cut diamonds.
Another popular diamond shape right now is the oval, which, like the emerald-cut diamond, looks like a higher carat diamond than it is when set into a ring. The surface of oval-cut diamonds is roughly 10% bigger than that of rounds.
A radiant cut diamond is similar in shape to rectangular emerald-cut gems, only its facets are cut more like a round radiant diamond, so the diamond produces more sparkle.
Asscher-cut diamonds are square emerald cuts with beveled (slightly blunted) corners. The cut was made popular in the early 1900s when the famous Asscher family had an even more famous diamond, the 3,106 ct. Cullinan, cut in this shape for the British royal family. Asscher-cut diamonds became wildly popular in the 1920s, so they look glamorous and classic.
Marquise-cut diamonds are essentially ovals with two pointed ends. They were worn by royals in the Middle Ages and are currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity with brides and bridal designers. Jewelers sometimes refer to this cut as “navette-cut.”
Pears-shaped diamonds are difficult to cut, so they’re less populous in the market. But they but they look incredible in engagement rings, especially when flanked by smaller diamonds in a three-stone style or featured in an east-west configuration on their own.
The cushion-cut diamond is popular with vintage jewelry lovers. Cut into a puffy sofa pillow-like shape, cushions are square or rectangle with smooth, curved edges. Diamond jewelry brand Danhov recommends that “When selecting a cushion cut diamond, know that cushion cut diamonds are notorious for holding color more strongly than other diamond shapes. Because of this, many experts suggest going with an H color cushion cut diamond or above.”
The most romantic of the “fancy shape” diamonds (which is any diamond that’s not a round radiant), the heart cut is ultra-cute, but also difficult to cut. So, look for perfect symmetry of the two sides.
Trillion or Trilliant Cut
Trillion-cut diamonds, also called Trilliant-cut, are triangular-shaped with a flat top. They’ve historically been used as side diamonds in engagement rings and other jewelry looks but have recently come into their own as a cool standalone cut for wedding rings.
Old Mine Cut
Also popular with historical fashion fans are old mine-cut diamonds.
The cut featured 58 facets cut by hand, resulting in a squarish shape with rounded edges. The shape dates to the 1700s and was the most popular diamond shape in the Victorian era.
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