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Diamond Shape Guide

The shape of a diamond determines everything from the level of sparkle it emits to the type of setting you choose; sharp corners, for example, might need a little more protection than rounded ones. Diamond shape can help you optimise your budget, too. A diamond with a large surface area will look bigger than a deeper cut of the same carat weight, while a diamond shape with a large number of facets, like a round brilliant or princess cut, can help hide inclusions and hints of colour, meaning you can get away with slightly lower gradings. Ultimately, though, choosing a diamond shape is all about finding the one that captures your heart. Read on to discover the one for you.

Round

With 58 precision-cut facets, a round brilliant diamond produces more fire and sparkle than any other shape, making it the most popular of all the diamond shapes.

The classic shape for diamond engagement rings, the round brilliant owes its enduring appeal to its unbeatable sparkle. It has 33 facets on the crown and 25 on the conical base, so that all of the light scatters out from the top, and its optimised brilliance can even enhance a lower colour grade stone to help you create the look of a more expensive diamond. When you choose a round brilliant, you can let your imagination run free; this most versatile of diamond shapes works with a multitude of ring styles and settings.

Princess

A contemporary choice, the princess cut is square in shape, with 76 brilliant-cut facets to maximise its sparkle. If you love the sparkle of a round brilliant but prefer something a little sharper, the princess cut could be the one for you. The angles are not the only thing that distinguish a princess-cut diamond from a round brilliant – the princess cut uses around 80 percent of the rough stone, which means that it’s more cost-effective to produce (and can therefore help to maximise your budget), and its larger surface area can also make it look bigger. You can find this modern cut in solitaires, side-stone rings and halo styles.

Cushion

A softened square silhouette with rounded corners, the cushion cut has a vintage appeal that makes it a popular choice. The modern cushion cut is reminiscent of an early shape called the ‘old mine cut’, which emerged in the 1700s and was the most popular diamond cut until the late 19th century. The modern version normally has 58 facets and gives off a lot of fire. Known as the candlelight diamond, it also creates a particularly elegant sparkle under soft, warm light. If you’re drawn to the antique aesthetic of a cushion-cut diamond, you have plenty of options. This versatile cut works well with a variety of ring styles, including halo and side-stone rings.

Oval

The graceful cousin of the round brilliant, the oval shape elongates the finger with its elegant silhouette and brilliant-cut facets. While it’s easy to fall for the oval’s elongated silhouette, that’s not the only reason to choose an oval-shaped diamond for your engagement ring. An oval diamond can look bigger than its carat weight thanks to its large surface area, and with a level of brilliance to rival the round brilliant, it’s one of the brightest diamond shapes of all. It also draws the eye down the finger, making it look longer. An oval-shaped diamond will sparkle beautifully in a solitaire ring, or why not surround it with a halo of accent stones?

Pear

The pear shape has a tapered, teardrop silhouette, and can be worn with the tip pointed up or down. While the first pear-shaped diamond was created by diamond cutter Lodewyk van Bercken in 1475, it’s a shape that still looks modern in engagement rings today. With 58 facets, a pear-shaped diamond combines an elegant outline with excellent brilliance and fire. Symmetry is what matters most here – you can tell it’s been well cut if the silhouette is exactly even from the rounded head, through the shoulders and wings to the end point. If this is the shape for you, consider protecting the tip with a V-prong or bezel setting.

Radiant

The radiant cut breaks tradition by combining the elegant rectangular shape of an emerald cut with up to 70 triangular facets that maximise brilliance. While the radiant cut looks similar to the square-shaped cushion cut, it has a higher number of facets and generates more sparkle – it was created in 1977 by diamond cutter Henry Grossbard, who aimed to make a square cut with brilliance and fire to rival the popular round brilliant. With carefully bevelled corners to guard against chipping, a radiant-cut diamond is perfect for everyday wear and makes a contemporary choice for an engagement ring.

Asscher

The cut-cornered square-shape Asscher cut has layered facets on a deep pavilion and high crown to create brilliance and a unique, vintage appeal. First created in Amsterdam in 1902 by diamond cutter Joseph Asscher (who went on to cut the Cullinan Diamond – the largest diamond ever found), the Asscher cut quickly became a go-to for engagement rings. Popular during the 1920s and 1930s, it has all the sophisticated appeal of the Art Deco era. Light reflects off its 58 facets to create a kaleidoscopic ‘hall of mirrors’ effect, making an Asscher-cut diamond a distinctive centrepiece for your engagement ring.

Emerald

Clean-lined and sophisticated, an emerald-cut diamond has step-cut rectangular facets that allow you to see into the heart of the stone, accentuating its clarity. Originally designed for emeralds (as the name suggests), this shape gives a diamond an appeal all of its own. With 50 to 58 facets, an emerald-cut diamond refracts light in a way that creates distinct dark and light inner planes, emitting elegant flashes of light as opposed to the continuous sparkle of a brilliant cut. Its distinguishing feature is the long, flat table at the top, which acts as a window into the stone. So, if you’ve fallen for the emerald cut’s Art Deco aesthetic, look for a high clarity grade to make the most of this elegant shape.

Marquise

The marquise diamond has a romantic backstory – this pointed oval shape was first commissioned by King Louis XV of France to resemble the lips of his lover, Madame de Pompadour. This elegant, elliptical shape looks beautiful in a minimal solitaire setting that highlights its dramatic silhouette. It can also make a diamond appear larger than similar stones of the same carat weight. Symmetry is paramount in a marquise-cut stone to ensure the two pointed ends are perfectly aligned, otherwise it can create a bow-tie effect. The sharp ends can also be vulnerable to chipping, so consider edging it with an angled tip setting or choosing a bezel setting which forms an elevated collar.

Heart

A romantic heart shape shows off the diamond cutter’s skill in creating a perfectly symmetrical silhouette, with 59 brilliant-cut facets. While heart-shaped diamonds have been popular for centuries (and were originally associated with royalty), the heart shape that we know today didn’t become possible until the 1950s, when advances in technology and technique meant that the faceting could be precise enough to create the distinct shape. A well-cut heart-shaped diamond appears 3D rather than flat, and offers outstanding brilliance. Bigger is usually better when it comes to heart-shaped diamonds, as it is tricky to detect the shape in stones under 0.50 carats.

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