Diamonds are found and mined in a virtually limitless variety of diamond ring shapes and conditions. It can take literally millions of years for diamonds to form, and while at heart they are actually nothing more than collections of carbon atoms, no two diamonds are exactly alike in appearance and state. This fact is a big part of what gives diamonds in general such beauty and such a mystique.
Although all diamonds are unique, there are a limited number of standard diamond ring shapes into which are cut before they are placed on the market. The reason why diamonds are cut into certain shapes is simply to improve upon and emphasize the attractive aspects of their appearance. Most diamond ring shapes are symmetrical, with an equal number of facets (the flat, defined faces on the surface of the diamond) on each side.
In the process of cutting a diamond into a standard shape, a certain amount of the diamond’s surface area is removed. Some shapes involve the loss of more of the diamond than others. This can have an effect on diamond prices and in a certain sense it can alter the comparative value of a diamond.
The end of diamond ring shapes can be quite different. The following are the most common diamond ring shapes.
The round brilliant is, by a significant margin, belongs to the most common diamond ring shapes. It’s also the most popular with consumers, partly because it is relatively versatile in terms of the types of settings and arrangements with which it can be used. The round shape is also valued for its overall appearance and its durability relative to other diamond ring shapes.
For consumers thinking about buying loose diamonds online, round cut diamonds represent the best opportunity to be as specific as possible about your demands in terms of the Diamond four C’s (color, clarity, cut, and carat weight). It’s also the only shape that is likely to be an option for buyers at both the low and high end of the budget spectrum.
The round brilliant cut is so common that there are further subcategories of round diamonds in order to mark out the very slight distinctions that can occur between them. The Eulitz Brilliant cut is considered the best round cut in terms of quality, while the American Standard cut is, not surprisingly, considered the benchmark for round cuts in North America.
Fancy diamond cuts are any shape that is not a round cut. These include Asscher cuts, cushion cuts, emerald cuts, heart cuts, oval cuts, pear cuts, Princess cuts, and radiant cuts.
The Asscher cut is named for the cutters who developed it, the Asscher brothers of Holland. Asscher cut diamonds have a square shape with truncated corners. The corners are cropped in order to strengthen the diamond.
In most Asscher cut diamonds, there is a second square shape clearly visible within the outer square. Diamonds with this type of shape tend to have a bit less brightness than round cuts, but the angular shape helps to emphasize their clarity. This is a great thing if the diamond itself is particularly clear to begin with, but if it has any clarity issues, these will be very obvious with an Asscher cut.
The Asscher cut is historically one of the less common diamond ring shapes, but it has increased in popularity in recent years. It is extremely rare for a larger diamond to be given an Asscher cut.
The cushion cut is actually one of the oldest diamond ring shapes. In a sense the cushion cut was a step in the evolution toward the round cut, as this was one of the cuts that were possible to do reliably with 18th century technology and techniques.
Cushion cut diamonds can vary significantly in size and dimensions. They all have rounded edges, but some are square, some are slightly rectangular, and some are rectangular with very elongated sides. The facets on cushion cut diamonds are larger than those on later cuts. This can really emphasize the clarity of the diamond, which, as in the case of Asscher cuts, can be beneficial or detrimental depending on the diamond’s natural properties; cushion cuts with poor to medium color ratings (usually M and below) will also be noticeably discolored.
The emerald cut is another diamond shape with cropped corners, much like the Asscher cut. The name comes from the fact that this type of cut is the most common cut for emeralds, and indeed, if you’ve seen an emerald, then you have a good general idea of what an emerald cut diamond can look like. Emerald cut diamonds are actually even more spectacular than emeralds, because of their multitude of symmetrical rectangular facets.
Emerald cuts can vary with respect to dimensions, as some have a higher length-to-width ratio than others. With a very high length-to-width ratio, though, an emerald cut diamond’s features can be somewhat obscured, so many buyers prefer ones with a ratio up to about 1.5. With an emerald cut, a diamond’s flaws will be exposed, so this is really only a great option for buyers with the budget to accommodate a very high-quality diamond.
The heart cut is one of the most stylized diamond shapes. Its value and merits to customers are perhaps fairly obvious, considering the significance of the heart shape. This isn’t to say that the heart cut isn’t a legitimate one among even the most discerning connoisseurs, though. The heart shape can strongly emphasize the natural “fire” of a diamond, and the unconventional arrangement of facets on a heart-shaped diamond can provide a uniquely beautiful shine.
Heart cuts need to be very intricate in order to achieve the best visual results. As such, it’s recommended that you purchase a diamond of this shape only if it has a very high “cut” rating. High-quality heart-shaped diamonds are in relatively short supply, so this type of diamond as well might only be a realistic choice for people who are willing to pay a premium.
Of all fancy cuts, the oval cut has the most in common with the brilliant round, both in terms of general appearance and technical properties. Although it might seem like an obvious progression from the round cut, the oval cut is actually one of the more recent types to emerge. Perhaps because of this, it’s still relatively rare.
Oval cut diamonds can also differ from one to the next in their length-to-width ratio, some having a more “plump” appearance, while others appear longer and thinner. Oval cuts generally reflect light very well, and have distinctive facets including a grouping of triangular ones near the center. In some cases, these central facets can have a darkened appearance, which is considered undesirable. This isn’t necessarily something that can be distinguished by looking at color or clarity grades. Instead, you’ll have to take a good look at the diamond itself.
The pear cut, also known occasionally as the teardrop cut, features one rounded end and one end with more of a point. It was developed as a hybrid of the round cut and an early cut called the “marquise,” which is ovular with sharp points at both ends.
The pear is another cut that can have a variety of length-to-width ratios. In fact, pear cuts can have a length-to-width ratio as high as 2.0. Pear cuts can suffer from a darkening effect similar to that experienced by some oval cuts, so it’s important to take a good look at any pear cut diamond before purchasing. Also, some poorly-cut pear-shaped diamonds can have a clearly visible asymmetry, where the two rounded “shoulders” are of different lengths.
The Princess cut is clearly the most popular of the fancy cuts. It has a very distinctive shape, with a base that is usually square (although some can be very slightly rectangular, with a maximum length-to-width ratio of around 1.2) and rounded, slightly protruding corners. The facets of a Princess cut are arranged in such a way that the face of the diamond is divided into four triangular sides.
Its popularity is largely due to the fact that it tends to reflect light better and provide a more brilliant overall appearance than other square cuts. Another positive about Princess cuts is that they are better able to mask any flaws in the diamond, compared to other square cuts. So, Princess cuts should appeal to buyers with a greater range of budgets.
One thing to keep in mind is that the corners of Princess cut diamonds can be susceptible to damage. Therefore, it’s best to use Princess cuts only in settings that will provide them with some protection.
Radiant cut diamonds are another square cut, with the corners cropped to a somewhat greater extent than they are on emerald or Asscher cuts. Radiant cuts also have a distinctive geometric facet pattern, with a diagonal cross pattern often visible in the center.
Again, with respect to their length-to-width ratios, radiant cuts can range from square to slightly rectangular. Generally, the closer a radiant cut is to a perfect square, the better it will look. The radiant cut is one cut that is a realistic choice for buyers with lower budgets, as it is able to hide defects to a certain extent, as opposed to most other types of square diamond ring shapes.