Understanding Diamond Shapes

Fancy cut diamonds

You may already be familiar with the 4 C’s of grading a diamond – Carat, Clarity, Color, and Cut. Aside from these standardized ratings of the quality of your diamond, there is an aspect of quality that is personal to the diamond buyer – the shape. The cut refers to the way that the diamond cutter has cut a diamond to let light in and the actual geometry of the diamond. The shape (which is influenced by the cut) is how the diamond is shaped, and is often one of the first considerations when buying a piece of jewelry. Here are some basics on diamond shapes.

Round Brilliant Diamond Shape

In contemporary times, the round brilliant diamond has become the most popular diamond shape for the engagement ring.

But diamond cutters have been studying and refining the round cut for much longer than the current popularity — and diamond cutters now use advanced theories of light behavior and precise mathematical calculations to optimize the fire of a round diamond.

Princess Cut Diamond Shape

If you love the fire of the traditional Round Brilliant Cut (the standard diamond engagement ring cut), but want something a little different, you might just fall in love with the icy fire of the square Princess Cut Diamond.

Most square or rectangular cuts just don’t live up to the round brilliant for sparkle, but the Princess Cut was designed for getting maximum brilliance from a square cut.

Oval Diamonds Shape

The Oval Diamond has beautiful brilliance that’s similar to a round diamond. Oval diamonds are also very popular as their length can accentuate long, slender fingers.

The modern oval cut is a fiery diamond that reflects light brilliantly. It’s a wonderful selection for someone who loves the sparkle of the round brilliant, but desires a less common shape.

Emerald Cut Diamond Shape

As may be evident by the name, the “emerald cut” was originally developed for cutting emeralds, not diamonds. While the emerald gemstone is a relatively hard stone (7.5 – 8.0 on the MOHS scale), it is known for numerous inclusions (naturally occurring internal flaws). The inclusions make the stone vulnerable to breakage, making them difficult to cut. The stepped, normally rectangular cut with cropped corners (shown to the left), known as the “emerald cut” was developed to address these issues.

It was soon discovered that the emerald cut was also suitable for other stones, including diamonds.
The emerald cut diamond can be absolutely stunning. Because of it’s long lines, it tends to be less fiery than a “round brilliant” cut, but it also tends to have broader, more dramatic flashes of light.

Marquise Cut Diamond Shape

The marquise cut diamond (also called, the “navette” cut diamond) is an elongated shape with pointed ends.

The cut was developed for France’s Louis XIV who, so enchanted by the fetching smile of the Marquise de Pompadour, commissioned the development of a diamond to match the smile.

Radiant Cut Diamond Shape

If you love the fire of the traditional Round Brilliant Cut (the standard diamond engagement ring cut) and the shape of the less fiery Emerald Cut and Asscher Cut, you just may love the Radiant Cut Diamond.

Most square or rectangular cuts just don’t live up to the round brilliant for sparkle, but the Radiant Cut was designed for getting maximum brilliance. Like the emerald cut, the radiant cut diamond is often a rectangle (sometimes square) with cropped corners, but that’s where the similarities end. Where the emerald cut has long trim lines, the radiant cut is faceted for fire.

Pear Diamond Shape

The pear shaped diamond is also called the “teardrop diamond” because of its shape. The pear shaped diamond is a combination cut of the round-brilliant and the marquise. The Pear Shaped Diamond is a fiery cut with lots of wonderful sparkle and flash.

Cushion Cut Diamond Shape

The cushion cut is an antique cut that most often resembles a cross between the Old Mine Cut (a deep cut with large facets that was common in the late 19th and the early 20th centuries) and a modern oval cut. This shape is also sometimes referred to as the pillow-cut or the candlelight diamond (a reference to cuts designed prior to electric lights, when diamonds sparkled in the light provided by candles).

This cut is not as fiery or brilliant as many of the newer cuts, but it has a marvelously romantic and classic look and definitely stands out from the crowd of round brilliants.

Heart Diamond Shape

The heart shaped diamond is essentially a pear-shaped diamond with a cleft at the top. And while that technical description of the heart-shaped diamond is anything but sentimental, the diamond itself is is considered by some to be the most romantic of all diamond cuts.

The heart shaped diamond can be quite fiery with excellent sparkle.

Asscher Cut Diamond Shape

The “Asscher cut diamond” was developed in 1902 by the Asscher Brothers of Holland. It is a stepped square cut, often called the “square emerald cut” and like an emerald cut, the Asscher has cropped corners.

Before 2004-2005, very few stores carried Asscher cut diamonds. But when the Asscher cut was featured on a well known television show and a famous actress’ Asscher-cut engagement ring made headline entertainment news, there was renewed interest in this fashionable stepped-square cut.

Melee Diamonds

These very small diamonds have their own language that defines their size. Melee diamonds are a staple in the industry, especially in designer jewelry. The term “melee” refers to a group of small diamonds and traces its origins to the French word mêlée, which means “mixed.” Melee can range in size from as small as 0.001, which is 1000th of a carat, to 0.15 carats, measuring approximately 0.6 mm to 3.5 mm in diameter.