Before selecting a diamond for your soon-to-be fiancée, one of the most important things, you’ll need to understand what each shape brings to the table and how this affects the price. No matter your price point, getting the most bang for your buck is critical.
Before clarity, cut, color, and carat — the 4Cs of a diamond, the shape of a diamond is one of the first features people will notice about a ring.
But before we jump into shapes, it’s imperative to understand that each diamond shape offers different brilliance, appearance in size, and price. Furthermore, each shape offers a different proportion of crown (the face of the diamond) to pavilion (the bottom of the diamond), number of facets, and brilliance, also known as the amount of light projected).
For example, when comparing a 2-carat, ideally cut, round diamond and cushion cut diamond, even though the diamonds are the same, the round diamond will appear more prominent and larger because of its shape.
Why? Because in comparison, round diamonds are cut more shallowly than cushion cut diamonds. That said, cushion-cut diamonds tend to carry more weight in their pavilion (the bottom of the diamond) and therefore have less crown (the face of the diamond) showing.
But there’s more to it. Even though both of these diamonds have the same grade in clarity, cut, color, and carat, they will both have different price points, with the round diamond more likely being more expensive.
Okay… so now onto shapes!
The OG of shapes is the round cut diamond, also known as the ultimate classic. This shape tends to look larger than most other diamond shapes and offers the most sparkle, and who could honestly say “no” to more sparkle?
Round diamonds offer 58 facets and the most brilliance due to their shape, nearing perfect symmetry.
To optimize its presentation, diamond cutters and scientists have spent over a century perfecting the round diamond shape through precise mathematical calculations. As a result, this shape has become the most popular and ultimately has the highest price point.
This shape of diamond tends to draw the eye due to its sleek look and sharp edges. That said, a well-cut princess diamond has 57 or 76 facets and is exceptionally brilliant. And while a princess diamond has a smaller face than a round diamond, it can appear larger due to its corner-to-corner length being longer than the diameter of a round-shaped diamond.
One thing to note with this shape is that it is like to chip due to its sharp corners. That said, this shape has become less popular and nonetheless has become more affordable.
Cushion cut diamonds, also known as the pillow cut or old cut, were once the most popular diamond shape as they offer a softer and more romantic style.
Famous celebrities such as Kanye West, better known as Ye, gifted his then-wife Kim Kardashian an $8 million engagement ring in 2013. The eye-popping 15-carat cushion-cut diamond engagement ring doubled as a 33rd birthday present.
Over the years, however, cushion cut diamonds have gone down in popularity due to their lack of brilliance or size appeal in comparison to others.
But due to some significant improvements over the years in its presentation, the cushion cut diamond has gone from 58 facets to 64 and might be at a favorable price point since it’s still working its way back up in popularity.
This shape is the mid-point between the cushion cut and princess cut shapes with its slightly cropped corners.
The radiant cut diamond offers tremendous brilliance and depth, as it is typically comprised of 70 facets. Because of its brilliance, the radiant cut diamond can hide inclusions more efficiently than any other shape. With that in mind, those interested in the radiant cut can go up in size while going lower in clarity and other aspects of the diamond.
The emerald cut diamond isn’t intended to have the sparkle and shine like other diamond shapes as it offers a series of straight facets (typically 57) that decrease in length, receding from the girdle. Instead, the emerald cut diamond is meant to be peered into like a hall of mirrors and thus will have more extended, more pronounced reflections.
This shape is sophisticated and has ultimately been dubbed the shape for those of “old money” or “ old Hollywood glamour.” This is mainly due to the fact the shape didn’t become popular until the early twentieth century, when the emerald cut’s strong, clean lines and symmetry lent themselves perfectly to Art Deco jewelry designs.
Over the years, however, this diamond shape has become less popular due to its lacking brilliance.
One thing to note about emerald cut diamonds is that color and clarity matter more with this shape than others. With such a large face, detecting color or imperfections becomes easier, meaning you should move up the grading scale for clarity, cut, and color.
Asscher cut diamonds have significant step facets and offer a high crown and smaller table. This shape also has cropped corners like an emerald cut, but it can look slightly octagonal as it is square. This shape is now less common as the stones are more labor-intensive to cut.
Princess Madeleine of Sweden received an Asscher-cut diamond ring when her now-husband Christopher proposed in 2013.
For those interested in this diamond shape but prefer more brilliance than the traditional cut offers, the royal asscher cut variation offers a touch more brilliance, going from the shape’s traditional 58 facets to 74 facets.
The pear cut is a combination of the round cut and a marquise-cut diamond and creates a slenderizing and elegant effect that tends to make the finger look longer.
Similar to the round cut, the pear cut also typically has 58 facets. However, the pear shape offers excellent value as it offers many of the benefits of a round diamond but appears even more prominent and tends to come at a more affordable price point.
Before purchasing a pear-shaped diamond, one thing to note is to consider its length-to-width ratio. You do not want a pear-shaped diamond that is too fat or skinny. That said, it’s recommended to stay within the range of a 1.5–1.6 length-to-width ratio.
While we say the pear cut diamond is more likely to be affordable, there are some rarities. Just recently, the largest white diamond to ever come up for auction was sold for 21,681,000 CHF ($21.9 million) at Christie’s in Geneva. The 228.31-carat, pear-shaped gemstone — dubbed “The Rock” — originated from South Africa, where some of the largest diamonds in the world have been found, including the pear-shaped “Star of Africa” and rose cushion cut “Golden Jubilee.”
This shape offers 58 facets of brilliance and tends to look larger than a round shape diamond. That said, over the years, the oval shape has become quite trendy. In fact, musician Travis Barker just proposed to reality star Kourtney Kardashian with an oval engagement ring estimated to be nearly $1 million.
Like the pear cut diamond, the oval shape also creates a slenderizing effect. And similarly, for the oval shape, it’s recommended to stay within the 1.5 to 1.6 length-to-width ratio as you don’t want a diamond that is too round or too oval.
The marquise cut diamond offers a football or boat-like effect and is known for its brilliance — typically 58 facets, and offers the illusion of greater size.
For optimal length without having a diamond look too slender, it’s recommended to stick to a ratio between 1.95–2.05.
One of Victoria Beckham’s many engagement rings she has received from husband David Beckham includes a three-carat marquise-cut diamond ring.
When it comes to getting the most bang for your buck, it ultimately comes down to what you are looking for. Are you looking to go bigger? A radiant cut diamond might do the trick as you can compromise more on clarity, cut, and color. Or maybe it’s the emerald since it’s gone down in popularity. On the other hand, if you’re looking to make more of a statement, perhaps the pear cut is your winner.
At the end of the day, it’s what your significant other wants to wear and what catches your eye.