A Guide To Diamond Types And Cuts
Angelica Frey | February 14, 2023
Angelica Frey | February 14, 2023
All diamonds are made of carbon, but not all diamonds are created equally: different types, shapes, and diamond cuts, plus the fact that no two diamonds are actually identical bring about an infinite amount of variety. If you’re thinking about purchasing a diamond, this guide will provide you with valuable information on diamonds and provide clarity on actual terminology, which will empower you to make a thoughtful purchase. A diamond expert will then be able to assist you further in your journey when you book an appointment.
Diamond Shape Vs. Diamond Cut
A diamond shape indicates the geometric appearance of a diamond. The shapes fall into two categories. Round Brilliant diamonds and fancy-shaped diamonds, which include all shapes that are not round, such as Oval, Emerald, Cushion, Princess, Radiant, Asscher, Pear, Marquise, and Trillion.
A diamond’s cut refers to its facets, and the way they interact with light. Cut is also the most important of the 4Cs, where it is graded in terms of symmetry, proportion, and polish of the facets. However, the way a diamond is cut will determine its shape, so it’s quite common to hear the terms being used interchangeably.
What Determines A Diamond Shape?
In general, the shape of the original rough diamond and the position of the inclusions determines what shape the diamond will be cut into: an octahedron-shaped round diamond, for example, will likely be cut into two Round Brilliant diamonds. Diamonds can be recut in any shape or sizes. For a long time, Marquise diamonds have been subject to re-cutting, because they were deemed an old-fashioned shape.
However, given the type of work involved, you’ll most likely end up losing a certain amount of carat weight in the process — this is especially true of Round Brilliant cut diamonds.
Mined diamonds, often referred to as natural, formed millions of years ago in Earth’s mantle, about 100 miles beneath the surface, under high temperature and pressure conditions. Two main conditions allow the formation of diamonds: carbon must be present in a mantle fluid or melt in sufficient quantity, and the melt or fluid must become reduced enough so that oxygen does not combine with carbon. And while they originate in nature, the ethics and working conditions surrounding the mining process have not always been transparent or ethical.
Laboratory-grown diamonds share the same chemical, optical and physical properties and crystal structure as mined diamonds. Advanced testing in a gemological laboratory is required to tell a lab-grown diamond apart from a mined diamond. The main difference lies in their origin, which, in the case of lab-grown diamonds, is always guaranteed and traceable. VRAI created diamonds are created sustainably in the Pacific Northwest without mining, deforestation, cartels, or carbon emissions.
How Diamond Shapes Affect Pricing
The shape of a diamond directly affects its price. The higher the market demand for a particular shape, the higher the average price. Round Brilliant is the most popular shape, and this popularity is reflected on the price. Choosing a fancy-shaped diamond can save you up to 25% versus a Round Brilliant sharing the same 4Cs and specs. In addition, elongated shapes such as Oval, Pear, Marquise, and Emerald face up larger, so they appear larger on the finger than a Round Brilliant of the same carat weight.
Types Of Diamond Cuts
Diamond Cut refers to the shape and the arrangements of the facets, so the flat surfaces on the geometric shape of the diamonds. The most common types of cuts are Brilliant Cuts, Step Cuts, and Mixed Cuts. Note that this is different from the grade of cuts.
Brilliant cuts have their facets arranged in a way that is meant to maximize the brilliance of a diamond. The Round Cut is considered as the standard Brilliant cut, while the other shapes are also known as “modified brilliants,” because they all sport the same amount of facets adapted to other shapes. These shapes include Oval, Marquise, and Pear.
Step-cut diamonds have rectilinear facets that run parallel to the girdle, and have an octagonal outline. Compared to Brilliant cuts, step cuts have less fire and brilliance, mainly due to the shallower depth of both their crown and pavilion. In addition, due to their structure, step cuts accentuate both the clarity and color of the diamond.
Mixed cuts combine Brilliant and Step cuts, Typically, the crown is brilliant cut and the pavilion step-cut. The Princess Cut and the Radiant cut are the most popular mixed-cut diamond shapes.
Types of Diamond Shapes
To the untrained eye, the diamond shape is the first notable characteristic of a diamond, as the diamond’s geometric appearance is the easiest way to differentiate one stone from another.
The Round Brilliant cut diamond is the most popular of all diamond shapes, with 58 triangle and kite-shaped facets and a round surface area. The Round Brilliant is cut in a way that maximizes brilliance, with fire and brightness determined by the precision of its cut. Given its popularity, it’s a comparably more expensive choice than other shapes.
Oval Cut Diamond
The Oval cut diamond combines the brilliance and the inclusion-hiding abilities of a brilliant cut, with a finger-lengthening effect that is characteristic of elongated shapes. Plus, it has generous surface area. It’s easy to see why it is one of the most-loved diamond shapes among VRAI’s customers.
Marquise Cut Diamond
The Marquise Cut diamond owes its name to the Marquise de Pompadour, one of Louis XV’s paramours: allegedly, the king had commissioned a diamond to be cut in a shape that resembled her lips. Featuring an elliptical shape with pointed ends, this cut maximizes carat — meaning it faces up the largest — and brilliance. In addition, due to its elongated shape, it has an overall flattering finger-lengthening effect.
Cushion Cut Diamond
The Cushion cut diamond derives its name from its pillow-like appearance, combining a soft square shape with rounded corners and a brilliant cut. Thanks to its large facets that highlight clarity and disguise inclusions, the Cushion cut diamond is considered to be of the diamond shapes that shines the most vividly.
Pear Cut Diamond
A blend of Round and Marquise shapes, Pear cut diamonds have a teardrop silhouette which combines curved and sharp edges. Since Pear cuts are a type of Brilliant cut, they maximize brilliance while also hiding inclusions.
Emerald Cut Diamond
The Emerald cut diamond features long, symmetrical step-cut facets that draw in light and spotlight the diamond’s clarity, creating a covetable halls-of-mirror effect for an overall modern and elegant look.
Asscher Cut Diamond
Art Deco meets sleek, modern style in the Asscher cut diamond. The Asscher cut has step cut, X-shaped facets with clean, geometric lines. The Asscher cut is similar to the Emerald cut but it has equilateral sides.
Radiant Cut Diamond
The Radiant cut diamond combines the brilliance of the Round Brilliant with the distinct silhouette and geometry of the Emerald. This shape features 70 brilliant facets which hide inclusions and reflect light well. It can be cut both square and rectangular.
Princess Cut Diamond
The Princess cut diamond is a fairly recent diamond shape, and features a square shape with 4 sharp corners and around 57 facets, as the creators wanted to create a shape that could rival the brilliance of the Round Brilliant. Given this shape’s proportion, more weight needs to be distributed in the pavilion in order to maximize brilliance.
Trillion Cut Diamond
With its triangular shape, the Trillion cut diamond has a sleek, futuristic look. Trillions also appear larger than other diamond shapes by carat weight, and, since they’re one type of Brilliant cut, they have maximum scintillation and also conceal inclusions.
Baguette Cut Diamond
A Baguette diamond is a step-cut thin, elongated, rectangular-shaped diamond often used in accent, pavé, and side stones.
Types Of Diamond Settings
The type of diamond cut and shape directly determines the best setting, both in terms of safety and appearance: you want to highlight the beauty of your diamond and maximize its brilliance while also making sure it won’t get damaged. VRAI’s Engagement Ring styles offer a variety of settings for each band option.
The Prong setting, as seen on VRAI’s Signature and Signature Six Prong engagement rings, is a timeless style that allows you to show off your diamond. This is one of the most versatile settings, and works with most diamond shapes. The six-prong solitaire is more protective of the stone’s girdle and enhances its shape by giving it a floating appearance, and stylistically, it works best on rounded and round shapes, as the higher number of prongs do follow the curve of the diamond.
“I tend to recommend 6 Prongs for customers that are seeking some extra stability in their ring, as it provides two extra points of contact in the event of a prong lifting off of a diamond face,” says Queena Chang, VRAI’s Chief Diamond Expert. She also acknowledges that aesthetic preferences play a major role in the choice: “Some of my clients prefer the look of four prongs as they feel that it has less metal and can reveal more of the diamond, while some of my other clients prefer the six prong look as they like the extra edges or like the balance it can bring to shapes such as the Round Brilliant.”
Halo engagement ring settings feature a pavé of diamonds that encircles your central stone to accentuate its brilliance. In addition, they can make the central diamond appear up to half a carat larger. However, the pavé diamonds of the halo can be quite delicate.
A Bezel engagement ring setting appears sleek and modern from the outside, but it has actually been used for centuries, making it a timeless choice. Bezel settings optically enhance the size of the stone, making it appear larger, and they’re also a protective style for fragile stones. In addition, the Bezel setting can also help hide and disguise inclusions.
Which Diamond Type Is Best?
What diamond type and shape is best has an important caveat: it has to specify what shape and type is best for you or for the person meant to wear the ring. Round Brilliant diamonds, with their combination of curve and geometry and with their classic and timeless look, are still the most popular diamond shape: more than 75% of the world’s diamonds are Round Brilliant, and 50% of engagement rings feature a center diamond in this shape. However, diamonds with elongated shapes, such as Oval, Emerald, Pear, and Marquise, appear larger than a Round Brilliant and other square shapes at the same carat weight, and give the illusion of long, slender fingers.
What’s The Ideal Clarity For Different Diamond Shapes?
Some diamond cuts hide and conceal inclusions while maximizing brilliance better than others: Round Brilliant and Radiant cut diamonds, for example, hide color and clarity well, so you have quite a bit of leeway when it comes to choosing a diamond.
“I would be mindful of clarity in any step cut diamond, such as Emerald cuts and Asscher cuts,” says Queena Chang, VRAI’s Lead Diamond Expert. “These two shapes allow you to look into the diamond more than a brilliant cut or mixed cut would, so I recommend my clients to focus on the VS clarity range and above, though some SI1 clarity diamonds may still be eye clean and would be worth considering for a great budget pick.”
What Diamond Shapes Face Up Largest?
Marquise, Pear, Oval, and Emerald are the four diamond shapes that look the largest, with Marquise diamonds looking 15% larger than a Round Brilliant Cut at the same carat weight. If we consider that an average 1 carat Round Brilliant measures 6.5mm in diameter, 1 carat Marquise measures 10mm by 5 mm; a 1 carat Oval diamond 7.7 mm by 5.7mm; similarly, a Pear shaped diamond 7.7 by 5.7 mm and a 1 carat Emerald 7 by 5 mm.
What Diamond Shapes Have The Most Brilliance?
The cut of a diamond shape directly affects its brilliance, or its ability to sparkle. Cut, in fact, determines the number of facets (the flat surfaces on a diamond) and, as a consequence, the way light will travel and bounce off them. Brilliant-cut diamonds, so Round, Oval, and Marquise, have the most brilliance, as the geometry of the facets maximizes both fire and brightness. The Round Brilliant Cut, in particular, is the most brilliant of the category. Step Cuts, which have straight facets arranged in a step-like fashion, have a more subdued brilliance with a characteristic “hall of mirror” effect. Cushion cut, Radiant cut, and Princess cut diamonds can sport a “crushed ice” look that produces a unique shimmer.
Book An Appointment With A Diamond Expert
Terms like “type”, “cut”, and “shape” can be confusing and make the decision-making process more laborious than it should be. Our experts can assist you in any step of your diamond-buying journey, both in educating you and in guiding you towards a purchase of a heirloom-quality diamond.