Guide to Diamond Cuts – Comparing Diamond Cuts

Posted on Sep 03,2014

Diamond cut can refer to two different aspects of a diamond’s physical characteristics: diamond cut grade and diamond shape. A diamond’s cut grade refers to how a diamond is cut, its proportions, polish, and symmetry whereas shape simply refers to the diamond’s physical shape (i.e. round, pear, emerald). We have discussed diamond cut grade extensively in previous posts and it has been established that the way a diamond is cut is one of the most important aspects that affects a diamond’s physical appearance. However, a diamond’s shape is just as important especially since it is one of the first things a person will notice when looking at a diamond (whether loose or set in a band).

Diamond shape is a matter of personal preference and as such, there are no fixed parameters that determine whether one shape is better than the other. One person might prefer the sparkle of a brilliant cut diamond whereas another might prefer the more subdued elegance of an emerald cut diamond.

While there is a myriad of diamond cuts available today, the most popular diamond cuts in terms of availability and demand are as follows:

Round Brilliant Cut     

The round brilliant cut is undoubtedly the most popular diamond cut today—accounting for 75% of all diamond sales. Its classic shape and ability to offer maximum fire and brilliance because of the way it is cut make it the most popular choice for many diamond buyers. It is also a very versatile shape that goes well with virtually any setting. Due to the high demand for round brilliant cuts, it is generally priced higher per carat compared to fancy cut diamonds.

Princess Cut     

The princess cut is the second most popular cut next to the round brilliant and the most popular fancy shape for diamonds. It is notable for its square shape, pointed corners, and excellent fire and brilliance. It is the closest square cut to achieve almost the same fire and brilliance as the round brilliant cut. Its shape also makes it a flexible option for many settings, although it is recommended to always set a princess cut diamond in a four-prong setting to protect its corners.

Compared to round brilliant cuts that wastes a lot of the rough stone when cut, princess cut diamonds have very little waste leading to a lower price per carat.

Emerald Cut                        

The emerald cut is adapted from the classic shape that emeralds are cut into, hence the name. It is popular for its subdued elegance, unique shape, and the hall-of-mirrors effect it creates when viewed from the surface. The emerald cut is a type of steps cut that is rectangular in shape and has cropped corners.

Since the emerald cut does not offer much fire and brilliance, inclusions and imperfections are much more visible on an emerald cut diamond compared to brilliant cuts. As such, buyers should pay extra attention to clarity when buying an emerald cut diamond especially for bigger stones.

Asscher Cut        

The Asscher cut is very similar to the emerald cut in appearance but it is square in shape instead of rectangular. While some refer to this cut as a modified emerald cut, it actually preceded the emerald cut. The Asscher cut has been in existence since 1902.

Asscher cut diamonds have larger step facets and a smaller table. It also typically has a higher crown than an emerald cut diamond. A well-cut asscher cut diamond will often deliver more brilliance than a well-cut emerald cut diamond because of its facet and table size.

Cushion Cut

Cushion cut diamonds are square in shape with rounded corners. It has been around for more than 2 centuries and used to be the shape of choice among diamond buyers. It used to be the most popular diamond shape before the round brilliant cut exceeded its demand. Due to recent cut improvements, the cushion cut is slowly regaining popularity. It is especially popular in many celebrity engagements and is typically set in a halo pave setting. While the cushion cut does not offer as much brilliance as the round brilliant cut, it typically offers more fire than other cuts.

Radiant Cut                              

Notable for its vibrancy and brightness, the radiant cut is an ideal option for those who want the fire and brilliance of a round brilliant cut but the rectangular shape of an emerald cut. The radiant cut is a brilliant cut diamond that is faceted both in the pavilion and the crown for extra fire and brilliance. While traditionally rectangular with cropped corners, some variations are squarer in shape than rectangular.

Oval       

The oval shape is a modified brilliant cut. It is very similar to the round brilliant cut in terms of the amount of fire and brilliance it exhibits when viewed from the surface. While not as popular as the round brilliant, some people prefer the oval shape because they are elongated and appear bigger even with smaller carat sizes.

Heart    

The heart shape is also a modified brilliant cut. It is very similar to the pear shape except it has two clefts on the top of each side to create an obvious heart shape. It is more popularly used in earrings and pendants. When used in engagement rings, it is not recommended to get anything smaller than .50 carats as it is difficult to notice the heart shape at all. For smaller heart shaped diamonds, a three-prong setting is recommended to accentuate its shape.

Pear      

The pear shape is another modified brilliant cut that is noted for its similarity to the round brilliant cut on one end and the marquise cut on the other end. One of the most important characteristics that any buyer should look for when choosing a pear shape diamond is symmetry. It is important for pear shaped diamonds to have excellent symmetry because of its shape. Ideally, the point at one end of a pear shape diamond should be in line with the highest part of the rounded end to achieve a perfect pear shape.

Comparison Chart for Different Cuts       

A diamond’s shape will have an effect on its physical size regardless of carat weight. Different cuts have different sizes, which is why some people prefer shapes that make a diamond appear bigger than it actually is. Below is a side-by-side comparison of the different diamond shapes and their estimated physical size, although it is worth noting that no two diamonds are the same even with the similar carat weights:

Diamond Cut Chart

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