Knowledge Center » Jewelry 101 » The Many Shapes of Diamonds
Diamonds come in many shapes with the round brilliant cut being the most popular. All the others are called fancy shapes. Cutting styles are categorized into three basic types: step-cut, brilliant-cut and mixed-cut.
The step cut has rows of facets that resemble the steps of a staircase and are usually four-sided and elongated. The emerald, asscher and baguette cuts are examples of this cut.
The most common brilliant cut is round. Other examples of brilliant cuts are heart, oval, marquise, and pear. All brilliants have 58 facets and are admired for their fire and sparkle. The mixed cut has both step and brilliant cut facets. In the last 20 years, mixed cuts featuring step cutting on the crown and brilliant cutting on the pavilion have become very popular. Examples of mixed cuts are radiant and princess cuts.
The round brilliant diamond is the most popular diamond shape. There are 58 facets in a Round Brilliant Cut including the culet. The round brilliant cut is universally popular with a classic style that never losses favor -- it is truly timeless.
The early modern Tolkowsky brilliant cut emerged with Marcel Tolkowsky's published thesis entitled, "Diamond Design: A Study of the Reflection and Refraction of Light in Diamond", in 1919. This was a theoretical work describing the best proportions of a round brilliant diamond which would provide a balanced return of light (brilliance) and dispersion. As a result, many cutters were led to fashion many of the larger, high quality goods in the range of these proportions. These proportions are what we strive for in each of our diamonds offered to you.
The radiant cut is the name used to describe the cut-cornered, rectangular or square modified brilliant, the technical description on grading reports. The truncated corners help to minimize chipping.
Radiant cut diamond is considered the father of branded fancy cut diamonds with a birth over 20 years ago. Originally protected by patent, the design is now public domain. The radiant cut diamond is the first rectangular cut to have a complete brilliant facet pattern applied to both the crown and pavilion and as such presents a much more dazzling and brilliant diamond than the simple emerald cut.
The princess is a brilliant-style shape with sharp, pointed, uncut corners. The princess was developed in 1980. Cutting a princess generally results in a yield of 60 to 62 percent of the weight of the rough crystal, which is a better weight retention than a round. The high yield in weight translates into lower prices for princess cut diamonds compared to round brilliants and thus a good value for the buyer.
The princess cut is called a square or rectangular modified brilliant in grading reports. For the past thirty years, the princess cut has been an ever popular diamond for todays brides.
The technical name of the pear is pear-shaped modified brilliant," based on its shape and modifications of the traditional round brilliant configuration. The pear shape usually has the 58 facet brilliant pattern and stands out as a more distinctive shape.
The oval's technical name is "oval modified brilliant," based upon its shape and modifications of the traditional round brilliant configuration. The oval was invented in the early 1960's and is seen most frequently cut in the standard 58 facet brilliant pattern.
In the oval brilliant, as with marquise shapes and other elongated fancy shapes, there is an increased likelihood of having a "bow tie." This is a dark area in the shape of a man's bow tie that occurs when the angles of the cut are not optimum. This facet misalignment can detract from the brilliance, especially if it is an exaggerated or overly dark bow tie effect.
The marquise brilliant is a football-shaped modified brilliant. As with most fancy shapes, the ultimate shape of the finished diamond is determined by the rough crystal and what parameters it allows.
The marquise is usually cut as an adaptation of the 58 facet standard brilliant, the same as the round brilliant.
In the marquise brilliant, as with pear shapes and other elongated fancy shapes, there is an increased likelihood of having a bow tie. This is a dark area in the shape of a man's bow tie that occurs when the cut of facets reflecting light are not optimum. This facet misalignment can detract from the brilliance, especially if it is an exaggerated or overly dark bow tie effect.
HEART CUTThe technical name for this stone is the "Heart-Shaped Modified Brilliant," based upon its shape and modifications of the traditional round brilliant configuration.
The length-to-width ratio of the heart can vary. The best ratio for you will depend on your personal preferences so do your shopping to determine what you like best. As with fancy shapes in general, cutting parameters are for the most part determined by the shape and nature of the rough diamond crystal.
The emerald cut is not a brilliant cut, but is called a step cut which means it has rows of facets. Step cuts are comprised of larger facets which act like mirrors and resemble a staircase, hence the name step-cut.
Because of the angle, size and shape of the facets, the emerald cut shows less brilliance and fire (dispersion) than the brilliant cut diamonds. However, the emerald cut stone reveals a classic beauty and elegance not seen in other cuts. The look of an emerald cut diamond is subtle and understated with less "flash," or reflection and refraction than brilliant cuts.
A cushion cut is a square or squarish-rectangular cut with rounded corners and 58 brilliant-style facets that resemble a pillow shape, hence the name. Cushion cuts are a little less brilliant than modern round brilliant diamonds, but are more dispersive (which refers to the separation of white light into spectral colors).
The cushion cut diamond was one of the most popular cuts of diamonds ever. For more than 70 years from 1830 to the turn of the century this was simply how diamonds were cut. Many of the older cushion cuts, often called Old Mine Cuts, have steep crown and pavilion facets, usually a culet and a small table.
The recent popularity for cushion cuts began again about ten years ago, and the demand has increased as designers and antique dealers continue to use them. Cushion cut diamonds look especially nice in antique settings so are a great choice if that is the type of ring you are seeking.
In 1902, Asscher Diamond Co. patented a rectilinear diamond cut. Developed by Joseph Asscher, the squarish step cut's deeply cut corners give it an almost octagonal outline. However, it was a big departure from the brilliant cuts that dominated the 1800s and was a forerunner of the standard emerald cut. The Asscher cut is a square cut characterized by a smaller table and larger step facet than an emerald cut. It features dramatic, cut corners. It usually has a high crown and a deeper pavilion than today's emerald cuts. Because of its high crown and small table, the Asscher cut has more light and fire than an emerald cut.