Diamond Shapes

diamond (XXXL)

When contemplating the purchase of a diamond, there are many aspects to consider.  Size, color, clarity and quality of cut certainly come to mind.  And, of course, there is shape.  While the shape of the diamond is primarily a matter of personal preference, there are many things—some technical and some whimsical—to consider.  Let’s look at a few of the most popular shapes:


The round diamond is by far the most popular, accounting for approximately 75% of all diamonds sold.  This is due in large part to its unparalleled brilliance.  Geometrically, the “Brilliant Round” diamond is ideally suited to maximize light return.  Round diamonds do tend to cost somewhat more on a per-carat basis than other diamond shapes.  This is because the demand for them is higher and the yield is relatively low, meaning that during the cutting process more of the rough stone is lost, so the cost of each carat retained is higher.  On a less technical note, the circular shape of the round diamond is said to represent love without end.


Princess Cut

The Princess cut is the most popular fancy cut diamond. It was created in 1980 by Betzalel Ambar and Israel Itzkowitz.  Princess cut diamonds are slightly less expensive on a per-carat basis than round cut diamonds due to their four-sided pyramid shape, which is similar to one half of the octahedron rough stone from which it is cut. This allows two equally sized princess cut diamonds to be cut from the same rough stone with relatively little waste. This equates to a higher yield, which facilitates a lower per-carat price.  The crown surface area of a princess cut diamond is about 10% smaller than that of a round diamond of comparable weight.  However, the corner-to-corner measurement of a princess cut diamond is typically 15% greater than the diameter of a same-weight round diamond.  This can create the illusion of greater size.  Of the square cuts, the princess and the radiant cut come closest to achieving equal brilliance to that of the round cut diamond. 

Princess cut diamond

Emerald Cut

The emerald cut is rectangular with cut corners and rows of step-facets that reflect off of each other.   Because of its rectangular shape, the emerald cut diamond looks great on long, slender fingers.  Due to its large step-facets (as opposed to brilliant-facets), inclusions are somewhat easier to see with the naked eye, so a clarity grade of SI1 or better is recommended.  Emerald cut diamonds have a definite air of class and sophistication!

Emerald Cut Diamond

Radiant Cut

The radiant cut diamond made its debut a little over twenty years ago.  Along with the princess cut, it comes very close to matching the brilliance of the round diamond.   In fact, its unique shape is a hybrid of the round and emerald cuts.  Its dimensions can be square, near square, or decidedly rectangular.  As the name suggests, radiant diamonds emit a beautiful, enchanting glow.

Radiant Cut Diamond

Cushion Cut

The cushion cut diamond was first introduced in the early 1800s.  Cushion cuts can be square or slightly rectangular and have rounded corners and sides.  They are often described as pillow-shaped.   Cushions were originally cut using step facets, until Marcel Tolkowsky introduced the new method of cutting cushions with brilliant facets—the same faceting technique as used on the modern round cut diamond.  Many consider the cushion cut to be a more “vintage” version of the brilliant round diamond.  As such, they are a popular choice for those who prefer a vintage style engagement ring.

Cushion Cut Diamonds


The oval-shaped diamond is basically an elliptical version of the brilliant round, and like the brilliant round, it possesses beautiful sparkle and brilliance.  It was introduced in the late 1950s or early 1960s by its creator, Lazare Kaplan.  Like the emerald cut, it can accentuate long, slender fingers or, alternatively, its elongated shape can lend an illusion of length to shorter fingers.  With its beautiful sparkle and brilliance, the oval shape diamond is a natural choice for someone who loves brilliant round diamonds, but desires a slightly more unique look.

Oval cut diamond

Marquise Cut

The marquise cut diamond has an elongated shape with pointed ends. It was originally commissioned by France’s Louis XIV to emulate the smile of the Marquise de Pompadour, which enchanted him. The marquise is beautiful set by itself in a solitaire, or with a complement of side diamonds.

Marquise cut diamond

Pear Shaped

Also called a “tear drop,” the pear-shaped diamond is a combination of the round and marquise cuts.  It is a fiery cut with lots of sparkle and its elegant lines are at once simple and sophisticated. The pear-shaped diamond works very well for small to average length fingers.

Pear shaped diamond

This is by no means a comprehensive list of the many diamond shapes available, but a highlight of some of the most popular choices.  Remember, the most important thing is to select a diamond shape that speaks to you!  You can learn more about diamonds, and find your perfect diamond cut on ShaneCo.com.

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