Choosing an engagement ring is both exciting and overwhelming. For many brides-to-be, it’s the most expensive piece of jewelry they own.
Combine the sentimental and monetary factors and you can feel a lot of pressure to pick the perfect ring.
One of the major decisions you’ll make when engagement ring shopping is what diamond shape to buy (assuming you’re going with a traditional diamond ring!).
Sure, you definitely need to like the shape you choose, but there are quite a few other factors to keep in mind that affect the price, longevity and overall appearance of your ring.
The Difference Between Shape & Cut
We could explain how shape and cut differ, but our friends at The Knot already do a great job putting it in simple terms:
“While you must cut a diamond to make a shape, the shape is essentially the overall geometry or form of the diamond (round, square, etc.), while the cut is the diamond's facets and proportions -- the things that give diamonds their brilliance and fire.” (The Knot)
Some diamond shapes are easier to cut well, allowing some to sparkle more easily than others.
Getting the Best Cut
There are two general types of diamond cuts: brilliant and step. Brilliant cuts have facets that are mostly triangular or kite shaped and radiate from the center. Step cuts have long, narrow facets in rows that produce a “hall-of-mirrors” effect.
Reflected by its overwhelming popularity, a round diamond is the ultimate in brilliance. Due to the ability of its 58 facets to reflect light, the sparkle factor of a round brilliant is nearly unmatched.
While the princess cut doesn’t direct light back to the center quite as efficiently as a round, it comes the closest to achieving a similar level of fire and brilliance.
Radiant diamonds were actually the first square cut with a brilliant facet pattern, before the princess debuted. They round out the top three shapes for consistently achieving maximum brilliance.
Oval, marquise and pear diamond shapes are harder to cut well due to the “bow-tie effect.” With all fancy-cut diamonds, there’s a visible area that sucks light into the center of the stone.
While this effect is harder to avoid with these elongated shapes, very well-cut ovals, marquises and pears can be very flattering.
Round Brilliant Cut Diamond
Emerald shapes can be beautiful if perfectly cut, but with much fewer facets, it’s easy for an emerald to appear dull. Because imperfections are seen much more easily in emerald cuts, you may need to invest in a stone of higher clarity.
Emerald Shape Step Cut Diamond
If you like a step cut, but want more brilliance than a modestly priced emerald, check out its square emerald cousin, the Asscher diamond.
Another factor to consider when choosing a shape is how many setting options are available. If you create a custom setting, this won’t be a problem. However, if you’re looking for a setting that’s already designed, some shapes will have significantly more choices than others.
By far the most setting options are available for rounds.
Due to their growing popularity, settings for princess cuts are readily available as well.
Fewer pre-made settings are available for cushion and radiant shapes. Because both are “in between” round and princess, they can instead be forced into settings meant for one or the other, making them vulnerable to loss.
Oval diamonds also have fewer stock settings available. A setting intended for a colored gemstone can sometimes be adopted to fit an oval.
A well-made setting that both flatters and protects a vulnerable trillion diamond can be very hard to find.
Vulnerability to Damage
Generally, the more difficult a diamond is for a goldsmith to set, the more vulnerable it is to damage. That includes damage incurred both within the setting process as well as damage while the ring is being worn.
According to jewelry entrepreneur Claire Baiz of Big Sky Gold & Diamond Brokers, the diamond shapes most vulnerable to damage are:
All four of these shapes have sharp edges or points, making them prone to chipping when struck.
With no flat edges at all, round cuts are least likely to chip and can be most easily set securely.
For many, budget is one of the largest factors when choosing an engagement ring. Here’s how the different diamond shapes stack up according to cost.
- True Royal Asscher diamonds, a proprietary signature cut, are rare and pricey.
- Well-cut emeralds carry a higher price point, especially when increasing clarity to avoid dullness.
- Round brilliants tend to come with a higher price tag as well. Partly due to high demand, but also because more of the rough stone is lost in the cutting process.
- Due to less waste in the cutting process, princess cuts have a lower price-per-carat than rounds.
- Cushions and ovals are generally even less expensive.
- Less popular shapes like marquise, trillion, and pear are typically affordable due to lower demand.
The Final Decision
In the end, you need to love your ring.
Some want their diamond to appear as big as possible. Some want maximum sparkle. And still others want a ring that matches their personality.
Figure out what aspects are most important to you, and narrow down the options until you find that perfect stone!
Which is your favorite? Share with us in the comments!