How to Properly Decide on a Diamond Shape or Cut

How to Properly Decide on a Diamond Shape or Cut


Many diamond guides will often tell you to choose a diamond shape that reflects what you feel when you see it. Although you should take that into account as to what feels good, however remember to test your feelings out and actually place different shapes on your finger instead of just choosing it from a box.

It is important when choosing a diamond shape to consider your hand as a whole and finger proportions. Certain diamond shapes such as Marquise Cut will look better on longer fingers and skinny hands as it extenuates the hand and finger size.

Remember that shape is the geometrical form of the stone such as oval, round, square, however cut is the actual cut of the diamonds facets and proportions. Shape can't be graded where as cut can be.

10 Most Common Diamond Shapes & Cuts:

  1. Round Brilliant Cut
  2. Princess Cut
  3. Oval Cut
  4. Marquise Cut
  5. Emerald Cut
  6. Asscher Cut
  7. Heart Shaped
  8. Pear-Shaped
  9. Radiant Cut
  10. Cushion Cut

Overview of Each Shape:

Round Brilliant Cut

The Round Brilliant Cut shape is one of the most popular shapes for diamonds. It is the most popular diamond shape because the shape allows maximum fire and brilliance to come from the diamond.

  • Over 75% of the diamond sold are Round Brilliant Cut
  • Has a total of 58 facets (33 on top called the crown - 25 on bottom called the pavilion)
  • Usually set in solitaire, four prong setting to showcase brilliance
  • Typically most expensive diamond shape due to demand

Great for most hand shapes. Possibly why it makes this cut so popular, but less flattering for shorter fingers or nail bitting women.


Princess Cut Diamond

The Princess Cut Diamond Shape (developed by Basil Watermeyer from Johannesburg in 1963) is the second most popular diamond shaped behind the Round Brilliant Cut. One of the reasons is because it can offer almost as much brilliance and fire as the Round Brilliant Cut. They say that some brilliance and fire is lost through the edges, and some diamond cutters have tried to taper or soften the edges of the diamond to allow more brilliance and fire unfortunately this adjustment makes the diamond shaped less elegant. A true Princess Cut should have very fine edges.

The Princess Cut requires more carat weight to be focused on the diamonds depth in order to maximize brilliance. So depth percentages of  70% to 78% are not uncommon.

Since Princess Cut have excellent fire and brilliance, a lower color and clarity grade of a Princess Cut will make it pop with fire and brilliance as much as another diamond with higher color and clarity grade i.g. an Emerald Cut.

The Princess Cut is great for most hand shapes and including people with wider fingers.


Oval Cut Diamond

The Oval Cut Diamond Shape is very appealing to women who have smaller or more elongated hands and fingers. Traditionally it is set with two smaller diamonds flanking the center diamond on either side and hence why it is more popular as a three stone ring versus a solitaire.

The Oval Cut are flatter for shorter or thicker fingers. It works well on smaller hands.


Marquise Cut Diamond

They say that the Marquise Cut Diamond is the choice for royalty as the story implies it was commissioned by Louis XV who gave it to his mistress Marquise de Pompadour. Since the diamond is about twice as long as it is wide, the psychological visual appearance makes it seem larger than it really is to the naked eye. Remember to keep an eye out for the length to width ratio on this diamond shaped because it affects the sparkle, brilliance, and fire. Keep the ratio around 1.8 to 1 and a depth of 59% to 63%.

This shape, similar to the oval, make the fingers appear longer and great for skinny hands or fingers.


Emerald Cut Diamond

The Emerald Cut Diamond is rectangular with cut corners. The Emerald Cut shape was developed through the cutting of emeralds. The Emerald Cut is not as popular as it used to be, however a mighty fine shape still.

  • Typically has 57 facts (25 on the crown - 8 girdle facets, 24 pavilion)
  • Has a glassy look - so poor quality is easier to spot to the naked eye
  • Purchase slightly higher quality grades as it the emerald is more transparent than other shapes.
  • Emerald cut typically cost less than a Round Brilliant Cut

The Emerald Cut is best for slender fingers and sometimes large hands. Typically not great for heavy hands.


Asscher Cut Diamond

The Asscher Cut is a hybrid-like diamond cut, meaning an Emerald transformed into a square. Typically it has a greater depth than the Emerald cut. Developed in 1902 during Art-Deco in Amsterdam by Joseph Asscher.

Just like Emeralds, Asscher cuts are fairly transparent and therefore color and clarity grades should be a notch higher than of other diamonds. Depth percentages in the 59% to 68% range and table 51% to 64% are good ranges to stay in.

The Asscher Cut is a flexible diamond cut for most hand shapes and fingers. Depending on the proportions of the diamond, it may be better for certain hand shapes and types than others.


Heart Shaped Diamond

Considered to me a romantic diamond shape. It is similar to the Pear-Shaped however it has a clef in the rounded end that creates the heart form.

  • Should consist of 5 prongs: 2 on the lobes, 2 prongs on the sides, 1 on the V point to help protect the vulnerable point.

The Heart is great for shorter fingers giving a hand an elongated look. Also its fantastic for small hands.


Pear Shaped Diamond

The Pear Shaped Diamond resembles a tear-drop. It has a tapered point on one end (marquise end) and round on the other end. It is best when the Pear-Shaped diamond as a center stone and often looks great with side-stones.

  • Ideal ratio: 1.5 to 1.0.
  • Has 56 facets
  • Great symmetry is important to ensure light is reflected properly.
  • Typically 5 prong setting: 2 prongs for the round end, 2 for curves, 1 for the V for protection.

The Pear Shape looks great for average to long hands, and slightly shorter fingers than average.


Radiant Cut Diamond

Radiant Cut Diamond shape is a combination of Emerald Cut and a Brilliant Cut. Do not confuse it with an Emerald Cut which is more elongated.

  • Henry Grossbard created the shape in 1977
  • 70 total facets
  • Cut corners similar to Emerald shape
  • Maximum fire and brilliance without vulnerable corners

The Radiant Cut is great for most hand shapes and including wider fingers. The proportions of the diamond will be a determining factor if it fits your hand properly.


Cushion Cut Diamond

Cushion Cut is a shape that resembles a pillow, hence the name. It was once known as the Old Mine Cut and is a combination of a square cut with rounded corners. Since there are  a few variations of the Cushion cuts such as Antique Cushion Cut and Modern Cushion Cut, some have larger facets therefore it is easier to see inclusions.

The Cushion Cut, like the Round Brilliant Cut is great for most hand shapes and finger sizes.


How the Shape Effects Diamond Price

Certain diamond shapes are in higher demand than others and therefore may cost more. Round Brilliant Cut diamonds have their own category and price list and cost usually more than other fancy shapes (non-round). They Round Brilliant Cut has the highest demand.

Final Tips on Diamond Shapes

  • Understand proportions and ratios for your diamond shape you are looking for
  • Know the quality that you should go for in your diamond shape as flaws can be more visible with certain shapes
  • Determine which shape looks best for your hand
  • Check your feelings about the shape prior to the purchase
  • Consider the engagement ring band that will be paired with the diamond
Frank Fisher

Author: Frank Fisher

Frank Fisher (Sasha Evdakov) started learning about diamonds at a young age through his cultural background and family influence. He spent years being mentored by the best diamond dealers and has been studying diamonds and the diamond market since 1998.