When you think of diamonds, you might think of their fire and their sparkle. You might think of their clarity and indestructibility. But if you put the shape of a diamond far down on the list of the features that interest you, you might be surprised to know that shape is one of the things that affects the 4 C’s of a diamond more than any other. The shape of a diamond can also dramatically change a fifth “C” of a diamond: Cost.
The round-cut diamond is the most common and the most popular shape in the world. The reason for this is because the round cut is the shape that has the most brilliance (glow), fire (colorful sparkle), and scintillation (white sparkle). If you’re partial to these factors, you may like a round-cut diamond best. However, round cuts are also very compact, which makes them look smaller than other comparably sized shapes. And because round-cut diamonds are simultaneously the most popular shape and a slightly inefficient way of cutting a rough stone, they’re one of the pricier options for a woman.
Princess-cut diamonds are considered a “brilliant” cut, which means that they have nearly as much sparkle and glow as a round cut. As a shape invented in the 1970s, the princess cut may be an ideal choice for a woman who wants a stone that’s modern, brilliant, and something a little daintier. Like round cuts, the compactness of the shape masks the carat size, but it also helps conceal inclusions and slight yellow tones. There is also a slight risk of damage thanks to the fragile points of the stone. However, since princess cuts are a more efficient way to cut a rough stone, they’re significantly more affordable than a comparably sized round cut.
Like princess cuts, the oval-cut diamond is a very modern design, dating back to the 1960s. It’s similar to the round cut, since it lacks sharp corners and is also considered a brilliant cut. Because the oval cut is longer, it’s perfect for a woman who wants to accentuate the narrowness and length of her finger—but it comes with the drawback of the “bow-tie effect”. Because the oval shape imbalances the facets, there’s a pocket of diamond where light seeps out, creating a dark patch in the center of the stone. You’ll want to pick a very well-cut oval to minimize this effect. Still, oval-cut diamonds are more affordable, brilliant, and look larger than a comparably sized round-cut diamond.
Marquise cuts are becoming extremely popular as a center stone because they’re one of the most unique shapes available. This extremely long shape is a brilliant cut, and its narrowness and tapered points are exceptional at concealing inclusions and creating the illusion of greater carat weight. As with princess cuts, the points of the marquise cut are very delicate and prone to snags. Additionally, a woman should keep in mind that the marquise cut is an extremely inefficient shape to cut from rough diamond, and that will be reflected in the price tag: All other things being equal, a marquise cut is the second most expensive cut after round-cut diamonds.
Opposed to the “brilliant,” emerald-cut diamonds are considered a “step-cut” diamond. This means that rather than being faceted, these diamonds are cut with stair-like steps along the sides and underside of the stone. This makes the stone lose a great deal of fire and scintillation (which come from faceting), but in return, step-cuts have a hall of mirror effect, where alternating bars of light and darkness are constantly in motion. Emerald-cut diamonds are marked by their clipped corners and long table, which shows off the clarity of a flawless diamond better than most other shapes and looks bigger than compact diamonds with comparable weight. You may prefer the emerald-cut if you enjoy the clean lines of the princess-cut but prefer a longer shape.
Opposed to the modernity of the oval and princess cuts, the cushion cut is a style that’s been popular since the 1800s. Somewhat square in appearance, the cushion-cut diamond bulges out along its sides and rounded corners, making it appear like a seat cushion. For the price-conscious woman, the cushion cut is significantly less expensive than a comparable sized round-cut diamond, but it’s more expensive than princess- or Asscher-cut diamonds. There are two major benefits to the cushion cut: First, it captures light better than any other shape, allowing it to glow in even low-light conditions; second, if you’re choosing a fancy colored diamond, cushion cuts are the best choice for displaying its shades.
Another step-cut diamond, the Asscher cut is an interesting choice for a center stone. Originally designed in 1902, the square shape and clipped corners of the Asscher cut were extremely popular in the Art Deco era. They declined in popularity, but their extreme affordability and unique style are making them a distinctive choice for modern women. While Asscher cuts display the “hall of mirrors” effect, they also have a unique “windmill” inside that alternates with light parallel to the other steps in the jewel. Because of its lack of concealing sparkle, however, it’s important to choose an Asscher-cut diamond whose clarity is unimpeachable.
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