Diamond Cuts Fact Sheet

by Yu Qing
Published April 29, 2010 | Updated August 18, 2015

A diamond's cut is crucial in displaying the stone's quality. The cut refers to the way a diamond has been shaped and the precise facets of the gemstone. The cut is an important aspect to consider because a good cut can beautify an imperfect diamond and highlight the merits of an excellent gem, while a bad cut can ruin a gorgeous stone. Facets must be cut precisely and symmetrically, so the stone can sparkle. You can choose from various shapes, and different cuts complement different pieces of jewelry. As one of the 4 C's of buying diamonds, cut is an important thing to understand when you're shopping for diamond jewelry.

Diamond Cuts to Know:

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  • Round

    The round diamond is a cut with 58 facets. It is a popular option for diamond wedding rings because it makes the gemstone sparkle intensely. The round brilliant cut is usually the most expensive cut option because jewelers discard many diamond particles when creating this cut from its rough form.

  • Princess

    While the round brilliant is the most popular diamond cut today, the princess cut is a close second, especially for diamond rings. Princess cuts are square shaped and have the appearance of an "X" in the center. Princess cuts have no typical standard and may have varying numbers of facets depending on the jeweler and diamond cutter. Princess cuts are also typically more affordable than round-brilliant cuts of the same carat weight and clarity rating, due to the fact that approximately 80 percent of the original stone remains after cutting, while many round-brilliant cuts use only 50 percent of the original stone.

  • Oval

    The oval cut is an elongated version of the round brilliant. Lazare Kaplan created this shape in the early 1960s. It is made with 56 facets. It usually appears larger than other cuts even if it is the same carat weight. To determine badly cut ovals, look for uneven sides.

  • Marquise

    The marquise is a long cut that has points on both ends and includes 56 facets. It typically rests vertically in ring settings, but horizontal settings are becoming more popular. The shape is said to have been based on a woman's lips, which is especially noticeable when the stone is set horizontally. Marquise diamonds are versatile and are commonly set into diamond necklace pendants. A poorly cut marquise will look lopsided.

  • Emerald

    The emerald is a rectangular cut. The facets on the emerald are step cuts instead of brilliant cuts. Step cuts are flat planes that look like the steps of a stair. When you use an emerald cut, it is advisable to select a high-quality diamond with few inclusions because flaws are more apparent in this cut. Emerald-cut diamonds do not typically reflect as much light as some other diamond cuts, but they offer you a different diamond style and remain popular choices for engagement rings and jewelry with a variety of gems.

  • Pear

    Pear-shaped diamonds are shaped like teardrops. This cut is popular in pendants and earrings because the shape rests gracefully on a dangling piece. Pear-shaped diamonds are perfect for anyone who loves marquise and round diamonds, because they bring both styles together in one stone. The most famous pear-shaped diamond is called The Star of Africa and is a shocking 530 carats.

  • Heart

    The heart symbol long been used to send the message of love. Diamonds cut into a heart shape make a romantic gift for Valentine's Day or for an anniversary, especially as a solitaire on a ring or as a pendant on a necklace. A well-cut heart should have two equal sides and should be slightly rounded.

  • Cushion

    Cushion-cut diamonds, also known as pillow-cut diamonds, are squares or rectangles with rounded corners. Hundreds of years ago, all diamonds were cut in a cushion shape, so this is also known as an "old mine cut." The sparkle isn't as delicate as it is with more modern cuts, but may people like the antique look of this classic style.

  • Asscher

    This cut is named after the Asscher Brothers, who developed the shape in Amsterdam in 1902. Asscher-cut diamonds are like emerald-cut diamonds, except they are squares instead of rectangles. This style was popular in the 1920s, but faded in popularity until the early 21st century, when several celebrity engagement rings featured the cut, bringing attention to it again. Asscher-cut diamonds look especially nice with a halo.

  • Radiant

    These square or rectangular diamonds have a brilliant cut with 70 facets and rounded corners. With radiant-cut diamonds, you get the shape of an emerald-cut diamond plus the sparkle of a round-cut diamond. This is a popular cut for colored diamonds because it can intensify the color.

  • Baguette

    Generally used as accent stones in rings, baguette-cut diamonds are rectangular and narrow. They're cut with 14 facets. This shape plays up a diamond's clarity and luster. It was very popular in Art Deco jewelry.

  • Trillion

    These diamonds are cut in the shape of a triangle. The three equal sides can be straight or curved. This cut is usually used for accent stones on rings, but it is occasionally used for center stones.