Diamonds Shapes & Engagement Rings

Diamond shapes and a diamond’s cut are often confused. The shape is simply the geometry of the stone. The cut (ideal, shallow, deep etc.) is one of the 4Cs and helps determine the quality of the stone. Part of the confusion stems from the fact that we call the shapes a cut, as in princess cut, emerald cut etc.

Different diamond shapes sitting on a shelp

A diamond’s shape is one of the biggest factors in determining the style of engagement rings. People talk about their rings in terms of the shape… Heart shaped diamond engagement rings, a pear shaped diamond engagement ring etc. When it comes to shape it’s really all about personal preference and taste.

There are several different shapes to choose from, and each one inherently gives the ring a completely different look and feel.

Brilliant Round Cut Engagement Rings

Round brilliant cut diamondRound cut diamonds are more popular than any other shape.  Also known as a brilliant cut, it has 58 facets (57 without the culet) and works beautifully as a solitaire or surrounded by other diamonds. In fact the classic ‘Tiffany’ setting is a six prong round cut solitaire engagement ring.

The brilliant name comes from the type of cut. A brilliant cut’s facets radiate from the center and are mostly triangular or kite shaped. Because of that it has more brilliance and is ideally suited to a round shape, although it can be used on some of the other fancy shapes.

A round cut diamond engagement ring will have more sparkle and shine than any other cut. In fact, its shape and form is purposely faceted to have extra brilliancy and optimal light reflection. This means that a poorer grade diamond in a round brilliant cut will look better and have more fire, brilliance and sparkle just because of the shape.

L/W Ratio: 1.0-1.01 [Excellent to Good]   1.02 [Fair]   >1.02 [Poor]

Pros & Cons of Round Cut Engagement Rings


  • More fiery and brilliant than any other cut which means that it sparkles like crazy.
  • It’s by far the most popular cut so it’s easy to find in different sizes and grades.
  • It hides small flaws which means the same grade of diamond will look better in this shape.
  • It has no sharp corners, so it’s less likely to chip.


  • Because of the shape and faceting, a lot of the diamond is cut away which means it’s harder to find larger good quality stones.
  • It costs more than many other cuts because of the amount stone that’s cut away and because of the demand for the shape.
  • It’s so popular, that it’s hard to distinguish one ring from another especially in a solitaire setting.

Engagement Rings & Princess Cut Diamonds

Princess cut diamond

Princess cut diamond engagement rings have become very popular because of the modern and clean lines of a princess cut. Although the typical round diamond still holds the number one spot, the princess cut is not far behind.

There are some benefits to selecting a princess cut engagement ring that go beyond its simple clean lines.

The cut itself can hide many imperfections in terms of diamond clarity & color and that can add up to cost savings. Because you can go for slightly lower grades on clarity & color (2 of the 4Cs) you can throw some of those extra dollars into the quality of the cut or carat size.

The princess is known to be square however some are slightly rectangular. And the more rectangular, the less expensive the stone. Some people like the slightly rectangular shape, it’s really a question of personal taste.

Finally, because of the square shape, a diamond cutter doesn’t need to shave off as much diamond weight. This means that larger carat sizes are available at better prices than a typical round brilliant which has all its corners shaved away in order to create its round shape.

L/W Ratio: 1.0-1.03 [Excellent to Very Good]   1.04-1.05 [good]

1.06-1.08 [Fair] >1.08 [Poor]  Any ratio of 1.05 or less will appear square to the naked eye.

Pros & Cons of Princess Cut Engagement Rings


  • Less expensive than a round brilliant and some of the other shapes.
  • A brilliant cut princess will have almost as much fire and brilliance as its round counterpart.
  • Its popularity makes it a little easier to find than some of the other fancy cuts.
  • It hides small flaws which means the same grade of diamond will look better in this shape.
  • It’s a modern shape but still simple and timeless.


  • Because of the square shape, a princess cut has corners that need to be protected.
  • The corners also mean that you are somewhat limited with the setting since it’s paramount that it protects those corners.

Pear Shaped Diamond Engagement Ring

Pear Shaped Diamond

Pear shaped engagement rings are becoming increasingly popular. The shape of a diamond is mostly about personal taste so if your heart is set on a pear shaped diamond, don’t let anyone talk you out of it.

The pear shape is also known as a teardrop or pendeloque. It’s basically a combination of a brilliant oval/round and a marquise. Traditionally, they’re more often seen in pendants and earrings rather than in engagement rings.

The shape itself was designed in the 18th century and is one of the more difficult diamond shapes to cut due to its unbalanced shape. Like its cousin the brilliant round it is traditionally cut with 58 facets bringing lots of sparkle and shine to the stone.

A pear shaped diamond is usually set as a solitaire in engagement rings and worn with the narrow end pointing outward away from the body.  A solitaire setting really lets the shape of the stone create the drama we all want.

L/W Ratio: 1.40-1.70 [The classic ratio range]

The smaller end of the ratios is best for engagement rings.  So if the length is 1.40 to 1, you will end up with a wider pear shaped diamond. The higher end (which means narrower or skinnier pears) are better suited for pendants and earrings.

Pros & Cons of Pear Shaped Engagement Rings


  • The shape is unconventional, elegant and beautiful.
  • It’s less expensive than other shapes due to lower demand.
  • The pear shape can make fingers appear longer.


  • The pointy end needs extra protection which can detract from the beauty in smaller sized stones.
  • A bow-tie effect can happen with a pear as it can with most elongated fancy shapes. The effect is basically a shadow that runs horizontally through the stone. Don’t let that put you off. Make sure you inspect the stone and see how severe the effect is and how much it actually bothers you.
  • It can be difficult to find a wedding band that will fit perfectly with a pear shaped diamond engagement ring because of the unusual form.

Radiant Cut Diamond Engagement Rings

Radiant cut diamond

Radiant cut diamonds can range from a square to a rectangle. As a rectangle it looks like an emerald cut that’s but faceted like a round brilliant. When squarer in shape, it resembles a princess cut. The angled or cut off corners are what makes it a radiant.

The radiant shape itself is only about 20 years old which makes it fairly new to the jewelry industry.

With its high number of facets, it really sparkles and has a lot of brilliance. If you’re looking for a shape that is sophisticated and has a lot of fire then this may be the one to go for.

Some say the radiant diamond is associated with personalities that are spirited, social and energetic. We say the radiant diamond is just, well, timeless and elegant.

L/W Ratio:  Square 1.0-1.05  [Excellent to Good]   1.06->1.08  [Fair to Poor]

Rectangle 1.15 -1.40 (outside of this range there is too much distortion of the shape)

Pros & Cons of Radiant Cut Diamond Engagement Rings


  • Radiant cuts have excellent fire and brilliance.
  • The shape’s cut off corners means less catching and snagging on things than other square and rectangle shapes.
  • Radiant cut diamonds can run between 20 and 30 percent lower than a round equivalent in terms of weight.
  • It’s very flexible in terms of settings
  • it looks great in all sizes.


  • It’s a deep cut shape which means from the top it may not look as big as the equivalent weight in another cut.
  • Some people feel it looks less crisp and more like crushed ice.
  • It can be difficult to find in a variety of grades and sizes due to its relatively low demand.
  • Longer rectangle shaped radiants, can develop a bow-tie effect just like the pear shape.

The Oval Diamond Engagement Ring

Oval Cut Diamonds

Oval diamonds reflects light almost on par with the round brilliant.  It’s a great choice for those that want a slight spin on the traditional. Typically it has 56 facets but that can vary depending on the ratio between its length and width.

An ideal ratio for the oval shape is 1.5:1. The problem when you exceed this ratio is that a shadow bow-tie effect can occur. The cut has to be of exceptional quality if you go with a stone that is above the ideal proportions to avoid the effect.

The oval diamond reflects light brilliantly however clarity and color play a more important role. To attain the same brilliance as a round cut, industry recommendations are G or above for color and VS1 or above for clarity.

L/W Ratio: 1.35-1.50 [Classic oval cut ratio range]

(the further outside this range, the more likely the bow-tie shadow effect is likely to occur)

Pros & Cons of Oval Diamond Engagement Rings


  • Ovals cuts have excellent fire and brilliance.
  • They appear larger than a round cut of the same weight.
  • They’re more unique and less costly than round brilliants.
  • With no corners or points, an oval won’t catch on things and no additional protection for the stone is necessary.
  • Ovals can make a finger appear more slender than a round cut.
  • They are very flexible in terms of settings


  • The cut does show flaws more than a round brilliant that’s why there are recommendations in terms of color and clarity.
  • Oval cut diamonds all have some degree of the bow-tie shadow effect, varying from near invisible to severe.

Marquise Cut Diamond Engagement Rings

Marquise cut diamond

This slim oval shape of the marquise cut is rumored to be named after King Louis XV’s mistress, the Marquise de Pompadour. According to legend, the King commissioned the design and wanted something that matched the shape of her mouth.

Also sometimes called the Navette Shape, color and clarity (two of the 4Cs) are important for this cut to work well.  Recommendations are D through I on the color scale and VS2 or higher for clarity.

The cut itself ideally has 56-58 facets depending on the L/W ratio. The marquise cut is less forgiving and can cause shadows within the stone if it isn’t cut properly. This bow-tie shadow effect can occur in most elongated fancy cuts, like the pear shape, oval and others.

Due to its shape, a marquise diamond looks bigger than it really is because the cut allows it to display most of its carat weight. On the other hand because of its shape and the two points that form its geometry, it can be more prone to damage.

Marquise engagement rings can have the diamond set parallel or perpendicular to the band. Each orientation has its own character and personality.

L/W Ratio: 1.75-2.15 [Classic marquise cut ratio range]

(the further outside this range, the more likely the bow-tie shadow effect is likely to occur)

Pros & Cons of Marquise Cut Diamond Engagement Rings


  • Marquise have good fire and brilliance.
  • They appear larger than their actual weight, which means your ring will look bigger too.
  • They’re more unique and less costly than round brilliants.
  • They marquise cut can hide some color tints and very minor inclusions.
  • When set parallel to the finger, they’ll make a finger appear more slender.
  • They are very flexible in terms of settings


  • The points need to be set with prongs or other protection (bezel) to protect them from chipping.
  • Marquise cut diamonds all have some degree of the bow-tie shadow effect, varying from near invisible to severe. The severity will depend on the quality of the stone and the quality of the cut.

Heart Cut Diamond Engagement Rings

Heart Shaped Diamond

Heart shaped diamonds are considered a fancy cut, like all shapes other than the round brilliant. It’s traditionally used in pendants but hopeless romantics think it’s the ideal shape for an engagement ring.

The shape itself is one of the most difficult to create because of the crevice at the top and is really a variant of the pear shaped diamond. When a cutter sees an imperfection at the top of a pear shape, they often transform it by ‘chiseling’ away the imperfection and creating a heart shape instead.

Good quality stones of this shape are cut with 58 facets just like the round brilliant. However, depending on the technique used to cut the shape, the number of facets can vary.  A 58 facet heart shaped stone is a good first indicator of a quality cut.

It’s ideal form should have a length to width ratio of 1 to 1. Some prefer slightly wider for solitaire rings .85 -1.0 and slightly narrower for pendants and earrings 1.05-1.15 . Regardless of ratio, a heart shaped diamond under a half carat is probably not a great choice. The shape becomes harder to discern in smaller stones.

A heart shaped diamond is sentimental and romantic and when you really think about it, a heart shaped engagement ring may be the way to go.

L/W Ratio: 1:1 [Ideal heart shape]

(the further away from 1 to 1, the more distorted the heart)

Pros & Cons of Heart Shaped Diamond Engagement Rings


  • The heart shape is surprisingly rare in engagement rings.
  • They’re more unique and less costly than round brilliants.
  • A lower clarity grade of SI1-SI2 can work because the facets in the cut hide many inclusions well, saving you money.
  • Nothing says love like a heart shaped diamond.


  • The point of the heart needs to be protected by a prong or through the setting to protect it from chipping.
  • They’re difficult to cut so they are harder to find than most other diamond shapes.
  • The shape requires a high quality cut.
  • Some feel the shape is a little gimmicky for a ring that is worn everyday.

Emerald Cut Engagement Rings

Emerald Cut Diamond shape

Emerald cut diamonds have been popular since the Art Deco period with their clean lines and step appearance. An emerald cut can sometimes be square shaped, but most are rectangular with trimmed corners. Since this shape has fewer facets to reflect light and hide minor defects, flaws may be more apparent.

The cut also tends to be less bright and fiery compared to brilliant cut stones and instead showcases a diamond’s clarity.

So good clarity (one of the 4C’s) is essential for an emerald cut diamond because the large table of the stone (the largest facet on top) shows off clarity better than any other shape and that is what gives it its character. Clarity VS1/VS2 and higher is optimal.

The emerald cut is a step cut or table cut because of the way it is faceted parallel to the edges of the stone. These rectilinear facets or ‘steps’ usually run the full length of the stone rendering the diamond shiny and bright. The corners of the stone are then mitered or “smoothed out” to protect the stone from chipping and other damage.

Emerald cut engagement rings are for those that like understated elegance. It is both refined and subtle in its beauty, and never goes out of style.

L/W Ratio: 1.5:1 [Classic Emerald cut rectangular shape]

Pros & Cons of Emerald Cut Diamond Engagement Rings


  • It’s shallow depth makes the diamond appear larger per carat.
  • It’s one of the most versatile diamond shapes, working beautifully in any style setting.
  • The tapered edges of the step cut are not prone to chipping or catching on things.
  • The shape is flattering on the hand especially on slender fingers.
  • In terms of diamond shapes, the emerald cut is at the lower end cost-wise, all things being equal.
  • The shape works really well with both small and very large stones.


  • D-F color grades in an emerald cut come at a premium cost which means slightly warmer tones of G-H (near colorless) come at a discount, which is a Pro.
  • It doesn’t have the intense fire or brilliance of a brilliant cut (when it catches light and flashes, it’s breathtaking, another Pro.
  • Heavier fingers may look shorter and wider with an Emerald cut.
  • The step cut doesn’t dance and dazzle the eye because of it’s large flat open table.
  • Requires higher clarity due its large open facets.

The Cushion Cut Engagement Ring

Cushion cut diamond

Cushion cut diamonds resemble a pillow. They’re a rectangular shape with curved sides and rounded corners. Also known as a candlelight diamond, the original cut (pre-electricity) was created to be the most brilliant in candlelight. That original cut has been modified since then to perform better in electric lighting and bring its fire and brilliance up to the standards of the other diamond shapes.

The standards for a cushion cut vary more than for most of the other diamond shapes. So personal taste really comes into play when deciding on a stone.

The newer modified cushion cuts have 58 facets and a crushed ice style facet pattern, similar to a radiant cut. This makes it one of the most brilliant of all square and rectangular shapes. And, because of the number and size of the facets, light is better dispersed through the stone which helps hide certain inclusions while making others more visible.

The cushion cut has a bit of an antique vibe overall and works great with vintage-style pieces as well as more modern settings.

L/W Ratio:  1.00-1.05 [square]   >1.10 [rectangular]

Pros & Cons of Cushion Cut Diamond Engagement Rings


  • The new modified versions  often have better fire than even round brilliants.
  • Their versatility in terms of vintage style is appealing to many.
  • The tapered edges are not prone to chipping or catching on things.
  • The shape is flattering on most fingers.
  • In terms of diamond shapes, the cushion cut has larger facets that create a kaleidoscope of fiery colors.
  • The shape works well with both small and large stones.


  • In order to get optimal brilliance, settings that prevent light from entering the stone, such as bezels, are not advised.
  • It doesn’t have the intense brilliance of a round brilliant cut.
  • Larger facets may also show inclusions, so better clarity is important.
  • D-F color grades in cushion cuts come at a premium cost because of demand. This means that G-H (near colorless) grades come at a discount, which is a Pro.

Asscher Cut Diamond Engagement Ring

Asscher cut diamond

Asscher cut diamonds come in two categories, standard and royal. The standard Asscher has 50 – 58  facets while the Royal Asscher is patented has 74 facets and a higher crown.  Both have a smaller table (the flat top facet of the stone) and higher crown than the emerald cut diamond which gives them their fiery brilliance.

Although the cut is from the late 20th Century, Asscher diamond rings rose to prominence after being featured on Sex and The City.

The asscher shape is always a square cut with deeply trimmed edges almost resembling an octagon.  It’s most unique feature is its ‘hall of mirrors’ optical effect. To fully appreciate the effect and the shape itself, higher color and clarity diamonds are advised.  VS2 or higher for clarity and D-H for color.

The setting for an Asscher should ideally never hide the corners (the parts at an angle). The beauty of the cut lies in the effect those deeply trimmed corners create.

L/W Ratio: 1.00-1.05  [square]

Pros & Cons of Asscher Cut Diamond Engagement Rings


  • The ‘Hall of Mirrors’ effect is unique to the cut.
  • Their known for their elegance and classic quality.
  • Their versatile in terms styling from vintage to modern.
  • The tapered edges are not prone to chipping or catching on things.
  • The shape is flattering on most fingers.
  • The shape works well with both small and large stones.


  • More so than the other diamond shapes, Asschers require very high quality stones to highlight the cut.
  • Much of the diamond’s weight in an Asscher cut is on the underside, which means your diamond can look smaller from the top than with other shapes.
  • The shape is complicated so the cut (1 of the 4Cs) requires a high level of expertise and needs to be very precise.
  • Flaws and inclusions can be more apparent in an Asscher compared to other diamond shapes.

Finally, the cost of any diamond really depends on the 4 Cs and not on a diamond’s shape.  Demand for a shape and difficulty of the cut can affect cost but it’s insignificant in comparison to the clarity, color, cut and carat of a stone.

The only way that diamond shapes can help reduce cost, is by choosing a shape that better disguises inclusions and flaws. By choosing lesser grades on any or all of the four GIA’s diamond rating scales you will significantly affect the cost.