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Diamond shapes

Discover the main diamond shapes
The history of diamond cutting dates back to the 14th century but many diamond shapes, as we know them today, were perfected in the last 100 years as consumer demand soared. ‘Cut’ is often used to describe the shape of a diamond, but technically speaking, the cut is how well a diamond reflects light and ‘shape’ is what describes the silhouette of a diamond.

The techniques used to create diamond shapes are divided into two main types; the round brilliant cut and fancy cuts. Here’s a primer on the main cuts you’re likely to come across – and some tips to help you make the right choice.

Asscher Cut

A symmetrical square of brilliance formed by four-sided intricately stepped cuts. Light reflects off of this shape’s 58 facets (flat surfaces) to create a kaleidoscopic ‘hall of mirrors’ effect. Amping up the sparkle and brilliance, the Royal Asscher cut has 74 facets and even more angles for the light to shoot out from. First created in Amsterdam in 1902 by diamond cutter Joseph Asscher (who went on to cut the Cullinan Diamond – the largest diamond ever found), the Asscher cut’s dazzling squared-off shape quickly became a go-to for engagement rings. 

Make sure your Asscher cut diamond has the best luminescence possible. The diamond should have the minimum colour of H and a clarity of VS2. If your budget doesn’t stretch that far, a minimum I colour grade and SI1 clarity will still look incredible if the natural inclusions are cleverly placed. 

"The step-cut facets create a kaleidoscopic 'hall of mirrors' effect"

Cushion Cut

A square-ish diamond with soft sides and rounded corners which, funnily enough, resembles a pillow cushion silhouette. It’s also called a candlelight diamond because it creates a particularly elegant sparkle under soft, warm light. Known for its romantic antique appeal, the cushion cut normally has 58 facets (or flat surfaces) and its relative width compared to, say, a round-cut diamond means that it gives off a lot of fire or rainbow-like glimmers.

One major benefit of the cushion cut shape is that so much light streams in that any natural characteristics or inclusions within the diamond are flushed out by the clean white brilliance it emits. You can inspect this first-hand looking at loose, un-set diamonds in our workshop. It’s also versatile and suits any setting whether you prefer a solitaire, halo or bezel.


"Also known as a candlelight diamond for its particularly elegant sparkle under soft, warm light"

Emerald Cut

An impeccably clean-lined oblong made using step cuts and rounded corners, with a long uninterrupted flat plane at the top which makes a diamond look bigger than it truly is. As the name suggests, it comes from emerald-cutting techniques and has between 50 and 58 facets, which refract light in a way that creates distinct dark and light inner planes. This means that the sparkle of an emerald-cut diamond isn’t non-stop but more sporadic. It jumps out a little less often, but is much brighter when it does and emits an elegant flourish. 

You’ll need a diamond with a strong rectangular shape and high colour and clarity grade to get the most out of an emerald cut. The flat tablet-shaped surface is like a window to any organic inclusions that could create uneven sparkles, and the cut’s ‘hall of mirrors’ effect is best shown off with icy, colourless diamonds. Choose a gem with a minimum colour of H, clarity of VS2 and a very good cut to bring out the best of your design.


"This sparkle isn’t non-stop but more sporadic. It jumps out a little less often, but is then much brighter"

Heart Cut

One of the most expensive and skilfully crafted diamond shapes, this requires a symmetrical cleft to be carefully added into the round head of a pear-cut diamond, which is about as easy as it sounds. A well-cut heart-shaped diamond combines the brilliance – the bright white light which diamonds emit – of a round-cut diamond, with the elegance of a marquise-cut stone (an oval shape with two pointed ends). When choosing a heart-shaped diamond, it’s important to pick one that is properly 3D rather than flat, and has symmetrical rounded sides.

Bigger is usually better when it comes to heart-cut diamonds as it is tricky to detect the shape in stones under 0.5 carats, and it needs to be truly 3D to showcase the stone’s brilliance. We suggest opting for a simple solitaire setting to perfectly complement this shape.


"It needs to be truly 3D to showcase the diamond's brilliance"

Marquise Cut

The marquise is a pointed-end oval shape that has 58 facets, which create a sophisticated, deep lustre rather than the out and out sparkle of, say, a round-cut diamond shape. One huge advantage of this elliptical shape is that its elegant length can make a diamond appear larger than similar stones of the same carat weight.

Symmetry is paramount in a marquise-cut stone to ensure the two pointed ends are perfectly aligned. If it’s off, the cut looks poor and can result in what’s called a bowtie effect. The sharp ends can also be vulnerable to chipping so consider how this cut would figure into your lifestyle. Protective options include: edging it with an angled tip setting, encircling the whole stone with a row of halo accent diamonds or choosing a bezel setting which forms an elevated collar.

In our opinion, you’ll need a diamond with a minimum colour of H, clarity of SI, and a masterful cut to maximise the marquise cut’s brilliance.


"The elegant length can make a diamond appear larger than similar stones of the same carat weight"

Oval Cut

Considered one of the brightest shapes of all, an oval-cut diamond has 56 facets giving off excellent brilliance, which is the term for dazzling white light refractions. It’s a real budget optimiser as it can make the stone appear bigger than the carat weight would suggest. Go for a size ratio of 1.5:1 (a length that’s one and a half times the size of the width) this will ensure that your diamond doesn’t give off a shadowy bowtie effect through the centre. 

We’d say the max you could go up to and still evade any dark patches is around 1.65:1, while the minimum ratio should be 1.35:1 – any smaller and the diamond can look like a round-cut shape that’s gone wrong. Accentuate the elongated profile of an oval-cut diamond with a halo setting, a row of smaller diamonds encircling it as a focal stone, to create an impressive silhouette. 

Browse our oval-cut loose diamonds  

"A real budget optimiser, this shape's sparkle can make the stone appear bigger than the carat weight would suggest" 

Pear Cut

Also known as the teardrop cut or pendeloque cut, this is a half-marquise and half-round shape. It has bold unbridled dazzle combined with a tapered elegance which results in a real statement-maker diamond. Pear-cut stones in a ring setting are typically worn with the sharp end pointing towards the fingertip which creates an elongating effect. It comprises 58 facets (or flat surfaces) that set off both brilliance and fire – the tech terms for bright white light and colourful rainbow glints – as it refracts and reflects.

Overall appearance is what matters most in a pear-cut diamond. The symmetry must be exactly even on each side, reaching from the rounded head through the shoulders and wings to the end point. We recommend a stone with a minimum colour grading of H–I and clarity of SI1 to really maximise this cut’s sparkling scintillation.

Browse our pear-cut loose diamonds  

"Unbridled dazzle combined with a tapered elegance results in a real statement-maker diamond"

Princess Cut

This fully modern shape is most easily likened to a squared version of the round cut (the most popular choice for diamond engagement rings), in that it gives off the same brilliance and fire – the terms for bright white light and sparks of rainbow colours – thanks to its 76 facets. It can also make a diamond look bigger than it is when compared to a round-cut stone of the same carat weight.

The main distinction between a princess and round cut (pointed corners aside) is that it uses around 80% of the rough stone which means that they’re a little more cost effective to produce, so you get the same incredible light-catching sparkle yet it’s so much friendlier to your budget. We say go for a colour of H or I and clarity grading of VS2 or SI1 to get a really great impact from this spectacular cut.

Browse our princess-cut loose diamonds

"Using around 80% of the rough stone = incredible sparkle that's much friendlier to your budget"

Radiant Cut

An octagonal shape that’s known for its elegant, contemporary allure. It combines the decadence of the emerald cut’s ‘hall of mirrors’ effect with the incredible sparkle of a round cut. Unlike other diamond shapes it can come in two distinct forms: squared or rectangular. Radiant cuts have a higher number of facets than a cushion-cut diamond, which it is often compared to when choosing an engagement ring. This means it gives off more sparkle, brilliance and fire but its angle abundance also conceals any natural inclusions much better, which gives it a higher clarity rating.

Radiant-cut diamonds hold a lot of their weight in the base, which means that the light has more space to dance around in, then scatter out sparkles from the maximum number of angles. We say go for a minimum colour grade of G or H, and a clarity of VS2 or SI1 to get the optimal brilliance from a radiant-cut diamond.


"It combines the decadence of a 'hall of mirrors' effect with the incredible sparkle of a round cut diamond"

Round Brilliant Cut

The world’s most popular choice for diamond engagement rings as it gives off the most brilliance, which is the technical term for dazzling white light. It has 58 precision-cut facets (flat surfaces) and is a truly timeless and versatile choice of stone no matter what your personal style, favoured metal or setting. 

The optimised brilliance of a round cut can enhance a lower colour grade stone in a way that a fancy cut stone might not, so a round-cut diamond can help you create the look of a much more expensive stone. It has 33 facets on the crown (just above the widest point of the diamond) and 25 facets on the conical base so that all the sparkle scatters out from the top. We say go for a minimum colour grade of G or H, a clarity of VS2 or SI1, and a very good cut to create an outstanding sparkle and shine in your round-cut diamond.

Browse our round-cut loose diamonds

"A truly timeless and versatile choice, no matter what your personal style, favoured metal or setting"