What is the Difference Between the Shape and the Cut of a Diamond?

J. Beam

Though many consumers may not realize it, there is a difference between the shape and cut of a diamond. Since the cut of a diamond is one of the “four C’s” that shoppers are taught to look for, it is important to understand that shape and cut are two different qualities. Though the shape of a diamond is only a matter of personal preference, the cut should maximize the reflective qualities of the gem. Though human hands control the shape and cut of a diamond, when they are both decisively determined by an expert jeweler, the end result is a beautiful stone.

Chocolate diamonds.
Chocolate diamonds.

The cut of a diamond is what determines its brilliance and shine. A well-cut diamond will maximize the use of certain pavilion angles with precision cuts designed to reflect light back out the top of the diamond, giving it its brilliance and shine. A poorly cut diamond does the opposite, creating an absorbing effect rather than reflective qualities, and will in turn lower the value of the stone. The cut of a diamond is graded on a scale ranging from Ideal to Poor.

Round cut diamonds.
Round cut diamonds.

Though the shape and cut of a diamond are related to one another, shape refers to the actual shape of the finished stone. While most cutters would agree that an uncut diamond may be better suited for certain shapes over others, when the shape and cut of a diamond are created to work with the diamond’s natural qualities, success is achieved. A cut diamond comes in many shapes, but the most common are Round, Princess, Emerald, Asscher, Oval, Radiant, and Marquise.

Round diamonds are typically worth more than marquise cut diamonds.
Round diamonds are typically worth more than marquise cut diamonds.

The round diamond may also be referred to as a brilliant cut diamond and often possesses the best balance of cut, clarity, and color. It is round in shape and is suitable in most settings. The Princess, Emerald, and Radiant diamond are all square or rectangular in shape with varying degrees of angles and depth. The Princess diamond is a popular shape for engagement rings. The Asscher shape is a unique shaped diamond that is similar to the Emerald, but with a length to width ratio that makes it nearly perfectly square. The oval shape diamond is oval and the marquise is oval with pointed ends.

While the shape is a matter of preference, the diamond's cut should maximize its reflective qualities.
While the shape is a matter of preference, the diamond's cut should maximize its reflective qualities.

When it comes to purchasing and selecting the shape and cut of a diamond, the cut remains more important to the value than the shape. Selecting a shape is almost always a matter of personal preference, determined by other factors such as the type of setting the diamond is mounted in and whether it will be worn as a ring or a pendant. When purchasing a diamond engagement ring, it is wise to consider both the shape of the recipient’s hands and fingers as well as the style of wedding band that will accompany the ring.

Princess cut diamonds look bigger than other diamonds of the same weight.
Princess cut diamonds look bigger than other diamonds of the same weight.

A jeweler that can explain the difference between the shape and cut of a diamond and who is knowledgeable about diamonds and other precious gemstones can also offer advice on choosing the ideal shape and setting that will help make a diamond purchase all that it should be.

It is important to consider the recipient's tastes when choosing the shape for an engagement ring.
It is important to consider the recipient's tastes when choosing the shape for an engagement ring.

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Discussion Comments

Rotergirl

I saw this round diamond solitaire in a jewelry store in Birmingham, one known for its high quality jewelry. The stone was gorgeous. It had to be a carat, and was as close to colorless as I've ever seen. It looked like it was shooting fire from the middle of the stone. It was USD$35,000. But it was one of the most beautiful stones I've ever seen.

The salesperson was talking about how the cut of the stone produced the refraction that caused the fiery look of the diamond. She said one of the best diamond cutters in the world had cut that stone and looking at it, I believe it.

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