Choosing your diamond – the difference between popular diamond shapes and how to choose the one that’s right for you!

pink diamond ring

Do you know your princess cuts from your emeralds? How about a radiant from an oval? There are ten basic diamond shapes that you should familiarise yourself with before making the leap and choosing your ‘forever diamond’. Among the most popular diamond shape is undoubtedly the round brilliant diamond, which accounts for more than ¾ of global diamond purchases – however, there is still the oval, princess, cushion, emerald, marquise, pear, radiant and asscher shapes to consider. Although the shape of the diamond is not a part of the fundamental 4 C’s of diamond grading, it is nonetheless an important consideration when making a diamond investment. As each shape will require a unique cut in the manufacturing process, the way the light bounces and is refracted through the stone will vary depending on whether the diamond is cut into an emerald or oval shape for example, and this in turn will have an impact on the fire and brilliance of the stone.


The popularity and prominence of the round diamond really began to take hold in 1919 with the publication of Marcel Tolkowsky’s (engineer and expert diamond cutter) thesis which detailed the ideal cut of the round diamond, in terms of maximising light return (fire) and dispersion (brilliance). The round, brilliant cut diamond refers to the most popular modern cutting process which provides the stone with between 57-58 facets. This allows light to bounce from the bottom of the diamond straight back up to the top- giving the stone an incredible sparkle. Due to the rough stone that is lost in the cutting process of a round diamond as opposed to that of the other fancy shapes (oval, pear etc.), the round diamond tends to cost more on a per carat basis. The shape is extremely timeless and versatile and looks just as beautiful in a simple solitaire setting as it would in a more intricate antique setting or sparkling halo surround.

Princess Cut

Princess cut diamonds are exceptionally brilliant due to their cutting procedure. The diamond can have anything from 49 to 144 intricate facets which disperses light throughout the diamond magnificently. It is a relatively new style of cutting which was invented in the 1960s, but has grown to this day to a level of popularity that is next in line to that of the round diamond. Also known as a square modified brilliant cut, the princess cut tends to be a little cheaper due to its ability at retaining up to 80% of the rough diamond, whereas the round diamond cut would only retain about 50% of the diamond of the same carat weight.

Oval Cut

Similar to the round cut, oval diamonds have a marvellous brilliance. With their elegant facets, the oval diamond is popular in a solitaire setting and is loved by those with shorter fingers as it tends to elongate the hand and help make the fingers appear more slender. The oval diamond also looks beautiful in a halo setting and is often seen flanked by two round diamonds.

Pear Cut

Combing elements of the round and marquise shapes, the symmetry of the pear cut diamond is an important factor when considering purchase of a pear-shaped ring as the shape is designed to permit maximum light into all sides of the stone. The pear cut stone looks truly stunning in a halo or even double halo setting and is loved by the likes of Katherine Heigl and Victoria Beckham.

Katherine Heigl Ring


Emerald Cut

Created in the Art Deco era, the emerald shape boasts understated elegance and timelessness that is perhaps only matched by its radiant counterpart. The elongated, stepped facets and the large table (the flat top) exhibits the stones clarity better than most of the other shapes.

Make sure to visit our diamond and gemstone engagement ring gallery to view our fabulous selection of the above diamond cuts, as well as our selection of asscher, heart, marquise and cushion styles. When visiting the Voltaire Diamonds showroom, your consultant will discuss all of the above with you- plus more- in fantastic detail, helping you find the engagement ring of your dreams.

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