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Diamond Shape Guide

Image of an emerald cut diamond

One thing you’ll notice when you’re in the market for a diamond piece is that the stone’s shape plays a huge impact on the overall look of the piece. Besides the technical aspects of the 4Cs – cut, clarity, carat, and color – the diamond’s shape is the factor that’s immediately visible – it sets the stage for the overall look of the piece.

In this article, we’ll look at some different popular shapes that diamonds can come in so that you can make an informed decision next time you’re shopping for a diamond stone.

A note on Shape vs Cut
In the world of jewelry, the term cut is often used interchangeably for shape. However, it should be noted that “cut” is a technical term that refers to how well the diamond has been shaped and faceted to achieve proper proportions, symmetry, and light play.

Round Brilliant

Illustration of a round brilliant shaped diamond.

Round Brilliant

The most popular and iconic design, the round brilliant is a classic shape that’s cut and formed to maximize a diamond’s brilliance, fire, and scintillation.

In this design, the diamond’s facets are arranged around a circular form to optimize a diamond’s light performance – making it the prime choice for individuals who want maximum sparkle on their piece. Out of all shapes, the round brilliant allows for maximum sparkle and shine when compared to diamonds of a different shape, but of the same caliber.

Because of the round shape and many facets, the round brilliant tends to hide inclusions and blemishes better than other shapes, often allowing for a higher clarity grade appearance.

Beyond its aesthetics, the round brilliant shape is also pretty practical for day-to-day wear. Because of its round lines and symmetry, it’s less prone to chipping and getting caught on things compared to other shapes.

This shape is extremely versatile and is commonly seen on the diamonds of classic solitaire set rings and on supporting stones of a variety of other settings.

Fancy-Shaped Diamonds

On your journey of choosing the perfect diamond, you will undoubtedly hear about “fancy-shaped” diamonds. Fancy shapes are all those that are not round brilliant. Note that the GIA only assigns cut grades to round brilliant diamonds and not fancy ones.

When choosing a fancy-shaped diamond, it’s important to keep in mind the symmetry of the stone. With different designs, some fancy-shaped stones can be easily skewed in form if their cut is not up to par.


Illustration of a princess cut diamond


The princess shape is the second most popular diamond shape after the round brilliant. It’s characterized by a square shape with sharp corners and offers an excellent modern look when set on a variety of pieces.

This shape, like the round brilliant, offers exceptional brilliance and light play. One thing to note, because of its square profile, forming these diamonds from a rough stone often yields a high percentage.

This means that there is less waste, making princess-shaped stones lesser in price when compared to round brilliant stones of the same caliber.

One thing to note about the princess shape is that the sharp corners can be snagged during everyday wear. This is why it’s important to ensure that the prongs of a princess-shaped piece are maintained and taken care of.


Illustration of a Cushion Shaped Diamond


The cushion shape is one of a square or a rectangle with rounded corners. Its name comes from how the shape resembles that of a pillow or a cushion.

Starting off in the early 1800s, this shape is inspired by a romantic charm that has since become a favorite. Like the round brilliant and princess shapes, the cushion shape has a high level of brilliance and fire, reflecting white and colored light exceptionally well. In fact, because of the way the facets are arranged in the cushion shape, diamonds sporting this design often have a higher level of fire than any other fancy-shaped diamond.

Unlike the princess shape, the cushion shape is much more durable since the rounded edges are less likely to get caught.


Illustration of an emerald cut diamond


The emerald shape is rectangular and is characterized by stepped facets that reflect off of each other to create a “hall of mirrors” effect. This means that emerald-shaped diamonds reflect light in a different way than that of other shapes, resulting in a shine that’s unique to this stepped-facet design.

Due to the large table and stepped facets present, imperfections in an emerald-shaped diamond are easier to see with the naked eye. It’s for this reason why jewelers often recommend a higher clarity grade when choosing a stone with this shape.

As the name suggests, this shape was originally used with emeralds back in the 1500s and has since been adapted to be used with diamonds.


Illustration of an Ascher Shaped Diamond


The Asscher shape is similar to the emerald shape but with a square outline. This shape is perfect for those who desire a refined look with a touch of vintage charm.

Like with the emerald shape, this shape has a similar “hall of mirrors” scintillation effect that stands separate from other traditional shapes.

Visually speaking, because of its square profile with stepped facets, the Asscher shape is more sensitive than other stones when it comes to symmetry. It’s important to assess the stone for proper symmetry to ensure that its dimensions are all aligned. This is key to pulling off this shape’s signature concentric square design.


Illustration of a Marqiuse Shaped Diamond


The marquise shape is characterized by its elongated body with pointed ends. This design maximizes the perceived size of a diamond for a given carat weight, making it appear larger compared to other shapes of the same weight.

This makes this style a popular choice among those who want the most value for their budget when it comes to perceived stone size.
Due to its pointed ends, a marquise diamond can be susceptible to getting caught or chipped from bumps or nicks. It’s for this reason that if set in a prong setting, maintenance is necessary.

It should be noted that all marquise diamonds exhibit a dark band along their center, to varying degrees. This is known as the “bow-tie” effect. When selecting a stone with a Marquise shape, ensure that it has a quality cut to ensure that this effect is minimized.


Illustration of a Pear Shaped Diamond


The pear shape is characterized by a round end on one side and a pointed end on the other – like a teardrop. The faceting of this shape is similar to that of the round brilliant – which means that it has a great degree of brilliance and fire.

Similarly, it is also versatile like the round brilliant, lending itself to being set in a variety of ways, being commonly present in prong, bezel, or halo set pieces.
Like with the marquise shape, because of its elongated form, pear-shaped diamonds have varying degrees of the bow tie effect.

One of the unique advantages of pear-shaped diamonds is their flexibility in orientation. They can be set with the point facing up or down, allowing for a personalized touch to achieve the exact look you desire.


Illustration of an Oval Diamond Shape


The oval shape is an elegant and sophisticated choice, offering a similar shine to that of a round brilliant shape, but with a longer physical taper.

This elongated design can create the illusion of a bigger size and length. The oval shape is a perfect solution for those looking for the classic look of a round brilliant but with a unique twist. Like marquise and pear-shaped stones, due to their elongation, oval-shaped diamonds do have the bow tie effect present to varying degrees.

This shape looks great in solitaire settings and can also be supported with side stones. Know that it’s also possible to have an oval diamond set horizontally for a unique look.


Illustration of a Radiant Shaped Diamond


The radiant shape is characterized by a square or rectangular shape but with beveled corners and a facet design similar to that of a round brilliant. Diamonds of this shape are appropriately named, since because of their faceting style, they exhibit a large degree of brilliance, fire, and scintillation.

With a square or rectangular outline, radiant-shaped diamonds are versatile and look great in a variety of settings, from solitaires to halos and three-stone designs.
Note that because of its beveled corners, this shape is far more durable than the princess shape which also has a square outline.
Similar to the princess shape though, the process of cutting a radiant diamond results in a high yield from a raw stone, meaning less waste. This efficiency often translates to better value for radiant stones.


Illustration of a Heart Shaped Diamond


An unmistakable design, the heart shape is the de facto symbol of love and commitment. Although not as common as other shapes, this design is undeniably unique and adds a romantic touch. Heart-shaped diamonds have facets that are based on the round brilliant shape, meaning they have the ability to shine brilliantly if cut properly.

Since the heart shape has different ends, this shape is susceptible to appearing asymmetrical should it be cut poorly. Both halves of the heart should match each other perfectly to accomplish a harmonious appearance. On the same note, to achieve balance it’s important to choose a stone with a suitable length-to-width ratio so the piece stays in balance – the general consensus is from a ratio ranging from 0.9 to 1.1.

Given the uniqueness of this design, heart-shaped diamonds are often exclusively the center stone of a given piece.

Choosing the Perfect Diamond Shape

Choosing the right diamond shape is a deeply personal decision that will significantly influence the overall appearance of your piece. Along with the setting, it will also determine the durability and wearability of your piece in different situations.

Whether you are attracted to the timeless look of the round brilliant shape or want something more symbolic like a heart-shaped stone, there’s a perfect shape for everyone.

Our team in San Diego has been helping clients navigate the diamond world since 1981.
Our expert team, including a GIA-certified gemologist, is here to guide you through your diamond journey, ensuring you find a shape that complements your style and elevates the beauty of your chosen piece.
We invite you to a complimentary consultation to explore our collection of diamond pieces and loose stones.