When it comes to diamonds, many people talk learned of shape and cut as though they are the same thing. Confusingly, often they can have the same meaning – after all, things (including diamonds!) are cut into shapes. But when it comes to gemstones, there is a slight – but significant – difference between the two. Let us examine these, before looking at the most popular shapes for engagement rings, and the cuts that are required to achieve them.
What is a Shape?
As it sounds, a shape is the external silhouette of a diamond. For example, a diamond that takes the form of a heart (one of the most popular diamond engagement ring styles) is said to be a ‘heart shaped’ diamond. While you could say that it has been cut into a heart shape, you could not say that it was a ‘heart cut’ diamond.
So, What is a Cut, Then?
The cut, as well as forming the external shape, includes all the facets which are formed on the diamond. These facets (the word means ‘little faces’) give diamonds – in fact, all gemstones – their unique sparkling properties. This is because the crystals from which the stones are made reflect light in certain ways, and the cut can enhance or mute this according to the taste of the cutter.
Adding to the confusion, there are different kinds of cut too. Some words associated with the cut of a diamond: dull or brilliant, deep or shallow, refer to the reflectivity that the finished stone will throw out. So a flat, squared stone will almost always be ‘shallow cut’ because the stone does not have the literal depth for a ‘deep’ cut. The other kind of cut is usually named for the shape of the finished stone, but it refers to the many facets cut all over the stone, not just those used to create the external shape. A good example is the first and most popular shape and cut for a diamond that is to be used in a diamond engagement ring: the brilliant round. Brilliant means that the facets are designed (usually a vertical array) to make the diamond throw off a maximum of light, creating a brilliant sparkle, while ’round’ refers to the shape of the diamond, when seen from the top down. Let us look at popular engagement ring shapes and cuts in more detail.
As mentioned above, this stone is round when viewed from above. However, from the side, the diamond will have the traditional diamond shape, with a pointed end widening out to a girdle, before turning in and ending with a flattened top, called a table. When these stones are loose, they can be rested on their tables and examined for flaws, color, clarity and so on. This shape is the most popular as it shows good diamonds off to their very best.
The second-most popular diamond cut for an engagement ring, not only does this stone have a beautiful name, it has a beautiful and rather unusual shape, being squared, but with those brilliant vertical steps to enhance the sparkle of the stone. If you have a stone that has slight imperfections that might be shown up by the spare lines of a brilliant round cut, a princess cut can be more forgiving, minimizing flaws and enhancing that desirable sparkle and symmetry.
An emerald cut is immediately familiar to anyone who has ever looked at emeralds! It is a rectangular cut, often with shaped corners, and lending itself well to flat wide stones – a formation that natural emeralds often appear in. While it is unusual to have diamonds with an emerald cut, it is not unheard of, and some people prefer the more muted hint of inner fire that this cut can give a diamond, rather than the overt sparkle of the traditional diamond cuts. Emerald cut stones have flat horizontal facets cut in steps that can be very forgiving of larger inclusions or clarity issues with a diamond. While it sounds like a ‘cheat’ in fact, diamonds are often improved, with the value increasing dramatically, by using the right cut to obscure faults and enhance the stone’s good points.
The name is a perfect descriptor, and oval engagement rings look striking, adding to the aesthetics of the hand they are worn upon by making the fingers seem long, slim, and elegant. Again, the cut can be used to disguise flaws in a stone, or it can be used to maximize the carat value of the stone, with the shape being chosen to snip off occlusions, leaving only high-quality gem behind.
Always an evocative name because of its association with aristocratic wealth and opulence, a marquise cut stone is shaped rather like a narrow rugby ball: an oval that ends in two points, rather than curving softly. Like the oval cut, a marquise cut engagement ring is strikingly attractive, lengthening the fingers and giving the whole hand an elegant and delicate appearance.
This unique cut is somewhere between an oval, with one curved end, and one more acute end – something like a tear drop. If the ring is designed so that the tapered end points towards the finger nail, it can create a wonderfully baroque, and yet aesthetically pleasing look.
For something distinctive and yet still beautiful, with that evocative brilliant sparkle, a trillion-cut diamond ring is rapidly gaining popularity. This stone is broadly triangular when seen from the top, can boast great depth, if the right size diamond is used, and looks very attractive when set into an engagement ring.
These are just some of the more common shapes and cuts that are used to create diamond engagement rings and hopefully now you can distinguish between a shape and a cut when discussing your own diamond preferences. Do make sure you look for accreditation from GIA and AGS, when buying a diamond: these two institutions are the guardians of diamond integrity in the USA, offering verifiable certification for all stones that pass through their hands. For more information and some extra shapes and cuts, check out this useful guide on diamond shapes from Pricescope, one of the largest impartial diamond and jewelry forums. Consequently, if you are looking for wedding gowns or bridesmaid dresses, check out website at Best for Bride.