Round brilliant diamonds may be the most famous and the most available diamonds in the market, but round is not the only shape available. There are many other diamond shapes that people can select; ranging from rectangular, oval, to heart-shaped diamonds. These diamond shapes serve their own respective purposes for different people with different tastes.
Diamond Shapes Basics
Taste, however, is not the first reason why diamonds are shaped differently. It is essentially due to the nature of diamond roughs which when mined are already in different shapes. Diamond rough commonly comes in the form of an octahedron, which when cut right in the middle into two separate triangular crystals it will make two round brilliant diamonds. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Sometimes the original diamond crystals are found in a so-called “malformed” condition with perhaps many visible inclusions taking place at the most unfavorable parts. Sometimes they simply don’t come in the usual octahedral shape and make it difficult for the cutter to preserve the carat weight if he insists on making a round diamond. This is when fancy cuts are created.
Fancy cuts or fancy shapes refer to any other shapes but the round brilliant. However, before we get into an in-depth discussion about these fancy shapes, one should bear in mind that the term “cut” is different from “shape.” Cut refers to how well a diamond is cut. In other words, when one talks about a diamond cut, he or she refers to the cut quality of that diamond. While shape here is to point out how a diamond is shaped. This focuses more on the diamond’s physical appearance rather than the quality.
Ideally, most cutters would like to make round brilliant diamonds, since these are the kind of cut that gives the most sparkle out of a diamond. An ideal cut of round brilliant diamond will display such brilliance and dispersion, which most diamond enthusiasts long for. Round brilliants are also offered in much higher price than the other shapes due to the big gap of demands of this certain shape. Rapaport list – the diamond pricing list that has been used as pricing guide for the longest time in loose diamond market – also favors in round diamonds by listing them as the most expensive shape compared to others. For example, a one-carat round brilliant with FL cut grade, VS1 clarity grade, and D color grade costs thousands of dollars more than a princess cut with the same grading. So yes, when possible, diamond cutters would shape the roughs into round brilliants.
Reasons for cutting diamonds into fancy shapes
There are certain facts that make diamond cutters unable to shape the roughs they receive in rounds.
- Carat weight plays the biggest role in determining the price of a diamond. There is a big jump from the carat price of a diamond weighed at 1 carat and one that is less. So, if the original rough diamond doesn’t allow the cutter to make a round brilliant without losing too much weight, cutting the diamond into fancy shapes is only a reasonable thing to do since it can save the stone from losing a lot of money value.
- Some roughs come in different diamond shapes that are not of the normal octahedral one. Some of them are long, which makes it a perfect sense to shape the roughs into oval-shaped diamonds or marquise. Some have too many visible inclusions that could potentially destroy a round diamond’s brilliance. Fancy cuts save these roughs from losing too much value.
- Rough diamonds that carry fancy color will usually be cut to fancy shapes: oval, cushion and other shapes due to the fact that their color is more emphasized (over sparkle) when are cut into these shapes.
Since we have already discussed round brilliant diamonds in great details, we will focus on the fancy cuts in this chapter. As mentioned above, fancy cut or fancy shape is the term used for diamonds that are shaped other than round brilliants. There are numerous kinds of fancy diamond shapes, but we will mainly talk about those that are – or were – in high demands or popular among diamond aficionados.
The things that a diamond cutter has to consider before cutting a diamond rough include A. what is the best shape he can make out of the rough that will preserve as much weight as it can, B. what shape is popular at the time of the cutting, and C. what shape is best to ensure that the diamond will last. This way he can hope to sell the polished diamond more easily.
Fancy diamond shapes are cut into brilliant cuts, step cuts or a combination of both. Brilliant cuts make beautiful diamonds that show brightness, fire, and/or scintillation, with an example of round brilliant as the best cut. Step cuts, on the other hand, don’t emphasize on brilliance. In fact, it doesn’t transmit any brilliance at all. This cut is made merely to show off the beauty of old, aristocratic elegance that is non-existent in the other types of cuts. Each facet is cut in large, plate-like figure that reflects the other facets when seen at different angles. One example of step cut in diamond shapes is the Emerald cut. Then there are diamonds that comprise both cutting techniques to retain the brilliance and the fire, as well as the step cut style. The Princess cut is a good example of this mixed cut.
Unlike rounds where there are mathematical figures that determine how good the returned light can be reflected face up, diamond shoppers are pretty much on their own when choosing fancy shapes based on the cut quality. Luckily, it doesn’t mean there’s no guide at all. In the end of this article, you will find some useful guides to buying fancy-shaped diamonds. For now, let’s get acquainted with some fancy cuts, shall we?
Presently very popular for engagement rings, the princess cut is the most popular fancy shape in recent years. It is a square brilliant diamond which comprises either 50 or 58 facets and displays the next best brilliance after the Round shape. The four edges in Princess cut are left sharp, making it prone to chipping. Therefore, make sure that it’s wrapped in 4 prongs that can shield them from cracking. GIA calls this shape a square modified brilliant; meaning that it uses both brilliant cut on the crown and step cut on the pavilion.
Emerald cut is particularly special not because of its brilliance, but of its unique step cut style. The rectangular shape with large facets truncated corners and step-cut pavilions are designed to astound its viewers with its optical, mirror-like appearance. There is hardly any brightness or fire that an Emerald cut diamond can produce, but it certainly carries that classic, royal look which for some people is very attractive.
Basically Asscher cut is the most square type of Emerald cut. Asscher has cut edges and the pavilion is designed deep just like Emerald’s style. Since it’s a step cut, you can’t expect to get much brilliance out of it, but its highest strength lies in its clarity and elegant design.
The radiant cut also belongs to the square/rectangular diamond family. It’s a modified brilliant square diamond with 70 facets. The corners are cut, most possibly to ensure there is no chipping to happen due to its very thin girdle. Though for a second you might think this looks more or less the same as the Asscher cut, the cutting style applied on Radiant cut is meant to bring out its sparkle, whereas in Asscher or Emerald cut this is missing.
Also renown as Pillow cut, Cushion cut has a very large table facet. This makes it hard for this shape to hide inclusions or color that may be there. The four edges are curved smoothly, resembling a cushion or a pillow. For some buyers, Cushion cut is attractive for its classic look. However, if you are thinking to buy a Cushion cut diamond, be sure to get one with good clarity and color grades.
Oval cut carries brilliance that is similar to round and normally shaped in 58 facets – the standard number of facets for brilliant diamonds. So if you are looking for a diamond that has the sparkle and the ability to accentuate your lady’s finger, Oval cut can be one of your considerations.
Marquise cut has an interesting history. The name derives from the mistress of King Louis XV of France, Marquise de Pompadour. The shape of this modified brilliant diamond is thought to resemble Marquise’s smiling lips, which makes it the very reason why the name is conserved up to this date. This classic-looking diamond is stunning, has a lovely shine and preserves much carat weight than the round one. However, it’s also prone to bow-tie effect and chipping when its girdle is too thin. Bow-tie effect is a dark spot that looks like, well, a bow-tie on longer diamond shapes. It’s common to see this bow-tie effect in Marquise, Oval, Pear and sometimes Heart cut.
Pear cut also called “teardrop”, belongs to the brilliant diamond family. The unique shape looks as if round and marquise cuts are glued together. One tip of the Pear shape is rounded while the other is sharp. This diamond shape is often found in rings, pendants, and earrings.
Many consider the Heart cut the most romantic shape of all. But theoretically speaking, it is a Pear cut with a cleft at the top middle part. Heart cut is a brilliant diamond, where a good cut grade is crucial to ensure you will get the sparkle you deserve to see.
Diamond Buyer’s Shopping Guide
It’s sometimes tricky to choose the best diamond shapes for someone. Many prefer to have the round brilliant diamonds since they are unarguably the one shape that gives the most insurance to the buyer. You get the sparkle, you get the beauty, and you get the stability in the reselling price. Nonetheless, tastes are different from one person to another. Budget is, too. So there is nothing wrong looking at the fancy shapes of diamond to know how wide your choices are in the budget frame that you set.
Most fancy diamond shapes are appraised about 20% (or more) lower in price than the rounds of the same grades (color, clarity, and weight). The more popular a certain type of fancy shape is, the closer it is to the price of round diamonds. At the moment, the Princess cut is in style. So naturally it costs a bit higher than the other fancy shapes. However, if you want to sell it 50 years later and the fashion has shifted to something else, you may not get what you have paid it initially for.
Pay attention to the bow-tie effects in some particular shapes. Pear, Marquise, Oval and some Heart shapes are examples where bow-tie effect is often seen with the unaided eye. It is quite common actually due to the nature of the deep cut of those shapes. To some stage, we can perhaps tolerate the bow-tie effect seen in some angles of a diamond. But if the dark spots appear in any angle, no matter how you tilt the diamond, it should be a warning sign for you. Bow-tie effect that is that obvious doesn’t only lead the sparkle to vanish, but it could also create a major durability issue for your diamond.
Girdle in fancy diamond shapes shouldn’t be too thick that it loses the balance of the diamond; neither should it be too thin that makes it prone to chipping and cracking. So check the girdle of your diamond as well.
You should also pay attention to the symmetry of the diamond facets. Are the ones on the left shoulder of the crown the same sizes with the right one? Are the pavilions cut perfectly or are they too deep? Asymmetrical diamonds may not be a major issue, but it can definitely affect the overall look of the diamond if it’s too obvious.
Last but not least, choose a diamond shape that complements the best look of the wearer. On a ring, a Marquise or a Pear shape can make fingers appear longer and slimmer. Princess cut, on the other hand, make long fingers look shorter. So do take your time when browsing for a diamond and make sure you end up buying one that you are truly happy with.