When you think of a diamond’s cut, the image conjured up is most likely the classic round-shaped diamond found in many engagement rings, earring studs, necklaces, and other jewelry. But did you know there are actually a wide variety of diamond shapes on the market, each with its own specifications, style, and elegance?

That’s why we put together a useful guide to help you learn about different diamond shapes, the diamond cutting process, and how to evaluate them to ensure you get the most value and quality from your diamond and jewelry selection.

Three clear diamonds: emerald-cut, oval, and brilliant-round.

The diamond-cutting process

Regardless of what shape a diamond becomes, they all undergo the process of diamond cutting. Diamond cutting collectively refers to the various methods and systems diamond cutters utilize to shape a stone into its final form. There are four basic techniques used by diamond cutters: 

1. Cleaving. Cleaving is the process of shaving a rough diamond into its general form. To do this, a diamond cutter will use a machine to make small cuts along the diamond’s tetrahedral plane, where it’s weakest, to hone it into a rough shape.

2. Sawing. Sometimes diamonds must be cut where there is no weak plane. In that case, diamond cutters will use a process known as sawing instead of cleaving. Cutters use a precision machine with a rotating blade or lasers to shape the rough diamond, defining the table (the flat top of the stone with the biggest surface area), the girdle (the outside rim of the diamond where the diameter is the largest), and the facets (the flat faces of the diamond that compose the underlying symmetry of the stone and reflect light).

3. Bruting/cutting. Bruting and cutting are the techniques that give rough diamonds their shape. The process is called cutting when it’s done by a machine, and bruting when done by hand. In both cases, another diamond is used to shape the stone.

4. Polishing. Polishing involves using abrasive diamond powder to smooth and polish the table, girdle, and various facets of the diamond into its final form.

Woman's hand wearing colorless radiant-cut diamond ring.

The artistry and craftsmanship behind diamond cutting seek to create the symmetry, proportions, and polish that will deliver the best return of light from the diamond. The table size, crown angle, girdle thickness, and pavilion depth are carefully calculated to achieve maximum brightness, sparkle, and light.

The most common diamond shapes

There’s no such thing as the “right” diamond shape. Different cuts might work better for certain types of applications, but at the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference. Here are a few of the most common and popular diamond shapes available:

1. Round-cut diamonds

Originally calibrated in 1919, the round-cut, or round brilliant cut, is the most popular diamond shape in the world and is commonly used for engagement rings and wedding rings. It is widely considered to be the most brilliant shape, especially among stones with highly graded cuts.

2. Princess-cut diamonds

Another popular diamond shape is the princess cut. Princess-cut diamonds are square or rectangle-shaped and popular in earrings and necklaces. They are exceptionally brilliant stones due to the way they are cut, which directs light through the center of the table, but also through the four corners of the shape as well, giving princess-cut diamonds a unique sparkle and shine.

3. Cushion-cut diamonds

The third most popular diamond shape is the cushion-cut diamond (also known as the pillow-cut). Cushion cuts have a similar square or rectangular shape to princess cuts but with rounded corners. They have increased in popularity in recent years, as jewelers have incorporated them into a variety of modern designs.

Colorless cushion-cut diamond ring.

4. Emerald-cut diamonds

Taking its name from the gems that it was originally used for, the emerald cut is less complex than many others and reflects a translucent light through its large table. Because of this, it requires diamonds of significant purity, as inclusions are much easier to see in a stone that’s been shaped by the emerald cut.

5. Radiant-cut diamonds

Radiant-cut diamonds combine the lines of an emerald cut with the brilliance of a round diamond. Its corners are trimmed dramatically, making radiant-cut diamonds look even more beautiful when combined with other diamond cuts.

6. Pear-shaped diamonds

Pear-shaped diamonds resemble a drop of water and are commonly used in pendants and necklaces. It is a difficult shape to cut well, as the proportions and the balance between length and width are challenging to achieve.

7. Oval diamonds

Oval diamonds are a mix of classic and modern designs. Typically larger carat diamonds used as the center stone in solitaires or rings, oval diamonds provide a smooth, elongated shape similar to that of pear-shaped diamonds.

8. Marquise-cut diamonds

Also similar to oval and pear-shaped diamonds, the marquise cut is an excellent shape for accentuating the size of a stone. Its elongated shape can also help make the wearer’s fingers appear longer and slimmer.

9. Asscher-cut diamonds

Asscher-cut diamonds have a similar shape to emerald cuts but are always square or octagonal, not rectangular. They usually have large facets like the emerald cut, which can show off the clarity of the diamond but will show inclusions if the stone is of lower quality.

Choosing the right diamond shape for you

It may seem like there are an overwhelming number of diamond shapes and cuts available, and it’s true, there are a lot of options from which to choose. However, the important thing to remember is that your diamond selection should reflect what you want from the stone, as your diamond will be one-of-a-kind. If you speak with reputable sellers about what you have in mind, they can offer advice about what diamond shapes, colors, cuts, and settings will suit your preferences best.

At Eterneva, we understand that choosing a diamond to represent the remarkable life you are honoring is no small task. That’s why our diamond experts are ready to answer any questions you have about how your diamond will be created, cut, polished, and set to your specifications. Reach out to Eterneva and let us help you create the perfect diamond to remember and carry with you.