Diamonds are among the most popular precious stones available today, but these incredible stones aren’t only beautiful. They commemorate the important moments in our lives, from engagement rings that mark new beginnings to memorial diamonds that honor the impact and legacy of our loved ones who have passed away. 

Although diamonds are not the rarest of precious stones, their sentimental value makes them some of the most valued and sought-after gems. Aside from cultural relevance, a diamond is unique in the ways it captures light and reflects it back in truly eye-catching ways. These characteristics are summed in three terms: brilliance, fire, and scintillation. 

A diamond’s brilliance and fire refer to the way that it shimmers and catches natural lighting through its table, reflecting it back for a beautiful sparkle. That sparkle is referred to as scintillation in the world of diamonds, and it’s part of what makes every diamond so magical. 

The key feature of a diamond that controls its brilliance, fire, and scintillation is the diamond's cut. Not only do diamond cuts affect the gemstone’s style and size, but it’s a significant factor in the grading system that determines the stone’s overall monetary value.

Below, we’re exploring the different diamond shapes and the significance of each unique cut.

The Many Shapes of a Diamond 

When looking for a diamond, there are several different factors to consider. The ultimate decisions regarding the carat, clarity, cut, and color of a diamond will all come down to a matrix of personal preference and price. 

There are four main criteria used to grade every diamond, colloquially known as the 4 Cs. A diamond’s cut is a significant factor in its ultimate grade, and master cutters dedicate their lives to the craft and science of mindful diamond cutting. 

A diamond’s cut is largely based on its initial shape, as each shape is unique and has certain characteristics that can enhance its brilliance, fire, and scintillation. When it comes to what different shapes a diamond can have, there are two main types of shapes: the round shape and fancy shapes. 

Round Shape Diamonds

A round-shape diamond gets its name from the circular form it takes when you look straight down into it. This is the most famous and classic shape for a diamond, and it remains one of the most popular. This kind of shape is particularly well-designed to be fitted on rings, which may be why it’s so beloved for engagement and wedding rings. 

The Benefits of a Round Diamond

A diamond cutter's challenge when cutting and polishing a rough diamond is getting the most value possible out of the stone. Certain criteria such as a diamond's color and clarity speak to the atomic purity of a diamond. However, no other characteristic can increase a diamond's worth like its cut. 

Ideally, a perfectly cut diamond will take in light through its table—the flat surface on its top—and reflect it back out through the same path. This is a particularly challenging task, and master cutters have to mindfully consider the depth of the diamond’s cut when creating the light’s path. The depth refers to the length of the diamond from its table to its bottom point. 

Being able to correctly cut this part of the diamond will ensure that light entering through the table will leave through its entry point. When a diamond’s cut does not allow for this, the light can leave through almost any other facet of the diamond. This will create depreciated brilliance, fire and, scintillation. 

This is also why cut is one of its most important characteristics when grading a diamond. Not only does the shape have to fit the diamond itself, but its number of facets, placement, and dimensions must be perfect to optimally bring out the diamond’s natural beauty. 

The round diamond is actually not the oldest shape of a diamond, despite its popularity. This shape was gradually discovered over time as jewelers continued to search for the best cut to show off the most brilliance. Once this specific round shape was discovered, it took no time for its undeniable beauty to catch on. 

Fancy Shape Diamonds

While round diamonds are a classic, carefully-curated style, there’s an entire world of diamond cuts to consider. These are considered “fancy shape” diamonds, and these are comprised of nine additional shapes that are especially popular in the diamond industry.

Although a diamond can be cut into any certain size and specification, these nine have been the most popular throughout history. Each shape has a certain style that lends itself well to certain kinds of jewelry. For instance, some shapes lend themselves to earrings, while others are more popularly chosen for pendants and necklaces. 

Here is a rundown of the nine most popular fancy shapes and everything you need to know about them.


Princess diamonds on white backdrop.

The princess is the most popular shape after rounds in the diamond world. This box-shaped diamond is brilliant and instantly recognizable in jewelry such as earrings. 

Even though this cut is not round, its incredible shine and brilliance have made it a very popular choice throughout the years. This diamond cut uses up to 80% of the raw diamond, making it ideal for cutters who want minimal waste during the cutting process. This characteristic of the princess cut actually makes it the most environmentally conscious cut of diamond on the market. 


Cushion diamonds held by tweezers.

This cut has been popular over the last two centuries, and it is the third most popular shape after princess cut diamonds. The main difference in a cushion cut is that its corners are rounded. However, it still maintains either a square or rectangular shape similar to the princess cut. 


Emerald diamond on black backdrop.

The emerald cut is a classic, regal diamond cut with a different method of refraction from the cushion, princess, and round diamonds. This longer, rectangular cut is the oldest of the diamond shapes. Instead of focusing on constant sparkle, the emerald cut is unique in the way it courts abrupt flashes of light.


Radiant diamond, black background.

The radiant shape is one of the most eye-catching cuts a diamond can have. It is a mixture of the jaw-dropping fire and scintillation of a round cut with the pure brilliance of an emerald cut. This is not as popular a cut and is considered to be rare. However, few diamonds can compare with the way this cut of diamond catches the light around it.


Light going through an asscher diamond.

This cut of a diamond is considered to have a vintage, timeless quality. It is shaped more like a princess cut. However, it is purposefully less brilliant than the princess style. This diamond cut has no lack of beauty, but it does lend itself to a more vintage and subdued style.  


A pair of sparkling marquise diamonds.

Lovingly given nicknames like the “boat diamond” or the “football diamond,” this oval-shaped cut is one of the rarer styles. Cut to have a high level of brilliance and scintillation, this almond shape cut can go well with people who have long, slender fingers, and it can appear larger than its weight. 


Detailed shot of a pear diamond.

A pear-shaped diamond is a very rare cut of a diamond that pulls from the marquise and oval shape for inspiration. The uniqueness of the marquise shape is met with the brilliance and striking presence of an oval. 

The result is a stunning, unique diamond that is meant to be framed and shown off. This diamond is most commonly used for a different look for engagement rings and is praised as some of the most artistic cuts for a diamond. 


Oval diamond on black reflective surface.

Lastly, the oval diamond is one of the oldest diamond cuts and one of the most stunning. This oval-shaped diamond pulls from the same kind of cut that brings a round diamond so much brilliance. This sets them apart as an extremely brilliant, shining diamond with a unique shape. 

This shape can often look larger than a round diamond despite having the exact same carat weight. Not only that, but its flattering shape is a popular option for wedding and engagement rings if something other than a round diamond is desired. 

In Conclusion 

The cut and shape of a diamond are some of the most important features of a diamond. However, you must always remember to be true to what you want. The popularity of a cut should never be the deciding factor between whether or not you enjoy a diamond.

Diamonds are highly personal stones, so making sure that the cut and shape reflect what you want is the most important quality to keep at the forefront of all your diamond decisions. 


Different Diamond Shapes: Ultimate Guide with Size & Price Chart | Gem Society

4Cs of Diamond Quality | GIA

Modern Diamond Cutting and Polishing | GIA