The cut of a diamond is one of its most important features and one of the most important criteria for its value. Each cut not only has certain beautiful characteristics, but they each have a unique meaning and significance. 

While it’s possible to choose a diamond based solely on its appearance, knowing how each cut is unique and what it means can be a powerful way of ensuring you chose the right diamond. Here is everything you need to know about diamond cuts and what they mean.

Diamonds: The Eternal Stones

Diamonds have long been considered one of the most popular and sought-after precious stones on the market. These unique gemstones are set apart from the competition not only because of their cultural significance but also because of how brilliantly they handle light. No other precious stone or semi-precious stone can absorb and reflect light in such a show-stopping manner. 

One of the most important criteria for what makes a diamond—or any precious stone—valuable is a rarity. The rarer a stone, the more valuable it is. Although diamonds are not the rarest stones, they are still among the most expensive due to tradition, sentimental value, and the unique grading scale created to determine their worth. Rubies and sapphires are technically rarer than diamonds, but a diamond’s pull is unmatched. 

The relationship that diamonds share with light is at the core of why these incredible stones are so brilliant and attract so much adoration. The main way that a diamond will interact with light is based on its cut, which is one of the four criteria that make up a diamond’s grade by which its worth is based. Because of this, a diamond’s cut is one of the most important criteria that a diamond can have. 

When a diamond is cut, it is given the chance to absorb and reflect light to the best of its potential. Master diamond cutters know which cuts will bring out the most brilliance, fire, and scintillation (an industry term for ‘sparkle’) to a stone based on its natural properties.

Planning the Cuts

The most crucial aspect of the diamond cutting process is planning the cuts when the diamond is still in the rough. Thanks to certain software that can help identify key characteristics of the rough diamond, a preliminary decision can be made to get not only the most diamond out of a rough stone but also the best diamond shape. 

Once this stage is complete—known as cleaving—the diamond is then cut and polished to specification. These cuts are the ones that distinguish certain anatomical aspects of a diamond, known as the girdle, table, and crown, and they determine the depth of the diamond.

The Goal of the Cut

A diamond cutter's biggest goal when cutting a diamond is not to simply get the most diamond possible out of a rough stone but also the most reflection. A diamond’s table is the area of a diamond that a person sees when they look directly down at it. This part of the diamond is flat, situated on the top surface, and is the primary source of light entry. 

The goal of the cut of a diamond is to accentuate a diamond's brilliance, fire, and scintillation, which is determined by certain key elements of the cut. Specifically, the depth of the diamond’s cut has a large impact on these elements. When light enters through the table of the diamond, it is important for the light to reflect back up out of the table as well. This accounts for the aspects of a diamond that are most eye-catching. 

The ability for light to both enter and leave through the table of a diamond is dependent not on the style of the cut, but on the skill of the diamond cutter. Any diamond cut available, pear, princess, cushion, square, they all have this ability to reflect up out of their table. This is where the skill of the diamond cutter comes into play to ensure that the cut matches the quality of the diamond to get the most brilliance. 

When light doesn’t do this, there is a noticeable lack of brilliance, fire, and scintillation. That’s why compromising on a diamond’s cut can be so detrimental to its overall appearance. If a diamond doesn’t have a flawless clarity grade but has an excellent cut, that means the diamond has been designed to have the best possible shine and sparkle, despite its lower clarity. Although the professional diamond graders may know the difference, the naked eye could never tell.

Different Diamond Cuts and Their Meanings 

There are many popular diamond cut styles to explore. While they each have their own unique aesthetic qualities, they can also have specific meanings. When it comes to choosing a diamond cut, the most important qualities to keep in mind are the way it looks, feels, and wears. Your comfort and happiness should be your top priority.

Knowing the meaning behind a cut can be something that helps make the decision process easier. Ultimately though, there is no right or wrong answer. The diamond that’s best for you is the one that you hold closest to your heart.

The Princess Cut

The princess cut is one of the most iconic diamond cuts on the market. This is a classic diamond look that rises from a pinnacled base to four corners, and it has a particularly high quality of brilliance. 

The princess cut is one of the most popular cuts of diamonds because it is often considered romantic, and it has been used for engagement rings and other sentimental gifts. Despite its feminine name, the princess cut is common in mens’ jewelry. Modern, androgynous, and regal, a princess cut carries timeless strength. 

The Round Cut

The second most popular cut is arguably the round diamond. This diamond is universally beloved for its simplicity and chic style. With a round cut, you still see a classic diamond shape with a gorgeous mixture of brilliance, fire, and scintillation. 

As the most popular and well-known diamond cut, round cuts show that you can appreciate the classics. They imply that the wearer understands quality and holds themselves to high standards. These are also an extremely traditional cut that can go with any setting, outfit, or style. If you prefer round cut diamonds, you may be a bit of a chameleon who easily fits into any situation.

The Oval and Emerald Cuts

Oval and emerald cuts are eye-catchingly beautiful thanks to their stately shapes and regal tones. An oval cut diamond takes its titular shape, while an emerald cut features an elongated rectangle and cut-off corners. 

The emerald cut has been around since the 1500s, making it one of the oldest diamond cuts. Although it gained popularity in the 1920s, it’s a singularly traditional cut that connotes taste, elegance, and class. Amal Clooney’s engagement ring featured an emerald cut diamond, showing its enduring popularity amongst regal and sophisticated tastemakers.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the oval cut as we know it was invented in the early 1960s. While oval-shaped diamonds have existed since the 1700s, these were cruder depictions of what we currently consider an emerald shape. Although oval diamonds have similar benefits to emerald cuts, they show a more modern, sartorial style. 

Ovals truly hit their peak popularity in the late-1990s and early-2000s, which may be why oval diamonds are synonymous with trend-setting, creative, and of-the-moment thinking.

The Pear and Marquise Cuts

It may be misleading to say that one diamond cut is more intentional than another. However, both the pear and marquise cuts are designed to stand out. These two cuts are specifically meant to make the diamond appear larger with a high degree of brilliance. 

A pear cut looks like an upside-down teardrop, while a marquise cut resembles an oval that comes to a point on the top and bottom. The pear cut was actually invented in 1475 when a Flemish diamond cutter decided to combine the round and marquise cuts using a new diamond polishing invention. 

The marquise cut was created by King Louis XV of France to look like his mistress’s lips. This gives the cut a singularly sensual, feminine, and royal connotation. Pear cut diamonds have a similar appeal thanks to their similarity to marquise cuts, but their innovative twist has made them extremely popular in pendants and earrings.

The Asscher Cut

As unique as the pear and marquise cuts, an Asscher diamond takes drama to a new level. It has a body similar to a radiant cut diamond but has a specific Art Deco elegance that can only be described as dramatic. 

The Asscher cut is similar to an emerald cut diamond, as a square with cut-off corners. It gained popularity during the Art Deco period because its patent expired, allowing many companies to replicate the Asscher family’s signature cut.

This diamond is meant for the person who isn’t afraid to stand out in a crowd, and it has a subtle but powerful beauty. Its Art Deco history makes it a bold stone perfect for rule-breakers with immaculate taste. 

The Heart Cut

Lastly, there is the heart cut. This diamond shape is very specific and one of the rarer cuts. It’s perfect for commemorating special occasions and is a wonderful piece to add to your wardrobe for those special occasions. We don’t need to tell you that a heart-shaped diamond is uniquely suited to showing love — whether that’s romantic love, friendship, or familial love.

This is considered one of the most ultimately romantic diamonds; however, its shape does not play on any form of subtlety that may be important for those looking for a more diverse diamond shape. 

In Conclusion

Next time you look at diamonds, be mindful of their cut style and grade. Try to find a diamond that you love with the highest grade within your budget.

Not only will you have a more valuable diamond, but you’ll have a diamond that has the characteristics you want. Choosing a diamond with a higher cut grade is one of the best options that you can make when looking for a diamond. 


4Cs of Diamond Quality | GIA

Diamonds, love, and history | Yale 

Diamond Shape Meaning | LoveToKnow

Modern Diamond Cutting and Polishing | GIA