Diamonds can come in a myriad of shapes and sizes, some of which have very different visual effects. We hope that you will find this introductory guide to solitaire and side stone shapes a useful tool when searching for the perfect new addition to your jewellery collection.
It certainly helps to know what the shapes are called and how they differ, when choosing your new piece of jewellery and deciding what shape/s will create the look that you’re going for. Of course, these shapes are not exclusive to diamonds - you may see them in any gemstone. But, if there’s a particular shape, or combination of shapes, that you love but haven’t found - please do let us know. As we have our own workshop and an extensive network of stone dealers and other professionals, we are able to source the stones that you’re looking for, and make your jewelled vision a reality.
Round brilliant cut
Known for its brilliance (essentially, it’s sparkle), the round brilliant cut is the most popular, making up approximately 75% of the world’s gem quality diamonds. There is usually quite a lot of wastage involved when cutting a round shape, so this, in addition to its popularity, can carry a bit of a premium. The round brilliant has 57 facets or 58 if you include the culet. It is also the only shape to receive a ‘Cut grade’ when certified. It’s a classic, and timeless shape, which works in pretty much every style: solitaires, three stones, clusters and more!
A square shape with soft, rounded corners (funnily enough - like a cushion!). These are incredibly versatile and are a great, modern alternative to a round brilliant cut, and similarly have 57/58 facets. They are known for their scintillation and sparkle and are generally seen as a more economical shape due to there being less wastage in the cutting process.
Pear shaped, or teardrop, diamonds are often thought to be incredibly beautiful and desirable. A a pear shape is also a brilliant cut, which has 57/58 facets. As a combination of an oval and a marquise cut, the proportions can vary quite substantially. Be wary of a ‘bow tie’ effect, where there may be a darker area across the belly of the diamond. This is common in several ‘fancy cuts’, and generally expected to be visible to some degree, but if it’s very dark and noticeable this is deemed to be quite a flaw. Ideally, you want this to be minimal as it indicates a loss of light due to a poorer cut. Pear cuts are generally more unusual, but are definitely a glamorous choice.
Originally developed to resemble the lips of the Marquise de Pompadour, infamous mistress to the eighteenth century French King Louis XV, marquise diamonds are a historic and dramatic shape. Today, the marquise cut is a brilliant cut with 57/58 facets. Known to flatter the wearer’s hand due to its elongation, the marquise is a high impact shape where a lot of the weight of the diamond is visible and therefore, looks bigger. They may also display a ‘bow tie effect along the widest part of the marquise shape diamond, but this can be minimal.
Seen often in examples of Victorian and Edwardian jewellery, and even dating back to the sixteenth century, heart shape diamonds are surprisingly not as modern as you may think. Normally with 56 to 58 facets, proportions and symmetry are very important. A ‘bow tie’ effect may be visible at the fattest part of the heart, but as with the other fancy cuts it’s generally deemed acceptable as long as it isn’t too obvious.
An oval cut is a lovely, more elongated, alternative to a round brilliant cut. Similarly, it is known for great brilliance, scintillation and also has 57/58 facets. Often, it tends to look more contemporary, especially after a recent resurgence in its popularity as a solitaire ring. As an elongated shape, it is also flattering on the hand, and often looks larger than a round cut of the same carat weight. An oval may also display a bow tie effect.
Radiant cuts are similar to a combination of an emerald cut and a brilliant cut. They have some facets along the edges that are more ‘step like’ in appearance, and a similar outline as an emerald cut, but then lots of facets that create the scintillation, fire and sparkle of a brilliant cut. It is a relatively modern shape, developed in the 1970’s and has 70 facets. Radiant cuts are also pretty good for concealing any inclusions as the increased number of facets create quite a ‘busy’ appearance.
Emerald cut diamonds have a rectangular appearance but with the corners cut off, and are thus octagonal in shape. They are synonymous with the geometric outlines of art deco jewellery, although have long been popular. As a ‘step cut’, they feature a large table with linear stepped ridges, with typically 57 facets. You tend to see ‘flashes’ of fire and brilliance with an emerald cut, rather than the ‘sparkle’ effect of a brilliant cut, which many describe as a ‘hall of mirrors’ effect. As a very transparent shape, an emerald cut generally needs to be quite a high clarity grade, as there are less places to make an inclusion less visible during the cutting process. They are a highly flexible shape, and can lend to either an antique style or a cutting edge, contemporary design.
The asscher cut was developed in the early twentieth century, and became a key component of art deco jewellery design. It is a stepped cut, more square in shape than an emerald cut, but similarly has it’s corners cut off and is thus octagonal. There are two types of asscher cuts: traditional, older asscher cuts have 58 facets, but a modern ‘royal asscher cut’ has 72 facets. Asscher cuts lend themselves very well to an antique style ring.
The princess cut has a square shape, but is a brilliant cut rather than a step cut. It therefore has 57/58 facets, and displays the same brilliance and scintillation as a round brilliant cut. Developed in the 1960’s, it has a modern appearance with clean lines and a lot of sparkle.
A baguette cut diamond is a rectangular shape, with only 14 facets. It doesn’t have a lot of sparkle, which is why it is commonly used to accent a central stone. Used a lot in art deco jewellery, the baguette lends to a more angular design, but looks great in both antique and modern styles.
A tapered baguette is exactly the same as a baguette, except it is thinner at one end and thicker at the other. This way, it draws the eye nicely to a central solitaire, whilst still allowing nice flashes of light to be seen from the diamonds.
A bullet cut is similar to a baguette cut, but one end is pointed to create a bullet shape. These are more unusual accent stones either side of a solitaire, or they may be part of a more elaborate design using lots of smaller diamonds. You may see it as a brilliant cut, or as a step cut.
A trapeze cut can be any size or dimension, but it is characterised by two parallel lines - one shorter than the other, creating a trapezoid shape. These are often paired alongside an emerald cut centre stone, but suit all combinations!
A half moon is essentially a semi-circle shape, and can be either brilliant or step cut. This creates a softer overall appearance when placed either side of a central stone, such as an oval cut.
A trillion cut is a triangular shape, with equal length sides, and may be a brilliant cut or a step cut. These may have 31 or 50 facets, depending on whether they are being used as an accent stone or solitaire.
You will come across french cut diamonds in a lot of art deco jewellery. They are square in shape, but their facets create a particularly characteristic appearance when viewed from the table of a distinctive cross within a circle. These are usually smaller stones.
You may come across some other, more unusual shapes as this certainly is not an exhaustive list, but these are some of the most prevalent within our own collections!