How to Choose a Diamond Shape
Do you know your Asschers from your cushions? There are 10 basic diamond shapes to choose from: round, princess, emerald, Asscher, cushion, radiant, pear, oval, marquise and heart. Read on to find out more about each shape—and which one fits your or your fiance's personality the best!
And note, the term diamond cut does not refer to its shape. While you must cut a diamond to make a shape, the shape is essentially the overall geometry or form of the diamond (round, square and so on), while the cut is the diamond's facets and proportions—the things that give diamonds their brilliance and fire.
Round = Classic
Often referred to as brilliant or as RBC (round brilliant cut) because it is the most common brilliant-cut diamond, round diamonds are far and away the most popular diamond shape for engagement rings, accounting for more than 75 percent of all diamonds sold. Created by Marcel Tolkowsky in 1919, round diamonds have 58 facets, which cause light to bounce from the bottom of the diamond back through the top, giving it unbelievable sparkle. The shape is extremely versatile and timeless, looking clean and modern in simple settings, yet equally as nice in more elaborate styles. In a nutshell, a well-set round diamond will give you the most sparkle for your buck.
Famous Round Lovers
Ashton Kutcher gave Mila Kunis a very traditional (and understated, as far as celebs go) round, prong-set diamond solitaire. Olivia Wilde's fiance, Jason Sudeikis, proposed with a round diamond set in an emerald halo on a yellow gold band, and Sam Esmail popped the question to Emmy Rossum with a fittingly classic ring—a round stone flanked by tapered diamond baguettes.
Princess = Ladylike
The year was 1961—London was swinging, and jewelry designer Arpad Nagy was inventing the princess—a square-shaped diamond with an array of intricate facets (anywhere from 49 to 144, depending on the diamond's size). Ever since, girly-girls, and the men who love them, have been swooping up the glittering shape for their engagements. Flirty and fun, the princess often is donned as a solitaire engagement ring and is the second most popular shape, after the round. More facets mean more sparkle on this square or rectangular stone with pointed corners, and it's experienced a revival over the past few years. Because the additional facets add brilliance and increase the diamond's inherent sparkle, flaws may be less noticeable. Princess diamonds are also one of the least expensive diamond shapes to create.
Famous Princess Lovers
Heiresses are the closest thing our country has to princesses, so it only seems appropriate that Nicky Hilton rocks a princess sparkler from husband James Rothschild.
Emerald = Glamorous
If you're all about glamour, this is your diamond. A rectangular shape with long, lean facets extending down the sides, it's the large table (the flat part on top) that shows off the rock's clarity better than any other shape. What it lacks in brilliance, it more than makes up for in undeniable quiet elegance and cool confidence. Created in the art deco period, the emerald boasts long, glamorous lines, a rectangular shape with cut corners that resemble stair steps (it's often called a step cut), and its name was taken from the most popular shape for emeralds in the 1920s.
Famous Emerald Lovers
The worldly, impossibly sophisticated woman who stole George Clooney's heart, Amal Clooney, sports a 7-plus carat sparkler set with baguettes on a platinum band—enough said. And when Jay Z proposed to Beyonce, nothing would do for Queen Bey but a giant, 18-carat emerald-shaped ring by Lorraine Schwartz. Fashion icon Sarah Jessica Parker is also a fan of this style; she wears an emerald solitaire from longtime husband Matthew Broderick. And let's not forget about some of the most iconic glamorous women: Elizabeth Taylor lugged around a 30-carat emerald-shaped diamond, courtesy of her third husband, Michael Todd, and Prince Rainier of Monaco gave Grace Kelly a 12-carat emerald-shaped diamond engagement ring when he proposed marriage.
Asscher = Vintage-Lover
Nearly identical to the emerald cut, except that this stunning shape is square, the Asscher is striking and dramatic, evoking a very 1920s-1930s, art deco feel (it's sometimes called the square emerald cut). It has a thick, almost chunky profile, clipped corners (sometimes deep enough to make the diamond appear to be an octagon) and stepped sides (features that distinguish it from the other square shape, the princess, which has a broader surface and sharp, angular corners). Created in 1902 by the Asscher brothers of Amsterdam, this shape was popular through the 1930s—and now with antique- and vintage-style lovers.
Famous Asscher Lovers
Reese Witherspoon was given a four-and-a-half-carat Asscher-shaped diamond set in a 1920s art deco style from former hubby Ryan Phillippe. And Elizabeth Taylor, queen of diamonds, also wore a very famous 33-carat Asscher diamond, though this one was from fifth (and sixth!) husband, Richard Burton.
Cushion = The Romantic
In all things in life, she expects only the best—which is why she chose you after all. So for the woman who always knows what she wants, it's probably the romantic cushion she's craving. Also known as a pillow cut, cushions look like a rectangle with rounded corners and have larger facets to increase their brilliance (note that cushions aren't as easily executed on smaller stones). One of the most popular diamond shapes a century ago, cushion cuts hearken back to an era of romance and elegance, and are perfect for those who care about clarity. If you both clearly do, this is the shape for you.
Famous Cushion Lovers
Famous fingers romancing this stone include Iggy Azalea, who said yes to LA Lakers star Nick Young and the big, cushion-shaped yellow diamond he proposed with, and Brooke Shields, who sports hubby Chris Henchy's symbol of undying love. When former teen TV stars Leighton Meester and Adam Brody got engaged, we spied a gorgeous diamond in a delicate rose gold setting on her finger. And who's more of a romantic than Kim Kardashian? You wouldn't expect her now-husband Kanye West to propose in anything other than a big way—and he didn't disappoint, renting out San Francisco's AT&T ballpark, hiring the Chicago Symphony to perform and presenting her with a 15-carat cushion-cut rock set on a pave band.
Marquise = Dramatic
Like most things interesting, the majestic marquise is swathed in dramatic history. Legend has it that this cut was invented during the 18th-century reign of Louis XIV, allegedly named for his mistress, the Marquise de Pompadour, and inspired by her smile. The uniquely tapered cut, essentially an oval with rounded sides and points at each end, is distinctive and dramatic, much like the women who choose to wear it. Modern-day versions often have a hexagon-shaped surface with facets on the top and bottom to reflect light. This clever cut can also look larger than it actually is, and due to its elongated shape, can make fingers look leaner and more slender. It's ideal for those looking to maximize carat weight, and for those who like a little opulence every now and again.
Famous Marquise Lovers
No lady in waiting, Catherine Zeta-Jones proudly wears Michael Douglas's symbol of love, a grand 10-carat marquise, and Ashlee Simpson sports one as well—though hers is accented with rubies.
Oval = Innovative
Similar to round diamonds, oval diamonds have a remarkable brilliance. Even and symmetrical, this shape is popular as a solitaire among those with smaller hands or shorter fingers, because the oval's elongated shape gives the illusion of length to the hand, resulting in slender-looking fingers. However, the oval is also often flanked by side stones, whether smaller diamonds, sapphires, emeralds or other gems, appealing to a wide range of tastes.
Famous Oval Lovers
Subtle isn't really an option for sexy star Sofia Vergara, so it's not surprising that her love Joe Manganiello gifted her with a serious oval sparkler, surrounded by a diamond halo on a pave band. And for his sweet at-home proposal, hockey player Brooks Laich worked with Lorraine Schwartz to design the 6-carat oval ring Julianne Hough now wears.
Pear = Unique
Mixing the best of the marquise and the oval, this haute hybrid resembles a twinkling teardrop, much like the one that might run down her cheek after your present it to her. And we're pretty sure those will be tears of joy. Popular for pendants and earrings, the pear shape is also a unique and excellent choice for engagement rings, and can be "fatter" or more elongated, depending on your preference. Due to its unbalanced shape, it's not usually set with elaborate accent stones.
Famous Pear Lovers
To propose to his girlfriend, former Grey's Anatomy star Katherine Heigl, Josh Kelley went for a pear-shaped diamond with a halo—and it even incorporates a stone from her mother's engagement ring.
Radiant = Diva
Hard to find and not commonly used for engagement rings due to its scarcity, the radiant marries the elegant glamour of the emerald shape with the brilliance of the round, resulting in a rare sparkly square with trimmed corners. Its extra special sparkle is the result of the way its underside is cut, with 70 facets to be exact, to maximize the effect of its color refraction.
Famous Radiant Lovers
Only fitting that the former king and queen of the glitterati Bennifer should have picked this glittering shape. Back when Bennifer was in full bloom, Jennifer Lopez showed off a 6-carat radiant pink diamond from beau Ben Affleck. While she has a more low-key personality, don't be fooled—Drew Barrymore is a powerhouse who has her own production company and cosmetics line, so the radiant ring from husband Will Kopelman suits her just as well.
Heart = Sentimental
Those who prefer to wear their hearts on their fingers will fall for the ultimate symbol of romance and sentimentality, the heart-shaped diamond. Often more of a novelty and not commonly used for engagement rings, a special and select few do choose to make this the symbol of their love. Like pear-shaped diamonds, heart-shaped rocks can be "fatter" or more elongated, and it's the skill and precision of the diamond cutter that defines the sparkle and beauty of this shape. Since it can be difficult to execute, thoroughly examine this diamond for hidden flaws before you choose to make it your heart.
Famous Heart Lovers
Lady Gaga said "yes" to her love, Taylor Kinney, when he pulled out a stunning 15-carat heart-shaped diamond ring. And the queen of romance and all things sentimental, Dynasty diva Joan Collins sports one in a 19th-century setting on her fourth finger from her latest hubs, Percy Gibson.
Now that you’ve narrowed down your ideal diamond choice, make sure to visit our ring gallery to create your very own Hint profile where you can get style recommendations, “favorite” rings and find jewelers near you. When you’re ready, drop a hint for your partner and share your selects!
The Knot and Real Is a Diamond present Shine On, a sponsored series all about what makes diamonds—and your relationship—unique. Visit RealIsADiamond.com to learn more about why diamonds are so special.