So, you have decided to purchase a diamond engagement ring to put your proposal plans in motion. But where should you start?
Very often, I get asked the following question by readers: “What’s the best diamond cut for an engagement ring?”. I even get related queries like “What’s the best diamond cut for sparkle and money?” from people who have just started doing their research.
The thing is, finding the right stone is a very subjective topic and difficult question to answer because a lot of it depends on personal tastes. However, there are several factors to consider that make the answer a bit easier. They are sparkle, best value, popularity and biggest face-up size per carat.
In this article, we will reveal insights into the different diamond cutting styles and help you decide on the best diamond for your dream ring. Let’s dive in…
Here is a list of topics we will be covering:
Technically speaking, the cut of a diamond refers to how the different facets come together to interact with light. A well cut diamond will display a good balance of brilliance, fire and scintillation.
As part of the 4Cs, the cut quality of a round diamond is usually assessed by gemological labs and assigned a rating like Ideal (AGS)/Excellent (GIA), Very Good, Good and Fair. Obviously, the better the rating, the better the diamond’s cut quality and sparkle factor.
However, most people often confuse diamond cut with the shape of the diamond as they are closely related. So, when most people ask questions about the best diamond cut they should buy, they are actually referring to the shape of the diamond instead of cut quality.
The modern day 57 facets round brilliant cut diamond is the shape that can produce the ultimate sparkle and brilliance amongst the different cutting styles. When polished to ideal proportions and exacting precision, the facets interact with light to create a fiery display of dispersion and scintillation.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying every round diamond in the market is going to be a stunner. There are plenty of poorly cut round diamonds in the market because cutters often place economic interests and business profits above higher performance diamonds.
But if we were to compare the best cut round diamonds against the best cut princess/heart or any other shapes, the round diamond will always come out tops in its light performance. In a relative comparison basis, the shapes with the worst light performance are generally those with step cut facet structures like the Asscher and emerald cuts.
Here’s a video I recently made to compare how round, princess and cushion diamond rings will look like in a side by side comparison under different lighting environments. Note that all 3 diamonds used are the best of the best in terms of sparkle and light return.
Pay attention to the boldness and crispness of the scintillating facets.
If we look at prices purely from a price per carat perspective, the round diamond is the most expensive shape because of its increased manufacturing costs and market demand. You see, in order to polish an ideal cut round diamond, as much as 45-50% of the original rough stone can be removed on the polishing wheel.
On the other hand, fancy shapes like the princess, emerald and cushion cut diamonds generally cost 30%-40% cheaper than a round cut diamond with similar color/clarity/carat specifications. That’s because the yield from the rough diamond tends to be a lot higher as less rough material is lost during polishing.
Based on market pricing trends, the princess cut diamond is the least expensive diamond shape. This is due to their extremely efficient yield during polishing as the average princess cut diamond retains about 80% of its original rough diamond weight.
So, if you are shopping on a budget, consider choosing a princess cut diamond for your engagement ring.
In fact, I’ve recently purchased a stunning princess cut diamond with a $2000 budget and you can read how I did it in this write up here. Also, you can watch a comprehensive review of the ring I bought in the video below…
For people who are looking for the biggest bang for your buck and maximizing finger coverage, fancy shaped diamonds with elongated outlines generally look larger than round diamonds for their carat weight.
The marquise, oval, emerald and pear shapes typically face up 10-15% larger than a round diamond. Another benefit of choosing an elongated diamond shape is that it creates a slimming effect to flatter the hand.
When an elongated diamond is set well, it can make one’s fingers look longer and thinner which makes them perfect choices for people with wide or shorter hands. For more info, check out this article here for a comprehensive guide to choosing a diamond ring for various finger/hand types.
A superb 6 prong solitaire ring with a super ideal cut diamond from White Flash.
Today, more than 70% of the world’s polished inventory is comprised of round brilliant cut diamonds. The reasons for its popularity can be boiled down to 2 simple things: its light performance and symmetrical outline.
As we’ve said earlier in the article, round cut diamonds have the best light performance when they are cut well. This sparkle factor is what makes a diamond ring breathtaking to look at and draws the viewer’s attention. The versatile round outline also allows jewelry designers to create complementary settings that look aesthetically pleasing.
After the round brilliant diamond, the most popular diamond cuts are the princess and oval. These shapes account for 15% and 11% respectively of the diamond engagement rings that are sold to consumers.
There are plenty of nuances and personal taste involved when it comes to selecting the best diamond cut. Regardless of their shapes, diamonds that are cut well will look lively and display a high level of light performance.
At the end of the day, only you can decide what is best for your needs. The ideal diamond shape is one that you like the most and look forward to wearing every day. Now, I would love to hear your thoughts. Do leave a comment below to let me know what your favorite shape is and why.
If you are still unsure about the best diamond cut for your engagement ring, I would advise you to go for a classic looking round brilliant cut diamond. Round diamonds are evergreen in popularity and the superior brilliance it has makes it a safe choice.
See exactly what you are buying when shopping at JamesAllen.com.
I’m not sure if I agree with the best diamond cuts for popularity. In China, the most common diamond cut is the round and this is followed by the heart cut diamond. Princess and oval diamonds don’t seem popular in Asian cities.
Yep. Thanks for leaving a comment. You are right in your observation. The Chinese have a strong liking to heart shape diamonds. When I made the statements above, it is generalized based on the global market and trends I see.