oval modified brilliant cut diamondThe oval brilliant cut is one of the more recent cuts introduced to the diamond industry and had since gained a great deal of popularity with the ladies. 

In a market that is overshadowed by the influx of round diamonds, the oval shape offers a refreshing alternative to people who want break away from the usual trends. With its elongated shape, ovals exuberate an air of elegance that no other shapes possess.

One of the key advantages of selecting an oval diamond is that it can flatter the fingers by making them appear longer and slimmer. For women with smaller sized hands or shorter fingers, it is the perfect complement to your jewelry needs.

Now, I’ll walk you through the complete process of selecting an oval cut diamond and show you the things you need to keep an eye on.

A Brief History of the Oval Brilliant Cut

The oval cut was conceived by a Russian man named Lazare Kaplan. He was an expert cleaver who specialized in odd shaped rough diamonds that were extremely difficult to work with. In his hands, these rough crystals could be turned into beautiful gems that could fetch higher prices.

Besides his diamond cutting skills, Lazare Kaplan was also an inventor and patented the laser inscription process as well as HPHT treatment process. Due to his contributions to the trade, he went down in history as one of the most important cutters of all time and was honored in the Jewelers International Hall of Fame. Till date, his legacy still remains with a brand of diamonds that were named after him.


The oval cut typically consists of 56 facets and has an ideal length to width ratio of 1.33 (L/W). Due to the oval brilliant’s unique shape, many people had also term them as “squashed round brilliants” – which takes its name after how a round brilliant diamond would look if it was squashed.

In real life diamond cutting processes, the diameter of different stones depends on how the cutter decides to work with the rough. As a result, the depth to diameter ratio will vary from one diamond to another which results in unique appearances.

length to width ratios of oval cut diamond

For an oval diamond to produce maximum brilliance while minimizing the bow tie effect, a depth percentage between 62% – 66% is recommended. Ovals with depths that fall below 60% usually have low pavilion angles which can cause prominent bow-ties to form.

When the diamond is cut to deep proportions (depth of more than 68%), the bow tie effect is reduced significantly. However, the optical performance of the diamond is also adversely affected. This results in a diamond that is usually dull and take on a darker appearance.

Recommended Proportions for Oval Cut Brilliant Diamonds

Excellent Very Good Good Fair/Poor
Table % 54% – 58% 52% – 60% 51% – 64% Outside Ranges
Depth % 62% – 66% 60% – 68% 56% – 70% Outside Ranges
Polish/Symmetry Excellent – Very Good Good Outside Ranges
Length to Width 1.30 – 1.35 1.25 – 1.29
1.36 – 1.40
1.20 – 1.24
1.41 – 1.45
Outside Ranges
Girdle Thickness Thin – Slightly Thick V. Thin – Thick Outside Ranges
Culet Size None Very Small Small Outside Ranges

* Note: The recommended proportions for oval cut diamonds should be used as a reference only. It is designed to help you eliminate poorly cut stones and narrow down your choices. Subjective observations for personal tastes and tangible light performance data like ASET images should always take higher precedence.

Browse through 700+ amazing oval cut diamonds using 360° videos at James Allen today!

Examples of Oval Diamonds With Different Outlines And Shape Appeal

Buying fancy cuts without seeing the diamond is a mistake many consumers make at places like Bluenile. This is because most oval diamonds are cut to dismal proportions and it is very easy for the uneducated customer to make a bad purchase.

Below are some examples that show diamonds with poor outlines when they aren’t cut properly and sadly, these kinds of “oval” diamonds are common sights in the market.

example of poor oval diamond cut proportions and symmetry

Seriously, do the diamonds look oval to you? They take on an elliptical appearance instead.

oval diamond with 2 unbalanced sides

The uneven bellies are a result of poor symmetry and looks plain awful.

NEVER Commit the Same Mistakes Others Make

As you can see, buying fancy shapes based solely on a grading report isn’t a wise thing to do. I need to stress the importance of working with a jeweler (e.g. James Allen) who is able to provide magnified images/videos for your examination. On top of that, you need someone who is able to provide tangible light performance information to help you make an educated purchase decision.

d color if clarity 1 carat oval brilliant
i1 oval badly proportioned

You want to buy brilliant looking stones (left) and avoid the majority of ghastly ones (right).

Like some other fancy cuts, oval diamonds have an intrinsic bowtie effect that can be seen from a face up view. This is an attribute you need to be careful with during your selection process. On the following page, we will delve deeper into this…

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  1. Avatar
    Kenedy Ssemuyaba-
    June 22, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    Dear Sir/ Madam,
    A friend in Africa has 3 blue diamonds but they seem a bit rare according to the blue diamond stones. I would like to send you some photos of the diamonds so you can tell me if they are some of those you would buy if i transported them and how much the pricing for them. Too bad i do not have where to attach the photos here

  2. Avatar
    September 29, 2016 at 9:31 am

    Dear Paul,

    Your website is the best website on the internet with respect to diamonds, it’s unparalleled. I can’t believe I almost bought an engagement ring for my girlfriend before reading all of this useful information.

    After reviewing your website, going to jewelry stores to check the engagement rings (Cartier, Tiffany’s, etc) and visiting jamesallen.com, I think I have found a good diamond.


    This one has a 54% table, 63.70% depth, and very good symmetry. The only problem is that the girdle is thick-very thick.

    Also, even though it has only VS2 clarity, i think it looks good.

    Could you please let me know what do you think.



  3. Avatar
    August 30, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    Hi Paul,

    I’m curious to know more about your thoughts on depth % in the oval cut. Most general guidelines say 58-62% for an excellent cut whereas you’re recommending 62-64%. Generally I trust your very informed recommendations but this part confuses me now in my search for the perfectly cut oval diamond :)

    All the best,


  4. Avatar
    August 30, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    …of course I meant to write you recommend 62-66% as per the table above…

  5. Avatar
    Paul Gian-
    August 31, 2017 at 5:46 am

    Don’t get hung up by numbers. I have specifically stated that very clearly in my write up below the proportions table. What matters most is getting a video and an ASET to help you decipher shape appeal and performance.

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