The Most Popular Diamonds Cuts

Sparkling diamonds

Diamonds occur naturally in their raw, uncut form. Cutting a diamond allows its true beauty to shine through. Read on to learn more about the different diamonds cuts. What sets them apart? How did they come to be? And what cuts are used in which kinds of jewelry?

If you’d like to learn more about what makes a good diamond, check out our guide on the 4Cs of diamonds!

Diamond Cutting: A Job for Master Craftsmen

Diamond is the world’s hardest naturally-occurring mineral. In fact, only special instruments coated in a diamond powder are able to saw, cut, and polish this special stone.

Humans began experimenting with different diamond cuts in the late 14th century. Since then, a wide variety of styles has developed. The success of any cut depends largely on the skill of the craftsman. Their job is to maximize each stone’s brilliance and size. The most popular modern cuts first appeared in the 20th century. They are the result of advanced technology that simply wasn’t available previously.

The craftsman’s first decision is whether a raw stone will simply be smoothed and polished or receive a full cut. While smoothing out a stone allows an unadulterated view of its interior, the real magic comes from faceted cuts. The cutter works with the utmost precision to perfectly align the facets so that light bounces off them just right, giving the diamond its unique sparkle.

The vast majority of diamonds receive a faceted cut. Explore some of the most iconic and popular cuts below.

different diamond cuts

The History of Diamond Cutting: From the Point to the Brilliant Cut

Diamond with point cut

While diamonds have been fascinating humans for tens of thousands of years, we’ve been limited to enjoying them in their raw form until rather recently. In fact, the first cuts didn’t appear until the late Middle Ages.

We’ll start with the point cut, which emerged in the mid-14th century. However, technically speaking, this is not a cut at all, but rather a raw stone polished to improve its brilliance. The first true cut came in the late 15th century with the table cut. Here, the craftsman saws off the two tips of the point cut diamond to form two flat surfaces, or tables.

As time went on, more and more facets began to emerge, leading to the modern cuts we know and love today. What’s more, the square girdle would evolve into an octagonal one. A diamond’s “girdle” refers to the edge that separates the gem’s upper and lower sections.

The advent of the rose cut in the mid-16th century marked a major milestone in the history of diamond cutting. This cut is characterized by a flat bottom and triangular facets radiating around the top. The resulting stone resembles a flat-topped pyramid.

The Mazarin cut entered the scene in the 17th century. Its 34 facets were rather crude and asymmetrical. However, over time, they would develop into something that resembles the modern brilliant cut.

Point cut sketches of top and bottom side

An Overview of Historical Diamond Cuts

Special details
  • Polished for more brilliance
Facets
  • First emerged in the 15th century 
  • Mazarin cut: 34 facets
Development
  • Origin: 14th century
  • Precursor to the modern brilliant cut
  • Point cut
  • Table cut
  • Rose cut
  • Marzarin cut

The Brilliant Cut: The Quintessential Diamond Cut

Diamond with brilliant cut

The brilliant, or “round brilliant,” cut is the most famous of all diamond cuts. Belgian mathematician Marcel Tolkowsky developed this cut in 1919. A brilliant-cut diamond has a crown topped by a table. There’s also a round girdle at the stone’s widest point. Below the girdle, you’ll find the pavilion, which tapers into a sharp point. Both the top and bottom feature symmetrical facets that perfectly reflect incoming light.

There are no standard proportions for the table, top, and bottom. The general rule is that the cut should be neither too shallow nor too deep, as this would have a detrimental effect on the stone’s brilliance and fire.

Americans still use Tolkowsky’s proportions as their standard, while many European countries stick to the standards of the Practical Fine cut, also known as the Eppler cut.

So, why do brilliant-cut diamonds sparkle so brightly? It all comes down to the many symmetrical facets cut into its surface. A modern brilliant cut will usually have 33 facets in its crown and 25 in its pavilion. Light is reflected from one facet to another before exiting through the stone’s surface. The result is a mesmerizing rainbow effect known as “fire.”

Brilliant-cut diamonds are a popular choice for rings, especially engagement rings. There’s nothing more classic than a shining diamond in a white gold setting.

Brilliant cut sketches top and bottom view

The Brilliant Cut in Review

Features
  • Intense brilliance
  • Optimal fire
Facets
  • At least 57 (58 including the culet) 
Development
  • Successor of the old European cut
  • Inventor: Marcel Tolkowsky
Other name
  •  Round brilliant cut

Hearts & Arrows: Perfectly Symmetrical

The hearts and arrows diamond cut is the rarest and most expensive brilliant cut. When viewed from above, you’ll find eight, perfectly symmetrical arrows radiating from the center of the diamond. If you flip the stone over, those arrows transform into eight hearts.

Japanese diamond cutter Takanori Tamuri discovered this exclusive cut in the 1980s. He realized that he could create diamonds with an arrow and heart pattern by paying particularly close attention to symmetry and proportion. Since this revelation, the hearts and arrows cut has moved far beyond Japan’s shores and enjoyed growing popularity worldwide.

Diamonds with this cut are much more expensive than similar stones with a different cut. This is due to the fact that producing one such diamond is much more labor and time-intensive than crafting a brilliant cut. The smallest miscalculation can completely destroy the hearts and arrows effect.

Hearts & Arrows cut sketches of top and bottom view

Interesting Facts: The Hearts & Arrows Cut

Features
  • Perfect symmetry
  • A pattern with eight hearts and eight arrows
  • Fantastic fire
Facets
  • 57
Development
  • Discovered by Takanori Tamura in the 1980s 
Other facts
  • The “hearts & arrows” name was patented in 1988 

The Oval Cut: An Elongated Brilliant Cut

Diamond with oval cut

Russian diamond cutter Lazare Kaplan introduced the modern oval cut in 1957. Like most round cuts, the oval cut is based on the brilliant cut. The main difference lies in the shape; while one is a circle, the other is an oval. One benefit of this elongated cut is that the diamond ends up looking larger than it actually is.

Gems with this cut have an oval table and 58 facets. Like the hearts and arrows cut, symmetry plays an integral role in the brilliance of an oval diamond. Irregular cuts result in a lopsided and much duller jewel.

The timeless oval cut is the perfect choice for anyone who wants something a little different without sacrificing the unique sparkle of the brilliant cut. Oval gems are especially popular in rings since they perfectly complement the shape of a finger.

Oval cut sketches of top and bottom view

An Overview of the Oval Cut

Features
  • Oval, symmetrical, rounded
  • High brillance
Facetten
  • At least 57
Entwicklung
  • Created by Lazare Kaplan in Russia in 1957 
Beliebte Verwendung
  • Rings

The Marquise Cut: A Royal Brilliant Cut

Diamond with marquise cut

The marquise cut is yet another variation of the brilliant cut. These stones have long bodies that taper into points at either end. Another common name for this variety is “navette” diamond, or “little ship,” a result of its boat-like shape.

The history of this cut began all the way back in mid-18th century France. The French ruler, King Louis XV, commissioned his jeweler to make him a diamond that resembled the smile of his mistress, Marquise Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, a.k.a. Madame de Pompadour. He then named the resulting shape the “marquise cut” in her honor.

This cut has the same facet layout as a round brilliant cut, allowing for fantastic brilliance and fire. While a length to width ratio of 2:1 is considered ideal, longer or squatter stones are also common.

An added benefit of this shape is that the gem ends up looking larger than diamonds with a different cut but the same carat weight. This is why a ring with a marquise-cut diamond appears to elongate the wearer’s finger. However, these stones are also a great choice for earrings and pendants. While less popular today, this cut had its heyday in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s.

Marquise cut sketches of top and bottom view

A Review of the Marquise Cut

Features
  • Unusual shape
  • Two pointed ends
  • High brilliance
Facets
  • Usually 56-58
Development
  • 18th-century France under King Louis XV 
Other names
  • Navette cut
Popular jewelry
  • Pendants
  • Earrings
  • Rings

The Pear Cut: A Blend of Other Cuts

Diamond with pear cut

With one round end and another that tapers to a fine tip, the pear cut gets its name from its resemblance to the popular fruit. This shape is sometimes also referred to as the teardrop or pendeloque (“pendulum”) cut.

The pear cut combines features from oval and marquise cuts. The result is a stone with jaw-dropping brilliance.

Belgian diamond cutter Lodewyk van Berquem created the first drop-shaped diamond in Bruges in the 15th century. Van Berquem also happens to be the inventor of the diamond polishing wheel, or scaif. Symbolic of “tears of joy,” the pear-cut diamond was extremely popular in the 1700s.

Like all cuts based on the brilliant cut, each pear diamond has 57 to 58 facets. These many facets cause the stone to sparkle beautifully, making pear diamonds highly coveted. Pear diamonds are an especially popular choice in earrings, though they also commonly feature on rings due to their flattering shape. Facing the pointed end toward the nail has a slimming effect on the finger.

Pear cut sketches of top and bottom view

Facts & Figures: The Pear Cut

Features
  • Unusual shape
  • one round and one pointed end
Facets
  • Usually 56-58
Development
  • Created by Lodewyk van Berquem in Bruges in the 1400s
Other names
  • Pendeloque cut
  • Teardrop cut
Popular jewelry
  • Earrings
  • Rings

The Heart Cut: Especially Romantic

Diamond with heart cut

Heart-cut diamonds are relatively uncommon. As the name implies, the stone is cut in the shape of a heart. While heart-shaped diamonds vary in size and proportion, they should all be perfectly symmetrical and have 56 to 58 facets.

Many consider a 15th-century letter from Galeazzo Maria Sforza, then the Duke of Milan, to Nicodemo the first mention of a true heart-cut diamond. However, it’s worth noting that triangular and drop-shaped stones were also often referred to as “heart-shaped” at the time.

Symbolic of love, heart-cut stones make a romantic gift as a pendant or engagement ring. Larger diamonds look especially refined with this cut.

Heart cut sketches of top and bottom view

The Heart Cut in Review

Features
  • Unique heart shape
  • Perfectly symmetrical
Facets
  • Usually 56-58
Development
  • 15th-century Milan, Galeazzo Maria Sforza 
Popular jewelry
  • Necklaces
  • Pendants
  • Rings

The Emerald Cut: The King of All Step Cuts

Diamonds with emerald cut

The emerald cut is extremely popular and belongs to the family of step cuts. It’s formed by shaping an octahedral stone into a rectangle with shaved corners. While the number of facets can vary, most gems have 57 smooth facets, 25 in the crown and 32 in the pavilion.

While it bears some similarities to the early table cut, the emerald cut’s true origins remain a mystery. Unsurprisingly, this cut was originally developed for emeralds. Today, you’ll find all kinds of stones in this cut. It results in a much lower level of brilliance and instead creates a hall-of-mirrors effect. Since the table allows such a large view inside the stone, this cut is only recommended for diamonds of extremely high quality.

Despite the lack of brilliance, this cut enjoys widespread popularity thanks to its magnificent, vintage charm. Many celebrities wear emerald-cut stones when they are going for a more elegant look. As with all elongated cuts, emerald-cut diamonds look great on rings since they lengthen the fingers.

The baguette cut is a close cousin of the emerald cut. It was developed specifically for women in 1925 and has since earned many admirers. This classic rectangular cut pairs a longer table with the flattened edges of the emerald cut. It’s most commonly used for side stones that accentuate a piece’s main stone.

Emerald cut sketches of top and bottom view

Important Facts: The Emerald Cut

Features
  • Elongated, shaved edges
  • Step cut
Facets
  • Usually 57
Development
  • Perhaps an evolution of the table cut
  • 20th century 
Similar cuts
  • Baguette cut
Popular jewelry
  • Rings

The Princess Cut: Square, Modern, and Stylish

Diamond with princess cut

The princess cut combines features of the brilliant and emerald cuts and is a popular choice for diamonds.

The table of the square-shaped crown is surrounded by triangular facets. Trapezoidal facets mark the transition between the crown and pavilion, where polished facets combine to form a four-pointed star.

While most princess-cut diamonds have 58 facets, there are also stones with as few as 50 and as many as 144 facets. Thanks to its pyramid-like shape and beveled edges, this cut disperses light especially well, leading to even more fire than other four-sided cuts.

Arpad Nagy developed what he called the “profile cut” in London in 1961; however, others referred to it as the princess cut. The modern princess cut wouldn’t emerge until 1980 when Betazel Abram and Israel Itzkowitz created their own diamond cut.

The barion cut is another precursor to the modern princess cut. It was invented by Basil Watermeyer in South Africa in 1971. The term “barion” is a combination of Watermeyer’s first name and that of his wife, Marion.

Princess-cut diamonds are mostly found in earrings and solitaire engagement rings. These elegant stones exude a sense of high class.

Princess cut sketches of top and bottom view

In Summary: The Princess Cut

Features
  • Modern, square shape
  • The most intense fire of all rectangular cuts
Facets
  • Usually 58 or 76
Development
  • London, 1961: Arpad Nagy
  • Johannesburg, 1971: Basil Watermeyer
Related cuts
  • Profile cut
  • Barion cut
  • Quadrillion cut
Popular jewelry
  • Earrings
  • Engagement rings

The Radiant Cut – a unique hybrid cut

Diamond with radiant cut

The radiant cut is considered a hybrid cut, meaning it combines features of both brilliant and step cuts. It’s defined by a rectangular or square table and flattened edges.

Henry Grossbard redefined square and rectangular diamonds in 1977. He was the first person to create diamonds with elegant step cuts that were as brilliant as their counterparts with triangular facets.

Most radiant-cut stones have 70 facets, though there are also variations with 66 facets. This increased number of polished surfaces enhances the diamond’s colorful sparkle.

Another important factor is the length-width ratio. If you’d prefer a square stone, that ratio should be between 1.00 and 1.05. On the other hand, high-quality rectangular diamonds with a radiant cut will have a ratio over 1.10.

The radiant cut is a popular choice for all kinds of jewelry, especially if you’re looking for something slightly different. Our tip: This cut looks best surrounded by sparkling side stones.

Radiant cut sketches of top and bottom

An Overview of the Radiant Cut

Features
  • Square or rectangular, with flattened corners
  • A brilliant step cut
Facets
  • Usually 70
Development
  • 1977: Henry Grossbard
Popular jewelry
  • All types
  • Engagement rings

The Trilliant Cut: Beautiful Extravagance

Diamond with trilliant cut

The trilliant, or trillion, cut stands out with its unusual, triangular shape. This cut features 31 or 50 facets, depending on whether it’s a main or side stone.

Even though the trilliant cut was developed in Amsterdam, the Henry Meyer Diamond Company of New York later trademarked a modern version in 1962. That patent has since expired, and all triangular brilliant-cut diamonds are now considered trilliant diamonds.

Stones with this cut boast breathtaking fire and stunning brilliance, making them the perfect choice as a main or side stone on an engagement ring.

Trilliant cut sketches of top and bottom

An Overview of the Trilliant Cut

Features
  • Triangular
  • Intense fire and brilliance
Facets
  • 31 or 50
Development
  • Originally created in Amsterdam
  • New York, 1962: Patented by the Henry Meyer Diamond Company 
Other names
  • Trillion cut
Popular jewelry
  • Engagement rings

The Asscher Cut: Distinctive Elegance

Diamond with asscher cut

An Asscher-cut diamond appears square from above and has cropped corners. It’s so similar to the emerald cut that some people even refer to it as the “square emerald cut.”

The Asscher is the most brilliant of all step cuts. It has a high crown, small table, soft edges, and exceptional depth. This results in what appears to be a series of concentric squares when looking through the table. The traditional Asscher cut has 50 or 58 facets, while the royal Asscher cut has 74.

This cut gets its name from its creator, Joseph Asscher of the Asscher Brothers diamond cutting company in Amsterdam. Asscher developed the cut in the 1920s at the peak of the Art Deco movement. His original cut had a three-step crown and seven-step pavilion. The modern Asscher cut has evolved to have fewer steps in its pavilion and is as popular as ever.

If you’re looking for an exclusive cut with a unique charm, the Asscher cut is a great choice.

Asscher cut sketches of top and bottom view

Facts & Figures: The Asscher Cut

Features
  • Square with cropped corners
  • Intense fire and brilliance
Facets
  • 50 or 58 (Royal Asscher: 74)
Development
  • 20th century: Joseph Asscher
  • 21st century: Many modifications
Other names
  • Square emerald cut

The Cushion Cut: Breathtaking Sparkle

Diamond with cushion cut

Cushion-cut stones are either square or rectangular and have cropped corners. As the name implies, this cut resembles a pillow or cushion. This cut is sometimes referred to as the candlelight cut since these stones sparkle especially brightly under candlelight.

The cushion cut, formerly known as the old mine cut, results in a less brilliant jewel than a round cut. However, its 58 facets are larger and, therefore, disperse more light. This results in a fascinating rainbow of color that makes the cushion cut one of the most brilliant step cuts.

The cushion cut made its debut in the 19th century. It has since undergone a few changes. Even so, cushion-cut stones still have an antique charm and are growing in popularity.

This elegant and luxurious style is perfect for anyone who prefers classic lines over more playful shapes.

Celebrities like Jennifer Aniston and Anne Hathaway both have engagement rings with a cushion-cut diamond. Lady Gaga also wore a cushion-cut jewel to the 2019 Academy Awards. At 128.54 carats, it is the world’s largest cut yellow diamond.

Cushion cut sketches of top and bottom

Interesting Facts: The Cushion Cut

Features
  • Pillow-like, square or rectangular
  • A colorful sparkle
Facets
  • Usually 58
Development
  • Origin: 19th century
Other names
  • Candlelight cut
  • Old mine cut

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