Brilliant Tips: How to Choose a Diamond Shape

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Photo Credits: (from top left) Atlas Wedding Photography, Caroline Ghetes Photography, Picture This Photography, (second row), Jennifer Skog, Laurie Bailey Photography, Carlos Andres Varela Photography, (third row), Nicole Hill Gerulat, Kristin Kasperek Photography, Jeff Greenough, (fourth row) Anika London, VUE Photography, Miguel Pola Photographers.

Brilliant Tips: How to Choose a Diamond Shape

Do you know your Asschers from your cushions? There are 10 basic diamond shapes to choose from, including round, princess, emerald, Asscher, cushion, radiant, pear, oval, marquise, and heart.  Read on to find out which shape is what and to see which shape fits your or your girl'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, etc.), while the cut is the diamond's facets and proportions -- the things that give diamonds their brilliance and fire.

Round = Classic Girl
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 good in more elaborate styles. In a nutshell, a well-set round diamond will give you the most sparkle for your buck.

Famous Classic Girls
Football Giant Jason Sehorn famously and publicly (recall the proposal on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno?) presented actress Angie Harmon with a fittingly giant round solitaire. Funny Girl Barbra Streisand also said "yes" to a round diamond when actor James Brolin presented her with a one-carat round stone. Soulful songstress Mary J. Blige fell for a five-carat round diamond, surrounded by a row of baguettes, all held firmly in a platinum band. Guy Ritchie popped the question to pop diva Madonna with an Edwardian-style ring with five carats worth of round diamonds.

Princess = Trendy Girl
The year was 1961, London was swinging, and jewelry designer Arpad Nagy was inventing the princess -- a square-cut diamond with an array of intricate facets (anywhere from 49 to 144, depending on the diamond's size). Ever since, trend-setting 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 as the choice of fashionistas and trendsetters from coast to coast. 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 Trendy Girls
Hollywood hottie Kevin Costner wowed his bride Christine Baumgartner with this relatively new princess shape. She said 'I do' to the five-carat square diamond with interwoven bands fashioned in a leaf pattern – a nod to their love of nature (they ended up marrying outdoors).

Emerald= Glamour Girl
If you're an ice queen, this is your diamond. And by ice, we mean gorgeous clear diamond. A rectangular cut with long, lean facets extending down the sides, it's this shape's 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 Glamour Girls
Though brief, while engaged to Paris Lastis, Paris Hilton sported a 24-carat emerald-cut diamond ring. Elizabeth Taylor, when engaged to her third husband, Michael Todd, wore a nearly 30-carat emerald-cut diamond. Prince Rainier of Monaco gave glamorous Grace Kelly a 12-carat emerald-cut diamond engagement ring when he proposed marriage.

Asscher = Vintage Girl
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 is 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 cut, the princess, which has a broader surface and sharp, angular corners). Created in 1902 by the Asscher brothers of Amsterdam, Holland, this shape was popular through the 1930s and has recently come back into style with fashion's current obsession with antique and vintage styles.

Famous Vintage Girls
Reese Witherspoon was given a four-and-a-half-carat Asscher-cut diamond set in a 1920s art deco style from former hubby Ryan Phillippe. Rocker Chris Robinson rocked his leading lady's world when he gave Kate Hudson a five-carat Asscher-cut diamond in an art deco mounting.

Cushion = Romantic Girl
In all things in life, she expects only the best – which is why she chose you after all. So for the girl who always knows what she wants, it's probably the fashionable and 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 Romantic Girls
Famous fingers romancing this stone include sweetheart Ashley Judd, whose race-car-driving heartthrob, Dario Franchitti, presented her with an antique cushion-cut diamond in a pavé setting, and Brooke Shields, who sports hubby Chris Henchy's symbol of undying love, a cushion cut.

Marquise = Drama Queen Girl
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 Drama Queen Girls
No lady in waiting, Catherine Zeta-Jones proudly wears Michael Douglas' symbol of love, a grand 10-carat marquise. Posh popster Victoria Beckham also flaunts this shape, a three-carat marquise, accented with a trillion on each side, from soccer star David Beckham.

Oval = Innovative/Creative Girl
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 Innovative/Creative Girls
Drummer Keri Lewis also wooed his songbird Toni Braxton with an oval ode to love -- the four-and-a-half-carat ring features an oval center stone, with heart-shaped accents on each side.

Pear = Unique Girl
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 check 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 is not usually set with elaborate accent stones.

Famous Unique Girls
Before their much-publicized split, Liza Minnelli touted a pear-shaped three-and-a-half-carat diamond from David Gest.

Radiant = Diva Girl
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 Diva Girls
Only fitting that the former king and queen of the glitterati, Bennifer, should have this glittering shape.  When Bennifer was in full bloom and pink diamonds were all the rage, Jennifer Lopez showed she was Jenny from the block in a six-carat radiant pink diamond from beau Ben Affleck.

Heart = Sentimental Girl
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 cut. Since it can be difficult to execute, be sure to thoroughly examine this diamond for hidden flaws before you choose to make it your heart.

Famous Sentimental Girls
Queen of romance and all things sentimental, Dynasty diva Joan Collins sports a heart-shaped diamond in a 19th-centurty setting of her fourth finger from her latest hubs, Percy Gibson.


See More: Engagements , Wedding Style