Diamonds have been adored for centuries, even in their natural, rough state. The hardest material in the world holds immense appeal. Their increasing scarcity render them a very smart investment too. But which diamond shape will ensure your diamond truly comes into its own? We have compiled a comprehensive guide of all the diamond shapes and their unique attributes.

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The history of diamond cutting

India is purported to be the first country where diamonds were purposefully mined for trade. A 4th century B.C. document, the Artha Castra, specified taxes on gemstones. Indeed, until 1730 India was the only country to export diamonds. The raw material was subsequently also mined in, among other places, Brazil and South Africa.

The oldest reference to diamond may derive from India, but diamond cutting was pioneered in Europe. A diamond cutting guild was established in Nürnberg, Germany in 1357. These diamond cutters concentrated on cut specifications, on how a rough gemstone was to be cut. The first to be cut was the table of the diamond, to consequently be set into jewellery pieces.

But, the real forefathers of beautifully cut diamonds as we know and love them today, were the Belgians. In 1456 Bruges-based, Lodewijk van Bercken, kickstarted the modern-day diamond cutting process. He discovered that diamonds are best cut using their owndiamond dust. You see, other materials simply aren’t capable of cutting the hardest material in the world.

As such, Bruges became the diamond capital of the world, until port trade in the 16th century superseded it. After this, Antwerp became the diamond capital. To this day the city upholds its global reputation with pride. In the 17th century, one of its inhabitants, Marcel Tolkowsky, made the city worthy of its name:  he devised a scientific formula to be the firstto cut a diamond in 58 facets, known today as the round brilliant cut .

The various diamond shapes

Using their years of skilled experience, diamond cutters transform a rough stone into a lustrous diamond. To begin with, only the uppermost facet, the table, was cut. Gradually, facetted cutting began to take hold, which resulted in the precursor of the emerald cut. The cutting process was ultimately honed to such a degree that women could flaunt diamonds with a round, or even heart-shaped, cut.
New diamond shapes are continually being devised. The most popular diamond shapes are:


  1. The brilliant
  2. The round cut
  3. The princess cut.


BAUNAT ring with a brilliant cut diamond

The brilliant

The most popular diamond cut is the brilliant. A staggering 95% of all diamonds are cut into a brilliant. This cut underwent  quite some changes before it acquired its final shape in 1919. The 57 or 58 facets add intense scintillation and considerable fire, making this the mostlustrous of diamond shapes.

If you can picture your beloved pulling out a  gold ring with a brilliant when popping the question, then your style is timeless and elegant with a traditional twist.

View this ring here

BAUNAT princess cut diamond ring

The princess cut

The third most popular diamond shape is the romantic princess cut, also known as the square version of the brilliant. This shape scintillates beautifully too.

Diamond cutters are rather keen on this diamond cut, as a staggering 80-90% of the gemstone can be retained. That’s a significant amount, given that on average with other cuts retention equates to around 50%.

This diamond cut is ideal for women who like a touch of the traditional in their jewellery, whilst looking to attain a modern, distinctive style.

View this ring here

Close-up of an emerald cut diamond  - BAUNAT

The emerald cut

When you hear ‘emerald’ you’ll most likely think of the green gemstone. But ‘emerald cut’ is also a geometrical diamond cut. Yet, there is a link nonetheless: the shape was initially used for the coloured gemstones, and only used for diamonds later on.

The square diamond shape has rounded corners, and a rounded pavilion, by contrast to the sharper angles of the princess cut. The shape is also known as the ‘step cut’ because the large open facets bring to mind stair treads.

This diamond cut is ideal for women who love glamour in their lives, and who would call themselves daring. This diamond is also popular as it has a vintageappearance, with a nod to the Art Deco style of the 1920s and 30s.
Heart-shaped cut diamond - BAUNAT - Heart-shaped cut diamond - BAUNAT

The heart shape

A heart is the ultimatesymbol of love. As such, this diamond shape is a popular Valentine’s or Mother’s Day gift, scintillating beautifully in a ring or pendant.

The heart shape is sometimes compared to two pear-shaped diamonds. The heart’s two curves have to be cut in perfect symmetry in order to create scintillation. A skill that only the most experienced cutters have mastered.

The shape makes for a superromantic proposal. If your partner loves a touch of romance and is driven by her emotions in your relationship, give her a heart-shaped engagement ring.
Asscher cut diamond - BAUNAT

The Asscher cut

The Asscher is a square diamond shape that in terms of style lies somewhere between the step emerald and the square cushion with rounded corners. The specific dimensions ensure significantfire and scintillation. Simultaneously, the table is very flat, meaning inclusions or flaws will be a little more noticeable. A VS2 diamond is recommended for this type of diamond cut.  


This shape was particularly popular in the 1920s, making it the perfect choice for women who love a touch of Art Deco in their jewellery, but who also wish to draw attention to a diamond cut that is a little rarer nowadays.
Ring with cushion cut central diamond - BAUNAT

The cushion cut

The cushion diamond has a rounded square shape, and as the name suggests, looks like a cushion. This cut is available in different length to width ratios; from a symmetrical 1:1 square to a more rectangular 1:3 diamond. The stone is cut into large facets meaning it lets significant light through.

The cushion cut diamond exudes regalelegance. Many Hollywood stars have been proposed to with a cushion cut diamond engagement ring. This cut is perfect for women who adore the well-groomed, gracious look.

View this ring close-up

Engagement ring with a radiant cut diamond and triangle diamonds - BAUNAT

The radiant cut

A radiant cut diamond has a square or rectangular shape with slightly rounded corners. The cut makes the diamond appearbigger than it actually is; it follows the clean lines of an emerald cut and scintillates nearly as much as a brilliant.  
 

To ensure all attributes come fully to the fore, diamonds are designated a colour rating of H, G or higher. The scintillation emphasises the colour and clarity, so you’ll need a qualitative gemstone as the centrepiece. Coloured diamonds are also eminently suitable to be cut into a radiant.

This shape is perfect for women who like toflaunt scintillating jewellery, and who are self-assured and vivacious.
BAUNAT earrings with oval cut diamonds

The oval cut

The oval diamond can be described as a combination of a round and pear-shaped diamond. The oval diamond was designed as recently as 1960.  One of the best-known oval gemstones is the Pink Star, the most expensive diamond in the world, which was sold at auction for an eye-watering amount of 70 million dollars.

The oval cut on a diamond ring is perfect for women with small hands. Its long shape and scintillation help make the fingers appear longer. The symmetrical gemstone expresses the wearer’s creative and innovative character.

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Yellow gold earrings with marquise diamonds - BAUNAT

The marquise

The marquise diamond cut is a long, thin diamond with pointed ends. The shape was created at the behest of the French king, Louis XV. The gemstone was to look like his mistress’ lips, the marquise of Pompadour, which, of course, explains the name. The marquise shape is more popular with coloured gemstones than colourless diamonds.

Women who wear a marquise cut ring are elegant and social. Moreover, its shape slims the fingers.

View these entourage earrings

BAUNAT necklace with pear-shaped diamond pendant

The pear-shaped diamond

Just as the marquise, the pear-shaped diamond is long, but has just a single pointed base. A few synonyms are the pendeloque, tear or raindrop diamond.

According to the diamond trade, the pointed end must point towards the fingertips. In this way you can make your fingers seem longer and thinner. The pear-shaped diamond looks stunning in a pendant or pair of earrings, when the tear ‘hangs’ (so is attached to the chain at the pointed end).

This diamond shape is popular among women who aren’t looking for a run of the mill diamond, who like to do their own spontaneous thing. This shape is also hugely popular set in a pair of earrings, as they suit all face shapes.

View this pendant here

Emerald in a cabochon cut - BAUNAT

The cabochon

Cabochon is a relatively traditional cutting technique whereby the gemstone is polished at the top into a beautifully smooth rounded surface. Thus giving the jewellery an exceptionally timeless, vintagelook. Depending on your personal taste, you can have the dome made higher, rounder or flatter.  

Cabochons are often used with coloured  gemstones as the technique emphasises the colour. But the cabochon shape is also frequently used with fragile gemstones as this is safer for the stone itself.

A cabochon is easy to combine with a range of jewellery, and can create both a designer or vintage look.
Ring with baguette diamonds - BAUNAT

The baguette

The baguette diamond is long and square in shape and is cut with 14 facets. The cut derives its name from French bread, which with a little imagination, it brings to mind.

In particular, this cut emphasises the diamond’s clarity over its scintillation. This is why it is often used for side stones rather than a solitaire, central diamond.

View this ring with baguette diamonds close-up

Close-up of a trilliant cut diamond - BAUNAT

The trilliant

the brilliant and is cut into three equal length sides. Likewise, this was designed to maximise yield during the cutting process of the 50 facets.

The sides of the diamond are often a little rounded in order to create a softer look.  The trilliant is hardly ever used as a solitaire diamond, rather more as a side stone

The cutting process, cut quality and diamond shape differences explained

The diamond’s shape or cut refers to how the gemstone looks. The shape names can be confusing as the word ‘cut’ (emerald cut, marquise cut, cushion cut…)  is often used in combination with a shape. It’s not the heart or oval shape itself though that ensures higher value, but rather the cut quality, and so the scintillation that appears when light shines beautifully through the pure gemstone.

The cutting process or cut is extremely important with an exclusive solitaire ring, where a single diamond forms the centrepiece. The diamond must be cut to a high calibre to ensure optimum scintillation. The cutting process actually entails 3 concepts that cutters must be mindful of:  optimal size (with minimal carat loss as possible), perfect symmetry and good polishing.

The cut quality is then remeasured based on three factors that must be perfectly attuned, in order to ensure that as much light is allowed through as possible. We explain the 3 elements here for you:

  1. Brilliance: the reflection of the white light on the surface as well as in the diamond.
  2. Fire: the flashes of colour caused by the light refracting in the diamond.
  3. Scintillation: light and dark flashes when the diamond moves.

Woman holds a diamond ring above a certificate - BAUNAT

The quality of the diamond shape

Once the diamond has been given its desired cut in the workshop, a gemmological laboratory assesses the stone. First, the diamond is assessed by experts using special

anti-vibration technology and extremely high magnification. The experts are looking to accurately determine the classification and potential value.
Once the quality has been approved for introduction onto the market, an evaluationreport is drawn up. Only cut diamonds with a certificate can be manipulated into pieces of jewellery or be put on sale as an investment diamond. With such a certificate the jewellery or gemstone can be sold on in good faith. Should the standard quality criteria not be met, the cutter has to facet and polish the diamond again.

Both the cut and the characteristics and qualitative attributes of the stones are summarised on the accompanying certificate. It is an impartial evaluation that ensures procurement of diamonds and diamond jewellery in good faith. It states the value as transparently as possible. To this end, standard terminology is used. To help you understand your certificate better, we have started by explaining thecut qualitygrading of the diamond.

  • Triple Excellent: reflects the maximum amount of light
  • Excellent: reflects nearly all the light falling on the diamond
  • Very Good: reflects about just as much light as one with an ideal cut quality, but is cheaper
  • Good: reflects sufficient light
  • Fair: a reasonable diamond
  • Poor: reflects a small amount of light

The ratio of the diamond shape

The dimensions or size of diamonds is expressed in length-to-width ratio, and cover the top view of the gemstone. By dividing the length by the width, you attain the ratio that is expressed in 2 numbers. This clarifies how square, long and/or wide the gemstone has been cut. Thus, a 1:1 diamond is fully square or round.

Some diamond shapes have ratio guidelines. For example, the standard ratio for a marquise will lie between the 1.70:1 (a ‘wide’ marquise) and 2.50:1 (a ‘long and thin’ marquise). A cushion cut diamond starts at 1.15:1 for the square design and an emerald lies between the 1.25:1 and 1.5:1. Despite this, the perfect ratio and diamond do not exist. Meaning you are always able to state your preference and personal wishes. The only caveat is the diamond must be cut well, focusing on light absorption and scintillation.
Diagram depicting the various diamond shapes - BAUNAT

The symmetry of the diamond shape

Beside the 4C’s, symmetry is an attribute that can also impact the value of your diamond. The symmetry refers to the facets. For example, the culet must be in the middle of the table, the surfaces must be cut to equal size and the diamond’s facets must be similarly shaped.

A culet is the point at the base of a gemstone, that is either polished or not, to create an extra facet. Vital is that this is cut by a craftsman as this will ensure the degree of light to be let through. A culet is often cut into a point, to make the diamond sturdier.

The importance of symmetry in terms of a diamond’s value varies in line with its style and cut. With a heart or pear-shaped cut it is trickier to attain a fully symmetrical cut.
Diamond experts examine these small details in order to grade the diamond’s symmetry, ranging from poor to excellent:


  • Poor (substandard) : blemishes discernible with the naked eye.
  • Fair (acceptable) : blemishes are discernible with a 10x magnifier and sometimes with the naked eye.
  • Good (good) : blemishes hardly discernible with a 10x magnifier.
  • Very good (very good) : blemishes are really hard to discern with a 10x magnifier.
  • Excellent (perfect) : no discernible blemishes with a 10x magnifier.



A brilliant graded as ‘excellent’ can potentially be 15% more valuable than one a category below it. Symmetry is vitally important with round diamonds with a clarity of VVS2 upwards. Discernible blemishes would tarnish the clarity of a pure gemstone. Besides its higher value, a symmetrical diamond reflects light better. That yields an opulent look&feel to your ring or your diamond studs.

What other factors determine diamond quality and value?

A diamond’s key attributes are clarity, colour, carat and cut. These are also known as the 4 C's. Clarity and colour arise during the shaping of the diamond under the earth’s crust. Carat or weight depends on its size. It cut is the only factor that can be wholly determined by man, based on the right cut for the diamond in question.

As the cutting substantially impacts value, it is crucial to leave this to the experts. As such, a slightly less valuable diamond, such as an impure yellow-coloured stone, can still scintillate despite a modified shape. In turn, a poorly cut pure and colourless diamond, will drop considerably in value.
Jeweller busy crafting diamond jewellery - BAUNAT

The diamond cutting process

A rough mined diamond looks like dusty stone, so doesn’t gleam at all. By cutting the gemstone into a particular shape, a scintillating diamond forms that can be crafted into a piece of jewellery. Did you know that scintillation and shape are actually irrevocably linked?

The more facets that are cut, the more light that can shine through the gemstone, so the more it scintillates.
A ring prototype is drawn - BAUNAT

Planning

Every decision made before, during and after the cutting process impacts the diamond’s ultimate value. The cutting is always undertaken by an experienced cutter who utilises expertise, specialist equipment and professional tools. There are even specialist jeweller/goldsmith courses that can be followed to truly get to grips with the trade.  

The initial planning stage is the most time-intensive. The preparation phase can sometimes last up to a year, before even a single change is made to the rough gemstone. That process begins by examining the internal attributes.
The craftsman must decide which cut the diamond shall be given. This factor not only impacts the jewellery’s appearance and scintillation, but also its value. They must bear in mind maximumweight retention as the cutting process can, in some instances, result in a 50% loss in carat weight. Indeed, the final carat weight exponentially determines the value and price.

Cleaving and sawing

Once the most valuable diamond cut has been determined, the cutter meticulously cleaves the gemstone using a mechanical saw or laser. Even though diamond is the hardest material in the world, it is not the strongest. The stone can crumble upon hard impact on the wrong fracture line. The ideal fracture line will have been ascertained and verified during the planning phase.

 

Ideally, a diamond on a ring should have as few flaws as possible to increase the value of the ring. These flaws could also mean the gemstone crumbles during the final cutting process. This is why these weaker points are identified and removed as much as possible from a rough diamond. Furthermore, the purpose of cleaving is also to retain as many diamond carats from the rough gemstone as possible.

Girdling and bruting

Once the rough diamond has been cleaved, a round shape is created during the bruting process. This creates the diamond’s girdle , making it easier to facet the gemstone.
Instruments used to cut diamonds - BAUNAT
There are several ways to set this process in motion: two diamonds can be ground against one another in opposing directions, either manually or mechanically, or a laser can undertake the precision work. It is during this phase that the rough diamond becomes recognisable as the gemstone that you will see gleaming on a ring.
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