Diamonds - Shape of Things
you are asked to picture a diamond in your mind, what
does it look like? If you're like the great majority of
people, you will envision a round, brilliant gem covered
with sparkling facets. But be aware that while the round
brilliant is far and away the most popular diamond shape,
it is by no means the only one!
In addition to the round brilliant cut, you can choose
a pear, oval, emerald-cut, marquise, princess or heart-shaped
stone. All have the same fiery sparkle, but each is shaped
and faceted in a different way.
Ideally, a diamond is formed in the earth as a twelve-sided,
octahedron crystal, but because they are found in nature,
diamond crystal formations will differ from stone to stone.
The final shape of a diamond will be determined by the
shape of the rough crystal. The cutter's goal is to produce
a diamond with the greatest size, minimum flaws and maximum
The Kindest Cut The round brilliant cut, which
accounts for more than 75% of all the diamonds sold today,
is based on an exact formula of mathematical proportions:
It has 58 facets divided among the crown (top), the girdle
(widest part) and the pavilion (base) of the stone. This
precise formula was developed more than 75 years ago by
master gem cutter Marcel Tolkowsky. The 58-facet cut,
believed to provide the most fire, brilliance and beauty,
has become a standard for all diamond cutting since its
Other popular diamond shapes, such as ovals, marquises
and pears, are actually variations on the brilliant cut.
Most often, they are used for rough stones that are not
suited to a round shape. All are cut for maximum fire
and brilliance, but the shapes of the facets will differ
for each cut.
Specifically, the oval is an elliptical shape with 56
facets. When buying an oval-shaped diamond, look for a
stone with an even, perfectly symmetrical design. The
elegant marquise cut, according to legend, got its name
from the Marquise de Pompadour's smile. It seems the Sun
King was so enamoured with the shape of the Marquise's
mouth, he ordered a diamond to be cut in that form. The
elongated shape, with its pointed ends, looks beautiful
as either a solitaire or embellished with smaller diamonds
at the sides. The pear, actually a combination of the
oval and the marquise, is shaped like a sparkling teardrop.
While a pear shape diamond can be styled into a beautiful
ring, it is most often chosen for a pendant or earrings.
Show Your Hand
Any of these shapes are a good choice for a woman who
likes a classic look but wants something a little less
traditional than the round brilliant. Oval, marquise and
pear shapes are also popular styles for a woman with a
small hand or short fingers, because the diamond's elongated
shape will give her hand the illusion of length. Many
times, designers will advise choosing a ring with a vertical
or diagonal design that will be most flattering to a hand
with short or average-length fingers.
For the true romantic, however, nothing could be more
perfect than a heart shape, signifying love and romance.
This cut is simply a pear shape with a cleft at the top.
Heart-shaped cuts differ according to the skill of the
cutter. Look for a stone with an even shape and a well-defined
For emerald and princess-cut stones, the diamond is given
what is known as a step cut. The emerald cut, a rectangular
shape with cut corners, has broad, flat planes resembling
the steps of a stair. When buying an emerald-cut diamond,
look for a stone with good clarity and color, as inclusions
and poor color are more evident in this shape.
The princess cut, a square with many sparkling facets,
is one of the newest choices for a solitaire engagement
ring, and is especially flattering to a hand with long
fingers. Many times, a ring with a princess-cut center
stone will be embellished with triangular stones at the
Taking Your Fancy
Finally, for those who want something really different,
recent advances in cutting technology have produced a
breathtaking range of innovative new shapes such as flowers,
cloverleafs, stars, triangles, kites and all manner of
fancies. Some of the new designs are variations on standard
shapes, aimed at creating the illusion of a bigger, more
perfect stone, others play with the natural rough crystal
formation of a diamond and still others are fashioned
into a revolutionary new shape.
The important fact to remember is this ever-widening choice
of shapes and designs is being created to suit a variety
of individual styles and tastes. No one cut is more beautiful
than another. The magic of nature and the artistry of
the diamond cutter combine to make each diamond a unique
work of art.