Learn About Loose Diamond Cuts

Diamonds have been cut in a variety of different styles over time. While diamonds were hand cut in the past, they are primarily machine cut nowadays. The cut is directly related to the shape, and how a diamond will sparkle in its setting. Loose diamonds can be found in the types of common cutting styles shown below:

Diamond Cut Classifications

Round Cut Diamond

Round Brilliant Cut

Brilliant Cut

Princess Cut Diamond

Princess Modified Brilliant Cut

Modified Brilliant Cut

Oval Cut Diamond

Oval Modified Brilliant Cut

Modified Brilliant Cut

Heart Cut Diamond

Heart Modified Brilliant Cut

Modified Brilliant Cut

Radiant Cut Diamond

Radiant Modified Brilliant Cut

Modified Brilliant Cut

Pear Cut Diamond

Pear Modified Brilliant Cut

Modified Brilliant Cut

Marquise Cut Diamond

Marquise Modified Brilliant Cut

Modified Brilliant Cut

Emerald Cut Diamond

Emerald Step Cut

Step Cut

Asscher Cut Diamond

Asscher Step Cut

Step Cut

Cushion Cut Diamond

Cushion Mixed Cut

Mixed Cut

Select Diamond Cut

Round Princess Oval Heart Radiant Pear Marquise Emerald Asscher Cushion

Loose diamond cuts.

Brilliant Cuts

This is the most commonly found diamond cut on jewellery. In it, the diamond is cut to have more facets to allow for more reflection of light throughout the diamond. This enables any piece of jewellery to look dazzling from any angle. Brilliant cut diamonds are machine cut to ensure precision and symmetry among the many facets. The most common shape for the brilliant cut is the round diamond. In brilliant cut diamonds, more of the rough must be cut away to craft the diamond. Therefore, a brilliant cut diamond can be more expensive than those that are cut in other ways. The brilliant cut diamond, however has the most popular appeal and therefore the most resale value.

Modified Brilliant Cut

The modified brilliant cut is also known as a fancy cut diamond. This means that the cutting style is the same as in a round diamond, however the shape of the diamond can vary. Common modified brilliant shapes are princess, heart, oval, marquise, radiant and pear. With these types of shapes, not as much rough must be wasted as in the round brilliant, therefore they can be less expensive than brilliant rounds. However, it is important to consider diamonds with excellent or very good cut grades as the cutting style can determine the amount of sparkle in the diamond. Also consider that fancy shapes like princess and heart can be more delicate due to their pointed corners.

Other factors to take into account for modified brilliant cuts include bow-tie effect and girdle thickness:

Bow-tie effect: Some fancy shape diamonds have two black triangles across the middle of the diamond that look like a bow-tie. Although bow-ties are normal in some fancy shapes, a bow-tie that is too big diminishes a diamond's beauty. Depending on the size, angle and placement of the diamond's facets, this bow-tie can be barely visible ('minimal') or very pronounced. It occurs from the variations in the pavilion facet angles which are longer than they are wide which results in a small amount of light leaking through the diamond. Facets are suppose to alternate between light and dark as the diamond, viewer or light source are moved but with the bow-tie effect, certain facets stay relatively dark regardless of the movement.

Girdle Thickness: Girdle width varies considerably more in fancy shapes than in the round brilliant. For example, the marquise, pear and heart cuts shapes tend to have thick girdles or are extremely thick at the tips, or in the cleft of the heart shape. The princess cut, on the other hand, which has square corners, may have an extremely thin girdle. It is generally recommended to avoid extremely thin or thick girdles to avoid chipping at one extreme and retaining excessive weight to the detriment of the size of the diamond.

Diamond Bow-Ties

A diamond bow-tie is an imperfection formed when a diamond is cut. Just as a diamond's sparkle is created by light reflecting and refracting from its facets, a diamond bow-tie, which looks exactly like it sounds: a black shape that resembles a man's bow-tie, can appear on the face of a diamond when the facets don't reflect light properly, no matter how the diamond is turned.

The cutting of diamond facets is a highly precise process, and the cutter has to take into account the numerous angles from which a diamond might be viewed. If some facets can't take light in, no light goes out. That can create the dark bow-tie effect.

Oval Cut - Bow-Ties

Oval cut - Bow-ties.

There are different grades of diamond bow-ties, ranging from slight to severe. A bow-tie can be barely perceptible in certain light, or it could be quite obvious from a number of angles.

Cuts Affected By Diamond Bow-Ties

Not all diamond shapes are affected. Diamond bow-ties are most common in fancy cut diamonds, including oval, marquise and pear shapes.

With Bow-Ties - Bow-Ties Affected Shapes

With bow-ties - Bow-ties affected shapes.

Avoiding The Diamond's Bow-Tie

The presence of a bow-tie isn't listed on a diamond's report. Decide how much of a bow-tie effect you're willing to accept, then inspect the diamond yourself or ask to see videos of it.

It's important to know that a diamond bow-tie isn't necessarily a flaw or an instant dealbreaker, many fancy cuts will display some evidence of a bow-tie because of their complex faceting. The best thing to do is inspect the diamond yourself to ensure you're happy with it. It's all about your personal taste.

Step Cuts

Step cut diamonds are less popular but are unique in their look. They have facets that run parallel to each other and the edge of the stone. The facets are cleanly cut and precise, and the attention is drawn to the large facet at the top most point of the diamond. This elegant and unique type of cut has scintillation and shine. The most famous types of step cut is an emerald and asscher shaped diamond. Step cut diamonds maximize most of the original diamond weight and carat size. Therefore, it can be more cost-effective to purchase a step cut diamond. Most of us are familiar with the basic cut of a round or oval diamond, which results in gorgeous faceting that glimmers like fire. Step cut diamonds, which are striking, stylish and quite trendy at the moment. Here are the basics, so you can decide if a step cut is right for you.

Step Cut Diamonds Vs. Billiant Cut Diamonds

The most popular step cut diamond styles are emerald, asscher and baguette. All of them are cut with rectangular (or square) facets that graduate from the diamond's face like a set of steps. The emerald cut's long, rectangular facets create a flash known sometimes called a "hall of mirrors" effect. The asscher cut is a square-shaped style, with X-shaped facets running from its corners to its center culet that create mesmerizing sparkle. A baguette diamond is a rectangular step cut that may have straight or tapered edges.

Step Cut Diamonds

Step cut diamonds.

The Different Styles

Emerald: Emerald diamonds are the most popular of the step-cut diamonds, thanks to their regal look loved by royals and other celebrities. An emerald cut diamond is a rectangle with eight sides (the corners of the stone are clipped, creating the tiny edges). The long, rectangular facets on the stones create a "hall of mirrors" effect, meaning it looks like they go on and on.

Asscher: Named for the Asscher Brothers, Asscher diamonds tend to look like princess cut diamonds from afar, thanks to their squarish shape, but up close they have distinct step-cuts running from the corners to the center culet that create the sparkle.

Baguette: While emerald and asscher diamonds have softer corners, a baguette diamond has sharper, more pronounced edges that create a distinct rectangle shape. The step cuts used to create a baguette don't allow for a lot of sparkle, but they do reflect light in a distinct, hologram-like way. You'll see these diamonds used as the side stones in three stone engagement rings a lot.

Brilliant Cut & Step Cut Diamonds Difference

The key difference between a step cut diamond and the brilliant cut is the amount of sparkle. Brilliant cuts, most commonly round cut diamonds or princess cut diamonds, have maximum sparkle. They possess more facets than step cuts, and the facets are triangular and kite-shaped, lending the diamond a fiery light performance. You can simply think of facets as faces that bounce light around your diamond.

Diamond Facets

Diamond facets.

Step cuts also have sparkle or fire, but a bit less than brilliant cuts. They're considered very elegant, but because they have fewer facets, they don't reflect as much light as brilliant cuts.


Step cut diamonds have a sleek look that appeals to fans of vintage jewellery or minimalist leaning fashion. Because step cuts preserve more of the rough diamond's carat weight, they cost less than brilliant cuts (in which more of the raw diamond is discarded) on average. And although step cuts may sparkle less, they provide a better showcase for a diamond's clarity. In thinking about the 4Cs of a diamond, if a step cut diamond appeals to you, you may need to prioritize clarity over other characteristics, because any natural inclusions won't be as hidden as they would by the faceting of other cuts.

How The Cost Compares

Experts agree that the round brilliant diamond is the most expensive diamond cut, because of the precision cutting required to create a greater number of facets and the amount of raw diamond that is lost in the process. Because of their lower facet count, emerald and asscher cuts are among the most affordable diamond cuts, with baguette styles in the middle of the mix.

But it's worth noting that baguettes stones aren't those you would seek out for the center of your engagement ring. Both cuts are traditionally used as side stones in rings featuring multiple diamonds, and remember, more facets don't make a more beautiful diamond, it's all about your personal style.

Mixed Cut

The cushion cut is the most common mixed cut, combining faceting elements from both the modified brilliant and step cuts allowing it to ensure weight preservation from the step cuts while at the same time enjoying the optical effects of brilliants. Typically the crown is fashioned like a brilliant cut and the pavilion more like a step cut. Although mixed cuts are all relatively new, dating back to the 1960s, the cushion shape is much older.

Old World Cuts

Old world cuts are those which were crafted by hand for older diamonds. These loose diamonds are also known as Old European cut, Rose cut, and the Old Miner cut. Before the round brilliant cutting method was perfected and machines came into the fore-front, this was the primary style of diamond cutting. Antique jewellery pieces, or those crafted before the 1900's were crafted with this cutting style. These diamonds have larger more open facets, and are not always optimized for symmetry. Because of their large facets, they do not sparkle as much as the brilliant cut diamonds. Some prefer the intense sparkle of the brilliant cut, while others prefer the softer sparkle of the old cut diamond.

Old Mine Cut

Old Mine Cut Diamond

Old mine cut diamond.

Old Mine Cut

Old mine cut.

This is a square diamond cut with gently rounded corners and brilliant-style facets. The crown is typically high but table is small, and the culet is big enough to be visible through the top of the stone.

Old European Cut

Old European Cut Diamond

Old european cut diamond.

Old European Cut

Old european cut.

Diamonds with an old European cut are usually shaped so as to follow the outline of the rough diamond material and minimize waste. These stones were usually cut to maximize carat weight rather than brilliance. Its higher crown, smaller table and larger culet gives the stone an incredible depth and presence.

Rose Cut

Rose Cut Diamond

Rose cut diamond.

Rose Cut

Rose cut.

As the name suggests, this cut's brilliant-style facets are arranged in groups that make the diamond look like an opening rose bud. The rose cut is usually made up of 12 or 24 triangular facets reaching up to form a point, a crown that rises from its base and has no pavilion. Developed prior to the use of electric lighting, rose cuts lost their popularity in the early 20th century due to their lack of brilliance.

Triangular Brilliant Cuts

Triangular Brilliant Cut Diamond

Triangular brilliant cut diamond.

Triangular Brilliant Cut

Triangular brilliant cut.

With three straight or slightly curved sides, preferably of equal length, the triangular brilliant cut is a generic term for a shape that today also is referred to as the trillion, trilliant and sometime the trill.

The design of the cut is generally credited to the Asscher brothers in Amsterdam, and the term "Trilliant" was trademarked by the Henry Meyer Diamond Company of New York in 1962, to underline the brilliance of the triangular cut. Its patent has since expired, meaning that the various terms are now widely used to refer to most faceted triangular shaped stones, although not to the step cut tapered baguette.

Triangular brilliants are most often produced from flattened, triangular rough diamonds called macles. Most often they are smaller in size and are used, generally in pairs, as side stones to complement larger solitaires, or in diamond stud earrings. Larger stones can be used as centerpieces in jewellery.

Smaller triangular brilliants typically have 31 facets, while larger stones feature 50 facets.

For larger diamonds being used as solitaires, the sides of the triangle are generally curved outward, or convex. Side stones generally have straight sides or are concave, with the inward curve accommodating the round shape of the centerpiece stone that they are complementing. Other alternatives are round-cornered triangular, modified shield cuts and triangular step cuts. When used as side stones, care should be taken to ensure that color of both the triangular brilliants and the center-stones are properly matched.

To ensure maximum brilliance, one-third of the diamond's weight should be in the crown, above the girdle, and two-thirds in the pavillion. When the split between the crown and girdle is relatively even, the stone will display less brilliance. The length to width ratio should be remain within 1.00 and 1.10.

Because of its shape, triangular brilliants require special prongs in order to be held reliably in jewellery. V-prongs, which wrap around the tips of the stone are recommended, and halo settings are also appropriate.

Baguette Cuts

Baguette Cut Diamond

Baguette cut diamond.

Baguette Cut

Baguette cut.

Long and slender, the modest baguette cut diamond generally is overlooked, because of its frequent role as the supporting act. Often used as side stones to the centerpiece diamond in an item of jewellery, they are nonetheless the most widely available step cut diamonds in the marketplace.

Baguettes most frequently are rectangular with length-to-width ratios of 5:1, and sometimes are even longer, although square baguettes are also available. A variation is the tapered baguette, which has long sides that angle inwards, and a less frequently seen alternative is the brilliant baguette, which includes triangular and kite shaped facets on the pavilion and step cut facets on the crown.

According to GIA research, the rectangular step cut is believed to have evolved from the hogback, which was an elongated table cut that dates back at least as far the mid-1700s, and was often used to make monograms and jewelled letters. The French jewellery house Cartier reintroduced the style in 1912, and it was widely used by jewellery designers of the Art Deco period, who liked its clean lines and geometric shape.

The term "Baguette" in reference to diamonds is most probably less 100 years old. It is the diminutive of the French "bague," which once meant "jewel" but today is more commonly used to denote a ring. Some claim the name was inspired by long loaf of bread popular in France.

A baguette cut diamond is almost never featured on its own. Often used to highlight center stones in a ring or necklace, such stones can be channel set, one alongside the other, creating seemingly solid rows of diamond, around the circumference of ring for example. The ballerina setting involves multiple baguettes radiating from the girdle of the center stone, providing the appearance of a ballerina's tutu.

Because multiple baguette cut diamonds are generally used, they most often are purchased in sets. This means that they need to be matched in length and width. With tapered stones, it will necessary to specify the width of both the wide and the narrow ends. Furthermore, it is important to ensure that all the baguettes in a set are similar in color and clarity, and they should also match the center diamond.

With the exception of brilliant baguettes, the facet pattern of these diamonds tends to extenuate all inclusions and flaws. It is thus advised to use stones with higher clarity grades.