We’ve compiled information on average costs and sizes for different diamond shapes at different carat weights. Learn how the different fancy cuts compare, and the pros and cons of different diamond cuts. [Reading time: 15 min]
How Should We Compare Different Diamond Cuts?
There’s a lot to take into consideration when comparing different diamond shapes. For this article, we focus on quantitative measures (cost, carat, face-up size) and practical considerations (color and clarity recommendations, potential for chipping).
However, the most important quality for you is whether the shape fits your style! Ultimately, the least expensive cut or the largest face-up area won’t make you happy if you’d prefer a different diamond shape!
How Diamond Shapes Affect Price
To look at this, we chose a few benchmark carat sizes: 0.5, 0.7, 1.0, 1.2, 1.5, and 2.0 carats. For each size, we collected average prices for each diamond shape for G color, VS2 diamonds from Blue Nile’s inventory. Round diamond averages are based on “Excellent” cut diamonds.
Round diamonds command premium pricing at all sizes. This is in part because we only considered “Excellent” cuts, while the fancy shape prices average over the entire range of cut quality. Still, the discount is significant. Fancy-cut diamonds have prices 10-43% lower than rounds!
There’s no overarching pattern to the discount, however. The most expensive and least expensive fancy cuts change based on the carat weight that you’re looking for!
This graph shows another interesting feature of diamond pricing: the bump in price for rounds at the 1.0-ct mark. While other shapes rise in value more steadily from 0.7 to 1.2 ct, round diamonds jump at 1.0 ct and have a less steep increase in pricing to 1.2 ct. This means that the discount for fancy diamond cuts at the 1.0-ct mark is larger.
We can look at this another way. For a diamond budget of about $7,000, what size (G color, VS2) diamond could you get? The round diamond would be about 1.0 ct, but you could get a fancy shape closer to 1.2 ct, or maybe even larger!
How Diamond Shapes Affect Face-Up Size
It’s no secret that some fancy-shape diamonds appear larger than rounds. Oval, pear, emerald, and marquise cuts can appear larger because of their elongated shapes. Rectangular cushion, radiant, and princess cuts can have the same effect. Even square radiant, cushion, princess, and asscher cuts can appear larger than a round because their corner-to-corner length is larger than a round’s diameter.
These diamonds may seem to be different sizes, but they’re all 1 ct and all set in a 1.5 mm band solitaire ring. © James Allen. Used with permission.
However, that doesn’t mean that a round diamond appears small. Despite their compact nature, well-cut round diamonds appear large because of their intense sparkle — something no fancy diamond cut can match.
Well-proportioned diamonds should have similar measurements and face-up area (within ~5%) as those in these tables. However, elongated shapes have greater variability.
For face-up size, marquise diamonds are the clear winner, about 15% larger than rounds! Trillion, oval, and pear shapes also face-up large for their weight. The remaining shapes are smaller, with asscher-cut diamonds having the smallest face-up size.
Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of different diamond shapes.
Why We Love Round Diamonds
Perfect for classic looks, the round brilliant diamond cut has been carefully engineered to produce the most sparkle. With a well-cut round diamond, the brilliance and dispersion will impress in any engagement ring. Better yet, even though this diamond shape won’t have the largest face-up area, its intense sparkle will make it appear bigger!
Since rounds are the most popular diamond cuts, they’re also the most expensive. This is especially noticeable at the popular 1.0-ct mark!
Tips for Buying a Round Diamond on a Budget
If the carat size isn’t too important to you, try to buy something just under a popular weight. A 0.9-ct diamond will be much cheaper than a 1.0-ct, and will appear nearly the same size!
Because of the brilliance, you can compromise on color and clarity. For clarity, SI1 and SI2 diamonds will still look great for an engagement ring. Color depends on the metal setting, but an I or J will still look good in white gold, as will a K color diamond in yellow or rose gold!
Read our recommendations for round-shape diamonds.
Why We Love Princess Cuts
The princess cut is one of the most brilliant diamond shapes and, compared to a round, comes at a 25-35% discount. Although princess cuts have a slightly smaller face-up size, their long diagonal measurement makes them seem larger. The most popular of the fancy shapes, princess cuts look great in any setting!
The sharp corners of a princess cut are prone to snag and chip. These should be protected by prongs. Furthermore, when buying a princess-cut diamond, make sure it has no inclusions near the edges. This can make them more vulnerable.
Tips for Buying a Princess-Cut Diamond on a Budget
Sticking to an SI1 clarity grade will get you a beautiful princess cut at a lower price. For white gold settings, an H or I color diamond will still appear white. For yellow or rose gold, a J color princess cut can still look great!
Read our princess-cut diamond guide to learn more about this shape.
Why We Love Oval Diamonds
Oval-cut diamonds still have most of the brilliance of rounds, but their elongated shape has a lengthening effect on the finger. They’re also a popular choice for East-West settings. Better yet, they’re 10-30% cheaper than rounds, with about 8% larger face-up area!
Any oval-cut gem will exhibit a bowtie pattern in the middle. Some are more prominent, and some less. If you’re picky about finding an oval-cut diamond without a noticeable bowtie, you may have to do some searching.
Tips for Buying Oval-Cut Diamonds on a Budget
Oval-cuts hide inclusions well, so an SI1 or SI2 diamond will likely appear eye clean. However, they tend to show color. It’s best to stick to a color grade of H to avoid color in your oval-cut diamond.
Read our oval-cut diamond guide for more tips on this unique cut.
Why We Love Cushions
Cushion-cut diamonds show excellent fire! The angles in this cut are made for those flashes of colored light. Although one of the oldest diamond cuts, the cushion cut has seen a recent resurgence in popularity. Still, these diamonds are 25-42% cheaper than equivalent rounds!
Cushion-cut diamonds face-up about 8% smaller than equivalent rounds.
Tips for Buying a Cushion-Cut Diamond on a Budget
Cushion cuts aren’t too forgiving with color, so it’s best to stick to an H color or better. However, they hide inclusions well, so you can find SI1 and SI2 cushion-cut diamonds that still appear flawless!
Read our cushion-cut diamond guide before you buy.
Why We Love Emerald Cuts
Instead of the usual brilliance and fire, emerald cuts are step cuts with a different kind of sparkle. These diamonds reflect light in a beautiful and subtle “hall of mirrors” effect. Although they’re one of the rarer diamond shapes, emerald-cut diamonds can be 12-42% cheaper than rounds of the same carat weight.
Because of their elongated shape, emerald-cut diamonds have a slimming effect on the finger. They’re also a great choice for an understated East-West ring.
Because an emerald cut isn’t a brilliant cut, you can easily see inclusions in emerald-cut diamonds. In addition, they have a face-up size about 5% smaller than rounds. They may appear even smaller because of their lack of brilliance.
Tips for Buying an Emerald-Cut Diamond on a Budget
An H color, VS2 clarity emerald-cut diamond will give you the most for your money. You can also look for shallower stones, since these will face-up larger. The angles in an emerald cut aren’t as important to its beauty, so a shallow stone can still look great!
Read our emerald-cut diamond guide to learn more about this mesmerizing diamond cut.
Why We Love Pear Shapes
Not only do pear-shape diamonds have a unique and beautiful shape, their prices are also quite attractive! They face-up 8% larger than rounds and cost 10-30% less. Their elongated shape also makes them a great choice for trendy East-West engagement rings.
The tip of a tear-drop diamond is prone to snag and chip and must be carefully protected with prongs. Check the laboratory report to make sure the tip contains no inclusions, as this can weaken the gem.
In addition, pear-cut diamonds exhibit a bowtie. It may take some searching to find a pear cut with a minimal bowtie.
Tips for Buying a Pear-Shape Diamond on a Budget
Similar to other brilliant diamond cuts, you’ll find the best value in an H color pear with SI1 or SI2 clarity.
Read our pear-shaped diamond guide to to help you choose the right diamond for you.
Why We Love Marquise Diamonds
The elongated shape of a marquise cut makes the diamond look huge and your finger appear slimmer, too! Marquises have the largest face-up area of all diamond cuts — 15% larger than rounds. They also cost 10-25% less than round diamonds of the same carat, and look great set in East-West style engagement rings.
The tapered points of a marquise-cut diamond need to be protected by prongs to prevent chipping and snagging. Make sure these vulnerable tips have no inclusions.
In addition, marquise-cut diamonds exhibit a bowtie. Searching for a diamond with minimal bowtie may take some time!
Although symmetry is very important in a marquise-cut diamond, it may be difficult to judge. Look at the shape closely and ensure that it appears symmetrical.
Tips for Buying a Marquise-Cut Diamond on a Budget
Since marquise-cut diamonds hide inclusions well, an SI1 or SI2 clarity will give you an eye-clean diamond on a budget. An H color diamond will appear white when set in white gold, but an I or even J color can look great in yellow or rose gold.
Read more about marquise cut quality to find the best diamond for your ring.
Why We Love Asscher-Cut Diamonds
The mesmerizing windmill pattern of an asscher-cut diamond is great for a vintage, Art Deco look. With their octagonal outlines, they’re perfect for geometrical styles. They also cost 19-43% less than equivalent rounds!
With 13% less face-up area than a round, an asscher-cut diamond shows the smallest face-up area of the fancy cuts.
In addition, this step cut doesn’t hide inclusions like a brilliant cut would.
Tips for Buying an Asscher-Cut Diamond on a Budget
As with emerald cuts, a VS2 clarity, H color asscher-cut diamond will give you the most for your budget. Again, shallower diamonds will have a greater face-up size, appearing larger for their weight without sacrificing beauty.
Read our asscher-cut diamond guide to learn how to pick the perfect windmill.
Why We Love Heart Shapes
Heart-shaped diamonds are romantic symbols and cost 13-26% less than rounds!
Heart-cut diamonds have a face-up area about 7% smaller than rounds.
The tip of the heart is prone to snag and chip and should be protected by prongs.
Evaluating the shape of hearts in smaller sizes is difficult, so it’s best to stick to 1 ct and above.
Tips for Buying a Heart-Shape Diamond on a Budget
Like most brilliant cuts, SI1 and SI2 clarity grades should give you an eye-clean diamond. H color heart-shaped diamonds will still appear white and give you a discount compared to higher color grades.
Read more about heart cut quality to find your favorite diamond.
Why We Love Radiant-Cut Diamonds
Radiant cuts are one of the most brilliant cuts a diamond can have. This cut provides tons of sparkle, and the truncated corners make it more durable than a princess cut. Better yet, they can cost 20-39% less than round diamonds! If you go with an elongated radiant cut, it may also appear larger than a round.
Radiant-cut diamonds have a relatively small face-up size, about 4% smaller than rounds.
Tips for Buying a Radiant-Cut Diamond on a Budget
Radiant-cut diamonds hide inclusions well, so a clarity grade of SI1 or SI2 will still look beautiful! A color grade of H will give you the most for your money for a white gold setting, but you could drop down to an I color for rose gold or yellow gold.
Read more about radiant cut quality to find the most brilliant stone.
Why We Love Trillions
The unique geometry and excellent sparkle of trillions make these diamonds stand out. Though popular as side stones, a trillion center stone makes a bold statement. Better yet, their shallow cut makes them face-up 12% larger than rounds!
Due to their unusual shape, trillion-cut diamonds in large sizes are difficult to find, and their cut quality is difficult to judge. Furthermore, their corners are prone to snag and chip. Their settings should protect the corners.
Tips for Buying a Trillion-Cut Diamond on a Budget
While an SI clarity, H color trillion will give you the most for your budget, it may be difficult to find a trillion-shaped diamond with these narrow criteria. Work with an experienced jeweler to ensure you get a fair deal!
Start a consultation for a custom trillion diamond engagement ring at CustomMade.
Which Diamond Shape is Best?
Round diamonds have the most brilliance and sparkle, but come at a premium in price. While fancy cuts are all heavily discounted relative to rounds, none have the same sparkle as a round brilliant. Furthermore, finding a well-cut diamond with a fancy shape can be difficult.
Ultimately, the best diamond shape is the one you want most!
Where Should I Buy a Fancy-Cut Diamond?
Just like a round diamond, it’s essential to closely review a fancy-cut diamond before you buy it. For any diamond shape, look for a diamond that’s not off-color and avoid large inclusions near the center of the gem. Most importantly, look at how it performs! If you’re spending thousands on a diamond engagement ring, you should be happy with its performance.
Both James Allen and Blue Nile offer a wide selection of fancy diamond shapes, and you can see magnified, 360° videos of the thousands of stones in their databases. This lets you see each diamond’s qualities and compare similar ones.
James Allen also allows you to review your diamond with their experts — essential for assessing the cut quality of fancy diamond shapes! Furthermore, for those who want to create an engagement ring, James Allen has a very large selection of engagement ring styles.
Blue Nile does have one big advantage for fancy shapes. They allow you to narrow your choices by the length-to-width ratio. If you’re picky about the shape of the cut, this can be a huge timesaver!
On the other hand, if you’re not confident about judging the cut quality yourself, or if you just can’t seem to find what you want, check out CustomMade. Their experienced jewelers will guide you to the diamond that’s best for your style — and your budget!Money-Saving Tip: 25% Off at the James Allen Summer Sale until July 13See Sale Items →