Oval-Cut Diamond Buying Guide: Beyond the Bowtie
The Pros and Cons of Oval-Cut Diamonds
When choosing between an oval or round diamond, consider the following factors.
First — style! While oval-cut diamonds may have a classic look, round brilliant diamonds are timeless. However, ovals and other fancy shapes have become trendy in recent years. When aligned with the finger, an oval shape has an attractive lengthening effect. On the other hand, East-West rings, with the oval aligned perpendicular to the finger, are gaining popularity and show off a unique style.
If you can go stylistically with either oval or round, then an oval-cut diamond is well worth considering. The shape of the diamond directly impacts price and face-up size. This means that an oval cut can cost at least 25% less than a round cut of the same weight. Since the oval diamond has a larger surface, it will actually appear bigger than a round.
However, purchasing an oval-cut diamond has one major downside. Round brilliants can be ideal, with nearly all the light entering a diamond reflecting back to your eye. Ovals just can’t do this. Every oval-cut diamond will show a bowtie across the middle — some prominent, some subtle.
Still, ovals can be one of the sparkliest diamond cuts on the market. Unfortunately, gemological laboratories don’t grade oval diamonds. Fancy diamond cuts have so much variation that grades, especially for the cut, are more like judgments based on a stone’s overall appeal. This will make your search more difficult. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible! Here are our recommendations for finding your oval-cut diamond — and staying in your budget!
Judging the Oval Cut
Although there’s no laboratory grade for them, there are still well-cut and poorly cut oval diamonds. Generally speaking, the best cuts offer more sparkle. There’s no shortcut to figuring out which oval diamond will perform best. You’ll simply have to look at them!
Ovals can come in many shapes. Avoid off-shaped ovals, with pointed or squared ends.
Similarly, look for symmetry in the overall shape of the oval. Egg shapes aren’t desirable in an oval-cut diamond. This differs from the symmetry in a laboratory report, which assesses facet symmetry.
You can also consider how elongated you’d like the oval. The length-to-width ratio (L/W) in an oval diamond is a matter of preference, but most prefer ratios between 1.3 and 1.5. For example, compare the shapes of the following three diamonds.
Oval Cuts and the Bowtie
All fancy shape diamonds have some light leakage. In oval cuts, a bowtie shape forms across the middle of the stone. While an oval-cut diamond will always have a bowtie, not all bowties are alike. They can have differing degrees of prominence as well as effects on performance.
While some consumers consider a bowtie a fatal flaw, others may embrace this pattern in the middle of an oval cut. The best way to find an oval cut you like is to simply look at them and find what you prefer. Do you like the aesthetic of a dark bowtie or a light one? Do you prefer a bowtie that’s only noticeable at certain angles?
If you prefer to minimize the bowtie, you’ll have to spend some time looking for one. There’s no shortcut to finding these diamonds, but they do exist! Check out this 0.70-ct diamond.
Regardless of your preference, try for a diamond that shows sparkle throughout, even in the bowtie region. A diamond with a large dead area right in the middle isn’t worth your money.
Due to the high brilliance of this cut, imperfections in the diamond are usually difficult to see. A diamond with a clarity grade of VS2 or SI1 will most likely appear clean to the naked eye. SI2 stones may appear eye clean as well. Take care to avoid dark inclusions near the center of the diamond, since these are the most noticeable.
While color plays a minimal role in round diamond quality, lower color grades in ovals stand out much more. For this reason, stick to color grades of H or better.
Keep in mind that color is more noticeable in larger diamonds. If you’re looking at diamonds above 2 carats and the H color looks off, try an F or a G color.
That said, there may be I and even J color oval diamonds that face up white, but these may take some time and effort to find. Alternatively, off-color ovals can work well with vintage styles in yellow or rose gold.
Where Should I Buy an Oval-Cut Diamond Online?
When purchasing online, be sure to use a reputable dealer and remember to look at their policies on returns, exchanges, and resizing.
Because no laboratory grades exist to assess cut quality in ovals, you absolutely must look at your diamond in 360°. Both Blue Nile and James Allen make it possible for you to view your diamond online in this manner, giving you an informed idea of the diamond’s performance and the bowtie effect.
While both have extensive databases of diamonds, James Allen has many more options for ring settings. Furthermore, James Allen allows you to see ring and diamond combinations that others have purchased. This will help you get a better idea of the finished product.
However, Blue Nile has one advantage over James Allen for oval-cut diamonds. Blue Nile’s search allows you to limit the L/W ratio. If you’re picky about the shape or replacing a stone for an old setting, Blue Nile might be a better option.
If searching for the perfect oval-cut diamond frustrates you, consider working with the jewelers at CustomMade. With their expert help, you’ll be able to find the diamond that’s best for you and place it in a custom ring you’ll cherish.