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Ask a Diamond Pro: Oval Diamond for a Yellow Gold Halo Setting for $10,000

By Mike Fried,

As we’ve covered in our diamond buying guides, finding the perfect diamond is all about setting your budget, then understanding how the four Cs — and in particular, cut quality — influence the appearance and value of a diamond. 

Unlike round diamonds, fancy shape diamonds aren’t graded for cut quality by the GIA, making this crucial step in the process of buying a diamond much more complicated and challenging.

Recently, a reader emailed us to request help choosing an oval cut diamond. Like many others, they were confused by the fact that there were lots of “Very Good” oval cut diamonds out there, but none with the “Excellent” or “Ideal” cut quality we typically recommend. 

baguette setting with an oval cut center diamond from Abe Mor
A gorgeous baguette setting with an oval cut center diamond from Abe Mor

Here’s the reader’s email:

“Hi Diamond Pros!

I am looking for an engagement ring! I am looking for an oval cut diamond in a gold halo setting with pave/side stones. It seems there isn’t much out there when it comes to ideal cut oval diamonds, but there seem to be a lot of “Very Good” cuts. Would I be sacrificing too much by buying a Very Good cut?

I have roughly an $8000-$10,000 budget.

Thank you!”

This is a very common problem that people run into when comparing fancy shape diamonds. As the usual GIA or AGS cut grade isn’t available for fancy shape diamonds, it can be hard to know which diamonds are worth considering and which aren’t.

For oval diamonds, this can make the process of choosing a diamond particularly difficult, as the unique design of this type of diamond means there’s no simple, one-size-fits-all list of cut quality characteristics that you can use to accurately judge a diamond’s light performance and beauty.

We’ve discussed this more below and gone into greater detail what this reader can do to find an impressive oval cut diamond that’s within their price range.

Selecting an Oval Cut Diamond for $10,000 or Less

The oval cut has been a popular choice for hundreds of years, with early examples dating back to the 14th century. This diamond shape has several major advantages, including an elongated shape that makes it appear larger than other diamond shapes of the same carat weight.

Because of its facet pattern, which it shares with the round brilliant cut, the oval cut has fantastic light performance, meaning it’s capable of reflecting large amounts of white light.

It’s also a more affordable diamond shape than many others, as the cutting process for the oval cut uses more of the rough diamond than that of the round brilliant cut. 

The cost of diamond shapes based on price per carat

So, what should you look for when choosing an oval cut diamond? When it comes to cut quality, we recommend looking for the following parameters:

  •  A table of between 53 and 68 percent
  • A depth of between 58 and 71 percent
  • A length to width ratio of 1.35 to 1.50
  • A very thin to slightly thick girdle
  • No culet

Unlike with other diamond shapes, it’s important to take a more subjective view with oval shape diamonds and choose something that looks good for you, even if its cut parameters aren’t quite perfect.

Part of this process is checking that a diamond doesn’t have a prominent bowtie. A wide bowtie can distract from an oval cut diamond’s beauty and make it appear less brilliant than it truly is.

For example, this diamond (pictured below) has a very obvious bowtie that distracts significantly from its beauty.

Ovla cut diamond with visible bow-tie

In addition to checking for a bowtie, it’s important to choose a diamond that looks colorless and free of visible inclusions.

A color grade of H or better will provide a diamond that appears colorless in a platinum or white gold setting. If you prefer yellow or rose gold, it’s okay to select a diamond with a color grade of J or K, as the color of the setting will add a slight tint to the diamond once it’s set.

As for clarity, you can find eye-clean oval cut diamonds in the SI1 to SI2 range, although it may require some time to filter out diamonds with visible inclusions.

eye-clean diamond

Choosing the Right Oval Shape Diamond

When this reader emailed us, we initially recommended this 1.51 carat, H color, SI1 clarity oval shape diamond from James Allen. It’s very nicely cut, with eye-clean clarity and an appearance that will remain colorless in any setting.

This reader emailed us back to ask about this 1.22 carat, H color, VS1 clarity diamond. Although this looks like a good choice, it has two issues. 

  • The first of these is the strong fluorescence, which on a D color diamond will cause it to appear overly hazy.
  • The second is the color grade itself — while a D color grade is fine, it’s a significant expense that doesn’t result in a better looking diamond, especially in a yellow gold setting.

Instead of choosing a diamond like this and overpaying for a color grade that’s invisible in a real life setting, we think it’s better to compromise slightly on the diamond’s color (while still picking a stone that’s colorless) and prioritize cut quality and carat weight.

For example, this 1.50ct and this 1.51ct, both of which have H color and VS2 clarity, are great choices that look fantastic while offering excellent value for money. Both will look gorgeous paired with a yellow gold halo setting. 

Our Recommendation

Like with other diamond shapes, choosing the right oval diamond is all about finding a diamond with the right cut quality, then ensuring that it’s eye-clean and free of any visible internal color in its setting. 

Because the GIA doesn’t provide a cut grade for diamonds in this shape, identifying a nicely cut oval shape diamond can be more challenging than with other diamond shapes. 

We suggest using the parameters above, checking that the diamond looks good in photos from multiple angles, and if necessary, reaching out for expert help. You may need to look at several oval shape diamonds before finding one that’s cut well and is free of other issues.

For optimal value for money, we recommend picking a diamond with a clarity grade of VS2 to SI1 and color grade of H or better for a white gold or platinum ring, or J to K for yellow or rose gold. 

In the end, this reader selected this 1.00 carat, D color, VVS2 clarity diamond. Despite its overly high color and clarity grades (which affect value for money, not beauty), it’s a stunning diamond that certainly fits the bill nicely.

If you need help choosing a similar diamond, or would simply like advice on the diamond buying process, feel free to contact us.

We help hundreds of our readers choose diamonds of every shape and size on a monthly basis, and we’re happy to help you find a diamond and setting that match your tastes and budget.

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