Diamond Cuts (Shapes)

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Figure 1: Classic Shape of Rough Diamond

From Rough to Polished

The shape of a classic piece of diamond rough is called an “octahedron.” Imagine two 4-sided pyramids stuck together at their bases.

Typically, that piece of rough is sawed into two pieces which are each then made into polished diamonds.

Off Center Cuts

Since diamonds jump in price exponentially with increased weight (well, not exactly, but see here for an explanation of diamond pricing), it makes more economic sense to saw that octahedron not down the middle, but just off center.

Then the center of that piece of rough becomes the girdle of the larger polished diamond. (see Figure 2)

Different Diamond Cuts (Shapes) – Different Yields

Don’t worry, there’s a reason why I’m boring you with all these details.   Take a look at Figure 2.  Try to imagine what the rough looks like after it’s been sawed through the plane represented by the black line.  What diamond cut (shape) does it look like?

If you guessed Princess cut, you’d be correct.  A princess cut is really just a slightly faceted sawed diamond crystal. It was invented not for its beauty, but in order to minimize loss of diamond material.

A Princess cut can easily have a yield percentage of rough of 80-90%  Compare this with a round diamond (represented by the purple diamond in Figure 3) that will at best have a yield percentage of rough of about 40%.

Rough Shape Informs Polished Shape

For diamond crystals with less than perfectly formed corners, the cutter might choose a radiant cut or asscher cut.  For diamond crystals that are slightly more rectangular, the diamond cutter will choose a rectangular shape, such as an Emerald cut.

Some naturally occurring diamond crystals look like flat triangles.  That’s how the Trillion, Heart shape, and Pear Shape diamonds were born.

Figure 2: One Rough Diamond = 2 Polished Diamonds

Figure 2: 1 Piece of Rough = 2 Polished Diamonds

Anyway, you get the idea.  With the exception of the Round Brilliant Cut, all the others were created to maximize polishing yield in different naturally occurring crystal formations.

Popular Shapes

In terms of popularity, Round Brilliant Cuts are by far the most popular shape.  After rounds, princess cuts are the most popular.  After princess, the numbers drop pretty steeply.

I found this interesting chart at Jogia Diamond’s blog.  They accumulated this data through their diamond search feature on their website.  The proportions are for diamonds searched, not diamonds sold.

Figure 3: Popularity of Different Diamond Shapes

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  1. Ali     Reply

    Hi Ira and Mike,

    I just discovered your site and have bookmarked it for ready reference! I love it.

    I’d appreciate your thoughts on purchasing diamond jewelry as investment. I already have a one-carat princess cut ring that I wear most of the time. I want to purchase a two-carat round brilliant more for investment purposes than anything else–probably to pass along to my son’s future children.

    Do you think a round brilliant is the best cut in which to invest? I know you’d mention that it’s one of the most popular cuts, and does that mean it makes for a good investment? If not, what would you recommend?

    Many thanks.

  2. Yin     Reply


    Please tell me if this an ideal cut oval diamond with no bow tie effect.

    Depth 63.6
    Table 55


    Is it ok to buy a diamond where the cert states additional clouds not shown. pinpoints not shown

    Many thanks

    • Mike     Reply

      There is absolutely no way to tell if an oval has a bow-tie without seeing it (or a high quality photo). The vast majority of ovals have them.

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