The Diamond Pro

Oval Cut Diamond Guide

By Michael Fried

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Bottom Line Recommendation

An Oval Cut Diamond provides excellent brilliance, durability and style. We recommend an H Color or better and an SI1 or SI2 for Clarity for this diamond shape.

Unlike a round diamond, a certificate for an Oval Cut does not provide any indication of how the diamond will look. Take a look at this beautiful 0.70ct from Blue Nile compared to a virtually identical diamond that is less than impressive. Therefore, we recommend evaluating the diamond closely or having an expert visually review it before purchase. Be sure to check our Cut Quality chart for general guidelines.

The Oval Cut Diamond

Bursting with brilliance and fire, an Oval Cut Diamond is exquisite and unique. The Oval is considered a “fancy” shape; the elongated design makes it appear larger than other shapes of the same carat weight. For example, an oval cut like this 1.01 Carat Diamond looks quite large in its yellow gold halo setting. A 1 Carat round diamond in a similar setting would look slightly smaller.

The slender body of the oval diamond creates a beautiful, elongated look. It often makes the hand and fingers appear slimmer. The diamond’s shape has no sharp corners, so it’s less prone to chipping.

If you enjoy a rounded design, but want a stone with more character, an oval diamond makes a stunning choice. In addition, oval diamonds are almost always priced lower than round brilliants.

History of the Oval Cut Diamond

Oval shaped diamonds have been popular for centuries. The earliest oval diamonds date back to the 1300s, though they aren’t described by name in literature until the 1800s.

In 1957, a Russian diamond cutter named Lazare Kaplan perfected the oval cut process. He had a knack for turning undesirable rough stones into gorgeous diamonds. His technique significantly improved the brilliance of the oval diamond. The process that Kaplan pioneered is what diamond cutters use to create oval cut stones today. The oval diamond consistently ranks as one of the most popular diamond shapes.

Oval Cut Diamond – Cut Quality

The most important element in any diamond is the quality of its Cut, which impacts the fundamental beauty and structure of the stone along with its capacity to offer brilliance and fire. While the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) provides Cut grading for some shapes, such as Round Brilliant Cuts; it does not provide cut grading for Oval Cut Diamonds.

In this vein, standard cut parameters for an excellent Oval are unachievable—due to the Oval’s complex and unique structure. Despite what anyone describes, there is no magic combination for table % or depth %. All Cut recommendations for Oval Diamonds should be regarded as widely general and usually subjective.

Above all, an Oval Diamond’s beauty is determined by what you—and the wearer—sees. Review Oval Cut Diamonds thoroughly—and, ideally, have a diamond expert assist you. Rather than hoping to make a smart decision with your purchase, ensure that you do.

To offer a loose guideline for an excellently cut Oval Diamond, we provide our general parameters for Cut Quality below. Keep in mind that these parameters are general and should not be applied without looking at the diamond yourself and receiving an expert’s opinion.

Oval Cut Diamond – Cut Quality Recommendations

ExcellentVery GoodGoodFairPoor
Table %53-6352 or 64-6551 or 66-6850 or 69-70<50 or >70
Depth %58-6256-57.9 or 62.1-6653-55.9 or 66.1-7150-52.9 or 71.1-74<50 or >74
GirdleVery Thin – Slightly ThickVery Thin – ThickVery Thin – Very ThickExtremely Thin – Extremely Thick
CutletNoneVery SmallSmallMedium>Medium
Length/Width Ratio1.35-1.501.30-1.34 or 1.51-1.551.25-1.29 or 1.56-1.601.20-1.24 or 1.61-1.65>1.20 or <1.65

Bowtie Effect in Oval Cut Diamonds

Due to their fancy, elongated shape, almost all Oval Cut Diamonds have a bowtie effect. The dark space stretching across a diamond’s center is considered the bowtie. The severity of a bowtie differs among diamonds: sometimes it’s easily noticeable, and other times it’s hardly visible.

An Oval Cut Diamond with a prominent bowtie will distract from the beauty of the stone. You’ll want to be certain not to choose an Oval Diamond with a dominant bowtie. We strongly suggest having a diamond expert review your stone before purchase.

In the example below, notice the difference between a visible bowtie and a non-bowtie diamond.

Bowtie effect in oval cut diamonds

Oval Cut Diamond – Length to Width Ratio

A diamond’s length to width ratio reveals how proportionate it is according to its intended shape (i.e. square or rectangular). To calculate the length to width ratio, divide the length of the diamond by its width. For instance, a diamond with a length of 5.5mm and a width of 3.5mm has a length to width ratio of 1.57.

While primarily dependent on personal style and preference, the Oval Cut Diamond is usually most appealing with a ratio between 1.30-1.50. Review various Oval Diamonds to determine which ratio is most appealing to you. You can also view them in engagement rings to have an idea how they look when set.

oval-cut-diamond-best-length-to-width-ratios

Oval Cut Diamond – Clarity

The GIA grades Clarity from best to worst:

  • IF – Internally Flawless
  • VVS1 – Very Very Small Inclusions 1
  • VVS2 – Very Very Small Inclusions 2
  • VS1 – Very Small Inclusions 1
  • VS2 – Very Small Inclusions 2
  • SI1 – Small Inclusions 1
  • SI2 – Small Inclusions 2
  • I1 – Inclusions 1
  • I2 – Inclusions 2

Due to the shape, inclusions and blemishes are well hidden with Oval Diamonds. Near the rounded end or where the jewelry setting will lay, it is almost impossible to see imperfections.

This is why we recommend an SI1 or an SI2 for excellent Clarity with the best value, like this beautiful H SI1 1 carat diamond. You can go higher in clarity, but the difference won’t be visible to the naked eye, so your budget is better spent in another area like Cut or Carat weight.

In addition to evaluating the bowtie and receiving the Clarity grade, you should also carefully review an Oval Diamond yourself or ask for the help of an expert. Inspect photos and only trust a vendor’s eye cleanliness check if they also are checking it themselves (as does James Allen). To learn more about the differences in oval cut diamond clarity, contact us.

Oval Cut Diamond – Color

Color is graded by the GIA on a scale from D to Z. When a diamond has a Z Color grade, it means the diamond contains an easily noticeable brown or yellow tint. On the other end of the scale, the D grade represents the most colorless a diamond can be.

While it’s usually impossible to see the difference between two color grades, the difference in price can be significant.

As it is difficult to notice the differences between color grades with the naked eye, we recommend focusing on how the color appears to you.

1ct G VS2 Oval in White Gold Solitaire Setting

As a general guideline, we recommend an H Color or better for Oval Cut Diamonds. This ensures your stone will look white in a white gold or platinum setting. For example, this H Color Oval Diamond in a white gold halo setting radiates whiteness. If you’re setting your diamond in yellow gold or rose gold, feel free to drop down to a J or K to save money or to buy a larger stone. As an example, this J color diamond beams bright white in a rose gold setting.

If you want to ensure you’re getting an Oval Diamond that appears clear to the naked eye and maintains an excellent price point, reach out to our experts and we’ll be happy to help.

Best Settings for Oval Cut Diamonds

You can design an oval cut diamond ring with almost any kind of setting, from vintage to side stone. Oval diamonds look exceptional in a few particular styles, though. We’ve outlined the best settings below with engagement ring inspiration.

Halo settings: A sparkling halo of small diamonds makes an oval cut radiate even more. Oval engagement rings with a halo setting boast plenty of character—no matter the carat weight.

Solitaire settings: The classic, simple style of a solitaire setting lets the oval take center stage. From yellow gold to rose gold, a solitaire ring will never go out of style.

Side-stone settings: Whether it’s a three-stone ring or a setting with multiple stones, the extra sparkle adds elegance to the oval shape.

Pavé settings: A pavé ring brings additional character and sparkle to any oval cut diamond. The styles range from twisted bands to solitaire-style pavé rings.

Shop for oval cut diamond engagament rings here.

Conclusion

The curved shape of the Oval Cut Diamond is perfect for those with an active lifestyle because it doesn’t contain any pointed edges. The fancy Oval Diamond also showcases a distinct personality with a high level of brilliance and fire. Consider an Oval Cut Diamond for those who want an elegant look with unique flair and excellent durability.

If you’re looking to purchase an Oval Cut Diamond and would like assistance in evaluating it before purchase, contact one of our diamond experts today.

About the author
Mike learned the diamond business from the ground-up at Leo Schachter Diamonds - one of the world's top diamond manufacturers. He has been recognized as a diamond industry expert by Time, PeopleMoney, The Daily Mirror, NerdWallet, The Times Herald, Yahoo Finance Australia, The Art of Charm, The Washington Diplomat, The Next Web, and more. See more
Top Recommended Vendors
James Allen James Allen is the leader in online diamond sales. Their imaging technology is at the point where it's almost the same as inspecting a diamond with a jeweler's loupe. Their customer experience is best in class, and they have recently upgraded their non-engagement jewelry inventory as well.
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Blue Nile Blue Nile is the largest and most well known internet jewelry seller. They have the industry-leading largest available exclusive online inventory. Their high quality images are catching up to James Allens' and their prices are amazing. 
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. Blue Nile will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisal
  • One free resizing within the first year of purchase
  • High quality images of about half of their diamonds
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