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.

Best Settings for Oval Cut Diamonds

Oval cut diamonds are versatile, meaning they can look good in just about any setting.

The best settings for oval cut diamonds generally have four or six prongs, showcasing the shape of the diamond. Oval cut diamonds can also look fantastic in bezel settings. Some oval cut diamond engagement rings, particularly those with three or five stones, feature four or six prongs for the center diamond, plus a bezel setting to hold the side diamonds.

In terms of style, 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 (when you build your own engagement ring, you can combine the oval with even more designs).

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.

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.

Oval Cut Diamond – Prices

In general, oval cut diamonds are less expensive than round brilliant cut diamonds of the same cut quality, color, clarity and carat weight. In fact, in our guide to diamond shapes and pricing, we compared the oval cut to the round brilliant cut and found that oval cut diamonds are, on average, about 28% less expensive per carat.

This is because the oval cut uses a larger amount of the rough diamond. Since less of the rough diamond is discarded during the cutting and polishing process, you can get better value for money (at least from a dollars-per-carat perspective) from an oval cut than from many other diamond shapes.

Like with all diamonds, the price per carat for an oval cut diamond increases exponentially as the diamond’s carat weight increases. Below, we’ve compared the price for oval cut diamonds in four popular diamond sizes — 1 carat, 2 carat, 3 carat and 4 carat. For a fair comparison, we’ve chosen the G color grade, SI1 clarity grade and Excellent cut grade for all of the diamonds compared below.

Prices of Oval Cut Diamonds

DiamondDiamond PricePrice Per CaratSpecs
1.00 Carat G Color, SI1 Clarity Oval Cut Diamond$3,730$3,730At under $4,000, this 1 carat oval cut diamond offers great value for money and exceptional beauty.
2.01 Carat G Color, SI1 Clarity Oval Cut Diamond$16,100$8,050As you can see, the price per carat for oval cut diamonds rises exponentially. This 2 carat diamond is more than twice as much per diamond as a smaller 1 carat stone.
3.02 Carat G Color, SI1 Clarity Oval Cut Diamond$36,180$11,980This 3 carat oval cut diamond looks absolutely stunning, with a slight increase in cost per carat compared to the 2 carat diamond above.
4.52 Carat, G Color, SI1 Clarity Oval Cut Diamond$77,810$17,215This 4.52 carat oval cut diamond is large and beautiful. As with other diamond shapes, the cost per carat increases with the carat weight of the diamond.

Oval Diamond Size Chart

Like all diamonds, oval cut diamonds are sold by carat weight rather than by size. You can use the chart below to convert a diamond’s carat weight into its length and width measurements.

Note that because all diamonds vary slightly in length to width ratio, the chart below uses the average measurements of an oval cut diamond. If you choose a diamond with a long or short length-to-width ratio, it may have different measurements from those provided below. For the best looking oval cut diamond, we recommend sticking to our guidelines above and choosing a diamond with a length to width ratio in the 1.30-1.50 range.

Oval Cut Diamond Sizes (Carat Weight to Length/Width in MM)

Carat WeightSize in MM
0.25 carat5*3.5mm
0.33 carat5.5*3.5mm
0.35 carat5*4mm
0.50 carat6*4mm
0.60 carat6*5mm
0.65 carat6.5*4.5mm
0.75 carat7*5mm
1.00 carat7.7*5.7mm
1.25 carat8*6mm
1.5 carat8.5*6.5mm
2.00 carat9*7mm
2.5 carat10*8mm
2.88 carat10.5*8.5mm
3 carat12*8mm
4 carat12.9*8.6mm
5 carat13.9*9.3mm
6 carat14.5*10mm
8.20 carat14.7*12mm
8.75 carat15*12mm
9.30 carat16*12mm
11.88 carat16*14mm
12.86 carat18*13mm
14.96 carat20*15mm

To imagine this even better, we made this simple comparison to a quarter dollar coin:

size vs. carat weight oval cut

Oval vs. Round Diamonds

Although oval cut and round brilliant cut diamonds can look similar at first glance (and, in fact, do share numerous similar features), there are several key differences between these two diamonds shapes.

The first is the shape. As you’d expect from their names, oval cut diamonds are oval and round diamonds are round. But beyond the obvious, there are also several key differences in shape between oval cut and round diamonds.

The biggest of these is that round cut diamonds are always round. While there can be some slight variation in length to width ratio between different round cut diamonds, all round diamonds have either a perfect or near-perfect round shape.

Oval cut diamonds, on the other hand, come in a variety of oval shapes. Depending on the length to width ratio of an oval cut diamond, it may have a wide, normal or slender oval shape.

The second is the level of brilliance. A diamond’s brilliance refers to the strength of its sparkle and fire. Oval cut and round cut diamonds are both brilliant cuts, meaning they’re designed to maximize the reflection of light and create a powerful sparkle. In fact, they both have the same number of facets — 58, to be precise.

Assuming all other factors are equal, a round brilliant cut diamond will have a slightly stronger sparkle than an equivalent oval cut diamond. However, the difference between these two diamond shapes is very subtle, with both offering an excellent level of brilliance and fire.

The third is the perceived size. Because the oval cut diamond shape has an elongated design, an oval cut diamond will look slightly larger than a round brilliant cut diamond of the same carat weight.

For example, this 1 carat round cut brilliant diamond has measurements of 6.49*6.46mm. This 1 carat oval cut diamond, which is identical in carat weight, has measurements of 7.55*5.54mm. Because of its extra length, it will appear slightly larger than the equivalently-sized round cut diamond once it’s set in an engagement ring.

This makes the oval cut a great shape to consider if you’re looking for a diamond that appears larger than its true carat weight.

Finally, there’s the difference in price. As we covered in our guide to diamond shapes and pricing, the round brilliant cut is by far the most expensive diamond shape on a per-carat basis. This is because it requires a large amount of the rough diamond to be discarded during the cutting and polishing process.

Because the oval cut uses a larger amount of the original rough diamond, it’s generally a more affordable shape on a per-carat basis. For example, the 1.01 carat, H color, SI1 oval cut diamond we featured above costs $3,540 from James Allen. Meanwhile, the 1.00 carat round brilliant cut diamond, which has identical color and clarity grades, costs $4,930.

This makes the round cut diamond almost 40% more expensive than the oval cut diamond.

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
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