The Diamond Pro

How the Shape of a Diamond Affects its Price

By Michael Fried
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More than color, clarity or any other factor, the shape of a diamond has a massive impact on its appearance. 

It also has a significant impact on its price. Although most people associate a higher price with a larger carat weight, the shape of diamond that you choose can also have a significant impact on how much it will cost.

For example, this 1 carat G color SI1 clarity excellent cut round brilliant diamond from Blue Nile costs $5,250. Meanwhile, this princess cut diamond, which is identical in color, clarity and carat weight, only costs $3,263. If everything else is equal, how is this possible?

1ct g SI1 round cut from blue nile
1ct G/SI1 Round Cut from Blue Nile

The answer is simple: while these two diamonds have the same carat weight, the manufacturing process for each cut uses a different percentage of the original rough diamond.

We’ve explained this in more detail below, along with some additional information on the most expensive and least expensive diamond shapes. 

Why Some Diamond Shapes Are More Expensive Than Others

For many consumers, seeing two differently shaped diamonds of equal cut quality, color, clarity and carat weight simply doesn’t make sense. After all, isn’t a diamond a diamond, meaning the two stones should cost the same amount? 

Well, not quite. While a diamond is a diamond, a variety of factors can make certain diamond shapes more expensive than others. 

The first of these is the amount of diamond that’s wasted during the cutting process. Each and every diamond you see online or in a jeweler’s display case began its life as a rough diamond, after which it was cut and polished into a specific shape. 

Each diamond shape requires a different cutting process. For example, the process required to cut a rough diamond into a round brilliant cut diamond is totally different from the process used to cut a rough diamond into an emerald cut diamond

1ct G SI1 asscher cut from james allen
1ct G/SI1 Asscher Cut from James Allen

During the cutting process, a certain percentage of the rough diamond is removed in order to cut the diamond into its finished shape. This percentage can vary massively between shapes, with some wasting a much larger amount of the rough diamond than others. 

The larger the amount of the rough diamond that’s discarded during the cutting process, the higher the average cost per carat for the finished diamond. 

For example, princess cut diamonds are typically very affordable. The reason for this is that a princess cut diamond uses, on average, about 80% of the rough diamond’s carat weight. This means that only about 20% of the rough diamond is disposed of during the cutting process.  

On the other hand, the average round brilliant diamond only uses about 40% of the total rough diamond’s carat weight. About 60% of the rough stone is lost in the cutting process, resulting in a higher price, on average, per carat. 

The cutting process isn’t the only factor that influences the relationship between diamond shape and pricing. Another factor is popularity.

The round brilliant cut is by far the most popular diamond shape. Round diamonds account for 75% of all diamond sales, as well as about 60% of engagement rings. Due to this high level of demand, there’s an incentive for jewelers and suppliers to pay a premium for this shape. 

What’s the Most Expensive Diamond Cut?

As you might expect after reading the information above, the round brilliant cut diamond is the most expensive diamond shape. This is due to the amount of rough diamond that’s discarded during the cutting process, as well as the consistently high level of global demand. 

As we covered in our guide to diamond shapes and pricing, round diamonds are as much as 65% more expensive than the least expensive diamond shapes. 

While their high price can make them seem like a poor deal in comparison to other diamond shapes, round cut diamonds are highly sought after for several good reasons:

  • They’re beautiful. Round cut diamonds have 58 facets, allowing them to reflect an incredible amount of light and giving them a stunning appearance.
  • They’re extremely brilliant. When cut well, round diamonds reflect a huge amount of white light, giving them exceptional brilliance.
  • They have great fire. A well-cut round diamond disperses an incredible amount of fire, or colored light, giving it a unique beauty.
  • They’re versatile. Round brilliant diamonds have an incredible versatile appearance, allowing them to look great in all styles of engagement ring setting, as well as in other diamond jewelry.
  • They’re timeless. While some other diamond shapes go in and out of style, the round brilliant cut has a timeless appearance that will always look great.

What’s the Cheapest Diamond Shape?

In general, the cheapest diamond shapes are those that use the largest amount of the original rough diamond. These include the Asscher, radiant, emerald, princess and cushion cuts:

Each diamond shape is different, making it important to be aware of what to look for before you buy anything. Our diamond shapes guide lists all 12 of the most popular diamond shapes, with specific pointers and buying tips to help you get the best deal on your preferred diamond. 

Conclusion

A variety of factors all affect the price you’ll pay for different diamond shapes, from the amount of rough diamond that’s discarded during the cutting process to the level of global demand for each specific shape. 

Most of the time, round brilliant cut diamonds will be the most expensive, while shapes like the Asscher, radiant, emerald, princess and cushion cuts are more affordable and may offer better value for money. 

If you need expert help finding the right diamond, contact us. Our experts can help you find the largest, highest quality diamond to suit your tastes, preferences and budget. 

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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