The Diamond Pro

Diamond Shapes and Pricing: Which Shape is the Most Affordable?

By Michael Fried
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When it comes to pricing, not all diamond shapes are equal. For the most part, shapes that use less of the rough diamond, such as the round brilliant cut, cost more per carat than shapes such  as the emerald, princess and radiant cuts. 

This means that if you’re more interested in the size of your engagement ring’s diamond than its shape, you’ll get better value for money by choosing a fancy shape over a round diamond. 

We’ve listed the best value diamond shapes, as well as the reasons why they’re comparatively affordable, below. We’ve also explained how factors other than shape can affect the price of a diamond and how you can use these to your advantage as a customer. 

Whichever shape you choose, we recommend ordering your loose diamond or engagement ring from James Allen or Blue Nile. Both of these vendors offer the best prices in the industry, as well as comprehensive guarantees to make sure you’re satisfied with the ring you receive.

A lot of would-be diamond buyers are surprised to learn that certain diamond shapes cost more than others. 

At first, this doesn’t appear to make sense. After all, aren’t you paying for the diamond based on its cut quality, color, clarity and carat weight — known in the industry as the four Cs — rather than its shape? 

The answer is, well, yes and no. While the four Cs have a major impact on a diamond’s price, a specific diamond’s price is also affected by the total percentage of the rough diamond that’s lost during the cutting and polishing process. 

Why Diamond Pricing Varies From Shape to Shape

Remember, diamonds don’t come out of the ground clean, cut and brilliant. Instead, they’re cut into a specific shape by a diamond cutter from a rough diamond. Depending on the specific cut used for the diamond, between 20 and 60% of the rough stone’s original weight is removed. 

The percentage of the rough diamond that’s removed can vary dramatically from one diamond shape to another. For example, the average princess cut diamond uses about 80% of the rough diamond’s carat weight. This means that only 20% of the rough stone is lost during cutting. 

For a round diamond, only about 40% of the original stone is left after the cutting and polishing process is finished. As a result, about 60% of the rough diamond is removed. The material that is removed can’t be used for other diamonds, meaning it’s discarded as part of the process. 

As you’d expect, this has a significant effect on pricing. Because of this huge difference in the amount of rough diamond that’s used for each shape, prices for different diamond shapes can vary hugely depending on what you’re looking for.

Diamond Shapes and Prices

Below, we’ve listed the average price for each diamond shape. We’ve used James Allen to find pricing information for each diamond, as their prices for loose diamonds are some of the most competitive in the industry. 

For each diamond shape, we’ve limited our selection to diamonds with the following cut, clarity and color attributes: 

  • Cut Quality: Ideal. In our guide to diamond cut grades, we recommend only choosing diamonds with an “Excellent” or “Ideal” cut grade. As such, we’ve only used this grade for the diamonds features in our comparison.

    For fancy shape diamonds, where cut grades aren’t available, we’ve aimed to choose diamonds that offer optimal proportions, symmetry and other cut qualities.
  • Color: J. In our guide to diamond color, this is our recommended color for round brilliant cut diamonds set in white gold. We’ve used it as the color criteria for all of the diamonds listed below.
  • Clarity: SI1. In our guide to diamond clarity, we mentioned that certain diamond shapes show inclusions more than others. We’ve selected SI1 as our clarity grade, as diamonds with this grade tend to be eye clean, even if they do have some small inclusions. 

To keep things simple, we’ve chosen a weight of exactly one carat for all of the diamonds used in our comparison. In case a diamond of exactly one carat wasn’t available, we’ve selected the diamond with a carat weight as close to 1.00 as possible. 

We’ve also limited our search to diamonds that come with a GIA certificate. This is an important feature for any diamond, as it provides an unbiased, expert grading of the diamond’s quality and value. 

With these details out of the way, let’s start our comparison by looking at the price of the most popular diamond shape of all: the round brilliant cut. 

Round Cut Diamond Prices

The round brilliant cut is by far the most popular diamond shape available. As we mentioned in our round cut diamond buying guide, diamonds in this shape account for approximately 75% of all diamonds sold worldwide. 

Round cut diamonds are the most expensive diamond shape. The reason for this is that a large amount of the rough diamond is discarded in the cutting and polishing process. As we explained above, the average round cut diamond only uses about 40% of the original stone.

Another factor that affects the price of a round cut diamond is this shape’s popularity. Since the majority of engagement rings feature this diamond shape, the majority of suppliers, wholesalers and vendors pay a premium due to the extra demand. 

As such, you can expect to pay more for a round cut diamond than you would for just about any other diamond shape. 

Using James Allen’s search filters, we found this stunning 1.00 carat, J color, SI1, excellent cut round diamond. It looks excellent and costs $3,390 in total. From Blue Nile, a similar 1.04 carat, J color, SI1 round diamond costs $3,729

Princess Cut Diamond Prices

After the round brilliant cut, the princess cut is the second most popular diamond shape. It has a square surface and is shaped like an inverted pyramid. Due to its unique shape, it offers similar brilliance to the round brilliant cut at a significantly lower price point.

The reason for the princess cut’s comparatively low cost is the relatively small of rough diamond that’s wasted during the cutting and polishing process. While a finished round cut diamond only uses about 40% of the original stone, a princess cut diamond can use as much as 80%. 

This makes the princess cut a good choice if you’re specifically looking for a large diamond but don’t want to overspend for a round brilliant cut.

We found this beautiful 1.00 carat, J color, SI1, ideal princess diamond from James Allen for a price of $2,030. From a cost per carat perspective, this diamond is about 40% more affordable than the round brilliant cut diamond featured above.

We also found this 1.00 carat, J color, SI1 princess cut diamond from Blue Nile, which provides similar value for money at $2,093. 

Cushion Cut Diamond Prices

Cushion cut diamonds have a square shape with rounded edges, similar to a pillow. There are several variations of the cushion cut, all of which use its precise light dispersion to produce an incredible amount of fire and sparkle. 

We’ve gone into more detail about the precise shape of the cushion cut in our full cushion cut diamonds guide

The cushion cut is one of the best diamond shapes from a value for money perspective. Since such a small percentage of the original rough diamond is discarded in the cutting and polishing process, cushion cut diamonds are very affordable. 

We found this gorgeous 1.00 carat, J color, SI1, excellent cut cushion cut diamond from James Allen. It’s available for $2,050, making it an exceptional value for money option. We also found this ever-so-slightly larger 1.01 carat, J color SI1 diamond from Blue Nile, priced at $2,479. 

Emerald Cut Diamond Prices

Emerald cut diamonds have a large table surface and long, straight lines — referred to as “steps” — that produce impressive reflections. Diamonds of this shape are usually rectangular, although some emerald cut diamonds have a square shape.

Since the emerald cut has a large table, inclusions in the diamond are easy to notice. Because of this, it’s best to choose an emerald cut diamond with a relatively high clarity grade — for most diamonds, a VS1 or VS2 grade is best, although a high quality SI1 can also be acceptable. 

Like the princess and cushion cuts, the emerald cut uses a fairly large percentage of the rough diamond. This makes it a great value for money option. The unique shape of this diamond cut also gives it a larger appearance than many other diamond cuts of equivalent carat weight. 

We found this impressive 1.00 carat, J color, SI1 emerald cut diamond from James Allen for a price of $2,250. It comes with a GIA report and offers outstanding value for money, with a price that’s approximately 34% lower than an equivalent round cut diamond. 

From Blue Nile, we found this great looking 1.01 carat, J color, SI1 emerald cut diamond, which is available for $2,276. 

Oval Cut Diamond Prices

Oval cut diamonds are shaped, as their name suggests, like an oval. This shape offers excellent brilliance, as well as a high level of durability. 

One of the main advantages of the oval cut is its perceived size. Thanks to the elongated shape in which an oval cut diamond is cut and polished, diamonds in this shape can often appear to be larger than they really are. 

Oval cut diamonds use a larger amount of the rough stone than round cut diamonds, resulting in better value for money. As a result, this shape is an excellent choice if you want a diamond that looks large, impressive and brilliant but don’t like the pricing of a round brilliant cut. 

We found this beautiful 1.00 carat, J color, SI1 oval cut diamond from James Allen for $2,440, or 28% less than a round cut diamond of equivalent carat weight. This diamond from Blue Nile has an equal carat weight, color and clarity, as well as a very good cut quality, for $2,721. 

Radiant Cut Diamond Prices

Invented by Henry Grossbard in the 1970s, the radiant cut was designed to combine the main benefits of the round brilliant cut — most notably, its brilliance — with the perceived large size of the emerald cut. 

Radiant cut diamonds feature between 62 and 70 facets, many of which are on the diamond’s pavilion. Like emerald and oval cut diamonds, radiant cut diamonds tend to appear larger than they really are due to their unique shape. 

Diamonds of this cut are durable, making them a good option if your fiancé-to-be has an active lifestyle that could damage a diamond of a more delicate cut.

If perceived size if the main feature you’re looking for in a diamond, a radiant cut diamond is an excellent choice. Because of the numerous facets in this type of diamond, inclusions tend to be difficult to see, meaning a diamond with a clarity grade of SI1 or SI2 can look fantastic. 

We found this stunning 1.00 carat, J color, SI1 radiant cut diamond from James Allen for a price of just $2,250. Compared to the round brilliant cut diamond featured above, this diamond is 34% less expensive. 

We also found this 1.01 carat, J color, SI1 radiant cut diamond from Blue Nile. It looks excellent and is available for $2,271. 

Asscher Cut Diamond Prices

First developed by the Royal Asscher company in the early 20th century, the Asscher cut is a type of step cut diamond shape that features 58 facets. 

Asscher cut diamonds can look similar to square emerald cuts. Diamonds cut in this shape are designed to showcase their clarity and lustre. This means that they can look impressive if their color and clarity are excellent. 

However, it also means that any inclusions in the diamond are more visible than they would be with a round brilliant or princess cut. Because of this, it’s important to set a minimum grade for color and clarity before you compare any diamonds, as we explain in our Asscher cut guide

Due to their similarities to the emerald cut, Asscher cut diamonds use a fairly large percentage of the original rough diamond. Because of this, they generally offer better value per carat than round cut and similar diamonds. 

We found this impressive 1.01 carat, J color, SI1 Asscher cut diamond from James Allen for a price of $2,790. It’s worth noting that less expensive Asscher cut diamonds were also available in the same carat weight, cut, color and clarity, however all of these had obvious inclusions. 

From Blue Nile, we found this 1.01 carat, J color, SI1 Asscher cut diamond. It’s available for a price of $2,686. 

Marquise Cut Diamond Prices

Flattering and beautiful, the Marquise cut dates back to the 18th century, when King Louis XV of France requested a diamond cut in the shape of the lips of his chief mistress, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, the Marchioness Madame de Pompadour. 

Over the years, this diamond cut earned the name Marquise. With a unique shape that’s easily identifiable, the Marquise cut tends to look larger than many diamonds of an equal carat weight in different cuts. 

Due to its fancy shape, determining the cut quality of a Marquise diamond can be difficult. We recommend reading our Marquise diamond guide if you’re considering a diamond with this cut , or contacting us for personalized help.

We found this gorgeous 1.00 carat, J color, SI1 Marquise cut diamond from James Allen for a total of $2,480. This represents a significant 26% saving compared to the 1.00 carat round cut diamond featured further up the page. 

This 1.00 carat, J color, SI1 Marquise cut diamond from Blue Nile is slightly more expensive at $2,637, but offers eye-catching, fantastic looks. 

Heart Shaped Diamond Prices

Charming and beautiful, heart shaped diamonds are a great way of showing your fiancé-to-be how much they mean to you.

While it might not look similar at first glance, the heart shape is a modified version of the round brilliant cut. As we’ve covered in our guide to heart shaped diamonds, it’s important to choose a heart shaped diamond that has optimal symmetry, particularly in the lobes of the heart (read more about how to choose a heart shape diamond here).

As a brilliant cut, the heart shape does a good job of hiding small inclusions that may be found inside the diamond. Because of this, a clarity grade of SI1 (we’ve chosen this for the example below) will almost always give you an eye clean diamond.

Despite their similarities to the round brilliant cut, heart shaped diamonds use significantly more of their original rough diamond. This makes them a more affordable option than a round brilliant cut diamond.  

We found this charming 1.00 carat, J color, SI1 heart shaped diamond from James Allen for just $2,280, a 32% saving compared to the round brilliant cut diamond featured above. 

This 1.01 carat, J color, SI1 heart shaped diamond from Blue Nile costs slightly more at $2,707 and also offers a gorgeous, romantic appearance that’s fantastic as an engagement ring center stone. 

Pear Shaped Diamond Prices

Timeless and elegant, pear shaped diamonds have a rounded side that narrows down to a point at the opposite end of the diamond. When it’s worn on your fiancé-to-be’s finger, the pointed end of the diamond will point towards their heart.

Like other fancy shape diamonds, it’s important to look for a pear shaped diamond with the right proportions. Our guide to pear shaped diamonds goes into more detail on what to look for, both in terms of measurements and cut, color and clarity grade.

Thanks to their unique shape, pear shaped diamonds use more of the rough diamond than the round brilliant cut, making them a good value option. This shape also conceals inclusions very well, meaning an SI1 or SI2 clarity grade will still produce a beautiful, eye clean stone.

We found this gorgeous 1.00 carat, J color, SI1 pear shaped diamond from James Allen for a price of $2,270, a full 33% cheaper than the round brilliant cut diamond of equal carat weight from James Allen we looked at earlier. 

From Blue Nile, we found this 1.00 carat, J color, SI1 pear shaped diamond. Like the diamond from James Allen, it looks outstanding and costs significantly less than a round cut diamond of equal carat weight. 

Which Diamond Shape is the Most Affordable?

From a pure carat weight per dollar perspective, the round brilliant cut is almost always the most expensive diamond shape. As we covered earlier, this is because of the large percentage of the rough diamond that needs to be discarded during the cutting and polishing process.

On the other hand, the Asscher, emerald, radiant, cushion and princess cuts all offer exceptional value from a carat weight perspective. These shapes ranged from 30% to as much as 44% less per carat than the round cut diamond of equal color and clarity that we used as a comparison. 

Of these, the radiant cut diamond we found was almost $1,500 less expensive than a round cut diamond of the same carat weight, clarity and color. 

It’s worth pointing out that no two diamonds are absolutely identical, meaning it’s impossible to do a perfect comparison. It’s also important to note that some cuts may display color, inclusions and other flaws more easily than others, which can affect their appearance. 

However, it’s clear that many fancy cuts offer excellent value for money, provided the size of the diamond if your top concern. This makes a fancy shape diamond a great option if you’re looking for a large center stone, but don’t have the budget for a round brilliant cut diamond.

Whichever diamond shape you decide on, it’s important to buy your diamond and setting from a reputable online vendor. We recommend James Allen and Blue Nile, both of whom provide HD, 360° photos of their diamonds, great pricing and a generous, customer-friendly return policy. 

If you need help picking out a diamond or setting, feel free to contact us. Our experts can help you find the largest, highest quality diamond for your budget and tastes. 

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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