The Diamond Pro

Which Diamond Cut Has the Most Sparkle?

By Michael Fried
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A diamond’s beautiful sparkle is its defining feature, instantly signaling to your fiancé-to-be that they’re wearing something that’s truly unique and special.

Diamonds are famous for their sparkle, or brilliance. While every diamond will sparkle in certain lighting conditions, certain diamond cuts, or shapes, are more likely to have a pronounced, very noticeable sparkle than others. 

Below, we’ve explained which diamond cuts sparkle the most. We’ve also shared some expert advice on how to choose a diamond that reflects as much light as possible, producing the most impressive sparkle, brilliance and fire. 

What Makes a Diamond Sparkle?

Before we get into the sparkliest diamond shapes, let’s look at what makes a diamond sparkle in the first place.

A diamond’s sparkle depends on its ability to take in light, then reflect the light back out towards the person looking at the diamond. The more light the diamond reflects from its facets, the more sparkly it will typically look. 

To do this, diamonds are cut into shapes made up of numerous facets. Each facet acts similarly to a mirror, reflecting light from one part of the diamond to another, then bouncing it back out of the diamond to create a beautiful sparkle. 

Now, it’s important to break down what “sparkle” means in this sense, since well cut diamonds can reflect different types of light. This ability to reflect light is typically referred to as “brilliance” and “fire.”

Brilliance refers to a diamond’s ability to reflect white light. The more white light a diamond can reflect off its table to your eyes, the more brilliant it is. This is the factor that makes a diamond sparkle and look particularly impressive and beautiful.

Fire refers to a diamond’s ability to disperse colored light. A diamond with great fire might give off a colored reflection, giving it a unique character and beauty. Fire can take the form of any of the spectral colors, from red to orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.

Most of the time, diamond cuts with more facets are more brilliant than diamond cuts that have fewer facets. In fact, some diamond cuts are designed specifically to have the ideal number of facets for optimal light reflection and brilliance.

Which Diamond Cuts Sparkle the Most?

Round Brilliant Cut

The most brilliant, or sparkliest, diamond cut is the round brilliant cut. Round brilliant diamonds are cut to have 58 facets (including the culet), allowing light to enter the diamond and reflect off of every facet to create a beautiful sparkle.

Interestingly, the round brilliant diamond cut was actually designed and engineered specifically to have the strongest possible sparkle. 

In 1919, Marcel Tolkowsky — an engineer and diamond cutter — published a new mathematical formula for achieving optimal diamond brilliance as his PhD thesis. The formula resulted in the creation of the round brilliant cut, now by far the world’s most popular diamond shape. 

As such, if you’re searching for the sparkliest, most brilliant diamond possible, the round brilliant cut is the shape you’ll typically want to choose.

Princess, Radiant and Cushion Cuts

These cuts are all well-known for their beautiful sparkle. They’re great alternatives that offer a similar level of brilliance and fire at a lower cost per carat than a round brilliant cut diamond.

Princess Cut

The princess cut has a great ability to chop up and reflect light. In a high cut quality, a princess cut diamond can have an absolutely stunning sparkle.

Radiant Cut

The radiant cut was developed specifically to combine the best aspects of the round brilliant cut and the emerald cut, with 70 facets giving it a great ability to reflect light and create a beautiful sparkle.

Cushion Cut

The cushion cut is very good at reflecting light, giving it a high level of brilliance and fire. While it doesn’t quite match the round brilliant cut, it offers a strong sparkle at a significantly lower price per carat.

Oval, Pear, Heart and Marquise

Although the round brilliant diamond cut has the strongest sparkle, it isn’t the only diamond cut that’s good at taking in and reflecting light. 

Several other diamond cuts share characteristics with the round brilliant cut, including a pattern of facets that’s designed to reflect as much light as possible. These include the oval, marquise and pear cuts.

Oval Cut

Oval diamonds are, as you’d expect from their name, cut in an oval shape, with a similar facet pattern to the round brilliant cut. Similar to the marquise cut, this elongated shape means that the oval cut wears slightly larger than differently cut diamonds of the same carat weight. 

There are 56 facets on an oval diamond, allowing this cut to show off gorgeous brilliance and fire when it’s cut well. 

Pear Cut

Like the marquise and oval cuts, the pear cut (or, more commonly, the pear shape) has a similar facet pattern to the round brilliant cut. If fact, just like the round brilliant cut, a typical pear shape diamond has 58 facets, allowing it to take in and reflect an excellent amount of light.

Unfortunately, as we’ve covered in our pear shape diamonds guide, many pear shape diamonds are cut poorly, resulting in a weak sparkle. If you’re looking for a pear-shaped diamond and want to avoid buying one with poor brilliance, feel free to contact us for free assistance

Heart Cut

Heart cut, or heart-shaped, diamonds are cut similarly to round brilliant diamonds, with between 56 and 58 facets. This means that when they’re cut well, they can have a truly stunning level of brilliance and fire.

Like other fancy shape diamonds, finding a well-cut heart shape diamond can be a challenging process. Again, if you’re interested in a heart-shaped diamond and aren’t sure what to look for, feel free to contact us for expert advice. 

Marquise Cut

The marquise cut was developed in the 18th century when King Louis XV of France asked for a diamond cut into the shape of the lips of his mistress, the Marchioness Madame de Pompadour, Jeanne Antoinette Poisson. 

With 56 facets, the marquise cut has a similar facet pattern to the round brilliant cut. This gives it excellent brilliance, meaning a well-cut marquise diamond will offer plenty of sparkle. 

In addition to its impressive sparkle, the marquise cut tends to look slightly larger than differently cut diamonds of the same carat weight. This makes it an option worth considering if you want a diamond that combines a beautiful sparkle with impressive presence. 

Emerald and Asscher Cuts

While beautiful in their own right, the Asscher and Emerald cuts aren’t well known for their brilliance. Due to their design and facet pattern, diamonds in these shapes generally aren’t as bright and sparkly as those with a shape based on the brilliant cut.

However, these shapes are prized for their clarity and luster. Cut well and in a high clarity grade, a high-quality Asscher or Emerald cut diamond can have a unique, elegant appearance.

There’s More to A Diamond’s Sparkle Than Just Shape

In general, diamonds with a large number of facets such as those listed above will sparkle more than diamonds with fewer facets.

However, the shape of a diamond is just one factor out of many that can determine how strongly it sparkles. Other factors, such as its cut quality, length to width ratio and depth to table ratio all affect a diamond’s brilliance, fire and overall ability to sparkle. 

Below, we’ve shared several tips to help you choose a diamond with the strongest brilliance and fire.

Choose an Ideal Cut Diamond

As we mentioned in our guide to the 4 Cs of diamonds, a diamond’s beauty is represented by four components: its cut, color, clarity and carat weight.

Of these four components, the cut quality has the largest impact on a diamond’s brilliance and fire. Simply put, a well-cut diamond will reflect far more light than a badly cut one, resulting in a much stronger, more visible sparkle. 

As we recommend in our guide to diamond cut, we highly recommend limiting your search to diamonds with a high-quality cut grade.

For a round brilliant cut diamond, limit your selection to “Excellent” (if the diamond is graded by GIA) or “Ideal” (if it’s graded by AGS). These cut grades ensure that the diamond has the right proportions for optimal brilliance and fire.

For fancy shape diamonds, such as the marquise, oval, pear and heart cuts, choosing the right diamond can be more of a challenge. The cut quality of fancy shape diamonds generally can’t be deciphered using certification alone, meaning you’ll need to closely look at images. 

We recommend using a trusted online diamond vendor such as James Allen or Blue Nile, both of whom provide high-resolution, 360-degree images of their loose diamonds that you can use to spot any obvious cut problems. 

If you’re considering a fancy shape diamond, we recommend using the length to width ratio and depth to table ratio guidelines in our diamond shape guide to avoid buying a diamond that won’t reflect light well. 

Cut is essential for optimal sparkle, making it important to take this component of the four Cs as seriously as possible. More than any other factor, the cut of a diamond will affect how strongly it sparkles, both in and out of direct light. 

Choose a Setting That Lets in a Lot of Light

The setting you choose for your diamond can have a surprisingly large impact on how much it sparkles. For optimal brilliance and fire, choosing a prong setting that allows light to enter into the diamond from every angle and maximize its sparkle. 

Bezel settings, which cover part of the surface of the diamond, are best avoided, as they can block light from entering into the diamond and reflecting off of its facets. Our engagement ring setting guide covers this topic in more detail. 

For Extra Sparkle, Consider a Halo or Pave Setting

Halo settings feature a loop of smaller diamonds that surround the center stone, boosting the perceived size of the center diamond and giving the ring extra presence on our fiancé-to-be’s finger. 

As you might expect, more diamonds equals more sparkle. While picking a halo setting won’t increase the brilliance and fire of your center stone, the small diamonds that make up the halo can also catch light and sparkle on their own.

For a more subtle appearance, a pavé setting can also be a great choice. Pavé settings use a line of small diamonds that wrap around the band, adding a tasteful amount of extra sparkle to complement the center stone. 

Keep Your Diamond Clean and Properly Cared For

Over time, it’s common for a diamond to pick up dirt, oil and residue. Even touching a diamond can be enough to transfer the natural oil from your fingers onto its surface, dulling its shine and reducing its brilliance. 

For optimal sparkle, make sure you properly care for your engagement ring. Keeping a diamond clean will help it shine brightly and maximize its brilliance and fire. 

Stick to Diamonds With GIA or AGS Certification

As we mentioned above, it’s important to stick to diamonds that have an Excellent (GIA) or Ideal (AGS) cut grade.

It’s also important to stick to diamonds that are certified by either the GIA or AGS. These are the two most trusted, reliable grading diamond entities in the world. Both provide objective, accurate assessments of a diamond’s quality, without any exaggerations or embellishments.

Other grading entities, such as IGI and EGL, aren’t as reliable, and often provide artificially high ratings that make a diamond seem better than it really is. 

While these typically affect color and clarity more than cut, it’s still best to stick to diamonds that come with a certificate from the GIA or AGS to make sure you’re really getting what you expect. 

Conclusion

If you’re looking for the sparkliest diamond you can find, you’ll want to stick to the round brilliant cut. This cut was specifically designed in the early 20th century to sparkle as much as possible, giving a well-cut round brilliant diamond unbeatable brilliance and fire.

Other diamond shapes that reflect a lot of light, such as the marquise, oval, pear and heart cuts, can also sparkle beautifully. The princess, radiant and cushion cuts also look fantastic when cut to a high standard and are all great choices. 

With this said, there’s more to a diamond’s sparkle than just its shape. Look for a diamond that has an Ideal (GIA) or Excellent (AGS) cut grade, as these are the most likely to reflect light and produce a gorgeous sparkle.

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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