How to Choose the Best Diamond Shape for an Engagement Ring

Diamonds come in many different shapes, each with its own unique qualities. Choosing the right diamond shape for an engagement ring is a very personal decision, influenced by your own preferences, how much you're willing to spend, and your lifestyle. In this guide, we'll take a close look at the various diamond shapes available, discussing what makes each one special, how popular they are, and which ones might be best suited to different tastes and settings.

Before discussing the different shape options you should also be familiar with setting styles, so you can know which diamond shapes can be set safely in which type of setting.

Diamond Setting Styles

  1. Prong Setting: This is one of the most classic and popular settings for diamonds. In a prong setting, small metal claws or prongs hold the diamond securely in place while allowing maximum light to enter and reflect off the stone, enhancing its brilliance. Prong settings can vary in the number of prongs used, typically four or six, and can be made in different metals like platinum, white gold, or yellow gold. You can also have different shapes for your prongs (pointed, rounded, single, double, etc.). Each subtle difference can change the way that your engagement ring looks. 
  1. Bezel Setting: In a bezel setting, a metal rim surrounds the outside of the diamond, holding it securely in place. This setting offers excellent protection for the diamond as it covers the edges, making it less prone to chipping or damage. Bezel settings can be either full or partial, with the latter leaving the sides of the diamond exposed to maximize light reflection. 
  1. Tension Setting: A tension setting holds the diamond in place using the pressure of the metal band, creating the illusion that the diamond is suspended between the two ends of the ring. This setting allows maximum light to enter the diamond, enhancing its brilliance, and offers a modern and minimalist aesthetic. This is a bit precarious for the diamond, as it’s less secure, so tension settings are not recommended.
  1. Halo Setting: A halo setting features a ring of smaller diamonds surrounding the center diamond. The center diamond can be set in a traditional prong or bezel setting within the halo, depending on the desired design.


Diamond Shape Options

Now that we understand the different ways that center diamonds can be set, it’s a good time to review the different diamond shapes available. 

  1. Round Brilliant: The round brilliant cut diamond is the most popular and classic choice for engagement rings. Known for its exceptional brilliance and fire, the round brilliant cut maximizes the diamond's sparkle through precise proportions and facets. With 58 facets, this timeless shape offers unmatched sparkle and versatility, and can be safely set any number of ways. 
  1. Princess Cut: The princess cut diamond is a square or rectangular-shaped diamond with pointed corners. Known for its modern elegance, the princess cut combines the brilliance of a round diamond with a contemporary silhouette. This versatile shape complements a wide range of settings, from solitaire to halo, and appeals to those seeking a distinctive yet timeless look. The prongs to set a princess cut diamond will look different than a round, as they will be v-tip to protect the sharp corners. 
  1. Cushion Cut: The cushion cut diamond features rounded corners and larger facets, creating a soft and romantic appearance. This vintage-inspired shape is popular for vintage and antique-style engagement rings. The cushion cut diamond can also be set a variety of ways, but most often is set with prongs so the shape of the diamond is visible.
  1. Emerald Cut: The emerald cut diamond is characterized by its long, rectangular shape and stepped facets. Known for its understated elegance and refined beauty, the emerald cut emphasizes clarity and color with its open facets. Emerald cut diamonds tend to sparkle a bit less due to their faceting, but can also be set many different ways–although prong set is most popular.
  1. Oval Cut: The oval cut diamond is a modified brilliant cut with an elongated shape. Combining the brilliance of a round diamond with the flattering length of a marquise cut, the oval cut offers a graceful and feminine appearance. This versatile shape elongates the finger and is a popular choice for contemporary style. The oval diamond can be set in many ways and really lends itself to a halo setting.
  1. Marquise Cut: The marquise cut diamond features a distinctive elongated shape with pointed ends, and helps give the fingers an elongated appearance. This unique shape offers excellent value for carat weight and maximizes the diamond's surface area, making it appear larger than its actual size. The marquise cut is perfect for those who appreciate vintage-inspired designs. The marquise diamond is most often set with prongs, some of them v-tip in order to protect the pointed ends.
  1. Pear Cut: The pear cut diamond, also known as the teardrop cut, combines the elegance of a round and marquise cut with a distinctive tapered point. Featuring a rounded end and a pointed tip, the pear cut is versatile and offers brilliant sparkle. This is another shape that is set with a mixture of different prongs in order to protect the pointed end of the diamond from damage.
  1. Asscher Cut: The asscher cut diamond is a square-shaped diamond with cropped corners and a stepped cut, similar to the emerald cut. This shape has an art-deco inspired style and is popular in vintage engagement rings. The asscher cut diamond can be set any number of ways, but usually has the edges exposed so the shape of the stone can be appreciated.
  1. Radiant Cut: The radiant cut diamond combines the brilliance of a round diamond with the elegance of an emerald cut, featuring trimmed corners and a rectangular or square shape. It is similar to the asscher cut, but is more contemporary, offering a lot of sparkle. This versatile shape would look great in a prong setting or even in a halo design.

Putting it all together

Now that we are aware of all the different shape options for diamonds and how they can be set, you may be asking yourself how you’ll decide between them all. There are many aspects to consider when selecting the shape of your center diamond. The most important thing to remember is that you’ll be wearing your ring daily, so choosing something that is popular or currently on trend is less important than choosing something that you personally love.

First you should think about your personal style. Do you prefer classic, timeless designs, or do you lean towards modern and unique styles? If you prefer classic, you may want to consider round or princess cut, while a more unique option would be marquise or asscher.

Budget is also important because shape can make a difference in diamond pricing due to some shapes being more rare or in higher demand than others. While round diamonds are the most popular, they are typically more expensive than fancy shapes due to the way they're cut. Consider the budget you have allocated for the ring and choose a shape that fits within that range.

It may not be something you think about often, but when choosing an engagement ring, you will want to evaluate your hand shape and size. Elongated diamond shapes like oval or marquise can make fingers appear longer, while round or princess cuts can complement petite hands. Your lifestyle and how active you are should also be taken into consideration. If you have an active lifestyle or work with your hands frequently, you may think about a lower set stone, possibly with a bezel for protection, and there are certain diamond shapes that work best with that setting style, such as round or oval. 

Lastly, make sure you consult with a trusted jeweler who can guide you while choosing a diamond, and can provide you with certified diamonds to compare. There are many diamond certification labs, but a safe choice is a reputable gemological laboratory like GIA or AGS. 

Choosing the perfect diamond shape for an engagement ring is a deeply personal decision that involves considering a multitude of factors. Whether you prefer the timeless brilliance of a round diamond, the modern elegance of a princess cut, or the vintage charm of a cushion cut, there is a diamond shape to suit every personality.

Ultimately, the best diamond shape for an engagement ring is one that resonates with your unique style and personality.