As the oldest established jeweler in our nation’s capital, Charles Schwartz & Son has over 125 years of experience as Washington DC’s source for the finest designer jewelry, estate jewelry and custom creations.

Have you ever wondered what a Marquise diamond is, or why Princess-cut diamonds are typically cheaper than Round-cut diamonds? Our diamond experts here at Charles Schwartz have the answers, and we want to share our expertise with you! Through our Diamond 101 Blog Series we hope to educate our readers and future clients with a crash course in diamonds and the jewelry industry.


From Rough to Polished

Contrary to common belief, when diamonds are first mined they appear rough and unrefined octahedron-shaped rocks, found in all shapes and sizes. A diamond at this stage is known as a rough diamond, that is to say, a diamond that has not been cut or polished. These rough diamonds look much different than their perfect, polished counterpart, found at your local jewelry store.

Another rarely known fact—only about 20% of the diamonds mined each year are suitable for jewelry. The other 80% are used primarily for industrial purposes, as diamonds are the hardest substance found on earth. Of the 20% of jewelry-suitable diamonds, nearly all of them are cut into one of nine shapes. There are benefits to each of these stunning diamond shapes, which is the best fit for you?


Brilliant-Cut Diamonds

Brilliant-cut diamonds have exactly 58 kite and triangle shaped facets. As their name suggests, brilliant-cut diamonds have more brilliance (brightness) than other diamonds due to the position, angle and number of facets.

The Round Cut

1. Round-Cut Diamond

Round-cut diamonds are the most popular diamonds shape, with 75% of all diamonds sold today classified as round-cut diamonds. Due to its shape, round-cut diamonds are generally superior to fancy shaped diamonds due to the mechanics of the round-cut, which maximizes potential brightness and reflection of light.

In general, round-cut diamonds cost more per carat than fancy shaped diamonds for two reasons. First, the high demand of round-cut diamonds due to their overwhelming popularity, and second—the relatively low yield per diamond due to the substantial amount of rough diamond lost during the cutting process.

The Radiant Cut

2. Radiant-Cut Diamond

Radiant-cut diamonds uphold the traditional brilliance of the classic round-cut diamond with a modern rectangular cut. First popular in the 1980’s, radiant-cut diamonds maintain the complete brilliant-cut facet pattern on the crown and pavilion, which creates a vibrant, lively diamond.

This diamond cut is a nice middle ground between cushion and princess-cut diamonds, making the radiant-cut diamond a popular and versatile jewelry choice, best set with rounded or square diamonds.

The Marquise Cut

3. Marquise Diamond

Marquise diamonds are another modification on the traditional brilliant-cut. Carat for carat, this football shaped cut has one of the largest surface areas of any diamond cut, creating the illusion that it is bigger than it actually is. Due to the narrow, lengthy nature of this cut, marquise diamonds make fingers appear long and slender, and look beautifully set with round or pear-shaped side stones.

The Pear Cut

4. Pear-Shaped Diamond

Pear-shaped diamonds are a combination of round-cut and marquise diamonds with a point at one end. This modified brilliant-cut diamond is also known as a teardrop diamond due to its shape. Similar to the marquise diamond, rings with pear-shaped diamonds also create a subtle slimming effect.



Fancy-Cut Diamonds

Fancy-cut diamonds are diamonds cut into any shape that is not the natural round shape of a diamond. Though a few of the above diamonds may be classified as fancy-cut, they are all modifications of the traditional brilliant-cut, whereas the diamonds below are not.

The Princess Cut

5. Princess-Cut Diamond

Princess-cut diamonds are the most popular fancy-cut diamond, especially for engagement rings. Similar to round-cut diamonds, the princess-cut is a popular engagement ring choice, as they look stunning with almost any type of ring. However, it is important to remember that princess-cut diamonds should always be set with prongs to protect the four corners of the diamond to prevent chipping.

Princess-cut diamonds popularity also comes from the cut’s slightly lower price-per-carat when compared to round-cut diamonds due to the princess-cut’s shape. Unlike round-cut diamonds, princess-cut diamonds are almost the exact same shape as half of a rough diamond, therefore there is minimal rough diamond wasted when cutting the diamond, if using a princess cut. This similarity to rough diamond shape allows for roughly 60% of the original rough diamond to be retained after cutting, whereas all other diamond cuts waste much more of the original rough diamond, therefore a much larger rough diamond is needed to yield a 2 CT round-cut diamond than would be needed to yield a 2 CT princess-cut diamond.

The Cushion Cut

6. Cushion-Cut Diamond

Cushion-cut diamonds have been around for almost 200 years, and were once referred to as an Old Miner’s Cut. This timeless cut combines a square cut with rounded corners, resulting in a diamond that looks a lot like a cushion or pillow—hence the name.

The Heart Cut

7. Heart-Shaped Diamond

Heart-shaped diamonds are an unmistakable, iconic symbol of love. The unique look of heart-shaped diamonds have made this diamond cut a distinctive choice for a number of diamond jewelry pieces. It is important to note that heart-shaped diamonds less than 0.50 carats are less than ideal, as the heart shape is more difficult to discern due to the small nature of diamonds of this size.

The Emerald Cut

8. Emerald-Cut Diamond

Emerald-cut diamonds have signature step cut pavilion and large, open table. The open table of emerald-cut diamonds highlights the clarity of the diamond, which can be a benefit for clear, pure diamonds, but a disadvantage for cloudier, impure or blemished diamonds.

The unique look of emerald-cut diamonds also stems from the way emerald-cut diamonds reflect light. Instead of the sparkle found in brilliant-cut diamonds, emerald diamonds produce a hall-of-mirrors effect—a unique optical appearance that interplays light and dark planes.

The Asscher Cut

9. Asscher-Cut Diamond

If you’d prefer a square shaped emerald-cut an asscher-cut diamond may be the diamond for you. The asscher-cut are similar to the emerald-cut, however there is a lot of confusion over this cut, as the asscher-cut is nearly identical to the emerald-cut, but square instead of rectangular. This cut produces more brilliance than the emerald-cut, with the square shape, larger step facets, higher crown and smaller table when compared to the emerald-cut.


Now that you know the nine most popular diamond cuts and shapes on the market, you are one step closer to becoming a diamond expert! Check back often for more diamond knowledge and advice from the experienced jewelers at Charles Schwartz & Son.