Diamond Cut vs. Shape: What’s the Difference?

Engagement rings are a common introduction into the world of fine jewelry—specifically, diamonds. As you start prepping for a proposal, it’s only a matter of time before you hear the words cut, clarity, color, and carat weight. These terms are known as the 4Cs, a universal system that determines the quality of precious stones.

A common misconception surrounds the term that is often considered the most important: cut. A diamond’s cut is frequently confused with words like oval, emerald, round, or marquise. And although those terms have their own role in the diamond discussion, they do not mean the same thing.

Let’s get to the bottom of what “cut” is really about.


The Cutting Process

When a stone is ready to be cut, the gemcutter utilizes a meticulous combination of symmetry, polish, and proportion. This process ultimately determines the stone’s beauty. Once completed, a diamond’s cut grade measures how well the stone’s facets refract light to create that famous sparkle.

Proportion: Measuring the diamond facets. Each facet of a diamond has a unique ideal proportion designed to maximize the amount of light it reflects.

Polish: The smoothness of the outer surface of the diamond.

Symmetry: The exactness of the shape of the diamond. If the angles aren’t correct, the diamond facets will not reflect light. 

Face-Up Appearance: The brightness, fire, and sparkle of the stone.

All of these elements are taken into consideration when determining the diamond’s cut grade. When done correctly, a diamond will “dazzle” (in the way we all know and love) and when done incorrectly, the diamond will appear dull or glassy. This is why a diamond’s cut grade is often considered the most important of the 4Cs. 

Diamond Shape

Diamond shapes are well-known industry terms, and likely ones you’ve heard before. This refers to a diamond’s overall form, using words like oval, emerald, round, or marquise. When a diamond is cut, its shape is determined by formulating which of the shapes will create the biggest stone in order to minimize waste. 

Jewelers commonly refer to diamonds as “marquise cut” or “oval cut”. If you hear this, they are likely referring to the diamond’s shape, as the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. 

Some of the most common diamond shapes are oval, emerald, round, pear, marquise, cushion, and asscher. However, there are many different shapes to choose from and designers often create unique variations of their own.  

Brilliant vs. Step Cut

You might have heard the terms “brilliant” and “step cut” when discussing a diamond. Adjacent to diamond cut, these terms are used to describe the pattern of facets used when initially cutting a stone and differ from each other in appearance.




A step cut stone is square or rectangular in shape, with facets cut in straight lines and arranged in a parallel step pattern. This design is intended to draw your attention to the stone’s center. The most common step cut diamond shapes are emerald and asscher. 

Brilliant cut stones embody what most people think of when picturing a diamond. This cut pattern features several little facets arranged to maximize the amount of light the stone reflects. Common brilliant cut diamond shapes are round, oval, and marquise. For context, the phrase “round brilliant cut” refers to a round diamond with a brilliant cut.

Brilliant and step are the most common, but there are other cuts to consider if you’re looking for a more unique look. Some engagement rings feature rose cut diamonds, with facets designed to resemble delicate rose petals. Or old Euro cuts, designed to reflect the romantic glow of candlelight. These cuts are more rare and are usually available at specialty jewelers or one of a kind collections.   

Diamond Shapes in Engagement Rings


Although diamond cut is an important characteristic, the shape defines a ring’s overall style. Deciding which shape of diamond for your engagement ring is an exciting process. Let’s look at a few examples of common shapes or explore the full engagement ring shape guide for a complete list.




Oval & round diamonds are two of the most classic shapes for engagement rings. Taking center stage in our Fleur and Anise ring, these soft edges evoke an elegant look that never goes out of style.


Additional oval collection rings include Caraway and Dawn. Other round collection rings include Ely and Poppy





Emerald & radiant are beloved diamond shapes for engagement rings. Making an appearance in our Cassia and Marigold ring, these sharp edges capture a bold look with unique kinds of sparkle.


Additional emerald collection rings include Sorrel and Wisteria. Other radiant collection rings include Senna and Amber





Pear & marquise are unique diamond shapes for engagement rings. Right at home in our Cypress and Zinnia ring, these bold shapes make a statement and evoke modern and vintage details. 


Additional pear collection rings include Cicely and Isle. Other marquise collection rings include Oriel and Dahlia.


With a dedication to fine jewelry crafted from quality materials, June creates modern heirlooms made to last. Shop our collection or create a custom ring with our design team.