An oval cut diamond is a modified brilliant cut and is a popular choice for engagement rings and other fine jewellery, offering a distinctive and elegant look that works equally well in both modern and vintage designs. In recent years we have seen a significant surge in demand for oval engagement rings, and so we've written this guide to explore the anatomy, development and main characteristics of oval cut diamonds, as well as their pros and cons, what to consider when buying an oval cut diamond, and the best settings for these beautiful stones.
The anatomy of an oval cut diamond
Oval cut diamonds typically have 58 facets, the same number as round brilliant cuts. Facets are the flat surfaces that are cut into the diamond to reflect and refract light, creating the diamond's brilliance and fire. They are arranged as follows:
- Crown: The upper part of the diamond that lies above the girdle and includes:
- 1 x table facet, the flat surface on the top of the diamond. It's the largest facet and plays a critical role in reflecting light
- 8 x kite facets radiating from the table
- 8 x star facets around the table
- 16 x upper girdle facets extending from the girdle to the table
- Girdle: This is the oval-shaped outer edge or perimeter of an oval diamond that forms a band around the stone. It can be polished, faceted, or rough, and its thickness can vary.
- Pavilion: The lower portion of the diamond, below the girdle. It's shaped like a cone and helps to reflect light back through the crown and table. It includes
- 8 x pavilion facets
- 16 x lower girdle facets extending from the girdle to the culet
- The culet at the bottom of the pavilion may be a point or a tiny facet
The standard 58-facet pattern aims to maximise the brilliance and fire of the diamond by optimising the way light interacts with the facets. However, variations in cutting styles can lead to a different number of facets. Some cutters might add extra facets or modify the facet pattern to achieve a particular appearance or to work with the characteristics of a specific rough diamond.
Ideal proportions for an oval cut diamond
The ratio between the length and width of the oval affects the diamond's appearance, and different ratios will create slightly different shapes. A classic oval shape might have a length-to-width ratio of around 1.35 to 1.50, but this can vary based on personal preference. Some people might prefer a more elongated oval (a larger length-to-width ratio), while others might like a shape that is closer to round (a lower length-to-width ratio).
Development of the oval cut
Oval diamonds have existed for many hundreds of years. However, the modern brilliant cut oval diamond that we see in jewellery today was developed in 1957 by Lazare Kaplan, a Russian-born diamond cutter, making it a relatively modern cut compared to some other classic diamond shapes.
Kaplan was renowned for his diamond-cutting skills, especially his ability to split diamond rough, preserving more carat weight. His creation of the oval cut was a modification of the round brilliant cut, one of the most popular diamond shapes. He applied similar facet arrangements as the round brilliant cut but in an elongated shape, leading to the development of the oval cut.
Over the years, the oval cut has been refined, and cutters have developed different variations to minimise issues like the bow-tie effect and to maximise the stone's brilliance.
Characteristics of oval cut diamonds
Oval cut diamonds have several key characteristics that define this popular shape:
- Shape and symmetry: The oval cut has an elongated, symmetrical shape, similar to a rounded rectangle. The graceful curves give it a softer appearance, and its symmetry can significantly influence the diamond's beauty.
- Brilliance: Thanks to its facet structure, which is similar to the round brilliant cut, an oval cut diamond exhibits excellent brilliance and fire. The way the facets are cut and aligned allows for beautiful reflections and refractions of light within the diamond.
- Length-to-width ratio: This ratio determines the diamond's overall shape, ranging from more rounded to more elongated. Typical ratios fall between 1.35 to 1.50, but personal preference can lead to variations in this range. A higher ratio means a more elongated shape, while a lower ratio will appear rounder.
- Bow tie effect: Many oval cut diamonds display a dark area across the centre that resembles a bow tie. This effect varies in visibility and can sometimes be seen with the naked eye. It results from how the facets are aligned and how light travels through the diamond. You can view the bow tie effect in the diamond in the image below, which shows a darker area running horizontally through the centre of the stone.
- Versatility: The oval cut is a versatile choice suitable for various jewellery types, including engagement rings, earrings, and pendants. Its elongated shape often gives the impression of lengthening the fingers, making it a popular choice for engagement rings.
- Size appearance: Oval cut diamonds look larger than other shapes of the same carat weight due to their elongated shape. This visual effect can make them attractive for those seeking a larger appearance without a corresponding price increase.
- Cut quality: The quality of the cut can significantly affect the diamond's appearance. Proper proportions, symmetry, and polish enhance the stone's brilliance, while poorly executed cuts can diminish its sparkle.
- Colour and clarity considerations: The shape of an oval cut can sometimes emphasise colour or inclusions near the tips. Choosing a higher colour grade or clarity might be preferable, depending on individual preferences and the specific stone.
- Setting compatibility: The oval cut's graceful shape complements a variety of settings, from classic solitaires to more intricate designs. It can be set with or without accent stones and suits various metal types.
Pros and cons of oval cut diamonds
For those considering whether to choose an oval cut diamond over another shape, we’ve summarised the main pros and cons for you to consider:
|Distinctive appearance: offers a unique and elegant look that stands out among other cuts.||Bow tie effect: almost all oval cut diamond exhibit the bow tie effect to some degree|
|Larger appearance: tends to look larger per carat than other cuts, giving the impression of a bigger stone.||Show colour: oval diamonds tend to display colour in the crystal slightly more strongly than round brilliant cut diamonds of the same colour grade.|
|Flattering to the finger: the oval's elongated shape can have a flattering effect on the hand, making fingers appear longer and more slender.||Show inclusions: oval diamonds have larger facets than round diamonds of the same carat weight, making it slightly easier to see inclusions in the stone.|
|Versatility: it can be used in various jewellery settings and styles, making it a flexible option for different tastes.||No cut grade: none of the more reputable diamond grading authorities gives an overall cut grade to oval diamonds, leaving buyers to judge for themselves how good the proportions of the stone are.|
|Lower priced than comparable round diamonds: oval diamonds tend to be priced lower than round diamonds of the same size and quality|
What to consider when buying an oval cut diamond
When buying an oval cut diamond, considering various factors can help you choose a stone that fits your preferences and budget. Here's a guide to help you make an informed decision:
- Budget: Establish a budget that you're comfortable with, and work with a jeweller who can help you find options within that range. An oval cut can offer excellent value, providing a larger appearance without necessarily a higher cost.
- Carat weight: Determine the carat weight that fits within your budget. Remember, an oval cut may appear larger than other shapes of the same carat weight due to its elongated shape.
- Colour and clarity: Consider the diamond's colour and clarity grades. An oval cut may sometimes show colour or inclusions more prominently, so selecting a higher grade may be preferable depending on the individual stone.
- Proportions and symmetry: Look for an oval diamond with good proportions and symmetry. The quality of the cut will significantly impact the diamond's brilliance and overall appearance.
- Length-to-width ratio: Choose a length-to-width ratio that aligns with your aesthetic preferences. A classic oval shape might have a ratio of around 1.35 to 1.50, with more elongated or rounded options outside this range.
- Bow tie effect: Examine the diamond for the bow-tie effect, which can vary in prominence. Decide whether this characteristic is something you find appealing or unattractive. Viewing the diamond in person or consulting a knowledgeable jeweller may be helpful. Often, more elongated ovals (with larger length-to-width ratios) will exhibit a more pronounced bow tie effect than less elongated ovals (with lower length-to-width ratios).
- Depth percentage: The depth percentage of an oval diamond is calculated by measuring the height of the diamond (from table to culet) and dividing it by the width of the stone, then multiplying by 100. Note that the length of the stone is not taken into consideration. An "optimal" depth percentage for an oval cut is typically considered to be in the range of 58% to 62%. However, it's worth noting that beautiful oval diamonds can be found slightly outside this range as well.
- Table percentage: The table percentage is calculated by measuring the width of the table facet (not the length) and dividing it by the width of the stone, then multiplying by 100. An "optimal" table percentage for oval cuts typically falls between 54% and 60%. This range is considered ideal for maximizing the light return and visual appeal of the diamond.
- Certification: Always ask for a diamond certificate from a reputable gemological laboratory. A certificate will provide detailed information about the diamond's 4Cs (Cut, Color, Clarity, Carat) and other characteristics, ensuring you know exactly what you're purchasing.
- Setting: Think about the setting that will complement the oval cut. Its versatile shape works well with various designs, so consider how the diamond will look in the setting of your choice.
The best settings for an oval cut diamond
The best setting for an oval cut diamond depends on personal taste, lifestyle, and the specific characteristics of the diamond. Different settings can highlight various aspects of the oval cut and complement its unique shape. Here are some popular settings that are often chosen for oval cut diamonds:
- Oval Solitaire Engagement Rings: This classic setting features a single diamond, allowing the oval cut's beauty and elegance to take centre stage. A prong setting within the solitaire design can showcase the diamond's shape and brilliance without distraction.
- Oval Halo Engagement Rings: A halo setting surrounds the oval cut diamond with a circle of smaller diamonds or gemstones. This can accentuate the shape of the oval, add extra sparkle, and make the central diamond appear even larger.
- Oval Bezel Set Engagement Rings: If you prefer a modern and sleek look, a bezel setting might be the choice for you. The metal completely encircles the diamond, protecting the stone and emphasising its shape. This setting can be perfect if you lead an active lifestyle, as it securely holds the diamond.
- Oval Three-Stone Engagement Rings: In this setting, the oval cut diamond is flanked by two smaller stones, which could be diamonds or other gemstones. This design can symbolise the past, present, and future and adds additional brilliance to the ring.
- Oval Pave Set Engagement Rings: The pavé setting features small diamonds set closely together around the band, creating a paved appearance. Combined with an oval cut centre stone, this setting adds an extra touch of sparkle and luxury.
- Vintage Oval Engagement Rings: If you prefer a more romantic or antique look, a vintage setting with intricate metalwork, milgrain detailing, or filigree can complement the oval cut.
Are oval diamonds more expensive?
Oval cut diamonds are generally more affordable than round brilliant cut diamonds of similar carat weight, colour and clarity due to differences in demand and cutting efficiency. Round brilliant cut diamonds are the most popular and widely recognised diamond shape, leading to higher demand and often higher prices. Oval cut diamonds, while popular, may not command the same premium in price. And when cutting an oval shape from a rough diamond, there may be less waste compared to a round brilliant cut, and the higher yield can translate into a lower cost per carat.
How many facets does an oval cut diamond have?
An oval cut diamond typically has 58 facets, the same number as a standard round brilliant cut.
However, variations in cutting styles can lead to a different number of facets. Some cutters might add extra facets or modify the facet pattern to achieve a particular appearance or to work with the characteristics of a specific rough diamond.
Is a one carat oval diamond a good size?
A 1ct oval diamond is a good size for many people, offering a pleasing balance of visual appeal, versatility, and cost-effectiveness. However, the "right" size is a personal decision that should reflect individual tastes, lifestyle, budget, and the intended setting and design of the jewellery piece. Working with a reputable jeweller who can provide personalised guidance based on these factors can help you choose a diamond that's just right for you or your loved one.
Why are oval engagement rings so popular?
Oval engagement rings have seen a surge in popularity for several reasons, which is being driven by a number of different factors, including:
Unique and timeless appeal: The oval shape offers a distinctive look that sets it apart from the more traditional round cut but without being too avant-garde. It's seen as both modern and classic, suiting a wide range of styles.
The illusion of greater size: The elongated shape of an oval diamond can make it appear larger than a round diamond of the same carat weight. This visual advantage can appeal to those seeking a more substantial appearance without a corresponding increase in price.
Flattering Effect: The elongated shape of an oval cut diamond is often considered flattering on the finger, creating the illusion of length and slenderness.
Versatility in Design: Oval diamonds can complement a variety of ring settings and styles, from vintage to contemporary, minimalist to ornate. This flexibility makes them appealing to a broad audience.
Celebrities and influencers: As with many fashion trends, the preferences of celebrities and influencers can significantly impact public tastes. Several high-profile individuals have chosen oval engagement rings, contributing to their growing popularity.
Trends in modernity and individuality: There's a growing trend toward non-traditional engagement ring choices that reflect individuality and personal style. The oval cut fits this trend by offering a unique yet elegant option.
Do all oval diamonds have a bow tie?
The "bow tie effect" refers to a shadowy, bow tie-shaped appearance seen in many oval cut diamonds. This effect is caused by how light interacts with the facets in the centre of the diamond.
Most oval diamonds will exhibit some degree of a bow-tie effect, but the visibility and prominence of this feature can vary widely. In some oval diamonds, the bow-tie effect might be barely noticeable or even invisible to the untrained eye. In others, it might be more pronounced. The severity of the bow-tie effect is influenced by the diamond's proportions, facet angles, and overall cut quality.
A well-cut oval diamond may minimise the appearance of the bow tie or make it more aesthetically pleasing. An experienced cutter can optimise the facet angles to reduce the prominence of the bow tie, but it's challenging to eliminate it entirely.
The oval cut diamond offers a combination of beauty, uniqueness, and practicality that can appeal to a wide range of tastes. Its elongated, graceful shape is elegant and unique, departing from more traditional shapes like the round cut while maintaining similar brilliance. The oval's long shape also tends to make the diamond appear larger than other cuts of the same carat weight while flattering the hand of the wearer by making fingers look more slender. Meanwhile, the oval cut's balanced and symmetrical shape works well in a wide range of settings, from modern to vintage-inspired designs.