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The buyers' guide to pear cut diamonds

Loose pear cut diamond in tweezers

Table of contents

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With its elegant teardrop shape, the pear cut diamond combines the traditional round brilliant and marquise cuts. Its silhouette, featuring a rounded bottom that tapers into a pointed top, offers a unique visual appeal that has been celebrated for centuries.

If you're considering pear cut engagement rings, this guide will unravel the intricacies of pear cut diamonds, helping you understand their characteristics, qualities, and timeless appeal. 

What is a pear cut diamond?

Loose pear cut diamond

Like all diamond cuts, the pear cut is defined by its shape and its faceting pattern:

  • Shape: Pear cuts have a single pointed end with a rounded opposite end. Ideally, the point should align perfectly with the apex of the rounded end, ensuring that the left and right sides mirror each other.
  • Faceting pattern: The pear is a brilliant cut fancy shape, usually cut nowadays with 57 facets, though sometimes there are 58 facets if the culet is faceted rather than pointed. This faceting pattern of pear cut diamonds generates considerable light reflection and brilliance.

Anatomy of a pear cut diamond

pear anatomy

Viewed from above, the teardrop outline of a pear cut diamond is also broken down into different sections:

  • Head: The rounded end of the diamond.
  • Shoulders: The curved sections adjacent to the head.
  • Belly: The central and widest part of the diamond.
  • Wings: The slightly curved edges leading to the pointed tip.
  • Point or tip: The pointed end of the diamond.

The proportions of the teardrop outline can vary significantly based on its length-to-width ratio. A classic pear shape is between 1.5x and 1.75x as long as it is wide (a length-to-width ratio from 1.5 to 1.75). However, there is no "ideal" length-to-width ratio. The right proportions are simply a matter of personal preference.

Viewed from the side, like all brilliant cuts, the pear cut is composed of the following, from top to bottom:

  • Table: The table is the flat surface at the very top of the diamond, which forms its largest facet. In a well-cut pear diamond, the table should be symmetrical and centred. 
  • Crown: This is the top portion of the diamond, above the girdle, including the table as well as the following facets:
    • Eight star facets – located around the table;
    • Eight kite or bezel facets – radiating from the table towards the girdle; and
    • Sixteen upper girdle facets – forming the outer edge of the crown.
  • Girdle: The girdle is the outer edge or perimeter of the diamond and forms the boundary between the top of the diamond (the crown) and the bottom (the pavilion). The girdle can range from extremely thin to very thick. In many cases, it's slightly thicker at the points to add some protection to these vulnerable areas. It may be polished, bruted (rough) or faceted. However, we do not include any facets in the girdle when counting the total facets of the diamond.
  • Pavilion: This is the bottom portion of the diamond, located below the girdle. It's cone-shaped, and its depth and angles are vital for the diamond's brilliance as they determine how light is reflected back through the crown. It is composed of the following facets:
    • Sixteen lower girdle facets – forming the outer edge of the pavilion.
    • Eight pavilion main facets – radiating from the culet towards the girdle.
  • Culet: The culet is the tiny facet at the very bottom of the pavilion. The culet can be pointed or very small in many modern pear cuts. Still, it's always essential that it's centred beneath the table facet to ensure a balanced appearance.

View from the bottom, you can again see the tear-drop outline, with the pavilion facets meeting at the culet, which should be centred beneath the table facet.

Development of the pear cut

With its origins rooted in the opulent courts of Renaissance Europe, the pear cut has evolved over centuries, evolving with each era to reflect advancements in diamond-cutting technology and aesthetic preferences.

Origins of the pear cut

The first pear cut diamond is believed to have been created in the 15th century by Lodewyk (Louis) van Bercken, a Flemish diamond polisher. Aside from creating the pear cut, he is also credited with inventing the scaif, a diamond-polishing wheel infused with diamond dust and olive oil, which drastically improved the diamond-cutting techniques of the time.

Evolution and refinement

Over the following centuries, as diamond cutting techniques improved, the pear cut, like many other diamond shapes, underwent refinements, increasing in brilliance. By the 17th century, diamond cutters began to better understand light behaviour within the diamond. This understanding led to more strategically placed facets, enhancing the diamond's ability to reflect and refract light. Consequently, the pear cut began to exhibit more of the sparkle that modern buyers associate with diamonds.

Popularity and modern appeal

The 20th century heralded a new age for diamonds in terms of marketing, branding, and popular appeal. Pear cuts, in particular, started to be associated with sophistication and glamour. Many celebrities and public figures have donned pear cut diamonds, further cementing its status.

21st century cutting techniques

Today, with the aid of advanced technologies, the precision and symmetry of pear cuts have reached unparalleled levels. Computer modelling ensures optimal light performance and laser cutting delivers impeccable finish and polish.

Modern pear cuts often aim to minimise the "bowtie effect" – a slight shadow in the shape of a bowtie that can appear in elongated cuts like the pear, marquise, and oval. A well-cut pear diamond will have a minimal bowtie.

Pear cut diamond with notable bowtie effect
Pear cut diamond with notable bowtie effect

Pros and cons of pear cut diamonds

Pear cut diamonds offer many appealing features, but, like all diamond shapes, they also come with certain disadvantages. Here's a summary of the pros and cons.

ProsCons
Distinctive appearance: Pear cuts offer a unique look, blending the best of round and marquise cuts. Bowtie effect: Pear cuts often exhibit a bowtie effect — a dark area in the shape of a bowtie across the centre of the diamond. While some bowtie effect can be expected, it's essential to choose a diamond where it's minimal or unnoticeable.
Appearance of size: They often appear larger than round diamonds of the same carat weight due to their elongated shape.Risk of chipping: The pointed end of the pear cut is susceptible to chipping or breaking, making it essential to protect it with the right setting, typically a prong.
Versatility: Pear cut diamonds can be worn pointing up or down, depending on personal preference, and can also be set horizontally for a contemporary look.Consistency in symmetry: A well-cut pear diamond requires precise symmetry. Any deviation can make the diamond appear off-balance, so careful selection is necessary.
Flatter the finger: The elongated shape of the pear cut can make fingers appear more slender and elongated, which many wearers find flattering.Colour visibility: Pear cuts can sometimes show more colour at their tips. Buyers may need to opt for a higher colour grade to ensure the diamond doesn't show noticeable yellow or brown hues, especially in larger stones.
Brilliance: Due to the brilliant faceting pattern, pear cuts often exhibit impressive brilliance and fire, similar to round brilliant cuts.Subjective Appeal: The unique shape does not appeal to everyone. It strays from traditional diamond shapes, making it a more specific taste.
Concealing inclusions: The pear cut's unique shape and faceting can help hide some inclusions or imperfections, especially when they are located near the pointed end.
Variety in appearance: By selecting different length-to-width ratios, buyers can opt for a more elongated pear shape or a rounder one, tailoring the diamond to their preference.
Budget-friendly: Compared to the popular round brilliant cut, pear cut diamonds are often more affordable per carat, offering good value for money.
Pros and cons of pear cut diamonds

Comparison with other diamond shapes: marquise and oval cuts

Choosing between a pear cut and any other diamond shape ultimately boils down to personal preference. While each offers a unique appearance, the best choice is the one that aligns most closely with individual aesthetic preferences and the desired ring design. However, to help you decide, we've summarised some key similarities and differences between pear cut diamonds and the two other diamond shapes customers often consider when looking at pear cut diamonds: marquise and oval cuts.

Oval, pear and marquise cut diamond (from left to right)
Oval, pear and marquise cut diamond (from left to right)

The marquise cut is an elongated shape but is pointed at both ends. It's sometimes called a "navette", which means "little boat" in French. The oval cut is also elongated but rounded at both ends. 

Similarities

  • Elongation: All three shapes can make fingers appear more slender due to their elongated forms.
  • Bowtie effect: All three cuts can display a bowtie effect to varying degrees, which can affect the diamond's overall appearance.
  • Brilliance: All three have brilliant faceting patterns, delivering impressive light performance

Differences

Diamond shapeShapeSymmetryTip vulnerability
Pear cutPointed and one ended, rounded at the otherSymmetrical in only one dimension (along its length)Yes (one pointed tip)
Marquise cutPointed at both endsSymmetrical in two dimensionsYes (two pointed tips)
Oval cutRounded at both endsSymmetrical in two dimensionsNo

What to consider when choosing a pear cut diamond

The four Cs

When you're comparing pear cut diamonds, as with any diamond shape, it always makes sense to start with the 4Cs:

  • Carats: Due to their elongated shape, pear diamonds can appear larger than their actual carat weight compared to round diamonds. This can be a benefit if you're looking for a diamond that appears larger for its price.
  • Colour: Pear cuts, like marquise and oval cuts, tend to show colour more than round diamonds. If colour concerns you, you might want to choose a higher colour grade to ensure the diamond appears white and free of any yellowish hue.
  • Clarity: Since pear cut diamonds have a larger, open table, inclusions might be more visible. Consider opting for a diamond with fewer inclusions, or ensure that any inclusions are located near the pointed end or edges where they might be covered by a prong or less noticeable.
  • Cut: Being a fancy cut, pear cut diamonds are not graded for cut, so you need to judge for yourself the brilliance of the stone. A well-cut pear diamond will exhibit great brilliance (white light reflection) and fire (the dispersion of light into the colours of the spectrum). You can look at the table and depth percentages as a guide since these play crucial roles in determining how light reflects and refracts within the stone:
    • The table percentage is the width of the flat top surface as a percentage of the width of the stone as a whole. Ideally, this should be between 53% and 63%.
    • The depth percentage is the height of the diamond as a percentage of the width of the diamond. Ideally, this should be between 58% and 62%.

Other considerations

  • Certification: To be able to rely on the information about the 4Cs, the diamond must come with a certificate from a reputable independent authority such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) of the International Gemological Institute (IGI).
  • Symmetry: Although pear cut diamonds are not given a cut grade, they are graded for symmetry. Look for Very Good or Excellent symmetry. Symmetry is especially important for pear cut diamonds. Ensure the point lines up with the apex of the rounded end. The sides should also be uniform and symmetrical. Any asymmetry can be more noticeable in a pear cut than other diamond cuts.
  • Length-to-width ratio: As discussed above, the typical length-to-width ratio for pear diamonds varies between 1.5 and 1.75. Depending on personal preference, you might want a shorter, wider pear or a longer, more slender one. The choice is subjective and depends on what you find most aesthetically pleasing.
  • Bowtie effect: Most pear cut diamonds exhibit a phenomenon known as the "bowtie effect," which appears as a light or dark bowtie-shaped area across the width of the stone. A slight bowtie is acceptable, but it can detract from its appearance if it's too pronounced.
  • Girdle: This is the widest part of the diamond, which can be very thin, thin, medium, thick, or very thick. A medium girdle is often preferred for durability without adding unnecessary weight.
  • Culet: The culet is the tiny facet at the bottom of the diamond. In a pear cut, it should ideally be small or even non-existent (pointed) to ensure the maximum play of light.
  • Setting: The pointed end of the pear diamond can be prone to chipping. Ensure that it is protected by a prong when set into jewellery. Below, we consider some of the most popular settings for pear cut engagement rings.

The best engagement ring settings for a pear cut diamond

Engagement ring settings play a pivotal role in showcasing and protecting a pear cut diamond. Here are some of the best settings for a pear cut diamond.

Solitaire pear cut engagement rings

Pear cut diamond solitaire ring
Pear cut diamond solitaire ring

A solitaire setting is a classic and timeless choice for engagement rings. It emphasises the centre diamond without the distraction of additional side stones. For a pear cut diamond, a solitaire setting showcases the unique shape and brilliance of the stone. The most popular of these is a 3-claw setting (with one prong securing the pointy end), but for large diamonds, consider a 5-claw setting for extra security.

Pear cut engagement rings with diamond shoulders

Pear cut diamond ring with pavé shoulders
Pear cut diamond ring with pavé shoulders

Pear cut engagement rings with diamond shoulders, also known as pavé bands, can make the centre pear diamond look even more radiant and offer a fuller look to the overall ring design. The two most popular setting styles for the small round brilliant cut diamond are cut-down and grain setting.

Pear cut halo engagement rings

Pear cut ring with diamond halo
Pear cut ring with diamond halo

Pear cut diamond halo rings have a central pear cut diamond surrounded by a halo of small round brilliant cut diamonds. The halo accentuates the central diamond, making it appear larger, and adds even extra sparkle to the ring. As with shoulder set rings, the small diamonds are typically grain set or cut down set.

Pear cut vintage engagement rings

Marrying the elegance of the past with the distinctiveness of the pear shape, pear cut diamond vintage rings combine diamond shoulders and a halo for the ultimate sparkle and luxury. 

Vintage style engagement ring with pear cut diamond
Vintage style engagement ring with pear cut diamond

FAQs

What is a pear cut diamond?

A pear cut diamond combines the characteristics of both the round and marquise diamond shapes, tapering to a point at one end. It typically has 57 or 58 facets, depending on whether or not the culet is faceted or poined.

How should I wear a pear cut diamond ring?

While there's no strict rule, traditionally, the pointed end of a pear cut diamond is worn facing away from the wearer, making the finger appear longer and slimmer.

What should I look for in terms of symmetry in a pear cut diamond?

Symmetry is crucial for a pear cut diamond. The two halves should be mirror images of each other, and the point should align with the apex of the rounded end.

What's the ideal length-to-width ratio for a pear cut diamond?

While essentially a matter of personal preference, a popular length-to-width ratio for pear cut diamonds is between 1.5 and 1.7.

Is the bowtie effect common in pear cut diamonds?

Yes, like other elongated diamond shapes such as marquise and oval, pear cut diamonds can exhibit a bowtie effect—a dark, bowtie-shaped area in the centre of the diamond. Some bowtie effect is to be expected, but it shouldn't be too pronounced.

How can I prevent damage to the pointed end of pear cut diamond?

The pointed tip of a pear cut diamond is its most vulnerable part. Choosing a setting with a prong that protects the tip can help prevent chipping.

Do pear cut diamonds look larger for their carat weight?

Due to their elongated shape, pear cut diamonds can appear larger face-up than other shapes of the same carat weight. This makes them a favourable choice for those seeking a larger appearance for their budget.

How does the cut grade affect the appearance of a pear cut diamond?

While reputable gemological labs like the GIA and IGI don't issue cut grades for pear cut diamonds, look for a stone with excellent symmetry and a table percentage between 53% and 63% and a depth percentage between 58% and 62% to ensure maximum sparkle.

What are the best settings for a pear cut diamond ring?

Halo settings can emphasise the unique shape and add brilliance, solitaire settings offer a classic look, and vintage settings can enhance the diamond's elegance. The setting should always protect the diamond's tip.

Are pear cut diamonds more expensive?

Pear cut diamonds can be less expensive per carat than round cut diamonds. However, the price varies based on factors like cut quality, colour, clarity, and overall demand in the market.

Can I pair pear diamonds with other gemstones or diamond shapes in a ring?

Absolutely! Pear diamonds can be flanked by round, baguette, or even other pear-shaped side stones. They also pair beautifully with coloured gemstones.

Summary

Pear cut diamonds, merging the attributes of round and marquise shapes, offer a unique and sophisticated choice for those seeking elegance with a touch of individuality. Their elongated form can create the illusion of greater size per carat, delivering impressive face-up value. However, considerations such as a balanced symmetry—ensuring the two halves are mirrored—and an ideal length-to-width ratio, typically between 1.5 and 1.75, are paramount when choosing the perfect pear diamond. Since pear cut diamonds are not graded for cut, it is important to assess for yourself the brilliance of the stone, and you should also look out for the bowtie effect. Finally, while pear cut diamonds look great in a range of settings, from simple solitaires to ornate vintage-style rings, be sure that the setting you choose protects the vulnerable pointed ti of the stone.

Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions. We'd be delighted to help!

Tim Ingle
Together with David Rhode, Tim created Ingle & Rhode to offer a better alternative to the traditional luxury brands. Since 2007, we’ve provided our customers with genuinely ethical engagement rings, wedding rings and fine jewellery – free from conflict diamonds, dirty gold and child labour. With more than 16 years experience in the jewellery industry, Tim has deep expertise in diamonds, gemstones and jewellery design and manufacturing.