There’s nothing quite like a diamond—while other gems can certainly make an impression, there’s something special about its elegant sparkle. It’s this ineffable quality that keeps attracting people to diamonds of varying clarity, color, carat, and cut.
This includes oval cut diamonds—oblong, symmetrical gems that burst with brilliance and charm.
Oval cut diamonds are stylish and sophisticated, but what exactly should you consider before adorning your engagement ring or anniversary necklace with one? This guide will walk you through the basics and explore the pros and cons of oval cut diamonds to ensure your diamond is one you’ll treasure forever.
What is an Oval Cut?
Before going into oval cut diamonds pros and cons, it’s worth defining exactly what an oval cut diamond is. First, it helps to understand some of the terms commonly used when talking about diamond cuts:
- Round brilliant – Probably the most prized cut, the round brilliant has 58 facets, which allows the diamond to reflect light beautifully. It’s also likely to be the most expensive cut of diamond.
- Single cut – This is a more simple way of cutting a round diamond so that it has 18 facets.
- Fancy cut – A blanket term to describe all cuts that differ from the round brilliant or single cut round diamonds. The oval cut, since it is not a round brilliant or single cut, is considered a fancy cut and is one of the most popular varieties.
As is implied by the name, an oval cut diamond has an ovular shape. This allows it to appear similar to a round cut and creates a lovely, symmetrical shape. That said, there can be variations within the shape of oval cuts.
To that end, some things to keep in mind when evaluating oval cut diamonds include:
- Length-to-width ratio – The length-to-width ratio of your oval cut diamond has a major effect on its appearance. If it’s too short and you’ll lose the oval shape; too long and it becomes elongated and can appear asymmetrical. Ratios between 1.25 to 1 and 1.65 to 1 are generally going to yield the best results.
- Orientation – One thing to remember from our geometry class is that ovals have a longer side and a shorter side. This allows you to orient your oval cut diamond one of two ways: By orienting it vertically, with the length lining up with your finger, you create an elongating effect that can be pleasing. By orienting perpendicularly (called East-West) you create a dramatic interruption in the line of your finger, which can be quite striking.
- Ends – Some oval cut diamonds may have squared or pointed ends. However, these cuts should be avoided as it affects the overall symmetry and aesthetic of the diamond.
When talking about diamond size, we’re talking about more than simply its carat weight. While a higher carat weight will often translate to a larger stone, it’s not exclusive to the diamond’s size.
Rather, some diamond cuts will appear larger than others, even if they have the same carat weight. This is referred to as the cut’s face-up size.
When comparing face-up sizes, oval diamond cuts do quite well. In fact, an oval cut diamond engagement ring will normally appear larger than round cuts when you compare face-up sizes. While oval cuts have impressive face-up size, these other fancy cuts will appear even larger:
- Marquise Cut
- Pear Cut
Also, trillion cut diamonds will appear similarly large to an oval diamond cut. Still, face-up size is considered a pro for oval cut diamonds.
The color of a diamond is rated on an alphabetical scale from D-Z. As you get closer to the end of the alphabet more brown or yellowish color will become visible in your stone.
While the cut cannot change the color of the diamond itself, some cuts are better at hiding color than others.
An oval shape diamond does outperform some other cuts in hiding color, but you’ll likely still want to opt for a stone with an H grade or better. Any lower than that and you may start noticing a yellowish tint on the ends of your oval cut stone.
Inclusions refer to the minor imperfection that you are likely to find in diamonds. Like with color, there is a scale to rate the clarity of the diamond, which goes from the highest rating (flawless) to the lowest (included).
However, like with color, certain cuts do better at hiding inclusions, meaning you may be able to opt for a stone of slightly lower quality as a way to save money.
Oval cuts, because of their light interaction, are rather good at hiding inclusions. Keep in mind, though, that the larger the carat weight, the more likely the inclusions will be apparent.
Pro: Light Interaction
One of the more important considerations when choosing your perfect diamond cut is how the stone will interact with light. After all, that interaction is what creates a diamond’s unique sparkle. There are three main terms used when discussing how light interacts with a diamond:
- Brilliance – This refers to how the light if reflected from the diamond. The light goes into the diamond colorless and is reflected back colorless while still creating a sparkling effect.
- Fire – This refers to the scattering of white light. In this case, the colorless light travels into the stone, but when it bounces back, it reaches our eyes as colored light, like that of a rainbow.
- Scintillation – This refers to the amount of sparkle a diamond releases. If the stone is poorly cut or full of imperfections, you may lose some of the light’s reflection, leading to poor scintillation.
So why does some light come back colorless while other light takes on the colors of a rainbow? To answer that, it’s worth remembering lessons on prisms from science class.
To put it simply, different colors of light move at different speeds. When the light enters the stone and reflects through a triangular pattern, it refracts and the colors come back to our eyes separated. This is different than when it bounces straight back to our eye and appears colorless.
Round cut stones are known for maintaining the most brilliance. Different types of oval cut diamonds, no matter the quality, will not be able to match rounds in this regard. However, oval cuts still have high-quality light interaction and the overall scintillation effect will be high.
To check on the specific differences between other cuts, become familiar with oval vs cushion cut and pear vs oval diamond.
When it comes to pricing, oval cut diamonds are a bit of a mixed bag. The pro is that they are certainly less expensive than rounds, with savings that can be up to 25% or more. However, when compared to other fancy cuts, oval cuts are on the higher end.
Cuts that are generally less expensive than an oval cut include:
- Princess cut
- Cushion cut
- Radiant cut
- Emerald cut
- Asscher cut
An oval shaped diamond will also likely be priced similarly to heart cuts. However, as oval cuts increase in carat weight, the price is likely to increase as well.
Con: The Bowtie Effect
Probably the biggest con when it comes to an oval shape diamond is related to their light interaction.
While scintillation will be high, the facet pattern of oval cuts will create a darker spot that appears on the face of the diamond in the shape of a bow tie. While some people find this effect unsightly, others may not be bothered by it at all and may even adore it.
There are also ways to minimize the bowtie effect:
- Opt for more depth – The greater the depth, the less pronounced the bowtie effect will be.
- Find the highest quality cut – The higher the quality of the cut, the less obvious the bowtie effect will be.
- Examine the stone closely – By examining the stone at different angles and in different lights, you will get a full idea of the bowtie effect. And, if you can’t see it or it doesn’t bother you, there’s no need to worry about it.
An oval cut diamond stands out in shape, size, color, and inclusion-hiding, but it may wane if you’re particular about price or light interaction—specifically in relation to the bowtie effect.
Ultimately, choose a diamond you love. If the elongated shape and sparkling design of an oval cut diamond make you swoon, it may be worth the extra dollars. However, if you’re looking for a diamond that’s classically pristine, you may want to consider a different cut.
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Many of the cons of oval cut diamonds come down to small imperfections that can be minimized by finding the highest quality stones and cuts. Of course, with high quality also comes a high price…or does it?
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Britannica. Diamond Cutting. https://www.britannica.com/art/diamond-cutting#ref47805
International Gem Society. Oval-Cut Diamond Buying Guide: Beyond the Bowtie. https://www.gemsociety.org/article/oval-cut-diamond-guide/
International Gem Society. Different Diamond Shapes: Ultimate Guide with Size & Price Chart. https://www.gemsociety.org/article/diamond-shapes-price-size/
Jewelry Notes. Diamond Fire: What It Is and Why You Should Care About It. https://www.jewelrynotes.com/diamond-fire-what-it-is-and-why-you-should-care-about-it/
Who What Wear. The Pros and Cons of Every Type of Engagement Ring Cut. https://www.whowhatwear.com/types-of-engagement-ring-cuts
Teach Jewelry. Oval vs Cushion Cut Diamond (8 Differences). https://teachjewelry.com/diamonds/oval-vs-cushion-cut/