By now you’ve learned the very distinct distinction between diamond ‘cuts’ and diamond ‘shapes’ (you’ve been religiously reading this blog, right?). So now we are ready to dig a little deeper into the different diamond shape varieties and their diverse and dynamic origins. There are 10 major shape classifications, each one shapelier than the next.
Let’s start with the obvious: the good ole, reliable Round. The Round is, and has been for quite some time, the most widely sought after diamond shape. It’s #1 use is in engagement rings, as a solitaire stone (meaning, “one”), giving a sparkling manifestation to the phrase “it’s lonely at the top.” Rounds of all sizes are often featured in earrings, pendants, brooches and wedding rings as well. In fact, the GIA reports that 75% of all diamonds sold on the open market are round. Sometime in the 18th century, enterprising diamontaires developed the cut “round brilliant,” which showcases the rounds’ resplendency to the highest degree. Somewhere down the road, roughly in the middle of the 19th century, diamond cutting maverick Henry Morse (no, he didn’t invent the “Morse Code” – that’s Samuel Morse…) perfected the round brilliant cut, and it has remained essentially the same since then. A cocky cutter named Marcel Tolkowsky made some minor tweaks to the round brilliant cut in 1919, in a vain attempt to get his name in the diamond history books (*the fact that he was arrogant may or may not be true/may have just been made up for the sake of this article.) All in all, the ubiquitous rounds have made an indelible mark in the diamond world, and no one knows how long they will reign supreme in all their circular glory.
Get ready to wrap your brain around this one. The Marquise was named after the Marquise de Pompadour (aka Jeanne Antoinette Poisson) in 1745. Who exactly is this historically respected figure? Why only King Louis the XV’s favorite mistress of the month (she actually was a highly intelligent and accomplished woman, with a keen sense for the arts – even admired by the Queen, Marie Leszczyńska.) The equally lithe and voluptuous contours of the Marquise diamond resembled the Marquise de Pompadour’s supple and ever coveted mouth. The remarkable thing about this shape is that the expertly crafted angles work in tandem to give off the impression that the stone is actually larger than it really is. Achieving this cut is quite difficult; if the symmetry is off even by a teeny bit, the diamond’s brilliance and overall look is greatly diminished. The less graceful way to describe this diamond shape is that it looks like a football, a.k.a. a pigskin.
Believe or not (…wait, why wouldn’t you believe it?), the oldest known diamond shape is the Oval. Much like an allegorical egg that spawned all other modern diamond shapes, the Oval made its first appearance in 1304, when someone coined the term to describe the notorious Koh-I-Noor stone (an allegedly Cursed Diamond). This ancient Indian work of natural art was pilfered by the British and has been in the possession of these regally royal robbers ever since. Later in time, 1887 to be exact, a gargantuan sized, 184 carat diamond was fashioned into an Oval shape and bequeathed the grand nomenclature of “Victoria,” further solidifying Great Britain great grasp on the venerated Oval. Similar to the path the Round went down, the cut “Oval Brilliant” was modified and became all the rage in the 1960’s (if you carefully watch an episode of Mad Men, perhaps you will see a few). Aside from cultivating the diamond’s fire, the oval (with its stretched out silhouette) helps those who happen to be in possession of chubby digits to trick potential admirers into thinking that their fingers are actually slender. In addition, the room where the Leader of the Free World makes a lot of important decisions is shaped in this manner.
Hey, nice Pear
While a Pear shape can be something that is less than desirable in the human form, it can be quite lovely when it comes to diamonds. The Pear was initially recorded somewhere in the 1400s; the “Pear Brilliant” classification was berthed in the 18th century. Maintaining symmetry while cutting a diamond this way is of tantamount importance (like in the mouth-watering Marquise), otherwise you lose sparkle…and respect. Pear shaped diamonds are also referred to as “teardrops,” as they are so beautiful they can make you weep saline tinged droplets from your ocular region. Etiquette states that when wearing a Pear shape ring, the point of the diamond should face outwards at your (perfectly manicured) fingernails. This helps to give the appearance of length and a lean sexiness to your fingers. The pear was made especially famous when Richard Burton purchased a mammoth 69.42 version as a small token of affection for on again/off again wife Elizabeth Taylor (this would later be called the Taylor-Burton Diamond, for undisclosed reasons).
The Emerald (4) Sea(s)
The Emerald (octagonal) shape diamond gets its name from another popular gemstone that is predominately cut in this exact style to highlight its best features (that’s right: …the sapphire – jk!) Step Cuts (learn about these fellers here) long were the standard for rectangular shaped stones, but were eventually adapted in 1940 into what is now known as the Emerald shape. Emeralds really get the job done when it comes to bolstering the brilliance of a rectangular shaped diamond, and have all but booted regular Step Cuts off the map. One of the cool things about Emerald shape diamonds is their inherent functionality; the corner edges provide the perfect place for mounting prongs to securely cinch the stone, without casting awful internal shadows. Since Emeralds have such a long and wide table (like the one Tywin Lannister once dined at), one can see basically everything that is happening inside the diamond. That is why it is suggested to only purchase an Emerald shape diamond if its characteristics are of a very high quality – otherwise you can plainly see all the dirty little inclusions within, like freeloading in-laws languidly floating in your newly installed in-ground pool.
Such a Square
The Square(-ish) cut diamonds are a nifty little quartet: Princess, Radiant, Asscher and Cushion. The Princess shape is exactly what the name implies; it’s dainty, striking, may unexpectedly poke you and can easily break. Princesses were specifically designed in the 1980’s, when engagement ring diamonds (and diamond demand in general) were seeing a significant boom. Their square and pointy nature makes their corners especially susceptible to chipping. The way to avoid damaging these melodramatic princesses is to make sure the mounting they are set in securely encompasses the fine corners – or – just to never wear it out of the house.
The Radiant shape was designed to do just that: radiate light. Crafted in the 1970’s, Radiant facets align to reflect light in an ultra luminous manner. While Radiant shape diamonds typically have a higher level of brilliance than Emeralds, they have historically fetched lower prices for some reason (possibly due to the fact that Emeralds appear more stylish/have ties to the mob). Poorly cut Emeralds are often re-cut into glorious radiants, as the circle of diamond life goes on.
The turn of the 20th century saw the advent of the Asscher cut, engineered by Joseph “Joe” Asscher. The Asscher shape rose to true prominence during the Art-Deco era, as a Mr. Gatsby surely threw Asscher shaped diamonds from his balcony with delightful reckless abandon. Known as the “square cousin to the emerald,” the Asscher saw another bump in 2002 when it’s cut was further refined and diamond company marketers ran wild with this new information. One of the more famous Asschers is the 33.19 carat Krupp Diamond, first worn by steel magnate Alfred Krupp’s beloved wife Vera (who was often referred to as a “Steel Town Girl on a Saturday Night”).
Ah, the comely and comfortable Cushion cut. This square-esque shaped diamond is a little softer on the eye, and to the touch, than other squares. The edges are rounded, making it the perfect stone for tiny elves to take extended naps on. The brilliant cushion cut is one of the oldest brilliant cuts around, having first been utilized in the 1750’s. The popularity of this shape is due in part to the fact that it allows diamond cutters to preserve as much of the original stone’s carat weight as possible (much like when you drop a piece of cheese on the floor and just smooth the dirty edges off …so you can still eat as much as you can.)
Have a Heart
Romance aficionados the world over have embraced the Heart shape diamond as their crowning symbol of gemstone love. It is an especially hard shape for diamond cutters to achieve, much like capturing someone’s actual heart. Due to its exquisitely uncommon shape (which is basically a Pear with another portion cleaved from the top), it’s most often found displayed in pendants. Sales of this stone see a dramatic spike during Saint Valentine’s Day, for some inexplicable reason. If the Heart shaped diamond isn’t cut correctly, and the symmetry is off, this can result in an awkward shape, once which may produce heartache in the recipient. Ok, aside from all this corny heart-speak, the Heart shapes (because of the relatively irregular angles of their facets – which there are 59 of) actually project light in an entirely unique way. One of the most well known Hearts in history is the Heart of Eternity, which is a 27.64 carat fancy vivid blue diamond. This diamond was born from a gigantic rough stone – which also spawned the Hearts of Eternity’s sister the Millennium Star (a 203 carat Pear!) Sadly the sister stones haven’t spoken in years, mainly contributing to the Heart of Eternity diamond’s eternal heartbreak.
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