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Once in a lifetime: Diamond cuts in bridal jewellery

By Raphael Weil

Custom-made platinum eternity band with 17 oval diamonds (5.5 carats). Photos courtesy World Wide Weil Jewelry
Custom-made platinum eternity band with 17 oval diamonds (5.5 carats).
Photos courtesy World Wide Weil Jewelry

With so many diamond shapes and cuts available for bridal jewellery, how can jewellers help their client select which one suits them best? We are all familiar with the round brilliant, of course, but there are a myriad of other contenders to consider, including princess, radiant, emerald, oval, cushion, pear shape, marquise, single cut, Asscher cut, old miner, old European, rose cut, moval, and even French cut.

Among brides, some diamond cuts tend to be trendier and more popular than others; likewise, there are some classic, older-style cuts coming back in a big way for those with an eye for vintage flair. Each option is distinct, beautiful, and sparkles in its own unique way.

What do we call ‘bridal jewellery’?

Handcrafted platinum engagement ring, featuring a 1.05-carat cushion-cut fancy light blue diamond centre stone, surrounded by a double halo of fancy pink (0.12 ctw) and colourless (0.40 ctw) diamonds.
Handcrafted platinum engagement ring, featuring a 1.05-carat cushion-cut fancy light blue diamond centre stone, surrounded by a double halo of fancy pink (0.12 ctw) and colourless (0.40 ctw) diamonds.

Bridal jewellery includes all pieces a bride wears in preparation for the Big Day, from engagement photos, to the nuptials, and through to the honeymoon. This jewellery category can include engagement rings, wedding bands, eternity rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and even brooches. Although different diamond shapes can be set in all types of bridal jewellery, for the purposes of this article, this author will focus on two pieces that are among the most beloved: the engagement ring and the eternity band.

Round

The most popular (and famous) diamond cut used in engagement rings, the modern round brilliant boasts 57 to 58 facets. If cut well, these incredible stones shine more than any other variety.

Indeed, for many, this cut truly represents the traditional engagement ring. Brides with ring fingers of any shape or size can sport the classic and elegant round-cut diamond and create a timeless look. The diamond can be set by itself on a solitaire ring, flanked by supporting stones on either side, or placed in a halo of diamond melee or coloured stones. Round diamonds are often more expensive than most ‘fancy-cut’ varieties because of the type of rough diamond lapidaries need to use to cut them.

The ever-popular round brilliant is also often used in eternity bands, along with all other types of bridal jewellery.

Old European

The old European-cut diamond is an antique style first popularized in the late 19th century. Its lasting appeal makes this cut a popular choice to this day. 

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Much like its descendant, the round brilliant, the old European-cut diamond has 57 to 58 facets, but also offers an incredible vintage style. The cut is extremely popular in Edwardian and Edwardian-style engagement rings, as well as those in the art deco and art deco-style category.

Brides tend to favour this cut as a solitaire with a gemstone accent. This might be a halo of old-cut diamonds, sapphires, rubies, or emeralds. Likewise, the centre stone may be accented with a few gemstones on each shoulder and set in a vintage-style mounting. (Yes, the European-cut diamond fits in similar mountings as its cousin, the round brilliant, but with a bit of antique flair!).

Emerald cut

The emerald cut is also a very trendy shape. An octagon with straight sides and angular corners, this diamond is usually elongated but can also be cut almost square. With 49 facets, the emerald cut often shines less than its round counterpart because of its step-cut faceting, but often has a bigger look.

Handcrafted platinum eternity band, set with 10 carats of French-cut diamonds.
Handcrafted platinum eternity band, set with 10 carats of French-cut diamonds.

The emerald cut is very popular in both engagement rings and eternity bands. It can be worn as a solitaire, of course, but many brides like to pair this shape with side stones, such as baguettes, trillions, or even trapezoid diamonds. Sometimes it is set with a halo of diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds. Emerald cuts are also used in vintage-style engagement rings—because of their step-cut appearance, they can resemble old cuts.

Radiant

Radiant diamonds have been in very high demand in the last few years, and with good reason. This style has the shape and dimensions of an emerald cut, paired with the incredible sparkle of a round brilliant. Indeed, the radiant cut is a perfect combination of these two shapes and offers a great look for an engagement ring, both as a solitaire or paired with side stones (most commonly trapezoid diamonds).

Because it is quite similar to an emerald-cut diamond, the radiant can be set in very similar mountings. It is sometimes found in eternity bands, creating a show-stopping shimmery look.

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Cushion

The cushion brilliant-cut diamond is the modern version of the old mine cut (or ‘old miner’) that was incredibly popular from the 18th to the 19th century. With its rounded sides and corners, this shape is halfway between a square (or rectangular) shape and a round cut. The cushion usually has the same number of facets as the round brilliant, though sometimes it has even more, offering a slightly different look. Among the most brilliant of the square and rectangular shapes, this cut is extremely on-trend, both for engagement rings and eternity bands.

Oval

Another popular diamond cut for bridal rings is the oval, which is, essentially, a stretched version of the round brilliant. Similar to rounds, ovals have 57 to 58 facets, giving them plenty of sparkle. They also have a large surface, which makes them look very big.

The oval’s shape and brilliance makes this cut a popular choice for eternity rings. Indeed, next to round diamonds, this is likely the most popular option for brides. The oval diamond is also used as a centre stone in engagement rings, either set as a solitaire or with a thin halo of round diamonds.

Pear shape

Pear-shaped diamonds are very popular in engagement rings. A classic selection, pear shapes are the perfect combination of a round diamond and a marquise cut. They are faceted to deliver a maximum brilliance, much like rounds, with an elongated shape to help create the illusion of a longer and more slender finger.

Rounded at the bottom with a tapered point at one end (just like the fruit), the pear shape looks fantastic set as a solitaire with a smaller diamond accent, or with a round diamond halo, which makes the centre stone appear larger.

Princess

A relative newcomer to the diamond industry, the princess cut was introduced in the late 1970s or early 1980s as an alternative to the round brilliant. It was greatly inspired by the French cut, a very rare and high-demand shape (mainly used in eternity rings) with roots dating back to the 1300s. The princess cut is perfectly square and usually has 58 facets.

Pictured left: Handcrafted vintage-style diamond engagement ring, featuring a 1.0-carat old mine-cut centre stone. Pictured right: Handcrafted vintage-style platinum engagement ring featuring, a 1.2 carat old mine-cut diamond.
Pictured left: Handcrafted vintage-style diamond engagement ring, featuring a 1.0-carat old mine-cut centre stone. Pictured right: Handcrafted vintage-style platinum engagement ring featuring, a 1.2 carat old mine-cut diamond.

Princess-cut diamonds typically look larger than round diamonds, but they sparkle less. That said, the princess is often much less expensive than rounds of the same size and quality. These days, it is common to see the princess cut used as a centre stone in engagement rings or set in eternity rings.

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Asscher

First crafted by the Asscher brothers in Holland back in 1902, the Asscher cut offers a beautiful and inspiring antique style. The cut’s perfectly square and symmetrical design made it an extremely popular choice throughout the art deco era, and it has been enjoying a resurgence in the past decade or so. One of the most brilliant diamond cuts, the shape resembles a square emerald cut with a large crown and 58 mirror-like facets.

It is not rare to find vintage and vintage-style eternity rings set with fine Asscher-cut diamonds. Many modern couples also love the Asscher cut as a centre stone in engagement rings, worn as a solitaire or haloed with diamonds, sapphires, rubies, or even emeralds and aquamarines. Indeed, this cut is a fantastic way for couples to infuse a touch of old-fashioned romance into a customized modern design.

Unique wants

When helping a couple select a diamond cut for any piece bridal jewellery, it may behoove a jeweller to ask what they are expecting from the diamond. Preference and taste matter, of course, but also, what era do they fancy? Are they enchanted by a diamond’s brilliance? Its shape? Its size? Helping clients unpack these specific questions by sharing your diamond knowledge and expertise can assist you in guiding them toward a purchase that will last a lifetime.

Raphael Weil, GG, is the founder of World Wide Weil, a Manhattan- and Miami-based jewellery firm, specializing in large antique and modern diamonds, as well as estate, antique, vintage, signed, and custom-made pieces. Born in France, Weil obtained diplomas in international trade, management, economy, and business development in Europe before relocating to New York City to study gemmology at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). At his firm, Weil offers antique, vintage, estate, and custom jewellery, as well as loose diamonds, and coloured stones. He can be reached via email at raphael@wwweil.com or on Instagram @TheDiamondsGuy.

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