When choosing a diamond for an engagement ring most people are torn between the seemingly contradicting desires to pick something that’s both unique and yet a classic.
The round diamond is always a classic option and the most popular choice for most people. The oval diamond cut, on the other hand, is one of the few diamond cuts that manages to be both, as it’s both similar enough to the popular round cut and yet – different and unorthodox.
Here’s a comparison of the round cut vs. the oval and how they stack up against each other. This guide should give you a clear idea of which of the these diamond cuts to choose.
Oval or Round – Which is More Popular?
There’s no doubt that the round cut is the most popular diamond cut today with around 75% of engagement ring diamonds being round.
The oval cut, on the other hand, isn’t a very popular option for engagement rings, with the princess, cushion, radiant and other cuts beating it percentage-wise. The oval cut is fairly popular for necklaces, pendants, and earrings but it trails behind other cuts when rings are concerned. That’s hardly a drawback, however, as it only makes the oval cut more unique.
In recent years, the oval cut has become more popular for engagement rings as more couples turn towards non-traditional ring options.
The similarities between the oval and the round diamond cut
Before we start breaking down the differences between these two gorgeous diamond cuts, let’s cover their main similarities. Even though one is viewed as the classical choice and the other as more contemporary and against the grain, they are pretty close in most regards.
- Both cuts have a similar roundish shape. However, while round cuts always come in a perfectly round shape, the while the length-to-width ratio (L/W) of oval diamonds usually ranges between 1.33 (near-round) and 1.66 (more elongated) with 1.45 being the most popular middle ground. Nevertheless, oval cuts are much closer to round cuts visually than most other quadrangular cuts such as the radiant, cushion, princess and emerald. With some ring settings and at a distance, oval cuts can even be mistaken for round cuts.
- Both cuts fall in the “brilliant cuts” category which means that they are both cut to maximize their brilliance and sparkle. The round cut is well-known as the most brilliant diamond cut out there because its perfect round shape and 58 facets break the light in the most optimal way. However, oval cuts are very close in terms of both brilliance and fire too thanks to their roundish shape and similar 58 facets. They certainly don’t look dull in any way even when compared to round cuts.
- History-wise, both cuts have been a classical choice for centuries. The modern oval diamond cut is credited to the Russian-born diamond cutter Lazare Kaplan who reinvented the cut in the 1950s but even before him, oval cuts have been used in rings and jewelry pieces all throughout history. The round brilliant cut was invented in 1919 by Marcel Tolowsky, but versions of this cut date back several centuries.
- Both the round and the oval cut can work perfectly well with any ring setting, design and metal. Both cuts perfectly suit vintage designs as well as modern cutting edge settings like this tension ring setting. This makes both oval and round cuts highly versatile.
- Oval and round cuts are both excellent at masking any color well as inclusions and blemishes in the diamond because of how brilliant these cuts are. This means that with both cuts you can safely go for a slightly lower color or clarity grade without affecting the visible quality of the diamond.
The Advantages of The Oval Cut
Oval pave engagement ring with halo. See it here.
If these two cuts are so similar why choose an oval diamond for your engagement ring? Here are the main factors to consider:
- Oval cuts offer a different look from both round and square diamond cuts. The fact that they are not as popular means that you’ll have a much more unique diamond on your hands than most people.
- Oval cuts are more affordable than round cuts too. If you compare the price of a round cut diamond, like this one with that of an oval cut diamond like this similar stone, you’ll notice a stark price difference, sometimes up to a 4-digit amount.
There are three main reasons for that: 1) because the demand for oval diamonds is not as high, jewelers sell them at more alluring prices to tempt buyers, 2) the demand for round diamonds is much higher and with this comes high prices and 3) cutting a diamond in a perfectly round shape typically results in lots of diamond rough waste, making them more expensive to produce. Most other cuts, including the oval cut, are more economical to produce.
- Another advantage of oval cuts is that they have a larger surface area for the same carat weight compared to round cuts. This depends on the precise cut of each individual diamond but on average oval cuts have a 10% larger table than round cuts. Additionally, they look even bigger than that to the naked eye because people intuitively look at the length of the oval diamond rather than its width when they subconsciously judge its size. This can allow you to save even more money on an oval diamond as you can pick a slightly lighter stone that will look as big as a heavier round cut.
- Oval diamonds also offer a variety of different shapes while round cuts are always perfectly round. This gives you a much wider range of choices depending on what setting and ring design you want to go for.
The Advantages of the Round Cut
Round diamond with marquise side stones. See it here.
Of course, the round cut is at the top of the popularity list for more than one reason:
- Round cut diamonds are the classic choice for engagement rings – they are what everyone thinks of when they imagine an engagement ring and most people expect to see one an engaged woman’s finger.
- The round cut is the most brilliant cut and will likely remain at the top for a long time given how perfect its shape is for maximizing brilliance and fire.
- Because it’s so popular, the round cut is also widely available – any jeweler you visit, whether online or on-location, is guaranteed to have a huge assortment of different round cut diamonds of all sizes, colors, clarity grades and price ranges. This can seem like a small advantage but when you have tens of thousands of round cut options on a particular site or store and only a couple of thousand oval cut choices, all with different shapes and unique characteristics that further dilute the overall pool, picking a round cut diamond becomes much easier.
- Unlike the oval and many other cuts, round cut diamonds receive a cut grade in their grading reports from the GIA or other grading labs. This is important as it can help you to better judge each individual stone’s cut quality and account for any possible problems.
Additional Notes and Tips for Buying Oval Cut Diamonds
As the less popular of the two cuts, you do need to make a few extra considerations which aren’t a factor for the more traditional round cut. These aren’t drawbacks per se but are just things to watch for in oval cuts that are specific to them.
- The dreaded bow-tie effect. All diamonds can have misaligned facets, poor cuts, and other clarity problems, including round cut diamonds. The bow-tie is just one such problem that’s specific to oval cut diamonds. It can be clearly seen in many oval diamonds, like this one which has a clear bowtie across its surface. The bowtie is nothing more than a more or less pronounced dark line around the middle section of the diamond. Not all oval diamonds have a “bow-tie” and you can easily avoid this problem by simply examining the stone personally or through a high-quality 3D presentation on a trustworthy vendor’s website. You should always do this, however, because oval cuts don’t have a cut grade on their reports, so simply going by the stone’s report wouldn’t give you an idea of its appearance.
- While looking for a bow-tie you should also examine the overall cut quality as, it won’t be listed on the report. Oval cuts look best when their tables are between 53% and 63% in size, when their girdle is extra thin, when they don’t have a culet facet, and when their depth is between 57% and 62%. Symmetry is also something to look for in an oval cut as not all have perfectly identical sides and slopes. Again, this is hardly a disadvantage as there are plenty of symmetrical and perfectly-cut oval diamonds, but it is something to look out for.
- When picking the length-to-width ratio of your oval diamond, keep the ring’s setting and design in mind. Picking a round diamond is easier in that regard as they are always perfectly round. The larger variety on oval diamond shapes is a plus but it also means that you’ll have more choices to make. Do you want a slender and elongated oval diamond or a more roundish one? Oval diamonds can be set either horizontally or vertically on a ring, giving you more design options. All can look stunning in the right ring setting, it’s just a matter of personal choice.
Aside from these few specific tips, most other notes for choosing a round and an oval cut are very similar so you can safely approach an oval cut diamond as you would a round cut.
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