Diamonds are forever, but when it comes to engagement ring trends, your mileage may vary. That's why I recently reached out to a diamond expert to help me rank 10 popular engagement ring shapes from the most timeless to the least. While there's no right or wrong answer, it’s important to weigh your options when making such an expensive decision. A timeless engagement ring is a safe choice, but a trendier ring is can be a beautiful reminder of the era in which you became engaged.
Scroll ahead for a refresher on the basics of engagement rings. Then get the full ranking of diamond shapes from the most timeless to the least, according to Josh Marion, a diamond expert who has over 20 years of experience in the industry and is currently vice president of Ritani, a luxury online jeweler that specializes in handcrafted custom engagement rings.
The shape of a diamond refers to the outline of the stone when viewed from above. The cut refers to the quality of a diamond's proportions and symmetry on both sides. Different diamond-cut grades determine how much it will sparkle. "The cut is widely considered to be the most important of the 4Cs: cut, color, clarity, carat weight," Marion tells us. Certain diamond shapes (think Asscher or emerald) recommend a higher clarity grade for more brilliance because of their step-cut shape. Step-cut diamonds have large, open tables, which mean imperfections in clarity can be easier to notice."
A round diamond is the most classic of all. "Sparkle is the wow factor over 50% of our customers seek, and with 58 facets, the round diamond offers the most sparkle compared to any other diamond shape,” Marion says.
Also referred to as a pillow-cut diamond, the cushion shape blends the modern round brilliant and the old-mine facet pattern. It's another timeless option with a vintage feel. "To achieve maximum sparkle with a cushion cut, we recommend a diamond with a length to width ratio no greater than 1 by 1.05," Marion says.
The princess cut diamond is one of the brilliant-cut shapes, boasting a pattern of 49 facets. "This diamond offers a more modern square shape, which differentiates it from the cushion diamond's rounded corners. There has been a mild increase in interest in this shape as compared to last year," Marion says.
The oval shape is a variation of the iconic, most timeless round-cut diamond. "We've seen a slight increase in the oval shape when comparing it to the round over the last two years," Marion says. "Choose the oval diamond if you like the classic lines of the round diamond but are seeking something a little more unique."
The emerald shape is considered a step-cut diamond because the flat facets at its base and crown corners resemble steps. "The long lines and dramatic flashes of light give the emerald cut an elegant, symmetrical and organized sparkle, unlike the bright sparkly effect of brilliant-cut diamonds," Marion explains. It's a more bold and dramatic statement compared to a softer rounded shape.
The radiant shape offers the best of both worlds: the elegant rectangular symmetry of an emerald shape with the brilliant sparkle and facets of a round. "It's not surprising that the radiant diamond has jumped in interest from 2014 to 2019," Marion says. "In order to produce the most sparkle, well-cut radiant diamonds are traditionally deeper in the base (or pavilion) than other diamond shapes."
Asscher-shaped diamonds are typically square and are identified by a visible "X" pattern when viewed from the top down. "Innumerable A-listers, from Elizabeth Taylor to Jessica Alba and Zooey Deschanel, have said yes to the Asscher shape," Marion says. "Inventor and renowned jeweler Joseph Asscher developed the first Asscher diamond in 1902. The Royal Asscher Company has updated the shape over the years, and it now has 74 facets for added brilliance."
The pear-shaped diamond looks like a pure, sparkling drop of water. "Consistently gaining interest over the past two years, part of the allure of the pear-cut diamond is its versatility. It can be worn with the point facing up or down," Marion explains.
The marquise shape is an ode to vintage style. "The stone name is inspired by Marquise de Pompadour—it's said that King Louis XIV of France commissioned a stone to be created in the perfect shape of her smile," Marion explains. Celebrities like Catherine Zeta-Jones, Portia de Rossi, and Christina Milian have worn this shape.
A more trend-driven statement, the heart-shaped diamond is the unequivocal symbol of love. "Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj have both been fans of this shape, so it's no wonder we've seen a recent rise in popularity of these exquisitely cut diamonds," Marion shares.