Looking for an expert guide on the oval cut diamond shape?
Perfect, you're in the right place!
In this LearningJewelry.com guide, you'll learn:
- What is an oval cut diamond?
- Should you chose an oval cut diamond for your engagement ring?
- How does the oval cut compare to other diamond shapes?
- Where's the best place to buy an oval cut diamond?
- And much more!
Oval diamonds can be a gorgeous alternative to the same round brilliant that everyone and their mom has. But you have to know what to look for.
You'll love the way a timeless oval diamond makes your fingers look slender and elongated.
Ovals come in a variety of settings and can easily mix with colored gemstones for the bride-to-be who wants a little splash of color.
While many worry about the lack of cut grade with an oval diamond, it allows you to truly discover a uniquely shaped oval based on your personality, while still being able to pick out a high quality diamonds.
An oval wearer will truly appreciate the low profile settings and long lasting wear of any oval diamond engagement ring.
What Is A Oval Cut Diamond?
Oval cut diamonds were actually around for a while, but weren't brought into the market until around the 1950s. Lazare Kaplan was trying to find a use for all the diamonds dubbed as unusable. Doing so, he created the oval cut, which utilizes more of the rough than a round brilliant does.
Oval diamonds are usually elongated, but in recent times a new oval style has emerged: the east to west design. This is where the oval diamond is turned on its side, rather than longways. East-to-west style ovals are normally set in a halo style.
Reasons for Choosing Oval Cut Diamonds
There are a bunch of great reasons why an oval cut diamond should make your engagement ring wish list, but there are a couple reasons you might be hesitant on it.
But don't worry, that's where we come in. We'll help you make the decision that's best for you.
Pros and Cons of Oval Cuts
- More brilliant than some shapes
- Looks bigger
- Mostly low profile setting options
- Less expensive than other shapes
- Bow tie
- Color and Clarity grades should be higher
Oval cut diamonds are brilliant cut, which means they're specifically designed to have the most sparkle, as opposed to step cut shapes like emerald cuts or Asschers. Light performance is the true beauty of a ring and ovals have a large surface area for all that sparkle to reflect. That's right, a 1 carat oval will look much bigger than a round diamond of the same carat weight.
While it might not be technically cut with more brilliance as a round cut diamond, oval cost less. Besides, almost everyone (myself admittedly) has a round diamond. Ovals are more unique, yet still timeless.
Lastly, oval diamond ring settings usually have a low profile. This is makes it a great choice for people who are harder on their hands or work in certain fields. Lower profile ring settings are less likely to snag than a higher profile.
The biggest con on an oval diamond is the bow tie effect. Simply put, you can't purchase any old oval diamond without being able to look it. Bowties are dark shapes that play across the surface of some diamond shapes.
They can impact light reflection if too dark. You can learn more about this effect under the "Cut" portion of this guide.
Normally when a diamond is brilliant cut, it's easier to hide inclusions. But if you have a problematic bowtie, it can cause bigger inclusions to become painfully obvious.
You can solve both of these cons by purchasing from a retailer that allows you to choose your own diamond, like James Allen. That way, you can ensure you find an oval with no bow tie, or one that has very little effect without having to go crazy high on all your diamond grades.
How To Choose An Oval Cut Diamond?
When choosing any diamond shape for an engagement ring, you must consider the diamond grades of the stones, particularly the center diamond.
All diamonds are measured by what's known as the 4Cs, set forth by the GIA, the most respected name in diamonds. All diamond quality is graded based on diamond cut, clarity, color, and carat.
While there isn't a laboratory cut grade for oval diamonds, there is still a distinct difference between a well-cut oval shape diamond and a poorly cut oval diamond. You can usually identify a poorly cut oval diamond online pretty well as a loose diamond.
But if you're looking in store at a fine jewelry retailer, you're more likely to see it already in a ring setting. This makes it more difficult to actually observe the shape of the diamond.
In these cases, you'll need to look at the grading report. Many retail jewelers use GSI or IGI certifications, but we recommend only buying center stones with a GIA or AGS grading report. These grading reports will let you know information that is important to the cut quality of the oval diamond.
Read also: Which diamond grading labs should you avoid?
The length to width ratio (L/W) of an oval cut diamond doesn't have a set standard, but most personal preference lands it between 1.3 and 1.5. As far as the depth goes, you'll want to find an oval depth of 58-63%.
The table should be between 53-63%. Looking for a diamond in person or online with these parameters may help weed out more of the poor performing oval diamonds.
Other than that, you'll have to eyeball the oval diamonds to find the one that is going to be the best. Avoid anything that may look off-shape. This would include egg shaped ovals, squared off edges, and of course, the ever present bow-tie effect.
The bow tie effect is a dark shape in that look like a bowtie across the table of your oval diamond when the light hits just right. All oval diamonds have a bow-tie, but it's your job to find one whose bow-tie isn't as noticeable.
A dark bowtie can impact the beauty of your oval greatly by creating dark areas where light should be coming through. Here is the difference between a noticeable bow tie effect and a not-so-noticeable one.
Clarity is how clear the diamond is to the naked eye from the viewable surface of the diamond. The higher clarity grade, the less natural inclusions or blemishes you should see in a diamond.
Diamonds with higher clarity grades are also more expensive. Luckily, oval cuts do not typically need a high clarity because of their brilliant cut. Step cut diamonds like emerald cuts or Asscher cuts need higher clarities.
Read also: Emerald cut diamonds - why are they cheaper than oval cut?
Brilliant cuts have short, choppy cuts that allow the diamond to sparkle and reflect light in a glittering effect. This technique makes it easier to hide inclusions that might otherwise be visible.
This is also why it's important to look for a well cut oval shape first. If it can't properly reflect light, it won't be able to hide inclusions of cheaper clarity grades.
For an oval diamond, you shouldn't need a clarity grade higher than a VS2. Minimum clarity grade for oval diamonds is recommended to be SI1, but you might be able to find a few nice eye-clean SI2 graded diamonds.
You should always view an oval diamond or any diamond either through a jewelry loupe or microscope in person and use 360 viewing technology when searching for diamonds online.
Ovals tend to show diamond color a little more than the average diamond fancy shape. Meaning, the lower color grade you go, the more yellowish the center diamond will look. For this reason, we recommend you don't choose a grade lower than an H color grade.
H color grades are near colorless, which will still give off the look of a white diamond. You shouldn't really need to go above a G color grade as it's top tier of the near colorless range. Most people aside from a jeweler or lapidary won't be able to tell the difference.
Carat weight has always been more of a subjective C, as it is the least important. Unfortunately, when many ring-buyers think of an engagement ring, they often think carat weight.
Carat weight is confused with the actually size of the diamond, rather than the weight of a diamond. Many think of how large they want their diamond, so they throw out 1 carat and 2 carat diamonds, based on size.
But the truth it, different fancy shapes can be the same carat weight, but look different sizes. Look at this 1 carat oval cut diamond engagement ring compared to a 1 carat marquise cut diamond.
These are both the exact same carat weight, but the oval has more table that is viewable. Marquise cut diamonds hide their weight in the pavilion of the diamond, rather than the crown.
It's also worth noting that the higher you go up in carat weight, the higher your other diamond grades will need. The reason for this is because it is hard to dig up and cut a higher eye-clean carat weight of 2, rather than a 1 carat oval diamond.
Check out the difference between the 1 carat and 2 carat oval diamonds both with a clarity of SI1. See the difference? This is why larger carat weight cost can soar, which is why we leave this particular C up to you.
Oval Cut Vs Other Diamond Cuts?
Being so similar to the round brilliant diamond, you'd think oval engagement rings might be popular. And you'd be wrong. Oval cut stones aren't too popular as diamond engagement rings, but make a splash in the colored gemstones department.
However, you can still find oval diamonds today as a unique and timeless center stone that deviates from cookie cutter diamond cuts of today. Let's see how these ovals match up to other popular diamond shapes.
Oval Cut vs Round Cut
Which looks bigger?
We talked about how certain diamond shapes look bigger than others, even if they have the same carat weight. Oval diamonds look larger than a round diamond. A one carat round diamond looks much smaller than a one carat oval. Check out these two beautiful diamond engagement rings with a 1 carat center.
Which costs more?
Round brilliant diamonds are the most expensive diamond shape in the market today. This is because they are known to have the most brilliance out of all fancy cuts. Ovals may be a brilliant cut, but they are not superior to round diamonds. Round diamonds are around 30% more expensive than an oval cut diamond.
Oval Cut vs Cushion Cut
Which sparkles more?
Both oval diamonds and cushion diamonds are cut into a brilliant cut. In a brilliant cut, diamond cutters use faceting techniques the maximize the amount of light that goes in and out of a diamond.
Because oval diamonds don't have a standard cut perimeters, not all ovals are the same and maximize the same amount of light. Cushion diamonds can be cut to exact symmetry, so they will have more brilliance. However, the significance is minimal, usually only noticeable to jewelers.
Which costs more?
Cushion diamonds are known to be a more affordable option for larger carat weights. A 1 carat cushion diamond is around $1000 less than a 1 carat oval diamond. Oval diamonds are a rarity among engagement rings, especially in comparison to the popular cushion cut, so the price might be higher.
Oval Cut Vs Princess Cut
Which is more durable?
Diamond shapes with pointed edges like the princess cut are more vulnerable to chipping than a rounder diamond shape like an oval. That's not to say that ovals can't chip, or to say that all princess cut diamonds will chip, but just to wear with an err of caution. A lot of people think that real diamonds are impervious to breakage.
They assume that if a diamond chips or cracks, then it must be fake. This isn't the case. It has a lot to do with cut and the amount of pressure applied in the right place. Diamonds may be the hardest mineral, but nothing is unbreakable. This is why it's so important to get a nicely cut diamond, with any shape.
Which lasts longer?
The wear-and-tear factor for both princess cuts and ovals cuts can vary, depending on the wearer's lifestyle. The ring setting will also have a lot to do with it. If your ring is white gold, you'll have continuous upkeep for rhodium plating.
Oval cut diamonds don't have edges, so you don't have to worry about snags in a solitaire setting. Even the best princess cut diamond solitaire rings have pointed edges that grab fabric over time. This is why it is so important to keep your prongs looking good and get them retipped when they start to snag.
Where To Buy The Best Oval Cut Diamond?
Most people that purchase diamonds or engagement rings look locally at their nearest fine jewelry retailer, such as Zales or Jared. Because ovals are not as common, you're likely to find very little oval engagement rings. And if you do, you'll more than likely find them set in white gold as opposed to yellow gold or rose gold.
You always want a grading report from the GIA or AGS laboratories. Grading reports from these labs bring certainty to the notion that you are getting a high quality diamond. When I worked at Kay Jewelers, we had about 5 GIA certified solitaires, all 1 carat and under.
The one carat was $7 grand with the GIA certification set on a plain Tiffany style white gold band. You'll find countless "deals" like this in the retail jewelry world.
Let me introduce you to the world of online diamonds. The best place to buy an oval diamond online is going to be at JamesAllen.com. James Allen offers you 100s of different diamonds tailored to your exact parameters of the 4Cs. You can survey each oval, look at its diamond grades and identify the presence of a bow tie effect via their 360 degree viewing technology.
The great thing about online jewelers like James Allen is that they don't make a commission profit. There's no pushing you into buying bigger for personal reasons.
James Allen has diamond experts on standby that are available 24/7 to give you unbiased information to give you the best deal, at hundreds of dollars cheaper than Jared, Kay, or Zales.
But if you can't shake the idea that you need to buy locally, I urge you to skip mega retailers like the ones aforementioned. Check out some of your local jewelers. They can even create high quality one-of-a-kind customs. They will undoubtedly have better diamonds than what you'd find at a retailer.
What Are The Best Settings For Oval Cut Diamonds?
Oval settings are pretty versatile, but you'll almost always find them in a prong setting. Prong setting are best for brilliant cuts because more of the diamond is visible to let light come in and go out from all directions. You can choose 4, 6, and sometimes 8 prongs.
You're more likely to find oval diamonds in a halo setting style, or a 3 stone ring. There are many oval rings with 2 side stones on either side, usually baguettes or pears. Often times these side stones are colored gemstones like sapphires.
Here are some of our favorite oval diamond engagement rings: