A Detailed Guide to Round Cut Diamonds (Plus Helpful Advice)

When you choose a round cut diamond for any jewelry piece you are choosing; elegance, opulence, intense sparkle, and…the world’s favorite diamond shape of choice!

After decades and decades of improvement and upgrading, diamond cutters have now got the art of cutting round cut diamonds down to perfection.👍🏻

To be sure, you won’t find another diamond shape out there that matches its dazzling shine and white light exuberance. But, is this diamond cut the one for you?

Let’s find out!

Close-up Front View of a Round Cut Diamond

Basics: What is a round cut diamond?

The round cut can refer to both the round shape and cutting style of a diamond. There is quite simply no other diamond cut that quite matches the extraordinary ability of the round-cut diamond to exude dazzling light.🌟

A diamond that has been carved and shaped with precision and craftsmanship is done so to reflect and refract light back into the eye of the beholder. In a true performance of fire, sparkle, and scintillation, the round-cut diamond offers the best display of light performance.

So, let’s get technical just for a moment so we can understand exactly what a round cut diamond entails…

The modern round brilliant cut diamond

The modern round brilliant cut diamond as we know it today which consists of a 57 facet pattern (sometimes 58 if there is a facet on the culet), is the most prevalent form of round cuts.

The crown is carved with 8 main facets, 8 pairs of half facets, and 8 small "star facets" with a singular large facet on top known as the table facet. The pavilion also features 8 main facets and 8 pairs of half facets (sometimes, the pavilion will also include a small facet on the culet).

Needless to say, the stunning sparkle and dazzling brilliance of a modern round brilliant rely on all of these facets to work together for a true display of magic!

Old European vs. Round Brilliant

Old European cut diamonds are considered the predecessor of the modern round brilliant cut diamond.

This was the cut of choice during the Victorian, Edwardian, and Art Deco eras where the Old European cut was in popular demand. However, these diamonds were not crafted using new and refined precision diamond cutting technology—they were carved and shaped by hand.

This meant that these diamonds did not have the ideal cut aspects that we see in the round brilliant cut as we know it today.

Old European diamonds were relatively dull in comparison yet many modern people enjoy the antique style and character of the Old European cut diamond.

This earlier version of the round brilliant consisted of deeper proportions and smaller tables which did not optimize the stone for fire and brilliance. Cutters at the time did not shape the stone for maximum light reflection or refraction and so often these diamonds appeared grey-ish in tone.

Luckily, things began to change…

Perfect round brilliant-cut proportions

We must give thanks to Belgian mathematician Marcel Tolkowsky who is generally credited as the first person to decipher the proportions that best optimize the diamond for exuberant sparkle and shine.

In 1919, Marcel Tolkowsky published his thesis, "Diamond Design: A Study of the Reflection and Refraction of Light in Diamond" where we can find the first musings of the ideal cut aspects of a round brilliant.

This was the first documentation that identified the ideal cutting proportions and aspects of a diamond with a focus on brilliance and fire.

Since then, these proportions have been further defined by industry experts to produce the round brilliant cut diamond that we see today.

Different Views of a Round Brilliant Cut Diamond
The round cut diamond has become the most popular diamond shape which is why it now represents over two-thirds of all diamonds sold in the marketplace today!

What benefits do round-cut diamonds offer?

Well, I’m glad you asked because there are plenty!

With this diamond cut being the most popular and prevalent shape to grace our jewelry stores (and jewelry boxes) it won’t be of any surprise that there are some truly exciting reasons for this.😍

Let’s break it down…

Excellent proportions and accuracy

The supreme accuracy and proportions of an ideal cut make it a reliable favorite. Round cut diamonds have a long and rich history of constant improvement and upgrading so that the proportions, symmetry, facet arrangements, polish, and much more maximize the beauty of the diamond.

For the best of the best premium round cut diamonds, they can even reach Super Ideal cut standard.

It doesn’t get much more superior than that!

Extraordinary optical beauty

Although it wasn’t always the case, round-cut diamonds are now specially carved and shaped with the aim to maximize light return. This is what allows the round-cut diamonds to shine with such intense brilliance, fire, and scintillation. This is ideal for a modern round cut diamond lover seeking that starlight sparkle.

Some round cut diamonds even feature the symbolic hearts and arrows pattern which exude a kind of romantic beauty.

Ability to hide imperfections

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times…CUT IS KING!

And an Excellent/Ideal cut diamond can do more than offer a dazzling performance of light and fire; it can hide imperfections better than any other diamond shape and cut.

Imperfections relating to color or clarity characteristics can be easily hidden to the naked eye with a high-quality round-cut diamond. Which is excellent when we are looking to balance our budget without compromising on beauty.

Step cuts or other diamonds cuts that feature a larger table will struggle to hide these imperfections the way a round cut can.

Easy to find

Remember, the round cut diamond consists of two-thirds of all diamonds sold in the marketplace today. What does that mean? You aren’t going to struggle to find a round-cut diamond that suits your budget. They are so highly accessible that you’re sure to find one that fits the bill!

Look appealing in all setting styles

The simplicity and timeless elegance of this cut mean that it can shine bright in a variety of different settings. With a round-cut diamond, you can easily mix and match setting types as well as combining it with other gemstones to make a piece that is perfectly matched for your personality.

The round-cut diamond is incredibly adaptive to suit your needs and desires.

How to choose a round-cut diamond? (With advice)

We couldn’t talk about round-cut diamonds without re-visiting the 4Cs grading system, could we?

Let’s take a brief look at the 4Cs in relation to the round cut diamond to see how each characteristic can help guide you in the buying process:📝

Round Cut Diamond: Cut

The cut quality has the biggest impact on a diamond’s light performance. When discussing cut, we are talking about a diamond’s proportions, mathematical symmetry, and the accuracy of its various parameters.

Although all 4Cs must be taken into account for the overall quality of a diamond, the cut is considered the most important aspect in enhancing its appearance.

A well-cut diamond can hide imperfections and enhance the brilliance of a lower color quality stone. It can make even the smallest of diamonds pack a dazzling punch!

To assess a diamond’s light performance, the industry generally uses the ASET tool.

The Angular Spectrum Evaluation Tool (ASET)
A simple and effective device from the American Gem Society (AGS) that quickly offers an enormous amount of information about how well a diamond handles light.

ASET is not only a simple reflector tool, it is also the most advanced light performance-based cut grading system. Its related advanced software is the most scientifically vetted cut grading software on the market!

In simple terms, the software uses both blue, red, and green to paint different areas of the diamond. When looking through the ASET tool, the different areas of color will indicate where the light is coming from and if there is any light leakage (we don’t want that!).

Round Diamond and Its ASET Image
A round cut diamond and its ASET image | Images: Whiteflash

“... ASET views of a well-cut round brilliant diamond will show a preponderance of red, a small amount of green, a symmetrical pattern of blue, and very little leakage.”

And all of this is dependent on cut quality.

Super Ideal round cut diamonds

If your budget allows for it, we recommend trying to stick to Excellent or Ideal round cut diamonds.

🎯BUT, if you are able, you can aim for a Super Ideal cut where radiant sparkle and shine are guaranteed! This superior cut quality is certainly a cut above the rest and there are a variety of branded Super Ideal cuts that you can find on the market including:

James Allen: True Hearts

James Allen boasts of their True Hearts collection of diamonds featuring perfect internal symmetry and proportions.

When viewed from above and below, the highly crafted round-cut diamonds in this collection feature the coveted hearts and arrows pattern. The sign of an exquisitely cut diamond.

Blue Nile: Astor Cut

Blue Nile claims that their Ator cut diamonds explode with light! You can purchase an Astor cut diamond in round brilliant, princess cut, or cushion cut.

Astor cut reflects more white light than any other diamond cut Blue Nile has to offer!

Whiteflash: A Cut Above

Whiteflash make big claims about their A CUT ABOVE collection, “The ultimate beneficiary is the consumer who understands that an A CUT ABOVE diamond is the most exhaustively evaluated and dependently consistent, high-performance diamond on the planet”

As branded Super Ideal cuts go, Whiteflash is certainly up there with the best of them.

Round Cut Diamond: Color

Alright, let’s talk about color!

Colorless diamonds fall into the D-F category of color grading and whilst it may be comforting to know that we own a diamond of high color quality, we can actually afford to go lower on the color quality scale and still own a stunning diamond that shines white.

📝We recommend a minimum of I color grade yet sometimes we can even find a J color diamond that appears white to the naked eye.

The actual differences in color are difficult to perceive and can be affected by other aspects such as the choice of color for the metal setting or the cut and clarity of the stone.

For example, if we chose a yellow gold ring setting for our diamond engagement ring we could compromise on color and opt for a J or K colored diamond. The warmth and yellow tone of the metal band can neutralize and balance the warmer tone of the diamond making it appear whiter.

Another way to balance out the warmth of a lower color graded diamond is to opt for one that has some degree of diamond fluorescence!

This can make the diamond appear whiter.

Round Cut Diamond: Clarity

Much like color, clarity can be relatively subjective when it comes to evaluating our diamonds with the naked eye. Luckily, the GIA grading system does a great job of proving in-depth information on the technical clarity of a stone.

However, some of us may be able to accept and not worry about the appearance of an inclusion if it is well hidden. While someone else may insist on the comfort of knowing that, on a technical level, their diamond is free from inclusions.

Our suggestion? Glad you asked!

💡Try to buy an eye-clean diamond rather than spending more on a diamond with a higher clarity grade.

I know, it may seem like an odd suggestion! But listen up…

The cut of most round-cut diamonds does such a great job of enhancing the brilliance of the stone that it enables you to choose a lower clarity grade than other fancy shapes. The cut itself can hide a multitude of sins and so oftentimes a VVS diamond and VS1 diamond can appear nearly identical to the naked eye.

Where round cut diamonds are concerned, the clarity can be lower without compromising the appearance of the stone.

Carat weight and size of round-cut diamonds

Carat weight is often considered the least important C when it comes to a diamond’s quality. After all, the size of a diamond is very much a personal preference. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth considering, however.

Carat weight is not to be confused with diamond size. Carat weight is about—well, you guessed it—how much the diamond weighs whereas its size refers to its dimensions. So, with this in mind, you can have two stones of an identical carat weight and not necessarily be the same size.

What is definitive is this—as carat weight increases so do the size and price. And, as carat weight increases the other three Cs of diamond quality must increase too.

All Cs must be considered together and not individually when buying a round cut diamond as each C can impact the others.

As mentioned above, if we choose a diamond of larger carat weight then we would likely need to upgrade the color and clarity grades. This is because in larger stones these color and clarity characteristics are more evident and not so easily hidden.

Likewise, if we choose a higher color grade we might also need to upgrade the clarity because, in whiter stones, any inclusions would be more visible.

Round cuts vs. Other popular diamond cuts

Now round cuts aren’t the ONLY beautiful and popular cuts around (although, they certainly take first place!).

So let’s take a quick look at some comparisons with other popular diamond cuts and how they measure up against the almighty round cut diamond...

Round Cut vs. Princess Cut

Coming a close second in popularity after the round brilliant is the princess cut diamond. While the round-cut diamond offers timeless and classic elegance, some buyers prefer the modern and unique take of the princess cut.

It offers an edginess and unique flair that certainly appeals to many modern buyers.

However, there are some things to consider here! The princess-cut diamond is slightly more fragile than its round-cut cousin. The pointed corners make them more susceptible to damage (as even the diamond, as one of the hardest minerals in the world, can chip or crack if hit in the right spot)

However, the princess cut is often chosen to be placed in a channel setting. A neat row of tightly sitting princess cut diamonds is incredibly satisfying to the eye and emits fantastic light. Whereas the round cut diamond, whilst being incredibly versatile, is chosen less often for this particular setting.

But this all comes down to personal preference of course!

Having said that, the round-cut diamond looks stunning in every other kind of setting. The choice is yours to pick n mix how you choose whereas there as some aesthetic limitations to the princess cut.

A bezel setting, for example, does not complement a princess cut diamond well and is not often chosen to match with this diamond cut.

The princess cut is a newer and more modern cut that wasn’t created until 1961 by Arpad Nagy, a London Diamond cutter. It was originally named the "profile cut". However, it was improved and developed over time, and in 1980 they arrive at its current shape as we know it today.

Round Cut vs. Cushion Cut

If a round cut diamond and princess cut diamond came together and had a love child, it would be the cushion cut diamond.

The cushion cut diamond is an amalgamation of both the round and princess cut diamond—an in-between of sorts.

They are this third most popular shape on the market but, just like the princess cut diamond, the cushion cut cannot compete with the fire and brilliance emitted from a round cut diamond. Neither the cushion cut nor the princess cut can be cut to the same standards as the round cut diamond with its ideal proportions and supreme symmetry.

This still comes down to a matter of style and preference as the cushion cut offers its own unique charm.

Whilst they cannot compete with the round cut diamond in cut quality, you are able to buy an Astor cushion cut diamond from Blue Nile which will truly dance with light.

What about the pricing of round-cut diamonds?

That’s the question on everyone’s lips!

There are a few things to consider when discussing the prices of round-cut diamonds. For the most part, the average price of a 1-carat diamond of any quality sits at around $2,000 - $8,000.

Yes, generally the round cut diamond is a more expensive diamond shape and the reason for this is as follows:

  • Rough wastage - The round-cut diamond yields the highest amount of rough wastage. We can see anywhere between 28%-38% of rough wastage when it comes to carving and shaping a rough mined diamond into a round cut. The shape of the rough material as it emerges from the ground is not perfect for cutting round diamonds and so, a lot of precious raw material goes to waste. The priority of the diamond cutter is to maximize carat weight and save as much raw material as possible.
  • High demand - Of course, the more demand there is for an item the higher the price point tends to be. The round-cut diamond is no different. The popularity of this shape means that manufacturers hold a premium price on them because they are the most sought-after diamond shape.
  • Extraordinary beauty - The fire, brilliance, and scintillation of this cut are unmatched by any other diamond shape. Hence their high demand! The round brilliant diamond has made a name for itself as the diamond of all diamonds because of its incredible light performance. It really makes for a knock-out piece of jewelry!

What setting styles are good for round-cut diamonds?

When it comes to round-cut diamonds, the world is your oyster!

The options available to you are limitless and so there is a winning combination out there for everyone. Whilst the round cut diamond is perfect for a solitaire, simplistic and elegant as a single feature stone…there is so much more we can do with this versatile cut!

For a start, this easily adaptive shape can fit well into any ring setting style. If you can think of it, this stone can be set in it…and look great!

Need I go on?!

You do not need to feel restricted in your approach when it comes to designing that perfect piece using a round-cut diamond.

For example, a three-stone ring can have a multitude of different stylistic options. A round cut center stone could be perfectly paired with two pear-shaped side stones, triangular or tapered baguette side stones.

Three-Stone Diamond Ring: Round Cut Center Stone and Pear-Shaped Side Stones
Three-stone diamond ring: Round cut center stone and pear-shaped side stones

You can easily mix and match other colorless diamond shapes with a round-cut diamond to enhance the feature stone.

But, what if you want a little bit more pizzaz? A little bit more character?

Well, why not pair your round-cut diamond with colored diamonds or gemstones? Now we’re talking! Imagine the divine pairing of round-cut diamonds with deep sapphire stones. A match made in heaven.

In a halo setting, this combination can dance between a modern and classic feel. The sapphires enhance the whiteness of the colorless diamonds and the diamonds enhance the depth of color within the sapphires.⚖️

The versatility of the round-cut diamond knows no bounds, so feel free to experiment and look around because the right setting and stone combination is out there!

Round cut diamond: Final thoughts

The truth is that round-cut diamonds have only evolved into something bigger and better over time. They have been loved since their birth and continue to be a staple of every jewelry lover’s wardrobe.

To be sure, there are very few reasons NOT to choose a round cut diamond for your jewelry!

For over 100 years, diamond cutters have been perfecting the shape and cutting techniques of the round cut diamond and the results are outstanding. Their 58 facets are evenly balanced and symmetrical to give the maximum impact of light reflection.

And boy, oh boy, they don’t half put on a show!

If a timeless diamond with extraordinary brilliance and sparkle is what you’re after, then the round-cut diamond will not disappoint.😎

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