A Full Guide to Buying Oval Cut Diamonds [+Bonus Content]

Are you open to ovals?

When you’re just not that into round diamonds but love their soft appeal, an oval diamond might do the trick! Oval-cut diamonds have all the curves of a round stone with an elongated silhouette, making them a perfect choice as longer diamond shapes become more popular.😚

But what sets the oval diamond apart from other cuts, and how can you choose a quality oval that fits your needs and budget? Let’s look at the ins and outs of oval diamonds, including shape basics, top factors to consider while shopping, price, settings, pros and cons, and more!

Oval-Cut Diamond Education
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Basics: What is an oval cut diamond?

The oval cut is a more recent addition to the repertoire of diamond shapes, appearing in the mid-1900s. This particular cut came from the mind of Lazare Kaplan, a Russian gem cutter who was famous for working with damaged rough, creating sparkling gems from the most unlikely pieces of diamond. The oval cut is a result of his work, and it even produces less waste than its round cousin!

Oval vs. round diamond: What’s the difference?

Although it looks like a stretched version of the round brilliant, the oval cut is actually considered a combination of the round and pear cuts. Like traditional round diamonds, it features a brilliant cut with 58 facets, meaning it has insane amounts of sparkle and fire.🌟 Additionally, it tends to look bigger than a round brilliant when set in a ring thanks to its longer outline.

Many wearers prefer oval cut diamonds to round brilliants because of their elongated shape. This stretched silhouette visually elongates your fingers and hands, making them appear slimmer. That may not mean much if you have long fingers already, but for wearers with small hands or short fingers it can mean everything!💃🏻

Ovals may be a newer addition to diamond cuts, but they certainly aren’t lacking in popularity! In fact, ovals are one of the most sought-after shapes today, so let’s take a look at why exactly shoppers are going crazy over ovals and how to find your own!

Which factors are most important when choosing an oval-cut diamond?

When it comes to the 4Cs of oval diamonds, here’s what you should be on the lookout for in every category:

Cut

As with other elongated diamond shapes, oval stones do not receive a traditional cut grade. Instead, they’re graded for symmetry and polish only, but you can tell a lot about an oval diamond from its length-to-width ratio and depth and table percentages!👩🏻‍🏫 These numbers can give you further insight into the quality of the stone’s cut and how it stacks up to the “ideal” oval silhouette.

Symmetry and Polish

Just to be safe, we recommend symmetry and polish grades of Excellent or Very Good for oval diamonds. Both qualities are necessary for that endless diamond sparkle, and so a high grade in each category can help your oval diamond shine brilliantly and maintain that classic oval shape.

If you were to draw an imaginary line through your oval stone, you’d want both sides to match up perfectly like mirror images of one another. As such, symmetry is especially important for avoiding uneven wings or other body issues, and a high grade denotes an oval diamond that is proportional.

Length-To-Width Ratio

Ovals aren’t a “one size fits all” shape, and there are actually several variations you can achieve with the oval cut. It all comes down to the stone’s length-to-width ratio, which measures the value of the diamond’s length (from top to bottom) divided by its width (left to right across the center or “belly”).

An “ideal” length-to-width ratio is typically around 1.35 to 1.50, and these numbers will give you a classic, balanced oval shape.🧮 However, a ratio around 1.30 or below produces a wider stone, which can be a better option for wearers looking to cover more surface area on their finger. Just remember: the lower the number, the squatter your diamond will appear!

For a narrow silhouette, a ratio over 1.55 is best. These oval diamonds won’t cover as much of your finger, but they’ll create a very long, slender shape that can enhance that elongating effect oval diamonds produce. Similar to the broader shapes, keep in mind that the longer your diamond, the narrower it will be. Both variations can also impact sparkle, so it’s important to figure out which length-to-width ratio creates the right amount of brilliance and fire for your needs.

Depth and Table Percentages

Depth and table percentages refer to values that measure how deep and wide the stone appears relative to its measurements. Since oval diamonds don’t receive a true cut grade, there are no “ideal” parameters for either value. Both percentages are subjective, and what’s proportionate for one diamond isn’t necessarily right for another oval stone. As such, remember that the numbers below are just suggestions for ideal oval cut parameters, and your mileage may vary:

  • Table: 53% to 63%
  • Depth: 57% to 62%

You can stretch these numbers a little as well, as you might like a diamond with a table percentage of 52% or a depth percentage of 64-65%. We also recommend no culet for oval cut stones and a girdle that is Very Thin to Slightly Thick for the best balance of sparkle and security.

Color

On the diamond color scale of D to Z, we recommend a grade of H or better for oval cut stones. Color tends to pool in the ends of an oval cut diamond, so choosing a higher color grade can help you avoid this issue altogether. With H color or above, your diamond will look white in a platinum or white gold setting and won’t have any major discoloration.

If you’re looking at a yellow or rose gold setting for your oval diamond engagement ring, you can even shop for diamonds in the H to K color range and still have a visibly white stone! These warmer metals neutralize any yellow hue, and so you get an icy white glow for a fraction of your budget when you choose a yellow or rose gold band!😊

💡That being said, you should absolutely still inspect every diamond you’re considering, and make sure you ask a jeweler or diamond professional to take a look at each stone and verify there aren’t any serious issues like color pooling.

Clarity

When it comes to clarity, oval diamonds are pretty good at masking inclusions. As such, we recommend a clarity grade of SI1 or better for oval stones, although this changes as you increase carat weight.

Larger stones have broader tables, meaning it’s more likely that inclusions or blemishes may fall in this particular region of the diamond, making them more noticeable. As such, if you’re looking at diamonds 2.00 carats and above, you may want to stick to VS2 or higher grades to avoid any visible imperfections.

Overall, SI1 clarity or higher won’t impact your stone’s beauty and can give you the best value, allowing you to place more of your budget in cut and carat weight.

Carat Weight

A diamond’s carat weight impacts its perceived size and can often impact how much color and how many inclusions you may see within your diamond. While it’s nice to have a larger stone, increasing a diamond’s size often means you’ll have to increase the gem’s color and clarity grades to avoid visible imperfections. As such, you should prioritize your budget and the other 3Cs over choosing the largest diamond you can afford.

That being said, we recommend staying between 0.50 to 2.00 carats for oval cut stones, as this size range looks particularly lovely on any hand size and finger shape.🤩 Since oval-cut diamonds already present larger than most shapes, you’ll still have a visibly sizeable stone that looks bigger than it should at any carat weight in this range.

To give you an idea of just how large each diamond is in this carat range, we’ve included the chart below. You can whip out a ruler and use these measurements to figure out how each average diamond size would look on your hand for a better understanding of which carat weight you should shop for:

Oval Cut Diamond Sizes (by carat weight and average length-to-width ratio)

Carat Weight (ct)Average Size (mm)*
0.25 ct5 x 3.5mm
0.50 ct6 x 4mm
0.75 ct7 x 5mm
1.00 ct7.7 x 5.7mm
1.25 ct8 x 6mm
1.50 ct8.5 x 6.5mm
2.00 ct9 x 7mm
*As we discussed in the “Cut” section, diamonds may have varying length-to-width ratios. These numbers reflect average sizes based on the standard oval silhouette.

Other shape considerations

Another factor to consider when shopping for oval diamonds is the bow-tie effect. This is a cut issue where light does not interact with poorly cut facets as intended, and the result is a dark band across the belly of the stone. This dark band is often in the shape of a bow tie, hence the “bow-tie effect”.

Some wearers actually prefer diamonds that experience the bow-tie effect, enjoying the one-of-a-kind look of the defect and classy nature of its shape. However, you should definitely look at diamonds both with and without bow-ties to see if you also like it, since it’s a major cut feature that will be noticeable to anyone who watches your diamond sparkle later on.

How much does an oval cut diamond cost?

When it comes to price, oval diamonds sit pretty much dead center when compared to other shapes. Because oval diamonds produce much less waste during the cutting process, you won’t have to shell out as much as you would for a round brilliant. Plus, this diamond is even more cost-effective than other elongated shapes!

You can expect to pay around $5,362 for a 1-carat oval cut diamond with G color and VS2 quality according to the IGS. This is a far cry from the $7,291 average price of the round brilliant, so it’s definitely a better deal if you want a diamond shape with that same round appeal.

This price also makes the oval diamond cheaper than other elongated shapes, beating out 1-carat pear diamonds of equal quality by about $500 and similar marquise stones by $200.

However, if this is still out of your price range, the broader cushion cut may be a great option for you. It still has round edges, comes in several shape variations, and costs $1,000 less per carat on average!

The pros and cons of oval-cut diamonds

If you don’t have time to read our full guide to oval diamonds, here’s a quick summary of the benefits and drawbacks of this dazzling shape:

Pros

  • Oval diamonds have amazing sparkle and fire thanks to their brilliant cut. In fact, it’s one of the most brilliant shapes available today!
  • Thanks to their elongated shape, oval diamonds visually appear larger than their actual carat weight.
  • The elongated silhouette of the oval diamond can make hands and fingers appear longer/slimmer.
  • This modern shape features the same appeal as round brilliant diamonds (but they look larger and cost less!).
  • They’re moderately priced, and you get more bang for your buck since oval diamonds produce less waste during the cutting process.
  • Oval diamonds look amazing in any setting, looking just as lovely in vintage pieces as they do in modern styles.
  • No points or corners means no snagging or catching on fabrics.

Cons

  • Watch out for the bow-tie effect, which can be identified by a dark band across the belly of the oval stone.
  • A higher clarity grade is necessary for oval diamonds at higher carat weights since their large tables easily reveal inclusions.
  • A higher color grade is necessary with oval diamonds at higher carat weights to avoid visible yellow hues.

Oval cut or round brilliant: Which should I choose?

Since the oval diamond is really just a longer round stone, it’s fair to be confused regarding which shape you should choose. One is fresh and modern, while the other is timeless and known for being THE diamond silhouette. If you’re stuck in the middle between these two diamond shapes, here are a few things to consider:🙌🏻

Price

It goes without saying that the round brilliant is the king of diamond shapes and, therefore, the most expensive option. This constantly sought-after shape has held its value over the years, and the vast amount of rough wasted during the process of creating the round brilliant drives up its price.

In comparison, oval diamonds are moderately priced, using a lot of the rough diamond in the cutting process. According to the IGS, you can expect to pay roughly $2,000 less for an oval diamond than you would for a round brilliant of the same quality. Again, personal taste and budget play into this decision, but if price IS a factor for you then the oval diamond is the clear winner.

Sparkle intensity

Both oval and round diamonds sport a brilliant cut, which is arguably the sparkliest cut style. They also both feature 58 facets for maximum light refraction, meaning each shape is carefully designed to sparkle as much as possible.

However, despite their similarities, a round brilliant diamond will sparkle more brilliantly than an oval cut diamond (assuming their quality factors are equal!). It’s a subtle difference⁠—one you may not even notice if you love oval-cut diamonds that much⁠—but it’s something to consider.🙂

Also, keep in mind that oval diamonds are susceptible to the bow-tie effect, whereas round diamonds are not. This may or may not be a positive factor for some wearers who dig the fancy look of the bow tie, but anyone trying to avoid it may want to choose the safer round brilliant or closely examine each potential diamond for that infamous dark shading.

Perceived size

A round diamond tends to look visually larger than its actual carat size, but an oval diamond of equal carat weight will appear larger than a round stone due to its elongated form. That added length goes a long way in increasing the perceived size of oval diamonds, so if size matters they may be the better option for you.

What’s more, this longer shape can help smaller hands and fingers appear long and slim, but a round diamond does not always have the same effects. While a round diamond still looks wonderful on every hand, it doesn’t have the added benefits of actually improving the visual appeal of one’s fingers.

Shape variation

If you want some level of uniqueness for your ring, shape variation may come into play in your decision. Round diamonds are always that: round. There’s very little difference in their length-to-width ratio, and so they are always perfect or near-perfect circles.

In contrast, there’s actually a bit of variation in the oval diamond silhouette, making it a better choice for wearers seeking to personalize their engagement ring. Ovals come in several ratios that can make their form short and wide or long and thin to fit all hand types.🎠 Plus, you can even turn your oval diamond on its side for an east-west style or at an angle for a daring, modern take on the oval shape.🤡

For classic beauty with no frills, the round diamond is the clear winner. But, if you crave a bit of intrigue, the oval diamond may be more your speed.

BONUS: Popular setting styles for oval-cut diamonds

The longer silhouette of an oval diamond means it looks wonderful in any setting, but there are some choices that seem to shine above the rest. Here are a few setting designs that look incredible with an oval cut diamond at their center:

Solitaire

The solitaire setting is designed to make any diamond sparkle brilliantly, and the oval cut stone is no exception and looks fabulous on a plain or pavé band. Typical solitaire settings include four prongs, but an oval diamond is perfect for six prong variations that offer a little more security as well. Double claw prongs also look fierce and edgy when grasping the delicate rounded curves of an oval!

If a solitaire seems a bit too plain, consider an oval diamond wedding band to foster some sparkle and create an oval-inspired bridal set!😋

Halo

Halo Style Oval Cut Diamond Engagement Ring

Oval diamonds were practically made for halos, and the extra ring of accent diamonds around your center stone provides a soft, glowing beauty. While a traditional halo is heavenly, you can also play with prong and stone placement to create something fun or flirty, like this vintage-inspired oval diamond ring that looks like pure sunshine. For something more modern, falling edge halo or hidden halo variations can really attract the attention of onlookers and provide some extra sparkle in a sleek, understated way!

Three-stone

Oval-shaped diamonds pair well with pretty much any other stone shape as well, so try a three-stone setting if you want more brilliance and fire. Pear and round-shaped diamonds are great compliments to the oval silhouette, but daring brides may want to switch it up and choose something unexpected like emerald cut diamonds instead.

East-west

There’s something so simple yet so liberating about defying outdated engagement ring standards and turning an elongated stone shape into an east-west setting! The style is so contemporary and luxe, and we love when couples really shake it up and go for daring settings like this semi-bezel engagement ring with a rotated oval. But, don’t be afraid to choose more traditional accents as well, like this gorgeous east-west halo setting.

Bezel

Did you know: ovals are one of the very few diamond shapes that sparkle just as brilliantly in a bezel as a solitaire setting? Overall, bezel settings are secure, sleek, and perfect for the modern bride! Bezels can even be added to more complex settings, such as three stone styles, for extra safety all around.

Rose gold

We’re particularly fond of rose gold settings for oval cut diamonds, as the warm tones of the metal bring out the icy color of all diamonds and help mask inclusions.👯 This rose gold solitaire is to die for, while this rose gold hidden halo setting is simply divine! Rose gold and oval diamonds seem like a match made in heaven, as the pale rosy hue complements the soft, feminine edges of the oval stone.

Should you choose an oval-cut diamond?

Oval-shaped diamonds are certainly holding their own when it comes to popularity among engaged couples, and it’s easy to understand why they’re drawn to this shape. With nearly all the brilliance and fire of a round diamond and an elongated silhouette that can make any hand look red carpet-ready, oval stones have so much to offer!

Oval-cut diamonds also won’t break the bank, and you can even save money on color and clarity when shopping. Overall, oval diamonds are a smart choice for anyone seeking an elongated diamond cut, but we recommend diving into the specifics of round, marquise, and pear-shaped stones to see which one is really right for you before making any final calls.

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