visit our london showroom to discuss your ideas - book your consultation

Diamond Cuts Comparison: Shapes, Sizes, and Symbolism

Diamond cutting has seen an evolution over centuries gone by, which has resulted in a range of different diamond appearances. Before machinery that emerged following the industrial revolution, diamonds were often cut by hand, using techniques that are rarely used today. These vintage cutting techniques resulted in diamonds that possessed shapes, facet structures and dimensions that captured the design trends of their respective eras.

With the increase in diamond cutting machinery, cutting diamonds entered a new realm of precision, introducing the brilliant cut diamond. A new diamond cut that possessed brilliance and fire-or more often referred to as sparkle. This new cut allowed diamonds to shine bright and became the new cutting standard for traditional and unique diamond shapes alike.

A diamond’s cut is directly related to the diamond shape and how it will perform in the light when worn. So in some cases, a diamond’s shape is more suited to a step cut facet structure. Step cut diamonds feature facets that are cut into square or rectangular shapes that emerge from the diamond’s centre like steps-as its name suggests. These step cut facets result in a different light return than a brilliant cut diamond. While a modern round brilliant cut will be lively and sparkle, a step cut diamond will display flashes of light, sometimes referred to as a “Hall of Mirrors” effect. This effect is often seen in emerald cut and Asscher cut diamonds.

Let’s dive into what makes each of these diamond cuts so enchanting and their pros and cons.

What is a vintage cut diamond?

Antique cut diamonds reference the diamond cutting techniques that precede the modern-day manufacturing processes. Diamond cutters would hand-cut diamonds into shapes and dimensions which captured the essence of the era. Instead of the lively, sparkly nature of modern cut diamonds, a vintage cut diamond is less brilliant and emits a subtle, romantic glow.

It’s also worth noting that an old cut diamond must be held to a different standard than modern cuts. Antique diamond cuts cannot be fairly graded by certifying organisations because they’ll be graded using modern standards. The subtle imperfections and artisanal nature of vintage cuts possess a value that can’t be graded up against modern cuts.

old european diamond cluster engagement ring

Old European cut diamonds

The old European cut diamond is a predecessor of the modern round brilliant cut. Cut by hand, an old European diamond also has 58 facets and was created in the late 19th century.

This diamond cut is characterised by its high crown, small table and large culet that gives old European cut diamonds an incredible presence on the hand.

Unlike the modern brilliant cut, this antique cut is known for it’s “inner fire”-a visible contrast between the bright and dark flashes of light off facets inside the diamond.

Old European cut diamond

Old mine cut diamonds

What is an old mine cut diamond?

Another predecessor of the modern cut diamond, old mine cuts were particularly popular throughout the 1800s. Much like other vintage diamond cuts, every old mine cut diamond would have been hand-cut resulting in a more artisanal appearance. No two old mine diamonds will look the same, and that is an inherent part of their charm. In shape, old mine cuts are most similar to the modern day cushion cut diamond.

There isn’t a huge amount of readily available mine cut diamonds due to the transition of the diamond market into machine cutting for precision. However, as we find greater appreciation for understated jewellery, the old mine cut’s subtlety is seeing a resurgence once more and we hope it will continue.

Old mine cut diamond
old mine cut diamond with diamond halo in rose gold and platinum

Rose cut diamonds

What is a rose cut diamond?

Considered one of the original diamond cuts, the rose cut diamond dates back to the early 1500s, yet few have heard of it. With anywhere from three to 24 triangular facets, rose cut diamonds peak into a dome or kite-shape. This structure resembles the soft curve of a rose petal, hence its name.

Why should I choose a rose cut diamond?

While diamonds cut in these ways often emit less brilliance and fire than modern cuts, they do exude a more subtle and romantic glow. Vintage cut diamonds have risen in popularity over recent years due to their desirable delicate and gentle look. The imperfections of vintage cuts are also seen as part of their unique charm.

With its soft brilliance, rose cut diamonds embody old-world romance and are distinctly subtle. You’ll love the clear flashes of light and simplistic faceting, which perform best under candlelight. Like most antique cuts, the rose cut is hand carved, unlike machine cut brilliant diamonds seen in the majority of modern jewellery. Rose cut diamonds serve as elegant reminders of the past, perfect for those who want to incorporate a piece of history into their custom ring design.

Rose cut diamond

What is a brilliant cut diamond?

A brilliant cut is a diamond or gemstone that has been cut with numerous facets in order to exhibit brilliance, more commonly known as sparkle. This brilliance is as a result of the light returning throughout the cone shape of the stone itself. Think about a diamond like a window – a well cut window will let the most light enter through the window. A well cut diamond should do the same, and the light should bounce off facets of the diamond, resulting in the iconic sparkly appearance of a diamond ring.

When we think of a classic, iconic engagement ring-it’s typically a round cut diamond solitaire ring that comes straight to mind. Representing almost 75% of diamonds sold in the market, round brilliant cut is the most popular shape.

Often a question as to should i choose a rose cut diamond or a modern round brilliant cut diamond?

Rose cut diamond vs round brilliant diamond

What is the shape difference between a rose cut diamond and a brilliant cut diamond?

The thing is, there isn’t actually a shape difference. Both a rose cut diamond and a brilliant cut diamond can be found in a round shape, a pear, or an oval cut diamond. The cut doesn’t influence a diamond’s shape, but instead influences its light performance.

round rose cut diamond
round diamond

Advantages of rose cut diamonds

Old-world romance

Almost every element of a rose cut diamond exudes romance. Its hand carved, imperfect finish is perhaps its greatest charm-the work of a skilled craftsman has delicately cut each facet, ready to be admired under candlelight.

A rose cut diamond’s flat base creates a larger surface area, giving substantial coverage on the finger. A one carat rose cut diamond would appear larger than a one carat brilliant cut diamond as it isn’t as deep. This makes rose cuts an excellent choice to maximise your budget with maximum carat weight impact.

Disadvantages of rose cut diamonds


While some believe the imprecise nature of a rose cut diamond is its greatest strength, others disagree. It’s large, open facets leave no place for imperfections to hide, so if you’re a stickler for precision, a brilliant cut diamond will offer the facet accuracy and clarity you’re after.

oval rose cut diamond halo trilogy rose gold engagement ring

Advantages of brilliant cut diamonds


When it comes to sparkle, you’re not going to achieve a more lively appearance than a brilliant cut diamond. Be it round, oval, cushion or a princess cut diamond, brilliant cuts exude an unrivalled fire and make a perfect choice for those who love bling.


When it comes to proposals, a traditional brilliant cut diamond instantly comes to mind. The bright flashes of light are a universally recognised symbol of union between two lovers.

Disadvantages of brilliant cut diamonds

Price point

A brilliant cut diamond commands the highest price point. Different shapes will offer different value for money, but the cutting process for brilliant cuts produces the most waste. It’s for this reason that shapes like princess, cushion, oval and pear cuts have a higher price tag. And of all the brilliant cuts, round diamonds result in the most waste so cost more than any other shape.

And so we take a look at our final cut type: step cut diamonds.

What is a step cut diamond?

Step cut diamonds are typically square or rectangular diamond shapes that possess long, linear facets arranged parallel to one another. Each of these facets result in flashes of light that resemble steps-as its name suggests.

Popular diamond shapes that are step cut include emerald, Asscher and baguettes. Step cut diamonds have their advantages and disadvantages.

Emerald cut

Advantages of step cut diamonds


Step cut diamonds lend themselves to diamond cutting because their shape allows more of the raw diamond to be preserved in the cutting process. This means less waste is produced when cutting step cut diamond shapes. In turn, combined with a lower demand, this means that the price point of step cut diamonds is often more affordable than that of brilliant cut diamonds.


The step cut facets of an emerald cut or an Asscher cut diamond provide a very different appearance to the scintillating sparkle of a brilliant cut diamond. Instead, step cut diamonds display bold and clean flashes of light. If you’re not a fan of bling, you’ll appreciate the more understated life demonstrated in these long, linear facet structures.

Disadvantages of step cut diamonds


While part of their charm is their long, open facets, a step cut facet structure leaves no place for inclusions to hide. Inclusions are irregularities within the diamond and while 99% of diamonds have them, they’re not always visible to the naked eye. Because these stones are fairly shallow and transparent, their facet structure won’t direct light in all sorts of directions, resulting in imperfections that may seem more noticeable to the naked eye. For these reasons, we’d always recommend considering clarity first when choosing a step cut diamond, before balancing up your remaining characteristics.

So there we have it–an in-depth look into the three diamond cut types. Vintage, brilliant and step cut diamonds all exhibit their own strengths and shortcomings, but as with most choices when it comes to jewellery, it’s up to personal preference and what you like most. Spanning centuries, from the subtle romanticism of an antique diamond cut to the precise scintillation or flashes achieved by modern day cutting machinery, there’s a diamond cut to suit every preference.


Share this post

This website uses cookies. For more information, please read our cookies policy.