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Are Round Brilliant Diamonds Basic?

75% of ring buyers go with a round. Does buying one make you boring, traditional, or unadventurous?

Some say basic, others say classic. When it comes to diamonds, the round diamond is the little black dress of engagement rings. The ultra sparkly perfection of a round brilliant is a piece of witchcraft so effective that it’s been the go-to for engagement rings for almost 100 years. It’s not going out of style anytime soon. The round brilliant was created with a mathematical approach to sparkle that makes it brilliant in even the dimmest restaurant. The mesmerizing fireworks of a round brilliant are very hard to hate.

If you already have your heart set on a round diamond, have no fear. You and 75% of women aren’t basic; you’re perfect. Just as perfect as this diamond is going to look on your finger.

A round diamond on a hand.


To begin with, diamonds are by far the most popular type of gemstone for engagement rings. While sapphires, rubies, and other gemstones are trending up in popularity, diamonds have some specific advantages that make them the ideal choice for engagement rings:

  1. They’re extremely hard. This means that their faceting will remain crisp and flawless. An excellent match for a ring you’re going to wear for the rest of your life.
  2. Diamonds are very sparkly. Sparkle makes diamonds great at attracting attention from neighboring parties without having to shove your ring in their face and demand praise directly.

The round brilliant is the sparkliest of all the diamonds. Because it doesn’t have any of the fragile features of the fancy cut — the pear’s point and the princess’s corners, for example — the risk of chipping is low. Their round shape is perfect for withstanding years of abuse from modern life.

A round diamond, Asscher diamond and oval diamond on a table.


Many start their search by ruling out the round simply because it’s the most popular shape. We commend the spirit of this decision. But, after viewing them in person, a surprising percentage of you will eventually submit to the superior sparkle of a round brilliant diamond. Compare the round brilliant to more low-key shapes, like Asschers or emeralds, in person. In vivo, it’s impossible to deny the superior sparkle of a well cut round. As powerful as their magic is, their existence owes more to electricity than to wizardry. Diamond cutting is part art, part science, and it’s taken a long time to perfect it. The round brilliant combines six centuries of cutting expertise and artistry into one diamond shape. It’s been engineered to optimize light refraction more than any other diamond cut. But, a fundamental change in light itself was the inspiration for the modern round brilliant.

The round brilliant design started as the old European cut. The Old European Cut was a rounder version of the modern round brilliant with a smaller table, and larger facets. The Old European cut was worn at a time when candles lit homes. The term “fire” comes from this period when colored flashes of light reflected off the diamond under the candlelight.

An old european cut diamond

Modern life brought with it electricity. As we did away with the romance of candlelight, we did away with the Old European cut. While you can still find these diamonds on the second-hand market, most are recut into the more modern round brilliant. Recutting allows them to command a higher price per carat due to increased demand. Today the round brilliant has a larger flat table, more shallow form, and an extremely small culet.


These design changes are the work of Marcel Tolkowsky — a diamond cutter, and mathematician. He is generally thought of as the originator of the modern round brilliant diamond cut. Marcel spent his life pursuing optimal light return by way of the round brilliant shape under modern lighting conditions.

“He found that if a diamond was cut too deep or shallow then light would escape out the sides or bottom of the diamond resulting in a loss of brilliance (white light reflected up through the top of a diamond), fire (colored light reflected from within a diamond), and sparkle (combination of fire and brilliance).” Wikipedia

Since Marcel’s death, computerized mathematical tracing has continued to advance his work. The software works out the highest return on light and maximum sparkle for any given rough diamond.

While you may think this would lead to a bunch of identical cookie-cutter round diamonds (and perhaps it should) it doesn’t. Diamond cutters cut rough diamonds to maximize the utilization of the weight and shape of a given piece of rough. This means sparkle isn’t always the end goal.

So when we talk about the science of sparkle, we’re truly talking about the actual science of sparkle. For those with patience, finding a brilliant round diamond with perfect proportions can be a journey in itself.


As mentioned earlier, round diamonds are optimized for their brilliance or in practical terms, the amount of light they return. Their light return makes them sparkle. Old European cuts with their steeper crowns were optimized for their fire or the color you see when the diamond is lit. The fire came at the expense of the brilliance.

Which you prefer is a personal preference, but, if you’re seeking the sparkliest diamond, you can find – the modern round brilliant is your best bet.

Three round diamonds on a hand


While there’s a growing trend amongst celebrities towards unique and custom-designed engagement rings, the round brilliant still holds the hearts and fingers of many popular figures. Often flanked with side stones, or set inside a beaded halo, nothing quite says look at me like a round diamond.

Brittany Snow, Miranda Kerr, and Gisele Bündchen are just a handful of the headliners who’ve chosen this sparkly shape to commemorate their commitment to their partners. So, is a round brilliant diamond basic? Only if it’s poorly cut. For help finding a perfect round brilliant book an appointment today.

Brittany Snow's round diamond engagement ring
Brittany Snow’s Engagement Ring
Credit: Brittany Snow

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