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The Definitive Guide to The Oval Cut

By Lead Gemologist, GG. Erica Hirsch

Oval shaped diamonds are versatile and lengthen the look of the hand. When competing with rounds of the same weight class, ovals will win every time. Referred to as a fancy shape, they tend to be less expensive than their round counterparts. Ovals are cut in a range of proportions, making them quite the chameleon. But, be assured, a carefully chosen oval will look stunning set vertically, horizontally, joined with other stones, or standing alone.

How do you find the oval diamond that’s right for you? We have assembled our best intel here. Using our education and experience, we hope to assist you on your journey to find the diamond you will adore.  

The 4 C’s for Oval Diamonds

Color in Ovals

Oval shaped diamonds, like most fancy shapes, show their color. Compare an oval shape to a round. Both are H color, have no fluorescence, and are the same carat weight. The round will appear to have less color

H color oval compared to H color round shows how oval diamonds hold their color more then round diamonds.

Left: H Color Oval, Right: H Color Round

Quick tip — if considering a setting with multiple stones, make sure they are “color matched.”.

Read up on the science behind fluorescence if you are so inclined. In person, you will find it undetectable to the naked eye. Fluorescence does not affect a stone’s integrity. Diamonds with fluorescence typically cost 10% to 20% less. In addition to cost savings, fluorescence can improve the appearance of a diamond’s color by up to two shades in color grades H through K.  We suggest allowing up to medium fluorescence in grades E-G, and up to very strong fluorescence in color grades H-K.

Diamonds are graded for color with their top side facing down. Because of this, you may come across the term “face up.” This is used to explain that a stone’s color may appear different than it was graded.

Example: An I graded diamond can appear as an H face up and even closer to an G if it has strong fluorescence.  In the J, K, onward ranges the recipe is less dependable.

Quick Tip — yellow gold can actually make a warmer, more yellow diamond appear whiter. 

The same J colored diamond set in yellow gold appears whiter.

Clarity in Ovals

Oval cuts hide the naturally occuring flaws in diamonds, called inclusions, pretty well. Within the diamond trade, a stone may be described “eye clean” to which most gemologists would inquire, “who’s eyes?”  The industry defines “eye clean” as “free of inclusions visible with normal vision from a distance of 6-12 inches.”

Diamonds are reflective by nature, hence the sparkle. This also means a single inclusion can be reflected, like a hall of mirrors. Not great news, we know, but try your best to detect this using the certificate and your eyes.

Clarity grades are based on the size, location and number of inclusions.  Inclusions can disrupt light interaction. Think of them as roadblocks. With ovals, try to avoid black crystals on the table. Too many small black crystals can also make a diamond look gray. Feathers are colorless and acceptable if they do not reach the girdle. Twinning wisps are no problem when there are just a few.  Pinpoints are fine, as long as they appear in small numbers. Needles are typically small and undetectable.

Avoid any diamonds with the following: cavity, knot, chip, laser drill hole, etch channel, pit, indented natural and certain feathers. Not sure what you’re looking at? Check out our inclusion guide.

These inclusions could impact the integrity of the diamond, leaving it vulnerable. Diamonds are hard, not tough. You wouldn’t think twice about cutting something with a sharp knife on a ceramic plate, but think how careful you are when placing it in the sink.

Occasionally, we are able to hide an inclusion under a prong — it would be our secret.   

Bottom line, it may take some hunting to find the perfect oval, but it’s what we love doing, and we are here to help.

Carat and Cut for Ovals

Expect to see a “bow tie” in oval-shaped diamonds, even if the diamond is graded excellent in all categories. The “bow tie” effect, is a dark bow-shaped pattern across the table of the diamond. The closer you are to the stone, the more pronounced.

No one should pay for carat weight they cannot see. Understanding the relationship between carat and cut is essential. The girdle and the pavilion areas are prone to unnecessary bulk, adding to the total depth. Since diamonds are sold by weight the practice of leaving extra behind to increase cost without any benefit to performance has been one of the industry’s best-kept secrets. Our reference guide will help you avoid this.

Most diamond grading laboratories do not grade the cut of fancy shapes. If you see cut grades online, it is likely they were estimated by the seller. When choosing a fancy shape stone, it is best to have help. With our guidance and references, you can be assured your diamond will look fantastic.

Oval Ratios & Faceting

You’ll find a few options for the look of your oval — slinky and slender, portly and plump, or somewhere in between.


Diagram of a diamond depicting the girdle. The long thin piece that divides the top from the bottom.

Girdle

Accept: Thin – Thick

Avoid: Very Thin & Extremely Thick

Why: Very thin girdles can chip or crack. Very thick means you are paying for weight you can’t see.

Diagram of the table of a diamond. The flat long part on top.

Table

Accept: 54 – 65

Avoid: < 54 or > 63

Why: Light should bounce off the table like sun off of a window.

Diagram depicting a diamonds overall depth. The point from the top of the diamond down until the culet or bottom of the diamond.

Depth

Accept: 58-63

Avoid: < 58 or > 63

Why: You are paying for weight you can’t see.

Selected Style

Harper No. 3 Pavé

Oval Halo with Pavé

For the bolder and brilliant. The Harper No. 3 features an oval cut diamond ensconced in a halo of hand set diamonds. Radiating glamour, this setting can’t help but make a scene.