The Ultimate Guide to the Oval Diamond
By Stephanie Dore
Oval diamonds are anything but average, darling. They’re brilliant, in fact. And beautiful. I mean, seriously, these pretty little things can look supersized at, say, a fraction of the cost of a round diamond. So what’s not to love? Well, there are a few things. But not to worry. If you’re looking for your dream oval diamond engagement ring, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s everything you need to know about the oval cut diamond, what to look for, what to look out for, and how to wear one on your pretty little finger too.
Ovals are, frankly, a bit like a bathtub. They’re calm and sensual, curvy and, well, kind of everyday. They’re not edgy or super glam, and they’re not trying to be, so they maybe don’t get all the attention they deserve. While the shape has been around for centuries in some form or another, it wasn’t until the mid-twentieth century that they really established their brilliance as a desirable modern shape. A well cut oval? Simply stunning. A poorly cut one? Not so much.
Weighing the Odds
Oval diamond cutting is actually sort of an industry darling because less rough diamond weight is lost in the cutting process. This bodes well for all of us oval lovers because it also saves us a pretty penny. (Shapes that lose more carat weight to the cutting room floor obviously end up costing more.) And guess what — they’ll even do it while looking bigger at the same time! That’s right, darling, your average oval cut diamond can look like 10% bigger than a round of comparable carat weight because it’s cut is elongated and much shallower. And it can save you about 25% on the price tag too. That’s a hard deal to resist if we do say so ourselves.
The Cons Tho
While ovals can look big and brilliant on your finger, finding a well cut one isn’t as easy as you might think. Unlike round diamonds which come with an industry standard cut grade, ovals don’t. They are what we call “fancy shaped” and fancies just vary far too widely in their cutting for the industry and grading labs to all agree to a standard. That means any retailer’s cut grade listings for fancy shapes is somewhat subjective. Can you use it as a starting point? Sure. But the best way to judge an oval cut diamond is with your own eyes.
When it comes to oval shapes, symmetry is super critical. As in symmetry of the diamond’s shape, outline, and what have you. Symmetry grade (which you will find on a grading report) is grading the facets themselves, not the overall symmetry of the stone shape itself. And trust us, with an oval, that’s really where you should concern yourself. For instance, ovals might have weird pointy or squared ends. They can be pill-shaped. They can lean marquise. Even an egg is possible. Though probably not what you’re looking for. And the only way to judge an oval’s symmetry and shape is visually — so get photos, videos, and a helpful Diamond Concierge on your side.
Oval Diamond Pro Tips
In the absence of a reliable cut grading system, looking at an oval diamond’s measurements and proportions — which should all be on its grading report, which you should always get — is a good starting point. A pretty good range for a well cut oval diamond is a depth between 58-62% and a table of 53-63%. This should give you a well-proportioned stone with plenty of sparkle. But that’s not the only proportional consideration. Perhaps even more important is the length to width ratio of an oval cut diamond. And this is where personal preferences come into play. Classic oval cuts are usually about 1.40-1.50. Drop down to 1.30 and you start getting a bit wider, whereas over 1.5 will get longer and more narrow.
While the length to width ratio of an oval cut diamond is largely up to your liking, keep in mind that it can make a difference in an oval’s apparent bow tie. Wait, what? Yeah, so oval diamonds have bow ties. What is that? Diamond bow ties, which can happen in elongated brilliant shapes like ovals, pears, and marquises, are areas of darkness horizontally across the middle of the stone. It’s actually caused by light blockage into the stone and will especially appear as you move the stone. It doesn’t necessarily mean the diamond is poorly cut, and it’s never 100% avoidable. Really, all ovals will have a bow tie — it’s the degree of its appearance and visual distraction you’ll want to look out for. And while a big, shallow oval diamond will give you tons of finger spread, it’s also the most likely to have a noticeable bow tie. So we suggest striking a balance. Not too elongated, not too shallow. Just enough. Easy peasy.
Golden Oval Opportunity
Because of their brilliant facets, oval diamonds can disguise some of their body color pretty well. You can go in the H-I range and still not have it be noticeable, though it might show more at the ends than in the middle of the stone, due to depth differences. If you’re going to spend the money on a super colorless oval diamond, then we suggest setting it in white gold or platinum to really make it shine. Love the look of yellow gold, tho? Try a two-tone setting with a yellow or rose gold band and platinum prongs. It’s really the best of both worlds. On the other hand, we’re seeing tons of customers choosing warmer diamonds these days. Some champagne hues set in warm yellow gold really give you that yummy, golden hour look at any time of day.
Clear and Present
Clarity is probably the least of your concerns when it comes to purchasing an oval cut diamond, since brilliant cuts are super good at disguising their inclusions. But because ovals do have a larger table, just try to avoid dark inclusions right in the middle. You can usually find stones in the SI range, though, that are acceptably eye-clean. That means you won’t see any inclusions to the naked eye. The bigger the diamond you buy, though, the more color and clarity will show (this is true of any diamond shape), so make sure to get eyes on your stone if you’re dropping some serious bank. The last thing you want is an ugly surprise inclusion making itself known right before you plan to pop the question.
Oval Diamond Dream Settings
Once you’ve decided on the 4Cs of your oval cut diamond it’s time to figure out how you want to set it. This might also impact the shape you’re looking for — whether short and squatty or long and skinny — depending on whether you want to set your stone north-south (traditionally parallel to your finger) or the on-trend east-west engagement ring that goes horizontally across your finger. Oval cut diamonds are super versatile when it comes to settings and they’ll work with just about any style. Well, maybe they’re not so Art Deco, but you get the idea. Whether you’re looking for a super modern semi-bezel solitaire, a sparkly halo diamond engagement ring, a traditional three-stone setting or something totally unique (which we’re all for!), an oval diamond is a great pick.
At Your Service
No matter what your engagement ring style, if you’re in love with an oval diamond, we can help you out. Explore the collection or try out our style quiz to design something unique to you (you even get a free sketch)! Need some more ideas? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org with what you’re looking for, some inspo pics, and your budget, and our jewelry connoisseurs you all squared — um, ovalled? — away.