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Five Reasons Not to Buy an Oval Diamond

The latest trend in diamonds? Ovals. Get a little insider know-how on to buy an oval diamond that doesn’t disappoint.

By Stephanie Dore

Oval diamonds would be the perfect diamond. That’s right. Would. Their elongated, finger-flattering shape. Their shallow cut that gives you more stone for your money. Oval engagement rings give you all the sparkle of round brilliant cut diamond in a more affordable (about 25% less than a comparable weight round), contemporary package.

Unfortunately, ovals might just be too fancy for their own good. In fact, they’re all wearing bow ties! While a distracting bow tie is the fastest way to turn a good oval bad, for better or worse, they all have them. And if that piece of formal wear is all you’re ever going to see, you may want to consider another cut. Need convincing? Check out these five reasons we recommend choosing a different shape.

Bow Tie Survival Guide

While its moniker is cute and all, this dark area that stretches across the width of the diamond (it looks like two triangles that meet in the middle, hence the formal name) is caused by the diamond’s pavilion facets reflecting your own shadow back to you, instead of catching the light. For real? Yep. It’s your head blocking the light! Now, some ovals are cut better than others, so this bow tie effect won’t be as noticeable, but this is just a matter of fact in elongated brilliant cut diamonds like ovals, marquises, pears, or radiants, which can all display a similar effect. 

Oval diamond with a bad black bow tie
Oval diamond with a bad bow tie

The thing to know? Bow ties can vary quite a bit in visibility, and judging by the diamond’s cut grade is, unfortunately, not going to help you determine if it’s distracting or not, since grading labs don’t grade fancies. Plus, it’s just way too subjective to put a label on it. Online videos aren’t going to help much either (because remember, it’s a super white, controlled photo environment, with no one’s head peering into the diamond). Looking for a depth between 60%-68% is a good starting point, but seeing ovals in person is the only way to be sure.

The Long and Short of It

With all elongated cut diamonds, the length-to-width ratio can have a major impact on the diamond’s look. Maybe it’s short and squarish (1.26:1), or maybe it’s long and thin (1.7:1), or maybe it’s somewhere in the middle. Most people tend to prefer oval engagement rings with a more elongated look, but they’re also much more rare (it’s harder to cut elongated stones from diamond rough), and nearly impossible to find in a lab grown diamond, which maxes out around 1.45:1. The look you like is up to you, just keep in mind the actual reality of it—and be flexible with your other diamond specs because there’s limited supply.

Oval diamond with 1.35 Length Width Ratio
Oval Diamond with 1.3
Length Width Ratio
An oval diamond with an elongated 1.55 length to width ratio
Oval Diamond with 1.55
Length Width Ratio
The oval on the left has a more pointed, movaly shape. The oval on the right has a classic profile.

The Moval

This is like the Bennifer of diamonds. The “moval” diamond is a cross between the marquise cut and an oval diamond. It’s more elongated, with slightly rounded points. It’s sometimes masquerades as an oval diamond, but when you see it in person, you’ll know. How does this come about? In lab grown diamonds, cutters sometimes cut the oval shape diagonally from the rough which can lead to pointed tips. Sounds like the best of both worlds, and while some people love them, many don’t.

Dark Tips

While you might think, hey, at least they’re not frosted, think again. Ovals, similar to pear cut diamonds, and other fancy shapes, are prone to having dark tips, where the diamond’s color is more visible. How to avoid this? Paying for a higher color grade is really the only surefire way.

Tip — east west oval engagement rings have great finger coverage at a lower carat weight

The perils of Online Diamond Searches

It’s pretty much impossible to tell if an oval cut diamond is going to have a bow tie from the video online. We’re still constantly surprised by this ourselves. If only it were possible to eliminate the darn thing through the cutting process… everyone would! But because it’s caused by your head literally blocking light as you gaze longingly into the depths of the diamond’s brilliance… well, you get the idea. Finding a bow tie-free oval online is a tedious task.

How to Buy an Oval Diamond (if you Must)

If all that isn’t enough to talk you out of this complicated cut, then the first thing you need to do when shopping for an oval cut diamond is forget the 4 Cs. That doesn’t mean forget what you know, it just means that now that you know the “rules” it’s time to break them. More important to finding the oval of your dreams? Figure out what length-to-width ratio you like; more elongated or more square? Then think about cut, color, and clarity—in that order.

An ASET test being performed
on two ovals

For Extra Credit

Ask for an ASET® test to help you better understand the bow tie. This Angular Spectrum Evaluation Tool, is a device developed to assess a diamond’s interaction with light.

But our best recommendation? Ovals are best bought working with an expert who can help you find exactly what you’re looking for and can show you the stones in person or over video chat. And if you find an oval you like, with minimal bow tie? Scoop that bad boy up because you’ll probably never find one quite like it again.

Shopping for an Oval Diamond?

Check out our diamond search where you can view 360-degree images of more than 10,000 diamonds (including countless cushion cuts) and don’t forget to zoom out (because size can be deceiving), or book a virtual or offline appointment at our New York salon to view certified lab-grown and natural diamonds in person. 

Not finding what you’re looking for? Email us with what you’re looking for at hello@frankdarling.com. We’ll curate a list of 5-7 exclusive stones that are just right for you.