Which Diamond Shapes Look Biggest? A Guide to Cuts and Sizes

by | Apr 21, 2023

Size matters indeed when it comes to diamonds.

Bigger often translates to better in the diamond world, but financial constraints may not always align with our size preferences.

Here, understanding the relationship between diamond size, shape, and cut can be an advantageous tool to achieve a larger appearance without expanding your budget.

Let’s delve into the nuances…

Diamond Cut <> Diamond Size Correlation

First and foremost, it’s crucial to distinguish between ‘cut’ and ‘shape’.

They are not the same. ‘Shape’ refers to the diamond’s outline, such as round, heart, or princess. On the other hand, ‘cut’ measures the quality of a diamond’s facet arrangement and their interaction with light, a property that the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) grades on a four-point scale.

Interestingly, not all 1-carat diamonds, even of the same shape, appear to be of the same size. This might be counter-intuitive, as one would assume that the carat weight equates to the size.

However, the carat weight is just a measure of the diamond’s weight, not its visual size.

The dimensions can differ substantially between two diamonds of the same carat weight but different shapes. Even more intriguingly, this can be the case for two round diamonds, both weighing 1 carat.

This is where the significance of ‘cut’ comes to the fore, arguably the most crucial of the 4Cs.

An ideally cut diamond has perfectly symmetrical facets that enhance its overall shape and light performance, thus achieving an exceptional sparkle.

To illustrate, consider two diamonds. The first diamond has an ideal cut and may seem smaller. However, due to the perfect facet alignment, light reflects beautifully, creating a remarkable sparkle.

Ideal cut diamond

The second diamond, on the other hand, might seem larger in size, with more significant table and girdle diameter.

Good cut diamond

However, would you prefer this seemingly larger diamond over the first one?

Probably not. The reason is straightforward; the first diamond, though appearing smaller, would exhibit superior beauty due to optimal light reflection, unlike the second diamond, which might seem larger only when examined with a loupe! Therefore, the diamond’s cut plays an essential role in maximizing its beauty and perceived size.

Diamond Shape <> Diamond Size Correlation

Now that we appreciate the impact of an ideal cut on a diamond’s sparkle, let’s explore the different diamond shapes and their relationship with size perception and light reflection.

Diamonds Shapes-Cuts Chart

1. The Emerald Cut

Known for its elegance and often seen gracing the fingers of royalty, the Emerald cut is a rectangular shape with a broad surface, making it appear larger than its actual size.

While it might not be the most brilliant cut in terms of sparkle, its substantial appearance is sure to turn heads without overpowering the senses.

However, bear in mind that the Emerald cut isn’t the champion of light reflection.

Check Out Some Beautiful Emerald Cut Diamonds

2. The Princess Cut

Ranking as the second most popular diamond shape, the Princess cut is a relatively new design, conceptualized in the 1980s.

Its distinct four-sided pyramid shape makes it appear around 15% larger on two sides compared to a round cut diamond. Belonging to the family of brilliant cuts, the Princess cut offers an exceptional level of light reflection and brilliance, adding to the diamond’s overall sparkle.

Consequently, Princess cuts tend to be slightly more expensive due to their superior light performance.

Check Out Some Beautiful Princess Cut Diamonds

3. The Oval Cut

With its elongated shape, an Oval cut diamond creates an illusion of a larger size.

Being a part of the brilliant cut family, a well-crafted Oval cut diamond promises impressive sparkle.

The extended length of this cut enhances the diamond’s surface area, contributing to the perception of a larger ring.

Check Out Some Beautiful Oval Cut Diamonds

4. The Radiant Cut

The Radiant cut stands out not merely for its shape but for the unique way it interacts with light.

True to its name, it delivers maximum sparkle, creating eye-catching flashes that command attention. If your goal is to sparkle in every sense of the word, the Radiant cut is your go-to.

Check Out Some Beautiful Radiant Cut Diamonds

5. The Pear/Teardrop Cut

Similar to the Oval cut, the Pear cut’s elongated shape makes it appear larger than it truly is.

Distinguished by its slightly shaved sides and dramatic tapering effect, the Pear cut is often seen as second only to the Heart cut in symbolizing love.

While people may notice the broader surface area on top, they may overlook how it narrows towards the setting.

Check Out Some Beautiful Pear Shaped Diamonds

6. The Round Cut

The classic Round cut wins the size game thanks to the mathematics of surface area calculation.

It creates the illusion of a bigger diamond. However, because it lacks any slanting or curving, a Round cut diamond typically comes with a higher price tag compared to other cuts of the same size.

Owing to its unrivaled light reflection capacity, the Round brilliant cut constitutes nearly 80% of most diamond retailers’ inventory, despite its heftier cost.

Check Out Some Beautiful Round Cut Diamonds

7. Cushion Cut

Resembling a pillow, the Cushion cut features softened corners and large facets, resulting in a distinct vintage appearance. Its larger facets enhance the diamond’s brilliance and highlight its clarity. Even though the Cushion cut might not look as big as some other shapes, its unique aesthetic and excellent light performance make it a popular choice for those seeking a classic yet distinct diamond.

8. Heart Cut

The Heart cut diamond, the ultimate symbol of love and romance, is a unique and unmistakable shape. Its brilliance is comparable to a Round brilliant cut, yet it’s distinctive shape sets it apart. While its size perception isn’t significantly larger than its actual carat weight, the Heart cut is chosen more for its symbolic value and unique shape than its size or brilliance. It’s an excellent choice for romantic gestures and sentimental pieces.

9. Marquise Cut

The Marquise cut diamond is known for its elongated, boat-like shape, with points at both ends. This cut maximizes the perceived size of the diamond, making it appear larger than other cuts of the same carat weight. The narrow, elongated form of the Marquise cut can also make the finger of the wearer seem more slender. This cut is a good choice if you’re seeking a diamond that stands out and offers an illusion of greater size.

10. Asscher Cut

The Asscher cut, reminiscent of the Emerald cut, features a square shape with deeply trimmed corners. This cut produces a hall-of-mirrors effect due to its step facets, resulting in a captivating, almost hypnotic visual appeal. While the Asscher cut may not make the diamond look bigger, its unique play of light and mesmerizing depth make it a desirable choice for those wanting a vintage charm with a modern edge.

Shapes Summary & Tips

Diamond size isn’t merely about its actual dimensions. There are various techniques to augment the perceived size of your diamond. Once you’ve finalized your diamond shape or decided to collaborate with a jeweler for a custom design, consider the following features to enhance its sparkle:

Opt for a white band: A white band has superior light-reflecting capabilities in comparison to bands of other colors. This additional reflection lends depth, making the diamond appear larger.

Choose thin prongs: Selecting thin prongs for your ring setting means less of the diamond is obscured. The stark contrast between the slender prongs and the voluminous diamond enhances its perceived size.

Incorporate smaller side stones: Surrounding your central diamond with smaller stones creates a comparative illusion, making the central stone seem significantly larger.

There’s no reason to compromise on your dream diamond. These tricks can help create the illusion of a larger stone until a potential future upgrade.

Remember, always purchase from reputable sellers who may also offer other clever tips to enhance your diamond’s appearance. We recommend browsing websites like James Allen, Blue Nile, and Whiteflash for inspiration on shapes and ring styles. James Allen even offers an imaging feature to visualize how each cut looks on actual hands.

Additional Cheat Sheet

Diamonds shapes cut guide


  • Olivia Bennett - Diamonds Expert

    Olivia Bennett is a dynamic and accomplished expert in the diamond industry. With over a decade of experience, she has established herself as a go-to authority for all things diamonds. Olivia's love affair with these exquisite gemstones began in her childhood and has only grown stronger over the years. Having worked closely with diamond miners, manufacturers, and retailers, Olivia possesses a comprehensive understanding of every aspect of the industry. From diamond grading to sourcing and the latest design trends, her expertise is unparalleled. Clients value her impeccable taste, attention to detail, and personalized approach. Driven by a passion for education and empowerment, Olivia launched her own website dedicated to diamonds. Through engaging and informative content, she guides individuals through the intricacies of diamond buying, helping them make confident and informed decisions. Olivia's mission is to ensure that everyone finds their perfect diamond, one that truly reflects their unique desires. With her extensive knowledge and unwavering dedication, Olivia is a trusted guide in the dazzling world of diamonds.

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