An engagement ring is likely one of the biggest purchases you and your partner will ever make, and what you end up with often says a lot about you. So . . . no pressure! First off, let’s go over the basics of diamond shopping: the quality and value of a diamond is judged on five fundamental criteria called the “Five Cs,” also known as the carat-weight, color, clarity, cut, and confidence (which refers to the possession of an accurate diamond grading certificate). To the layman, the most visible of these are carat and cut, and while the weight is important—for obvious reasons!—the diamond’s cut is the one that communicates the most about the woman on the other end of that ring finger’s style. This is an accessory that’s intended to be worn forever, and as far as we’re concerned, that’s a tall order—so the bottom line is you want to get it right. To find out more, we consulted with Rhett Outten, who as the co-owner of Croghan’s Jewel Box—the oldest family-owned jewelry store in Charleston, S.C.—has lots of experience helping couples throughout the ring selection process.
The women who prefer a round cut diamond are often traditionalists—the Charlotte Yorks of the world, if you will . . . the first time she made her way down the aisle when she married Trey, that is. Designed to produce as much shine as possible, this cut was developed in the 20th Century, and at that time, it was thought to be very modern. Whether paired with a gold or platinum band, the woman who opts for this cut is undoubtedly classic. “Some brides choose a round brilliant cut with the idea that they can add side stones to it later or using interesting bands with a colored gem stone like a sapphire or emerald,” says Outten. But, more often than not, this is a woman who doesn’t follow trends. She knows what she likes, and she sticks with it.
When Charlotte took her second trip down the aisle and married Harry, she was wearing a sophisticated emerald cut diamond. Inspired by the green gemstone it’s named after, the elongated shape of this cut emphasizes clarity. It’s dramatic and meant for a woman who doesn’t follow the crowd, but instead appreciates distinctive, often vintage-looking designs. “Since emerald cuts have cross facets, the stones must be a higher clarity grade or any inclusions will show,” explains Outten. “This bride tends to like quality over size. She is usually a bit more tailored. Grace Kelly’s 10-carat Cartier engagement ring was an emerald cut, and she is the epitome of a classic yet stylish woman.”
The cushion cut is an antique design that evokes the 1920s art deco era. It’s similar to a round diamond, but more nuanced. “The modern cushion cut diamond is for the woman who wants something a little bit different from everyone else!” says Outten. “She likes the softer edges and the brilliance that comes with the cut. She is stylish and has her own ideas about things. This woman is totally confident in creating her own look.”
The princess cut diamond—like the one Kate Bosworth is sporting below—is becoming more and more popular. The square shape combines classic sparkle with a more modern aesthetic. “The princess cut is for the bride who likes precision and clear cut corners,” says Outten. “She is attracted to the modern aesthetic and appreciates geometric patters. She also enjoys graphics and symmetry.” The woman who goes for this kind of diamond is a forward thinker who has a respectfulness for the past.
“Ever since Ryan Reynolds slipped an oval engagement ring on Blake Lively’s finger, the oval cut has enjoyed a renewed popularity,” says Outtten. “Because of the way the stone must be cut, oval diamonds often appear to be larger than their actual weight.” An oval shaped diamond is well-suited for brides who appreciate elegance but want an element of the unique. Ovals can be cut to have the same number of facets as a round, so they have just as much potential for shininess as its classic go-to sister shape. “This cut looks beautiful on long slender fingers, but also helps elongate shorter fingers,” adds Outten. “The bride who chooses this cut cut always seems to be modern and old fashioned at the same time.”