Of all the diamond shapes out there, the Oval and the Round are two of the most classic, and the most influential for bridal jewelry. Perfected in the early 1920s, the Round Brilliant is pretty much the MVP of the diamond world. It’s bright, brilliant, and a symbol of the romance of a proposal, recognized across the globe.
The Oval cut is much newer. Created in 1957, the Oval is lacking some of the brilliance of the Round cut, but none of the elegance or versatility. It is particularly popular right now, with the simple Oval gold solitaire representing one of the biggest engagement ring trends of the 2020s so far.
But, unless you go for a two or three stone design, you’ve got to find a way to pick just one. Here’s our blow-by-blow comparison of the Oval and the Round Brilliant.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past few decades, you’ll know that one of the most important features any diamond has is its light performance – that eye-capturing combination of brilliance (white flashes) and fire (multicolored flashes), that makes a diamond stand out from any other gemstone.
One of the first things any shopper learns is that, while the ability to sparkle is an innate characteristic of diamond, it takes a great cut to capture it, and bring it out for the eye to see. Each cut manages this differently – and some better than others.
Put simply, no. A well cut Oval will not sparkle as much as an equally well cut Round Brilliant diamond.
Obviously, if you’re comparing a poorly cut Round Brilliant with an impeccably cut Oval, then the Oval will be much more sparkly and impressive. But, in a like-for-like comparison, the Round Brilliant will be the one to catch your eye – even if you prefer the shape of the Oval.
Why? Because Round Brilliant diamonds are the product of mathematical perfection. The cut was intentionally designed to refract as much light as possible, and to offer a stronger light performance than any other shape. The Oval (as well as the Cushion, Marquise, Princess, Radiant, or any other shape you can think of) simply can’t compete with the Round Brilliant.
The Oval shares a lot of similarities with the Round Brilliant, which makes it a very bright, brilliant choice, but it’s an elongated shape. This means that areas of reduced light are almost inevitable – something that can easily lead to the bow tie effect.
The Oval is part of a group of diamond shapes known as the ‘modified brilliants’, while the Round Brilliant is, as the name suggests, the ‘original’ brilliant shape. There’s nothing wrong or ‘second best’ about going for a modified brilliant, but don’t go into it believing they’re all equal in terms of sparkle.
Sparkle means a lot to a diamond’s beauty, but it isn’t everything. A diamond’s face-up appearance comprises the crown and table – everything you will see when the diamond has been set within your ring, and placed on the wearer’s finger. Different cuts distribute weight differently, meaning some shapes look a lot larger and more impressive than other shapes of the exact same weight.
Oval diamonds look a little larger than Round diamonds, as a result of their elongated shape and larger surface area.
Not only do Oval cut diamonds feature a larger table, but they are also cut a little shallower (meaning that more weight is distributed across the upper portion of the diamond. The difference isn’t massive, but it is definitely noticeable.
This can be a major selling point for many shoppers – the ability to essentially ‘get more bang for your buck’ in terms of carat weight, and investment. Speaking of which…
Not all diamond shapes were created equal in terms of sparkle or size, but the same goes for cost. Some shapes are significantly harder to cut, rarer, or more popular (or a combination of all three), making them a lot more valuable at the jewelry store.
No. Round Brilliant diamonds have a reputation for being the most expensive shape out there, not just because of their popularity, but because of the difficulties cutters face when creating them.
One of the major downsides to Round Brilliant diamonds is that they generate a lot of wastage during the cutting process. The shapes diamonds naturally form in don’t make it easy for cutters working on Round Brilliants, while other shapes – like the Princess – are perfect for utilizing almost all the original rough.
The Oval isn’t the most economic shape, but it is more economical than the Round Brilliant. Plus, it’s nowhere near as popular. While it is one of the most sought-after shapes, the Round Brilliant accounts for more than half of all diamond sales each year within the US, meaning no other shape – not even the Oval – comes anywhere close in terms of popularity.
As a result, shoppers can enjoy a more attractive price point for their choice. When you’re already on the fence, and one side is 30% cheaper than the other, it’s not hard to figure out where you’re willing to land. If you’re looking at a 1 carat Round Brilliant priced at $6,000 then, theoretically, you’ll save around $1,500 – $1,800 on an Oval.
In terms of creating a beautiful ring, rather than just picking out a great diamond, both the Oval and the Round are highly versatile, and the list of designs jewelers can build around them is pretty much endless.
It goes without saying that the Round Brilliant is the most iconic shape ever created. A simplistic Round Brilliant Solitaire is pretty much the face of the bridal jewelry world, and one that will likely never be replaced by any other diamond shape or ring design. That said, this shape lends itself to plenty more styles – something modern, like the tension ring or the bezel, or something classic, such as the halo or three stone ring design.
For some people, however, the Round Brilliant represents a slightly ‘safer’ choice – and, for that reason, loses some of its versatility. It’s easier to create something totally new and fresh with one of the less popular shapes than it is to reinvent the wheel.
The Oval is a basic enough shape that it’s equally as versatile as the Round Brilliant, and just as open to new (or classic) designs. Its larger face-up appearance means that it can create more impressive solitaires with lighter-weight diamonds, which is a major plus for shoppers on tighter budgets.
Its elongated shape also means that new and unique designs can be created, even with simple solitaires. An Oval diamond can be placed East-West on the shank, or at an angle – something recently popularized by Ariana Grande following her engagement to now-husband Dalton Gomez.
In our opinion, no. Oval engagement rings are all the rage right now, and have been for a couple years already, and there’s a good chance they will be replaced by something else at the very height of popularity. But, even so, they’re a classic and versatile enough shape that they’ll never flop out of style – they might just take a backseat.
As of 2022, Oval solitaires have been trending across Instagram, Pinterest, and every other digital mood board for quite some time. It seems like we can’t get enough of Ovals combined with skinny yellow gold bands, or Ovals combined with a hidden halo.
We are, however, in an age of ‘the classics’.
Think of it this way. Big, bulky halos and dramatic Pear diamonds are two trends that are currently experiencing a lull in popular opinion, despite being at the height of popularity just a few years ago. The Round Brilliant, however, is not at the very top of the pecking order right now, but it’s not experiencing a lull.
The story is the same for the Oval cut, and its ability to withstand the test of time. It will be replaced as flavor as the month, but it won’t ever go out of fashion.
Both shapes are beautiful, bright, brilliant classics of the diamond world. With the Round Brilliant, you’ll get more sparkle, but the Oval offers savings that a lot of shoppers can’t pass up.
There’s no right or wrong choice. If your partner has their heart set on a Round, then the Oval’s potential savings aren’t worth it. If you’re on the fence, however, then exploring what the Oval can offer your ring design is definitely worth your while.