8 Tips to Choose the Best Oval Cut Diamond

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There’s been a lot of buzz around the oval cut lately and it’s fast becoming one of the popular diamond shapes for engagement rings.

Oval diamonds look sophisticated and classy, not just in engagement rings, but also for drop earrings and pendants. It’s one of the most brilliant of all the fancy diamond cuts and whether used as an accent stone or chosen as a center stone, the oval cut is a great choice.

Let’s take a look at the oval diamond cut and share our tips on how to buy the right oval diamond.

What is the Oval Diamond Cut?

The oval diamond cut has been around for quite some time, but the cut that we know today was created in the 1960s. It’s a cross between the round brilliant and the pear shaped diamond, in that it’s round but elongated without corners. Known as a modified round brilliant, the oval cut contains the same number of facets as a round cut (58 facets). This gives it excellent sparkle and fire.

Visually, the oval cut tends to elongate fingers, making them appear slender and long. This makes it They look stunning on any hand and go well with a range of styles and settings.

There’s a lot of advantages that come with choosing the oval cut but finding a high-quality stone can prove difficult. The right oval cut looks stunning, but a badly cut stone (and there are so many out there!) can be a disaster.

Here are our top tips 8 on how to buy an oval diamond.

Choose the Length To Width Ratio.

Oval cut diamond
Oval shape diamond L/W ratio
See more oval diamonds here.

The above image shows a random oval diamond selected from Blue Nile. It’s listed as having a L-W ratio of 1.45. The diagram shows you how that sits in relation to the common L-W ratio range of oval cut diamonds. These kinds of diagrams are very helpful when shopping for a fancy shape like oval cuts because these cuts aren’t given a cut grade by the GIA.

There’s no standard oval shape as this largely depends on the length to width ratio. The length to width ratio will affect the overall shape of the diamond, making it appear either narrow or wide. The shape you choose depends on your personal preferences as well as on the setting that the oval diamond will be placed in.

The classic length to width ratio of the oval cut is 1.40 to 1.50. Between 1.40 to about 1.30 gives you a wider diamond and as you drop below 1.30 your diamond can start looking squat, neither round nor oval.  A length to width ratio over 1.50 appears narrow and long.

Narrow cuts suit drop earrings and pendants beautifully whereas a traditional oval cut would look ideal as a center stone for an engagement ring. If you plan on using side stones for your engagement ring, then a wider oval cut would suit best. Compare oval length to width ratios and see what looks best for you.

Beware the Bow-tie.

bow tie oval shape diamond
Example of severe bow-tie in oval cut diamond.

This is possibly the biggest disadvantage of the oval cut (or any elongated diamond cut). A bow-tie refers to the darkened area, in the shape of a bow-tie, that appears across the center of the diamond, when viewed from certain angles. Bow-ties occur due to poor cutting and misaligned facets, which interferes with the light performance of the diamond.

Almost all oval cuts have some degree of bow-tie, ranging from severe to nearly unperceivable. The best way to know is to look at the diamond closely. If the bow-tie is what catches your eye immediately, then choose another stone.

The main issue is that grading reports don’t provide any information whether a bow-tie is visible on the diamond. This is why it is critical to purchase from a vendor that provides you images and videos of the actual diamond and not just sample stock images.

oval cut diamonds with bow tie
See more oval diamonds here.

This screenshot of a selection of similar oval cut diamonds show varying degrees of bow-tie, with the third being the most severe. On a grading report, all these diamonds would be nearly identical, making it impossible for you to pick out the diamond that looks the best.

This is why we can’t stress enough how important it is to view high quality images of the actual diamond before you purchase. Look for a vendor like James Allen who provide HD videos and images of the diamond you’re interested in.

Symmetry is Critical.

Symmetry in an oval cut is critical. The diamond should have identical sides and neatly rounded edges that slope gracefully towards the ends. If there’s even a slight amount of disproportion in the oval cut, it will be easily noticeable.

This is where cut expertise comes in, as the oval requires high amount of skill to craft the perfect shape. Finding a beautifully cut oval diamond can be difficult but when you do, it is a beautiful sight to behold!

Grading the Cut Quality.

Unfortunately, the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) does not grade the cut quality of most fancy cut diamonds. This means that you are basically on your own when evaluating the quality of your oval diamond’s cut.

The general cut parameters for ideal oval cut diamonds are as follows:

  • Table: 53% to 63%
  • Depth: 57% to 62%
  • Girdle: Very thin to slightly thick
  • Culet: None

While the technical aspects of a diamond’s cut can get complicated, what matters is how the diamond appears when you view it. An oval diamond should be brilliant, well-proportioned and beautiful in appearance.

Pick Your Color Grade.

oval diamonds in different colors

Oval cut diamonds are good at hiding color, due to their brilliant faceting pattern, meaning that you can drop down on the color scale and still have an excellent looking diamond.

If money is not an object, then the D-G colorless grades are most people’s first choice, as the less color in the diamond, the better. These grades will often give you more sparkle and fire as well. However, if you like warm tints in your diamond, drop down the scale as far as you wish to go. Most retailers only stock up to M colored diamonds, which are pretty tinted.  

If your diamond is going to be set in silver-hued metals such as platinum or white gold, it’s best to go with a H color or better. However, if you have chosen yellow or rose gold, you can drop the color grade down to a K or an I for the best value.

However, bearing in mind that the price between two grades can be very different although the appearance might be the same, it makes financial sense to choose a diamond with a lower color grade where possible.

JamesAllen Engagement Rings

The Best Clarity Grading For the Oval Cut.

The oval cut is ideal at hiding flaws and blemishes in the diamond, especially around the edges. 

What does this mean for you as the buyer?

This means that for a beautiful looking oval cut diamond, you won’t have to opt for a high clarity diamond. Diamonds with a high clarity grading are more expensive than those lower on the scale. You will be able to save money by going down lower on the clarity grade without compromising on the beauty of the stone.

You can opt for a clarity grade of Slightly Included 1 or Slightly Included 2 for the best value while still receiving a great diamond.

When it comes to clarity, what’s important is that the stone is eye-clean with no visible imperfections.

Picking the Right Setting and Style.

Because the oval shape does not have any pointed edges, it is not as vulnerable as cuts that have pointed edges, like marquise or pear cuts. The classic setting for any diamond is the solitaire setting.  For the best look, choose a prong setting as this allows for the maximum amount of light reflection and visibility of the diamond.

Depending on the size of the stone, you can choose a 4 prong, 6 prong or 8 prong. Of course, the higher the number of prongs, the greater the security and the more accentuated the shape, but the lower the visibility of the diamond.

oval cut diamond in solitaire engagement ring
4-prong oval ring. See it here.
8 prong oval cut engagement ring
This is an 8-prong ring setting but the prongs are cleverly positioned to look like a 4-prong ring setting. See it here.

Another excellent setting for oval diamonds is the halo setting. This adds extra sparkle and maximizes the diamond’s look. A halo setting also tends to accentuate the elongated shape of the diamond and sets it apart from other diamond cuts.

halo setting oval shape diamond engagement ring
For a heightened sparkle, choose a halo setting. Find this ring here.

The oval cut pairs well with vintage design, as it has a vintage charm about it. It’s excellent when set in vintage styles, be it Victorian or Art Deco.

vintage engagement ring with oval diamond
Stunning oval engagement ring in an elaborate vintage setting. See it here.

Some other great choices are three stone setting, side stone and pave. If you want a modern, intriguing looking oval engagement ring, consider a tension setting. There really is no other setting quite like it and it’s bound to be an attention-getting ring setting choice.

Oval cut tension setting engagement ring
See this engagement ring here

Because of the oval cut’s brilliance, whether you choose a simple or elaborate setting, the diamond will lend itself beautifully to the overall look of the piece.

For more amazing oval engagement ring settings, check here.

Where to Shop Online.

Whichever retailer you decide to go with, always make sure that they are licensed, reputable and have great reviews. They should be specialized in what they do and should also provide you with certification for the diamond. Check that the certifying laboratory is reputable, such as GIA, AGS and EGL.

Most importantly, ensure that the images, video and other data provided are accurate and of the actual diamond (not a stock photo). View the stone carefully prior to purchasing and check with the sales team if you have any questions.

We recommend the following retailers:

Why: Superior diamond imaging, competitive prices, high quality, wide range

An online giant in the diamond space, James Allen a stunning collection of high-quality oval diamonds. The images and videos are unparalleled in quality and makes shopping online similar, if not better, to shopping in store.

Why: Competitive prices, wide range, great quality

Known for dominating the online diamond industry since the late 1990s, Blue Nile offers one of the largest online diamond inventories. Search oval diamonds here at competitive prices, solid after-sales policies, and good customer service.

Why: Superior cut quality, exclusive range, stunning designs

Whiteflash has earned an international reputation for the elite quality of their precision cut diamonds, and for their impeccable collection of designer engagement rings. Check their stunning range of diamond jewelry and loose diamonds.

Why: Impeccable quality, superior cut, small but exclusive inventory

Brian Gavin is a renowned expert in diamond cut – and it shows in their superior diamond quality. For the very best in diamonds, search their inventory of designer diamond jewelry and loose diamonds.

Why: Try before you buy, build your own ring, great quality  

If you want to try out how an oval diamond ring looks on your finger before you commit to buying one, check out With Clarity’s Home Preview Service which is completely free. Find out more here.

For a comparison of the top online diamond and engagement ring retailers, read our review pitting them against each other and checking out the pros and cons in black and white.

FAQs About Oval Diamonds

two hands interlocked with diamond ring

Are oval cut diamonds more expensive?

The round brilliant is the most expensive of all the diamond cuts. Oval diamonds cost around 20% less than round diamonds.

What’s the most important factor when buying oval diamonds?

Consider the length to width ratio as that will impact how the stone looks. Make sure you inspect the stone carefully for cut quality, checking for bow-ties, table, depth, and symmetry.

What setting is best for oval diamonds?

Oval diamonds work with many popular diamond settings. The prong setting is probably the most popular option, followed by the halo setting.

Are oval diamonds brilliant?

Yes, they have the same number of facets as round diamonds. While the round cut has a deeper sparkle, the oval can be just as brilliant.

What does an oval diamond say about you?

Diamond shapes can say something about your style and personality. It says you’re elegant, creative, and sophisticated, with a love for old-world charm.

Do oval diamonds look bigger?

Because of their longer shape, oval diamonds look bigger than an equivalent round or princess diamond. Our eyes tend to look down the length of the oval and see it as bigger.

Conclusion

Oval cut diamonds are sophisticated and stylish. What’s more, they’re more affordable, look bigger, and have stunning sparkle. It’s a win all around! We hope you found this guide useful on your quest for the perfect oval diamond.

If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out our article comparing the oval with the round cut.

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