Oval cut diamonds Guide

Written by: Hagai Bichman

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Time to read 8 min

Oval diamonds are a popular choice for engagement rings

but what makes them so special? Learn about the history, characteristics, and benefits of this elegant shape, and find out how to choose the perfect oval diamond for your ring.

Tracing the Genesis and Eventual Popularity Rise of Oval Cut Diamonds

With their aesthetically elongated curves and signature brilliance, oval diamonds inject elegance into jewelry designs spanning contemporary to vintage. But unlike classic shapes like the round, oval diamonds only emerged within the last century thanks to cutters’ mastering new precision techniques. Their rise to prominence took decades of fine-tuning.

Early Trial and Error in the 1960s

The oval cut traces back to Russia in the mid-1960s, when cutters first began experimenting with modified rounds. Initial attempts struggled translating the oval’s complex contours into light-maximizing facets. Lopsided outlines and bulging bellies reflected the era’s still limited mastery of angled symmetry. Few jewelers marketed these early oval iterations.

Revival in the Late 1990s

By the late 1990s, advancing technology like computer modeling and customized tools revived the oval. Precision laser sawing and elliptical bruting machines enabled better spread of facets across the extended outline. Software also facilitated testing configurations to improve light return despite the shape’s distortions. These enhancements brought ovals better aligned with diamond cutting expertise of the day.

Mainstream Moment Arrives in Early 2000s

With optics and processing improved, early 2000s celebrity engagements propelled oval diamonds into the mainstream limelight. Pop stars like Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Lopez flaunted attention-grabbing oval center stones in front of paparazzi. Their embrace combined with competitive pricing compared to rounds made ovals accessible for wider bridal demand.

Current Popularity for Accenting oval diamonds Solitaires

Today oval diamonds no longer struggle from the immature techniques applied to early editions. When precisely cut, they now rival rounds in their balanced fire and brilliance. Their appealing elongation also works beautifully framing round or princess solitaires as accent stones. Continual refinements ensure oval diamonds greater versatility within modern jewelry.

Once an experimental novelty, fine-tuned crafting methods now allow oval shaped diamonds to find relevance across eras. Their graceful contours inject novelty while still reciprocating light seductively when facets strike the sweet spot.

loose oval diamond

What Makes Oval Diamond Cuts So Optically Appealing ?

Beyond elongating the outline of round brilliant cuts, oval diamonds manipulate light in nuanced ways for a captivating effect. Their stretched yet still symmetrically curved form creates unique visual properties unseen in other shapes. Careful facet arrangement reveals alluring dimension and intricacy.

Complex Pavilion Mirrors Light Dynamically

Like rounds, oval diamonds contain full pavilions with angled facets reflecting rays internally to build scintillation. But the elongated pavilion contorts into a spherical space demanding precision faceting to bounce light evenly to viewers’ eyes. Well-aligned angles scatter colorful flashes toward the arcs and edges.

Mid-Curve Bulge Adds Contour

A hallmark of oval cuts remains the slight but perceptible midsection bulge when viewed in profile. This gentle curve adds shape complexity that interrupts planar reflections with layered dimension. As an oval diamond twists, its changing contours reflect light across a shifting topology for mesmerizing depth.

Bezel Facets Frame in Flattering Outline

Oval cuts rely more heavily on bezel facets to outline the upper circumference in an even, balanced shape. Cutters must carefully delineate the transition from rounded ends to straight sides. Uniform bezel widths become critical in framing the illusion of a perfect oval. They beautifully encircle the pavilion’s light show.

When executed with finesse, oval shaped diamonds flatter the hand with graceful elongation yet still return the intricate light interplay of brilliant cuts. Their nuanced curves and dimensions make them endlessly fascinating under light’s dance.

How Advances in Laser and Computer Cutting Technology Enabled Oval Diamond Creations

Beyond master cutter skill and experience, producing consistent oval diamonds with strong brilliance relies on advanced instrument precision and modeling software too. Complex asymmetry challenges faceting oval outlines by hand alone. But innovations through the 1990s and 2000s streamlined constructing optimal ovals.

Laser Sawing Improved Rough Cleaving

Oval cutting begins the same as any other shape, sawing rough crystals into workable blocks. Water jet or older saw blades often resulted in uneven starting ovals though. The advent of laser saws using micron-thin beams allowed far more exacting oval outlines to be cleaved from raw rough. Lasers deliver unrivaled straightness on exposed lines while minimizing rough wastage.

Elliptical Bruting Shapes Circumference

With roughs cut, bruting abrasion machines then grind oval diamonds into finalized side profiles. Where rounds utilize cone or spinning plates for symmetry, ovals gain shape through elliptical bruting attachments crafting their stretched arcs. The two half-ellipse faces act as a guide for engineers to hug with rounded cabin tips while smoothing facets.

Computer Modeling Optimizes Light Dynamics

Finally, specialized software like OctoNus enables 360-degree modeling to simulate light interacting with facet arrangements in oval iterations before cutting even begins. This technology overcomes the oval’s distortion to envision configurations maximizing brilliance, fire and scintillation. Human cutters then replicate computer vision for success.

Advanced tools supplement artistic vision for today's high-precision oval diamonds. Software iteration and machine exactness combine to target theoretical light potential. This potent blend empowers oval cutting expertise year after year.

oval diamond

Contrasting the Light Performance Potential of Oval vs Round Brilliant Cuts

Beyond their gracefully elongated outline, oval diamonds’ appeal stems from skillful faceting preserving much of the sparkling brilliance rounds showcase under light. But subtle structural differences between the two shapes still impact light dynamics. Both dazzle beautifully but in distinct ways.

Shared Pavilion Architecture Fuels Brilliance

Like rounds, oval diamonds incorporate full pavilions with descending girdles and kite-shaped facets calibrated to bounce light rays internally. This refracted sparkle shining through crowns supplies both shapes their rightly celebrated brightness and fire. Angled pavilions prove foundational to brilliance.

Oval Distortion Challenges Consistent Faceting

An oval’s rounded arcs and straightened sides stretch the pavilion’s geometry though, demanding tricky realignment of once parallel facets. Volumetric compression spreads angles non-uniformly. Cutters compensate through nuanced placements to smooth light travel despite distortion. But inconsistencies still dampen potential.

Foreshortened Table Area Limits Light Ingress

The elongated outline also slightly condenses an oval’s table area where light enters compared to an equivalently sized round. This bottleneck means fewer total rays penetrating the oval to start. Less incoming light reaching the pavilion equates less outgoing brilliance.

When mastered, oval diamond cuts still impress with abundantly lively, colorful flashes. But physics reality leaves even precision ovals a hint less brilliant across all metrics than rounds exposing similar pavilion dimensions. Their dazzle quotient comes very near but not equal.

Do Oval Diamonds Show Inclusions More Easily Than Other Brilliant Cuts ?

With their scintillating flashes and curving outline, oval cut diamonds beautifully adorn the hand and flatter fingers. But their elongated shape inherently differs than rounds, potentially influencing visibility of internal flaws depending on where present. How do oval diamonds compare regarding inclusions?

Shared Risk of Off-Center Blemishes

Like rounds or any shape, ovals with inclusions positioned in the table or crown facet area pose the highest concerns around prominence. Any dark or opaque defects centrally obstructing incoming light significantly detract from sparkle and face-up appeal. Symmetry matters more than carat weight here.

Distortion Can Expose or Conceal Based on Location

The oval’s stretched pavilion does concentrate more facets and vista toward waistlines however. Flaws positioned along this midline or wings become very obvious when twisting the oval beneath light. Yet the same distortion squeezes ends, potentially hiding imperfections within crowded tips. Placement proves critical.

Finish and Crown Height Affect How Light Meets Blemishes

An oval’s elongated facets also mean light more frequently strikes crystal imperfections at glancing angles rather than head-on. Well-polished surfaces help redirect rays around infinitesimal knots or grains to mask some problems. Shorter crowns likewise give fewer opportunities for light to interact with lower-lying flaws.

Overall, oval diamonds likely expose inclusions with similar probability as rounds or other shapes when comparing examples in the same clarity grade ranges. But once noticeable through their pavilion forests, ovals’ distortion makes flaws more apparent by elongating their silhouettes on facets. Their brilliance commands unbroken crystal perfection.

Complementary Setting Styles to Showcase Oval Diamonds

The graceful elongated curves and contours of oval cut diamonds demand settings tailored to their unique silhouette for optimal visual appeal. Rather than compete with the distinctive outline, coordinating mountings strategically spotlight an oval’s assets. The most flattering designs embrace the stone’s natural shaping.

Prongs That Follow the Contour

While 4-prong settings work for rounds, oval diamonds better shine within surrounds that echo their curves. 6-prong baskets with taller central prongs above corners trace the oval’s outline beautifully. Prongs should stand at enough height to clear the stone’s widest bulge so curvature isn’t broken when viewed top down.

Low-Profile Horizontal Setting

Framing an oval diamond closely against the finger also proves more appealing than raising it high off the band. This presents its elongated shape most naturally. A low-swept cathedral stage with oval diamond nestled into the shank gives the illusion of greater length than tall, vertical pinning.

Halo Frames to Accentuate Shape

Surrounding oval center stones with a frame of smaller round or similarly oval accent diamonds also reiterates the dazzling elongated form. Line settings work better than cross patterns that compete diagonally against the oval’s straight sides. Halo accessories should always elongate rather than bisect.

With mindful pairings that lengthen rather than fight natural asymmetry, oval diamond settings enrich the beguiling shape. Complementary designs keepsightlines and dimensions flowing seamlessly together.

Will Oval Diamonds Appreciate or Depreciate in Value Over Time ?

With their contemporary style and optical brilliance rivaling rounds, oval shaped diamonds make enduring bridal statements today. Their current popularity fuels questions around whether oval diamond value will continue rising long-term as new generations embrace them or decline if tastes move on. Economic and style forecasting offers clues.

Current Price Growth Trajectory

According to diamond market indexes, well-cut oval diamonds across clarities saw prices per carat climb nearly 40% over the past decade as production scaled and demand increased. Their growth outpaced rounds and other shapes within recent bridal boom years as millennials opted for more unique styling. This trajectory may continue short-term.

Potential Demand Slump Once Peak Bridal Passes

However, analysts stress the outsized contribution of bridal purchasers underpinning recent oval diamond appreciation. If economic currents like recessions or demographic slumps ever slow engagements, ovals lose their largest jewelry category. With fewer buyers competing but steady supply, weaker demand could pressure values and slow the climb.

Unknown Longevity as a Style Trend

There likewise remains open debate around whether oval diamonds as a fashion form will stand transcendent through generations or give way to newer shapes. Their 21st century emergence gives little track record. If someday deemed dated rather than timeless heirlooms, liquidity on secondary markets may suffer without collectors coveting them.

In the near to mid term, oval diamonds appear poised for retained, if gradually slowing value acceleration as prices catch up with current bridal fervor. But their ultimate collectability resisting downturns in old age remains less assured given little vintage precedent—a risk offset by their allure.