October 2, 2022

Which Diamond Cut Sparkles the Most

Read more about Diamond Cut

Some diamond cuts are more brilliant than others. So which one sparkles the most? Find out which cut gets you the best sparkle.

Diamonds come in different shapes. But not all sparkle the same. While some have intense brilliance, others only give a subtle glow.

When looking to buy the sparkliest diamond, you may be left confused. There are so many metrics associated with diamonds. But it's not as complicated as it seems.

Here's how to get the most shine out of your buck.

Which Diamond Cut Has the Most Sparkle?

Round brilliant diamonds offer the greatest sparkle. With perfect symmetry and a lack of corners, light doesn't get trapped. And it can easily bounce back to our eyes.

This diamond cut also has 58 facets, the ideal number for maximum brilliance.[1]

Gem cutters carefully place these facets so the stone will reflect the most amount of light.

Facets are flat, mirror-like surfaces on a gemstone. They work exactly like mirrors by reflecting light from the stone. More facets don't mean more sparkle. In gem cutting, 58 facets are the gold standard. At this number, light bounces beautifully but not too much that it gets diffused.

Sparkliest Diamond Cuts Ranked

Aside from the round brilliant, other diamond cuts can also offer comparable sparkle. Below are the most popular diamond cuts ranked from most sparkly to least.

Here's a quick overview before we dive in.

Most SparkleRound
Excellent SparklePrincess
Very Good SparkleOval, Marquise, Pear, Heart, Radiant
Good SparkleCushion
Least SparkleEmerald and Asscher

Round Brilliant Cut: Unmatched Sparkle

Round brilliant diamonds remain unmatched in their sparkle. Gem cutters have been perfecting the science of cutting round diamonds for years. That's how they get the optimal sparkle.

With their classic look, round brilliants are also the most popular diamond shape. So if you want a very sparkly stone that will never go out of style, this cut might be for you.

The brilliant cut got its name from the brilliant cutting style. These cuts have small triangular or kite-shaped facets arranged in a radial pattern. They're mathematically designed to give off the best sparkle.

Princess Cut: Not as Sparkly as Round Cuts

Princess cuts are second to round diamonds in both popularity and sparkle. They're in the brilliant family but cut in a square shape. From the top, you can see an X pattern.

This square shape is a lot cheaper than round diamonds. So with a princess cut, you get a more affordable, dazzling stone. It's also a good choice if you want a unique and modern vibe.

But if you're going for a princess cut, take care of its sharp corners since they're prone to chipping.

Oval, Marquise, Pear, Heart: Brilliant but Flaw Prone

Oval, marquise, pear, and heart cuts are made in brilliant style. They give off intense dazzle that can rival round cuts.

But they still have differences that make these fancy shapes a bit less sparkly. For example, many of them have only 56 facets, which reflect less light.

Another thing to note. These elongated shapes often have what's called a "bowtie effect." This is when a black shape (literally the shape of a bowtie) runs across the center of the stone. This dark area is caused by a blockage of light.

The more poorly cut the stone, the bigger bowtie you'll see. It can look like a big black area in the middle of your diamond.

Bowties are very common in elongated cuts. Just make sure that it isn't too big that it visually ruins the stone.

Radiant Cut: Combining the Best of Many Cuts

Radiant cuts combine the best of round, princess, and emerald cut diamonds. With over 70 facets, they're one of the most brilliant stones. Think of them as square or rectangular diamonds that are almost as sparkly as a round brilliant.

And unlike a princess cut, radiant cut diamonds have beveled corners. So you get a modern stone not as prone to chipping.

Cushion Cut: Not as Brilliant

Cushion cuts are squares with rounded edges. With 58 facets, they can also give off a beautiful sparkle. But because these facets are larger, they're less brilliant than other diamonds.

Like round diamonds, this cut is known for its timeless appeal. But its curved sides give it a softer charm.

It's a good choice if you're into romantic looks.

Asscher and Emerald Cut: Elegant Luster but Not Sparkly

Asscher and emerald diamonds are known as step cuts. Instead of many small sparkly facets, step cuts have a large open table. It lets you see deep into the diamond.

These cuts aren't prized for their brilliance. Rather, they're admired for their luster and subtle flashes of light.

They're popular in vintage settings for a bit of old-world glamour.

What Makes a Diamond Sparkle: Color or Clarity?

Many people mistakenly think they get more sparkle with better color or clarity. But it's the quality of the cut that determines brilliance.[2]

However, there are still some cases where color and clarity affect diamond sparkle.

You won't notice a huge difference in brilliance among different color grades. But in theory, whiter diamonds will look more sparkly. However, the human eye can't see tiny differences in color. So even near-colorless diamonds will appear white.

Clarity also doesn't severely affect diamond sparkle. But do watch out for extreme flaws in clarity. For example, very large visible inclusions will likely diminish the stone's beauty.

Diamond Cut vs Shape: What's the Difference?

When people say diamond cut, they're usually talking about the stone's shape. But in the diamond world, these two words mean different things:

  • Cut refers to the stone's proportions, symmetry, and polish. Their quality determines how the stone will sparkle, or interact with light.

  • Shape is the diamond's geometric appearance, such as round, princess, or heart.

How Diamond Cut Affects Sparkle

A diamond gets its brilliance from how it's cut and how light reflects from the facets. If even one angle is off, there can be a big difference in how much light is reflected. The stone can look dull.

What does this mean for diamond shoppers? If you want to get the best sparkle, prioritize higher cut grades over color and clarity.

But aside from their cut, diamonds have intrinsic properties that help them sparkle.

  • Refractive index. Diamonds have a high refractive index of 2.42. Light bounces many times inside the diamond before it exits the stone. That's what makes the sparkly effect.[3]

  • Dispersion rate. Diamonds are known for their high dispersion rate of 0.044. So light disperses into rainbow colors as it is reflected from the stone.[4]

You might have heard about brilliance, fire, and scintillation. They all play into a stone's sparkle, but they're different things:
  • Brilliance: White light reflected from a diamond
  • Fire: Rainbow lights caused by dispersion
  • Scintillation: Flashing of reflected lights, like a disco ball

How to Get the Most Sparkle in a Diamond

Getting the most sparkle doesn't stop at choosing the best shapes. You can do many things to maximize your diamond's sparkle.

Never Skimp on Cut Grade
Only buy diamonds with an excellent/ideal cut grade. The sparkle of well-cut diamonds can hide flaws in color and clarity. Well-cut diamonds can even look larger because of the intense light return.

Play with Settings
The prong setting is the best when boosting diamond sparkle. It displays the diamond high above the band on delicate prongs. With more diamond surfaces exposed, more light can enter the stone.

On the contrary, avoid bezel settings since they block huge parts of the diamond. Here, a metal rim completely wraps around the stone. So light is blocked and cannot enter through the diamond's sides.

Keep Your Diamond Clean
Grease can accumulate on diamonds and make them look dull. Gentle at-home solutions (not bleach) are usually enough to keep your stone sparkly.

Add More Diamonds
Adding more diamonds elevates the sparkle of your center stone. Try putting side stones or going for a halo setting (small diamonds around the stone).

Tip: Try examining the stone under spot, fluorescent, and natural light conditions. Jewelry shops typically use intense lights to exaggerate a stone's sparkle. Assess the consistency of the sparkle by viewing it in different light sources.


Which diamond cut looks the biggest?
Elongated diamonds usually appear larger than other shapes of the same carat size. They include oval, pear, and marquise cuts.

What is the most popular diamond shape?
Round brilliant diamonds are consistently the most in-demand shape. A survey found that almost half of American buyers prefer rounds. Their classic beauty gives this shape timeless popularity.

Which diamond cut is the most expensive?
Round brilliants are also the most expensive diamond cut. Higher demand drives up the price of this shape. It also takes more precision and skill to cut this perfectly round shape.

In addition, more rough is lost when cutting round diamonds compared to other shapes. Thus round diamonds command higher prices to make up for the wasted rough.

What diamond cut is the cheapest?
Step-cut diamonds like asscher and emerald cuts are usually the cheapest per carat. This is because less rough is wasted when making step-cut diamonds.

What color diamond sparkles the most?
Color doesn't greatly impact a diamond's sparkle. But whiter diamonds look more brilliant than those with a noticeable color.

How to tell a real diamond sparkle vs fake?
Diamonds emit a balance of white and rainbow lights. So if you see a stone with intense rainbow sparkles, that's probably a fake diamond.

Will a very good cut diamond sparkle?
Diamonds with very good cut grades will give a decent amount of sparkle. But they pale in comparison to excellent/ideal cut diamonds.

Bottom Line

Round brilliant cuts are the most sparkly and most popular diamonds. If you're looking for the sparkliest stones, well-cut round diamonds are the safest choice. But they also come with the steepest price.

Are round diamonds not up to your taste and budget? Shapes like princess, oval, and radiant can still give off a beautiful sparkle. Ultimately, each cut has its pros and cons. It's up to you to decide which one is the best for you.


  1. ^ GIA. Describing 58-facet Round Brilliant-Cut Diamonds at GIA, Retrieved 8/27/22
  2. ^ GIA. GIA 4Cs Cut, Retrieved 8/27/22
  3. ^ The University of Texas at Austin. The Behavior of Light in Mineral and Gems: Refraction, Reflection, and the Critical Angle, Retrieved 8/27/2022
  4. ^ International Gem Society. What is Gemstone Dispersion?, Retrieved 8/27/2022

Write to Chesca Santiago at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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