Which Diamond Shapes Look the Biggest?

Diamonds are measured and classified by their carat weight, but the first thing you will notice about a diamond is its size. When viewed at face value, a diamond’s cut and shape can have a much bigger impact on it looking bigger or smaller despite the number of carats. So what diamond shapes look the biggest? We’re going to break it down for you and share our best tips for making your diamond look bigger.

Diamond Cut & Shape vs. Carat Weight

Diamond cuts and the overall shape matter because they cause variations in the measurements of a stone. One of the measurements with the most impact is depth, which consequently affects diameter and size. These exact measurements help to paint a picture of how the stone’s weight is distributed throughout the body, giving clues as to how it will actually look in person.

Carat weight only gives you one single measurement: the heaviness of the stone, or more simply, the amount of diamond mass present. And since this measurement heavily impacts the cost of a diamond, it is a very important one to know. But, it is not going to carry as much importance when you start comparing different shapes and similar carat weights to see which is bigger.

finger with many different diamond shaped rings

Best Diamond Shapes for a Big Look

Diamond shapes that carry more of their mass toward the table, or top, of the diamond will look much larger per carat when compared with other shapes that have the mass more evenly distributed. The ones that carry mass at the top are marquise, pear, and oval cut diamonds. These diamond cuts are known as elongated shapes, and these elongated shapes actively contribute to the illusion of size.

Human perception will naturally attribute elongated shapes like ovals and rectangles to be bigger than more proportionate shapes like circles and squares. The way this works is that the brain focuses more on the largest dimension. So if a two carat round brilliant cut is about 8.1mm in diameter and a similar carat size oval cut diamond measures 10.5 x 7mm, the larger measurement of the oval diamond’s length leaves a bigger impression of relative size.

1.5 carat marquise cut diamond ring

Marquise cut diamond, 1.5 carat

1.5 carat pear cut diamond ring in yellow gold

Marquise cut diamond, 1.5 carat

1.5 carat oval cut diamond ring in rose gold

Oval cut diamond, 1.5 carat

Diamond Shapes to Avoid    

Certain diamond shapes will have an adverse effect and look smaller per carat. As you may guess, the more proportionate diamond cuts will be the ones to avoid if you want a bigger looking diamond. Asscher, princess, cushion, and emerald cut diamonds will all tend to look smaller because of how they’re cut.

Asscher and princess cut diamonds hold much of their weight below the table meaning they’re going to have less spread in their surface area. Cushion cut diamonds tend to be deep set, so most of their mass is hidden and won’t contribute to the diamond’s visual size. And when it comes to an emerald cut, their step-cut faceting style is designed to exhibit clarity and not brilliance, so there isn’t much sparkle to enhance their apparent size.

Emerald cut diamond, 1.5 carat

1.5 carat cushion cut diamond ring

Cushion cut, 1.5 carat

Princess cut diamond, 1.6 carat

How to Make Your Diamond Look Bigger  

A diamond’s shape and size are its most notable characteristics upon first view. But there are lots of things you can do to help any diamond look bigger, and we’ve put together our best tips below.

Make Cut Your Priority

The cut of a diamond determines how light will be reflected off the angles and facets. The better the cut grading means that the angles and facets are well cut to optimize light return and create a brilliant sparkle. Certification agencies like GIA issue cut gradings for round brilliant cut diamonds but not for fancy-shaped since there is too much variance in their dimensions and proportions to standardize for a cut grading. So for any of these shapes, consult with a trusted jeweler for guidance.

Bump Down the Color and Clarity

Diamond color and clarity don’t have as large of an impact on how big your diamond looks as the cut. If you bump down your color and clarity grades, you’ll have more flexibility with your budget to get a higher carat weight that still has an excellent or very good cut. Color is usually all about personal preference and clarity is best to look for an eye-clean stone, or at least to not have larger inclusions directly beneath the table.

Check the Dimensions

For fancy-shaped diamonds, the dimensions are going to be a huge indicator of whether they will appear larger or smaller than their relative carat weight. For these shapes to truly appear larger, you will want to look for one with more “spread” – the term for when more weight is held towards the top rather than the bottom of the stone. Just be sure the depth of the stone doesn’t become too shallow as that can diminish the sparkle.

Shine Bright with a Halo Setting

The setting can do so much to enhance the apparent size of the center diamond in your engagement ring. Halo settings feature a pavé-set diamond surround for the center stone making it appear much larger and adding to the total carat weight without increasing the price of the ring as much as a larger center stone.

Choose Your Prongs Wisely

Choose a setting with prongs that will give you some versatility with how much surface area on the stone the prongs will cover. You can choose slim prongs so they’re more discreet or v-shaped prongs are a nice option since they’ll stay closer to the edge of the stone. And if you’re going with a round brilliant cut diamond, more prongs can actually help the diamond appear larger.

Opt for a Delicate, Slim Setting

A great way to make your center stone appear larger is to have every other part of your ring be smaller in comparison. Go with a slim band and keep it simple with either just smooth, polished metal or pavé-set stones for some added sparkle. You could even go with a three-stone ring with smaller side stones that help the center stone appear larger when viewed side by side.

Clean Your Rings Regularly

The shinier and more sparkly the diamond, the more incredible it will look, and therefore larger. When a diamond and the surrounding metal accumulates dirt and debris, it inhibits the level of brilliance the stone can exhibit. It is very easy to clean your ring at home in between professional cleanings that should happen every six months to a year.

Now that you know what diamond shapes look the biggest and how to really emphasize the diamond’s size through other means, it’s important to remember that you still want to be excited about your ring and that it’s comfortable to wear for a lifetime. Just make your choices with that in mind and you can’t go wrong!

pear cut diamond in minimal setting

Have questions? We're happy to help.