Diamonds: What cut is more desirable?
September 29, 2008 1:31 PM   Subscribe

Which do you prefer, round or princess cut diamonds? Why? What are the pros/cons to each?

My girlfriend's birthday is coming up and so I think it's about time to buy her diamond earrings (studs) for the first time. Size wise I was not thinking anything too crazy, around 0.15 in size.

I am a guy and I am partial to princess cut myself but I have heard that with smaller diamonds that are round will shine more. Since I plan on getting around the 0.15 in size, the more shine the better!

Ladies, any suggestions or tips?

Gentlemen, any words of wisdom?
posted by jwfree to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (29 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Words of wisdom from the diamond man: No New Diamonds Please. Get some used diamonds, of the size you would like, and have them set. There are many jewelers out there with not a lot of business, you could get yourself a better deal, a better diamond, and make the girl happier all for less money.

Or, you could go with Moissanite for 1/10 the price, better fire, luster and brilliance, and 9.5 (at least) on Moh's hardness scale. Moissanite: Because she'll never know the difference.
posted by No New Diamonds Please at 1:37 PM on September 29, 2008 [2 favorites]

I would assume the princess cut was invented so that they could squeeze more finished
diamonds out of a raw diamond than they could with round cuts. If this is true I would say the round cut is more sophisticated. I have no clue though.
posted by ian1977 at 1:40 PM on September 29, 2008

Just personal opinion, but princess-cut stones feel so fussy to me - kind of prissy and and prim and...well, princess-y. Sorority girl-ish.

I will also say, though - I think diamonds are pretty much the most boring stones out there (not counting the major ethical issues with new diamonds, of course). They're so safe. Earrings with truly lovely pearls or a colored stone I loved would tickle me a whole lot more.
posted by peachfuzz at 1:46 PM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

peachfuzz - agreed. If I were to wear jewelry I would like it to look like it came from One Eyed Willie's chest of rich-stuff.
posted by ian1977 at 1:49 PM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I forgot to mention, she is a pretty simple girl. Doesn't wear earrings on an everyday basis, no necklaces, no bracelets. She just always mentions that if she had some nice earrings then she would wear them. I was thinking diamonds were simple, then again I'm a guy.
posted by jwfree at 1:51 PM on September 29, 2008

I second peachfuzz's emotion. Pearls are classic and classy.

Colored stones are not only fun, but they have been valued historically over diamonds. Nice rubys and emeralds are stratospherically expensive due to scarcity, but there are beautiful sapphires that are more reasonably priced. And for what it's worth, blue is the color of loyalty.
posted by abirae at 1:55 PM on September 29, 2008

I think this is really a matter of personal preference and that neither cut is "better." My best advice is to keep an eye on the jewelry she wears and see if you can figure out for yourself what cut she might prefer.

I personally might not be of any help here - though I am a lady-type, diamonds are pretty low on the list of Things I'd Like For My Birthday. (Do you know for a fact that your girlfriend really would like diamond earrings, or are you just interested in diamonds for the significance they suggest?)
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:56 PM on September 29, 2008

First, if you're going to get diamonds make absolutely sure she likes diamonds, because in my experience, girls who don't like diamonds actively have a thing against them. I'm one of them, both because I find them rather dull and because, as peachfuzz mentions, I have ethical concerns about new diamonds. However, as a 23-year-old girl who doesn't really like diamonds but does make jewelry as a hobby, I like the round cut better. On that size earring, princess just looks kinda frou-frou to me.

If you need some alternatives, pearl earrings are a classic that are difficult to do wrong (if you can afford black pearl, and I mean real black, not dyed - go for it! Those look amazing). Alternatively, get a faceted stone in her favorite color. Make sure to talk to your jeweller about hypoallergenic materials for the setting because you don't know if your girlfriend is allergic to metal or not (she might also not know, if she rarely wears jewelry) and there's probably no way to ask her about that without giving away the game - it would totally stink to get her the perfect earrings and then have her be unable to wear them!
posted by bettafish at 2:01 PM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh, I forgot to mention that if your girlfriend is a little bit quirky, or if you need inspiration, a good place to shop is Etsy, the handmade store. There is some really high-end stuff there if you take the time to look.
posted by bettafish at 2:03 PM on September 29, 2008

My engagement ring was a princess cut, and while I know my hands come into contact with more things than my ears do, princess cut diamonds catch on frigging everything. May not be a big issue for earrings, but just sayin'.

Also? Nthing those who said pearls may be a better choice.
posted by alpha_betty at 2:13 PM on September 29, 2008

I agree with bettafish. Etsy has lots of nice hand-made and vintage stuff. Ebay also has an incredible selection of antique and vintage jewelry, as well as cool hand made jewelry from Turkey that is set in 24k gold. I don't have pierced ears, so I've never had to worry about jewelry being hypoallergenic, but I will say that there is a ton of amazing really intricate vintage stuff out there. I keep flashing to the scene in Coming to America where the prince gives the girl those crazy ruby door-knocker earrings. Vintage makes that kind of thing possible on a budget.
posted by abirae at 2:15 PM on September 29, 2008

For a simple girl who never wears jewelry, diamond earrings are an iffy gift. I'm afraid you may give her a gift she will not wear. Princess cut diamonds are as fussy as they get.

Do you know if she prefers gold or silver? If she doesn't own a pair of everyday earrings, she may enjoy getting just a pair (or two) of gold or silver earrings, no stone, that she can wear every day. They are available in every price range, every size, every shape.

As for pearls, I can't imagine a simple girl going from no jewelry every day to black pearls but maybe that's just me.
posted by toastedbeagle at 2:19 PM on September 29, 2008

Response by poster: Metroid Baby: Yes I know for a fact. She mentions it whenever we go out and do something nice.

toastedbeagle: I was thinking the same thing, about her being simple. Diamonds are all I have ever heard her mention. She is definitely anti-yellow gold. White gold is her thing....

Maybe I just need to go talk to my jeweler for awhile and look at everything they have to offer instead of going in with a mindset for diamonds.
posted by jwfree at 2:31 PM on September 29, 2008

Better check with her or look at some of the jewelry she already has when it comes to the cut. My girlfriend prefers princess to round as strongly as some here prefer round to princess, so it's a real matter of personal taste.
posted by pocams at 2:42 PM on September 29, 2008

When my sister asked for diamond earrings for her birthday, my mom bought her 1/4 carat studs from a nationwide jeweler, I believe, that cost about $200 or slightly more. For that price, the diamonds look tiny and, frankly, embarrassingly bad.

I did very extensive research on affordable alternatives (quality cubic circonia or lab-created diamonds), and ended up with 1/2 carat round "diamond" studs on 14K white gold for about $75 from The earrings are absolutely gorgeous and there is no way anyone can tell that they are not real diamonds. Also, I can wear them with a clean and happy conscience, which makes them look even prettier to me. With this wonderful experience in mind, I am certain that I will not ever wear a real diamond for the rest of my life.

Honestly, I can't recommend this option highly enough--especially if your girlfriend is not used to wearing fancy jewelry, $75 is cheap enough to take a risk and find out whether this is something she enjoys or not.
posted by halogen at 2:48 PM on September 29, 2008

I'm a round diamond person (in theory, anyhow) -- but I despise studs, because the posts always end up rubbing against my skin and hurting me. I am not your girlfriend, but I bet she has other weird quirks in what she wants to wear. I recommend speaking to the jeweler and getting something on loan/exchangeable so that you can give her a nice token, and then she can exchange it for a nice token she will actually wear. Or speak to the jeweler, work out 6 or 8 or 10 things you'd like to give her, and bring her in to choose one. (Or have things bookmarked on etsy, whatever.)

If you do want to get one of the fake diamonds, don't lie about it. I'd be perfectly happy to get manmade sparkly things, but less happy if I found out ages later that they weren't what I was told they are.
posted by jeather at 2:54 PM on September 29, 2008

Best answer: I wouldn't get pearls for wearing on an everyday basis, you have to be a lot more careful with maintenance and such. Hairspray and stuff like that will damage them, and they are more prone to scratches and scuffing.

I personally happen to like princess cut over round because it's less boring, but the points are definitely problematic, and Asscher and cusion cuts are far more interesting than either. Small diamonds, unless they are really precisely cut, will probably look dull and terrible no matter what the cut. And like many people I have problems with the ethics of diamonds anyway. But in the end you should be asking her what she likes.
posted by casarkos at 3:01 PM on September 29, 2008

Cushion cut, that is.
posted by casarkos at 3:03 PM on September 29, 2008

Personally, I usually hate round-cut, especially in a solitary setting. They just look old-fashioned to me. Square-cut looks, to me, both modern and classic.

And yeah, other stones are far more beautiful... but diamonds go with everything.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:07 PM on September 29, 2008

Round are considered the best cut, showing the most fire.

Round are also the most classic. Princess and the other cuts tend to be more trendy.

That said, it's still personal preference. I know from many old threads that mefi has a lot of diamond haters. I'm not one of them. :) (In all jewelry, I prefer clear or silver, which means diamond, silver, platinum, etc. I find colors gaudy. Personal pref.)
posted by iguanapolitico at 3:50 PM on September 29, 2008

go with RADIANT CUT. It has the most facets to surface area, and thus sparkles like crazy. My fiancee when crazy when i got that for her.
posted by warriorengineer at 4:16 PM on September 29, 2008

Best answer: As someone who has sold jewellery to nice guys like you for years (decades now) (I could tell you stories...) (and who has received many lovely things from her husband, who has a job harder than most when it comes to such things), I say give her an empty jewellery box from your jeweller, with a note explaining what you'd like to do, and take her there on a day when you're both in a good mood, when you're not hungry and not busy, and when she's had time to really think about what she'd like best. It's the thought that counts, not the actual item, right? You've had the very kind and generous and great thought - give her that. Let her choose the actual item.
posted by peagood at 5:27 PM on September 29, 2008 [3 favorites]

PS - It's not just about the shine, which refers more to the hardness (surface shine/polish) of a diamond. It's why rubies and sapphires have more lustre than sparkle, for example. It's the refraction - round cut (or variations of) diamonds are mathematically calculated to sparkle (catch the light and refract it toward your eyes) more. Princess (or other cuts with more surface/table facets) will appear to be larger, but not "twinkle" or sparkle as much. A well-cut (the most important of the four C's - the naked eye can only see colour (I or better, please) and cut) (Clarity is viewed at 10x magnification, to a trained eye, under certain conditions) diamond is the most sparkly, compared to one of the same weight (size), colour and clarity. Cuts, like the cushion and the Asscher cut diamonds are a happy compromise, combine the elegance of a square shape but provide more sparkle (.15 is a harder size to find them in, unless you've found some antique diamonds) if the squared shape is her preference. It IS all about her preference, right?

PPS , and BTW - I am a graduate jeweller, with manymanyyears retail and secondary market experience, but one's who's out of the race a bit though she's still "got it" and who is now writing this quickly while her kid is in the bath and she has a second glass of wine after dinner (and using too many parenthetical asides)

PPPS - I still sometimes broker diamonds and offer advice for friends, with the mantra "I will not let them choose something for their recipients that I would not be happy to receive myself" - so I'm offering you the same advice I always given and do give them.

PPPPS - Check out the Rap report, and do consider auctions (better prices for larger diamonds, stigma of new diamonds removed, modern retail mark-up not an issue) and you can always hire your jeweller as a consultant for them, rather than buying new from him with the usual 3.65 keystone markup for jewellery considered.
posted by peagood at 5:49 PM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've, that is - the plonk made me forget a contraction. Sorry! Bathtime's over anyway.
posted by peagood at 5:50 PM on September 29, 2008

I'll go against the grain - I love emerald cuts. It's very clean and elegant to me, plus no point to catch in your hair.

If she's not a jewelry person, I think she'd probably enjoy simulated diamonds more. At your price point (which I'm assuming based on size), genuine diamonds are usually blah. I have a real set of beautiful diamond studs that I rarely wear since I worry that I'll lose them. My CZ studs I wear pretty often.

Instead of diamond earrings, I'd probably go opals. They are semi-precious, but they more interesting. They are classic, match almost anything and they are the October birthstone.
posted by 26.2 at 4:07 AM on September 30, 2008

Personally I like the round cut diamonds better than princess cut. Round cut jewelry is timeless and classic, and minimal...and I am very much into minimalism in just about everything. I am also young and I do not want to wear a lot of heavy gaudy jewelry, so round cut would be cuter in most cases...
posted by johannahdeschanel at 8:21 AM on September 30, 2008

Enlist her girlfriend to probe her for opinions (perhaps as though the girlfriend was seeking advice to buy for herself). Have friend turn up with catalogues or internet, or take your girlfriend to a jewelry store, and in half an hour or so you'll definitively know what your lady likes.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:11 AM on September 30, 2008

Best answer: Congrats on giving such a nice gift. Lucky girl. I think she'd be happy with anything you gave her because it's coming from you and you remembered she mentioned wanting earrings. Personally, I would prefer round diamonds. Classic, goes with everything. I recommend screw backs so there's no chance of them slipping off.

I like the idea of the empty box with a promise to go pick out something together, but it might put you in a situation to spend more than you wanted to, so be careful.

I guess I'm one of the few that think pearls are a very BAD idea. They are too delicate for everyday wear (hairspray as someone mentioned is v.bad) and I don't think they look as nice as gemstones, so it's hard to even think of pearls replacing the original gift idea of diamonds. I have diamond studs and wear them quite a lot. Stick with your original idea, it's a good one.
posted by MuckWeh at 10:00 AM on September 30, 2008

Get her the diamonds, that's what she wants. Pearls, yuck. Okay, not my style.

In any case. I have a princess-cut engagement ring, because I like it best on a ring, but I think for earrings, I'd go for round.
posted by pyjammy at 1:17 PM on September 30, 2008

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