If you’re here, chances are you’ve realized there’s much more to engagement ring shopping than just waltzing into a store and picking a rock at random. From celebrity-inspired styles to alternative gemstones, there are plenty of options fit for every bride-to-be’s style. Once you’ve settled on a diamond engagement ring, though, the next step is to figure out exactly what you want that stone to look like. Do you want it to be classic, trendy, dramatic, or simplistic? Whatever you decide, you might be surprised to learn that all diamond shapes don’t actually look the same on everyone’s hands. That’s why figuring out how to choose the right diamond shape for your hand size is essential when searching for the perfect sparkler.
“It’s important to consider what shape will best complement your (or your significant other’s) hand and ring finger,” explains Grant Mobley, the in-house diamond expert for the Natural Diamond Council. “While there is no hard and fast rule, in general, elongated diamond shapes (like the marquise or oval) tend to create the illusion of elongating the fingers.”
There’s a catch, however: Just because there might be a diamond shape that works best for your or your partner’s fingers doesn’t mean it’s automatically the right option. According to Los Angeles-based fine jewelry designer Grace Lee, selecting a stone involves a variety of individual preferences that transcend hand size. You’ll want to consider whether other rings will be worn, your personal style, preferred metals, and your desired style of band—all of which must work together to create a cohesive aesthetic.
The good news is that we’ve tapped the pros to help guide you in the right direction, no matter where you are in your ring journey. Whether you’re looking for engagement ring inspiration for yourself or you’re shopping for a special someone, here’s everything you need to know about choosing the right diamond shape for your hand, your lifestyle, and your love.
Diamond Shapes 101: Here’s What to Know
While you’ve likely heard about the 4Cs, you might be surprised to learn that a diamond shape is actually different from a diamond cut—though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. The shape refers to the stone’s form, such as round, oval, or pear. The cut, however, refers to the diamond’s symmetry, reflective quality, and facets. For example, when examining a round brilliant-cut stone, the shape of the diamond is round, while the cut style is brilliant (which typically includes 57 or 58 facets, cut to maximize sparkle and—you guessed it—brilliance). That said, cut and shape often go hand-in-hand, since some shapes influence the cut (and vice versa).
As for the most popular styles? Just like ring metals and stone settings, diamond shapes (and cuts!) go in and out of vogue as trends evolve and shift. Currently, some of the most popular shapes and cuts are emerald, pear brilliant, and marquise brilliant, says Lee. Vintage styles have also taken center stage, with cuts like rose, portrait, old European, and old mine being amongst the most favored offerings. “Just a few years ago, it would have been very rare to see any of these cuts, even though they pre-date all of the most popular cuts we see today,” adds Mobley. “These cuts create a softer sparkle than modern cuts because they were cut by hand before the invention of electricity and were made to sparkle in candlelight.”
Of course, Mobley does note that timeless cuts and shapes—such as round brilliant, princess, cushion, marquise, and oval—are always in style. If you’re after a look that will still be as fashionable in 50 years as it is today (or you’re unsure about which shape to go with), any of those timeless options are safe yet spectacular bets.
The Best Diamond Shapes for Every Hand Size and Finger Length
Obviously, one of the most fool-proof solutions to selecting the right diamond shape for your hand size involves trying on different rings. As you’re perusing options, Lee suggests considering how much finger real estate you want to cover with the stone. Depending on the quality and carat of the diamond, this might steer you toward shape options within your ring budget. As a good rule of thumb (or finger, if you will), marquise and pear-shaped diamonds typically look the largest due to their elongated design.
Lee says you’ll also want to consider whether you prefer brilliant cut or step cut, if you’re drawn toward symmetrical diamond shapes (like round) or asymmetrical ones (such as pear), and what type of wedding band you’d like. Oftentimes after answering these questions, shoppers can more easily zero in on preferred shapes.
Another tip? If you’re looking to surprise your partner with a ring, Mobley still advises taking a trip to the jeweler together to see what they gravitate toward. “Trust me, they will find it fun and appreciate that you want to know their style,” he says. You can also take a peek at what type of accessories they already wear, paying attention to metal preferences, stone sizes, and shapes. (Pro tip: If they wear rings, taking inventory of their jewelry box is also a great way to secretly figure out their ring size!)
With all this in mind, there are certain diamond shapes that naturally look better on specific types of hands and fingers. To learn more about which pairings work best, read on to see what the experts have to say.
In order for a diamond not to overwhelm petite hands, both Mobley and Lee suggest focusing on more symmetrical, non-elongated shapes and cuts. “Round, Asscher, princess, and cushion cuts can balance small hands,” says Lee. It’s also not a bad idea to consider a smaller stone since large diamonds can sometimes feel disproportionate and over-the-top on dainty hands.
Larger hands can handle larger diamonds, larger shapes, and larger facets, explains Lee, so you aren’t limited by options if you have big hands. “I would focus on a diamond shape that appears larger to fill your hand,” adds Mobley. “This can be done with a large diamond center stone, or with mounting like a halo or double halo that gives the illusion that the diamond is larger.” You could also opt for a multiple band or stone style, like Lee’s popular Baguette Pear Helix Ring.
Folks with long fingers are lucky since most diamond shapes work well here, Mobley says. Instead, the size of the stone and the preferred setting are what will really complement longer fingers. Larger diamonds look particularly luxe on long fingers, as do elongated shapes such as emerald, pear, or moval (a shape between a marquise and an oval).
While you might think you need to compensate for short fingers with a long diamond, both pros insist that’s actually not the case. Similar to those with small hands, if you or your partner have shorter fingers, shapes that boast symmetry (like round, square, or Asscher) are your best bet. Steering clear of elongated shapes will keep the ring from feeling overwhelming.
Contrary to popular belief, the secret to making thicker fingers appear slender is to actually select a stone that fills out the width, insists Mobley. “Oval and marquise tend to be the most flattering,” he explains, as they’re wider in the center but taper off at the ends, creating the illusion of longer lines. A three-stone ring, with the center stone being the largest, is another great option if you love the idea of a round cut, but still want that lengthening effect.
Round or square diamonds, as well as princess and radiant cuts, can make thin fingers appear longer and the stone look smaller and disproportionate. In order to avoid this, Lee says it’s best to choose a diamond shape that complements the length of your fingers, such as an elongated oval or elongated marquise. Solitaire diamonds look particularly stunning on thin fingers, especially when paired with slim, barely-there bands.
Additional Engagement Ring Tips to Consider
If you’re still trying to narrow down your options, here are a few more expert-approved tips to consider when selecting your diamond shape.
Shop With Your Partner
If you’re unsure about the best shape for your or your partner’s finger, Mobley emphasizes the importance of checking out different styles together, even if you want the proposal to be a surprise. “At the end of the day, a diamond is a big purchase you’ll have for a lifetime, and it’s important to shop around and find what fits you best, both in style and personality. Don’t be afraid to shop with your partner and find out what they like. You’ll both be much happier for it.”
Need a few pointers on how to pull this off? If you’re the one proposing and the element of surprise is important to you, don’t beeline toward the engagement ring section when checking out the jewelry store. Head to the mall and casually walk through a shop to see what general jewelry styles pique your partner’s interest.
On the other hand, if you’re waiting to be proposed to, another idea is to test out different rings at home with Only Natural Diamonds’s virtual ring try-on option. This gives you the ability to see what diamond shapes look best on your finger without physically entering a shop with your partner. Consider adding options you like to a Pinterest board or telling a friend who can serve as a confidant whenever your significant other starts looking for hints about your dream engagement ring.
Stick to the Classics
No matter how much research you do, even the most prepared shopper can feel overwhelmed by all the different aspects of diamonds. Mobley says when in doubt, a classic shape and cut (such as a Tiffany-style solitaire) is a smart option. “A natural diamond can always be reset from a simple setting to one that is more fitting of their style in the future,” he explains.
Be True to Yourself
Truthfully, the most important factor when selecting a diamond shape isn’t the stone cut or the wearer’s hand size; Lee says it all comes down to personal preference. “I wouldn’t get too hung up on the recipient’s hand size or trying to fit them into a particular category,” Mobley adds. “At the end of the day, the diamond shape you choose should be more about what you or your partner like(s) and what speaks to you in general.”