Note #1: This article was written mostly for ring shoppers; if you're just wanting a quick primer on the differences of stone shapes...scroll below to where the stone pictures start!
Note #2: Since most of our customers come to us first for a ring, we do tend to slant much of our content that way, talking about rings, but much of what you're reading can be just as valid when choosing a primary stone for a pendant, earrings, etc).
As much as CubicZirconia.com strives to make shopping for our fine, precious-metals-plus-cubic-zirconia jewelry as easy and as enjoyable as possible, we get it that it can feel a little overwhelming when it seems like the choices are virtually endless!
When you consider the multiplicity of choices created when you multiply the various types of precious metals available for most products we make and sell in our catalog (.925 sterling silver; 10K, 14K, 18K white gold, yellow gold and rose gold; palladium; and, pure 950 platinum)…
You may be grateful for our helpful "Which Precious Metal is Right for Me/Her?" article, and the other resources we've spent hundreds of hours creating in our online Precious Metals education efforts.
After all, we believe that even for diamond jewelry buyers, the precious metals are actually what have the rarity and real, intrinsic value (certainly not the diamonds, which are factually anything but the "rare" retail diamond jewelers claim...and are in our opinion the most overpriced commodity in the history of commerce).
That gratitude you feel for our help shedding some light on the precious metals equation might be even truer once you multiply those many metals choices...
...by the multitude of jewelry and ring design choices (cathedral setting, solitaire style, enhanced solitaire design, peek-a-boo hidden stones enhancement, halo setting, double halo setting, pave accented band, split band design, etc)…
And go ahead and add in the reality that so many of our product catalog items are CUSTOMIZABLE...meaning that one design for a peekaboo ring or halo engagement ring might actually be able to be made with any of 10 different center stone shapes each in a range of carat sizes!
Because when you do, the thousands of options you have just from considering design motif and metal type quickly become tens of thousands of choices once multiplied...
…by the different shapes of cubic zirconia center stones available for the highest percentage of most products we make and sell in our catalog (asscher cut, cushion cut, emerald octagon cut, heart cut, marquise cut, oval cut, pear cut, princess/square cut, radiant octagon cut, round cut)…
--->> see below for pictures and a stone-by-stone comparison
of these 10 most common center stone options <<---
Yep, after that jump you're now looking at hundreds of thousands of possible combinations for making the thousands of rings in our current product catalog-- even before you consider the less-common, but-still-traditional center stone shapes like baguette, briolette, cabochon, checkerboard, antique cushion cut, elongated cushion cut, elongated pear cut, half-moon cut, hexagon cut, pyramid shape, star shape, teardrop shape, triangle cut, trillion cut, trapezoid cut, and several more.
ASIDE: And gosh, that 'several more' really could be "infinite" because let's not forget about the custom-cut cubic zirconia center stone shapes.
For these less-common stone shapes mentioned by name, and custom-cut stones...yes we DO make and sell them-- though we won't profile these stones individually in this article-- and we don't always sell these stones online or commit the resources to put jewelry pieces featuring these less-likely-to-sell configurations online for others in the future to discover.
So while less-popular or custom-cut CZ stone shapes won't be the focus of today's article...the possibility that we CAN cut any shape and size your heart desires in 5A diamond-quality cubic zirconia brilliance still deserves a mention in a thorough treatment of the "which center stone shape to choose" topic.
Hundreds of thousands of choices!?
And keep in mind, this is all before then multiplying our thousands of product catalog metal-customizable and center-shape-customizable items...
...by the various carat-weight sizes available for much of our customizable jewelry, each of which often has a range of 5 to 8 different center stone size options available (from the petite 0.25 carat to the attention-grabbing 6.0 carats, including multiple whole, half and quarter carat sizes in between)…
Note: We tackle the carat size choice question-- especially with respect to rings-- in our article "Which Center Stone Size is Best for Me/Her?", an article that is definitely worth a look if you're wondering on that same question!
…once everything is all accounted for, such an array of MILLIONS of choices can easily overwhelm even an experienced shopper.
But let's take a deep breath, because you're closer to finding that one perfect choice than you probably realize.
Let's say that out of the many choices, you already have some idea of one thing or a few things that float your boat:
- could be the metal type (for instance platinum or rose gold, or even just metal color = white);
- could be that you/she want a cathedral setting;
- could be that you want the band to split or have accent stones (or both).
Good for you!
Many customers struggle mightily to make these features decisions...and shopping for a gift recipient can be even tougher than shopping for yourself!
That’s why we recommend FIRST
choosing the Center Stone Shape...
and if possible the Center Stone Carat Size!
This narrows the possibilities tremendously.
(and for gift-givers...with a bit of advance planning, awareness and/or questions to friends/family/co-workers....these are pretty easy preferences to get from your intended gift recipient, too...without ruining your surprise)
Not yet decided on a shape? No problem, because that's actually the purpose of this article: to help you pick! Let’s see if we can talk through it together.
So, how do you choose the right center stone shape for your ring?
The truth is, many women that at least occasionally regularly wear jewelry already know the gem shape or shape(s) they like most.
While exceptions exist and there are some ladies who'd benefit from looking at a few samples to determine which is best for her (we can help with that)...you can trust us on this that most ladies know what shape or shapes they like, because we've been doing this for a while!
And those ladies who don't have a preference for center stone shape are going to be thrilled with whatever he gets her (again, as long as she doesn't have any clearly defined preferences...which would be a NO-NO to have missed, or ignored...because...
if she's at all interested in jewelry she DOES give hints, and she does expect you to catch at least some of them!)
Yes, it's true: a lot of guys buying jewelry for ladies can easily find out what shape(s) she likes most-- just by observing what she already wears, or what she exclaims over when seeing someone else wear it. We’ve got some other sneaky tips for finding out her preferred or favorite center stone shape, too (just contact us).
And if she doesn't give hints about the kind of jewelry she likes or would like to receive as a gift (by hints we could mean verbally admiring a piece someone else is wearing and doing so in your hearing, pointing out something excitedly in a store window, advertisement or on television, or musing that she thinks ABC design-type on a piece of jewelry is cool)...then you may think we're full of it...
And we can't have that!
So how about this for brutal honesty:
If you've known each other awhile now and can honestly say
you don't think your special lady has ever given you hints
about her preferred kind of jewelry...then we think
you should click away from our website
and buy something else.
Seriously...jewelry isn't for everyone...and if you're here considering cubic zirconia instead of the conventional diamond, you're already going against the grain...so who cares what convention says? Maybe you want to give a different kind of engagement gift than the traditional ring? We won't dissuade you. Or maybe you're just looking for a great gift and were considering a purchase of jewelry. Whatever the facts happen to be, all we're saying is if she wants more jewelry...she's going to make hints about what she likes (in our experience).
Did we pass the test?
Are you still here?
If you have an idea about the center stone, great...because most women are VERY TALENTED at letting men know what they want-- and the truly amazing can even make him think it was his own idea to buy it!
If you're a man shopping for a lady, or a lady yourself trying to figure out which stone will most tickle your fancy...the rest of this article will help to decide by showing some of the pro's and con's of each stone shape!
Before we dig into the different shapes, let's talk about THE CUT and FACETS.
So as not to avoid any confusion, there are 2 terms we’ll use here that denote the facet-cutting style of these stones rather than the shape: Step Cut and Brilliant Cut. All the other uses of "cut" in this article pretty much refer to the shape!
- Step cut gems feature parallel rows of facets for a clean and minimal look.
- Brilliant cut gems feature facets cut in a “brilliant” pattern that maximizes light reflection and immensely increases a stone’s “fire”.
Though exceptions exist, most especially among custom-cut stones (where anything goes and if you dream it we can cut and facet it to match), all most common stone shapes are basically divided into these 2 cut styles.
Asscher cut and emerald cut stones are step-faceted cuts, while each of the other stone shapes profiled individually below are considered brilliant-faceted cuts.
The Asscher Cut – this stone shape is also sometimes referred to as square octagon. It is characterized by large step-cut facets. The beauty of an asscher cut stone, is best displayed and enhanced with larger cut configurations. We think for our 5A diamond-quality cubic zirconia stones this most applies to those sized 1.50 carats (7x7 mm) or larger, where the width and depth of the stone most effectively displays this shape's step-cut facets. The asscher cut is symmetrical, with equal length and width.
5A diamond quality Asscher Cut Cubic Zirconia Loose Stone
The Cushion Cut – this stone's shape is also referred to as pillow cut or rounded princess cut. As the name suggests, the cushion cut is actually shaped like a cushion or a pillow. Many believe the cushion cut-- also a brilliant-cut style-- exemplifies the best of both the round cut and princess cut styles. That may explain why the cushion cut is becoming more and more popular. Many experts believe the cushion cut’s more rounded shape is ideal for colored stones, and we think the combination of shape, facets and fire looks pretty blingin' awesome with our clear, flawless diamond-quality 5A cubic zirconia stones. The cushion cut is symmetrical, with equal length and width.
#4 Most popular stone in sales*
#1 Fastest-growing stone in popularity year-over-year*
5A diamond quality Cushion Cut Cubic Zirconia Loose Stone
The Emerald Cut – the emerald cut, or emerald octagon cut (aka rectangular octagon), borrows its name from the ideal way to cut green emerald stones. That happens to be shaping a green emerald into this elongated octagon shape! The shape's elongated style with with non-equal length and width naturally creates longer facets than a smaller stone or squared shape would have. The effect? The emerald cut stone's long, step-cut facets reflect more light and make the stone appear larger than it actually is. Unconfirmed internet reports claim this stone is frequently chosen as a gift by men with less well-endowed bank accounts (more bang for your buck so to speak...sorry, we couldn't resist).
#3 Most popular stone in sales*
5A diamond quality Emerald Cut Cubic Zirconia Loose Stone
The Heart Cut – heart cut stones are shaped like a stylized heart, which shape accounts for its use more than the stone's brilliance (lesser than many other equilateral stone cuts because some of the light is not refracted out as sharply in the valley part at the top of the shape). This brilliant-cut stone only accounts for a few engagement rings out of a hundred we make and sell, but is a common choice for promise rings and unique artisan rings, as well as for gifts given on Valentine's Day. The unique shape of this stone does provide some challenges to gem cutters and jewelry makers who must be aware of some potential pitfalls when working with the shape. Care should also be taken when wearing jewelry with heart cut stones because the shape has a pointed tip that can be prone to chipping and breakage. The heart cut is not symmetrical, but is designed to have equal length and width across a "T" from the middle.
5A diamond quality Heart Cut Cubic Zirconia Loose Stone
The Marquise Cut – of all the top center stone shapes, the marquise cut stone is among the least-requested in our CubicZirconia.com catalog, and perhaps the most uncommonly-seen among the gem cuts profiled in this article. Instead of serving as the primary or center stone in a ring or other piece of jewelry, marquise cut stones are more popularly used as accent stones. Although we do feel that a marquise-cut-centered ring design looks exceptional when placed vertically as a perpendicular gem enhancement above the backdrop of a horizontal, wide-banded ring design beneath! Due to its fragile corners and unwieldy shape, many jewelers find this brilliant-cut stone more difficult to work with than many other shapes. But the unique shape does have its admirers, and even though it's among the least popular of the profiled center stone shapes we're happy to provide hundreds of customizable ring styles that can be set with this beautiful gem shape. Care should also be taken when wearing jewelry with marquise cut stones because the shape has pointed tips that are prone to chipping and breakage. The marquise cut cut is elongated, with non-equal length and width.
5A diamond quality Marquise Cut Cubic Zirconia Loose Stone
The Oval Cut – this stone shape is a good choice for people who want a smaller carat weight but want to get the illusion of a larger stone. Because of the length-versus-width dimensions, oval cut stones have this property of appearing to be larger than they actually are (as do the emerald cut and radiant cut). The oval cut stone shape has a long history of being worn by women with taste and sophistication. The oval cut is a brilliant-cut shape, with good but not great brilliance in its facets. The shape is elongated, with non-equal length and width.
5A diamond quality Oval Cut Cubic Zirconia Loose Stone
The Pear Cut – also known as teardrop cut, this is a brilliant-cut stone with respect to facets. Pear cut is a less-popular choices for center stones; they are, however, commonly used as accent stones in all manner of rings, engagement rings and other fine jewelry pieces (a center stone of your choice flanked by two equally-sized pear cut accents, one to either side, is a common three-stone configuration). Similar to the heart cut or marquise cut stone, preference for the pear cut is mainly because of its unique shape rather than brilliance. However, this pointed-tip shape has many design pitfalls jewelers have to look out for when working with it. Care should also be taken when wearing jewelry with pear cut stones because the stone has a pointed tip that can be prone to chipping and breakage. The pear cut is elongated, with non-equal length and width.
5A diamond quality Pear Cut Cubic Zirconia Loose Stone
The Princess Cut – also known as the square cut stone is one of the most popular and sought after center stone shapes – popularity exceeded only by the round cut both with respect to our own sales and as a jewelry industry standard around the world. With brilliant-cut facets, the princess cut is considered one of the more classic stone shapes. Because of the tricks of the trade to working with this gem shape, many an entire jeweler's career has been spent specializing in either gem-cutting or setting this specific shape into jewelry. While we do our best to protect our princess cut stones set into fine cubic zirconia jewelry with special prongs (see below for more details), care should still be be taken when wearing jewelry items set with princess cut stones: the shape has pointed corners which are its weakest points and can be prone to chipping and breakage. The princess cut is symmetrical, with equal length and width.
#2 Most Popular stone in sales*
5A diamond quality Princess Cut Cubic Zirconia Loose Stone
The Radiant Cut – The radiant cut, or radiant octagon cut, is also known as a rounded emerald cut. The stone shares the general rectangular shape of the emerald cut, but because of its brilliant cut facets (as compared to the emerald shape's step-cut facets) the lustrous radiant cut reflects even more light than the already super-shiny emerald cut. The brilliant-cut facets of the radiant cut shape also gives the impression that the stone has rounded corners (it doesn't, the corners are acute angles). The radiant cut is elongated, with non-equal length and width.
#2 Fastest-growing stone in popularity year-over-year*
5A diamond quality Radiant Cut Cubic Zirconia Loose Stone
The Round Cut – the traditional round cut stone is by far the most common center stone shape for rings (and the most popular shape found in most other kinds of jewelry for that matter). The round cut stone has brilliant-cut facets and a shape that is mathematically optimized for maximum light reflection and refraction. The ideal cut round diamond is almost universally considered "perfect", and has 58 facets cut to exact proportions and placed at optimal angles to create an ideal balance between light reflection and refraction. So that's exactly what we do when manufacturing our 5A diamond-quality cubic zirconia stones, too! These factors combine to enhance the round cut stone's brilliance and fire. In our experience, more than half of customers prefer round cut stones (this is even more true with respect to solitaire rings). Some of these round-shape fans feel the circle is associated with the concept of forever. The round cut is symmetrical, with equal length and width.
#1 Most popular stone in sales*
5A diamond quality Round Cut Cubic Zirconia Loose Stone
Factors to Choose the Right Center Stone Shape
Choosing the right center stone shape for a ring or other piece of jewelry is a decision that should take into consideration not just popularity or preferences for how something might look or make you feel, but also the intended wearer’s physical attributes and lifestyle. This is true for earrings (long, dangling earring styles can be incompatible with some jobs or athletics), but especially true for rings-- which sit on the hand, the body part most used to do stuff.
Let's talk more in-depth about how her body and lifestyle should affect the best gem-shape choice for her ring's center stone.
For example, long fingers can easily wear most ring styles and rings featuring each of the common center stone shapes. However, there are some folks who believe that wearing a princess cut or round cut stone on such lengthy digits can be especially flattering. Whether that's just because these stones are overall most popular for any wearer or a specific benefit to long fingers is subject to debate!
Longer-shaped stones such as marquise cut, oval cut, pear cut, radiant cut and emerald cut tend to complement skinnier, more slender fingers. Just be careful not to overdo it with the stone-length-to-finger-length proportion as a too-large size may make your/her finger appear unnaturally long (and creepy!).
On the other hand, shorter, stubbier fingers can be made to appear longer with longer-shaped stones such as oval, emerald, radiant, or marquise cut. This is especially true when the elongated center stone shape paired with a ring featuring a narrow band.
Wide fingers tend to find themselves most flattered by angular-shaped stones such as the asscher cut, emerald cut, princess cut or radiant cut. The trick here is to minimize the skin showing on either side of the stone, lest the finger appear even wider. Another idea here is to go for longer stones (i.e. oval cut or marquise cut plus the previously mentioned emerald cut or radiant cut) but set east-west or horizontally over the finger rather than the traditional north-south along the finger (this is not common, but we have helped customers do this by modifying some of our designs with a requested customization!). Or you can just go for a design that includes prominent side stones to get a similar finger-narrowing affect for the overall look.
Wearers with active lifestyles (those involved in sports and plenty of outdoor physical activities) are also advised to stay away from center stone shapes that have pointed corners. These would include common center stone shapes such as heart cut, marquise cut, pear cut, and princess cut.
The pointed corners or tips of these shaped stones are the weakest point for each gem cut and can be prone to chipping and breakage. It is for this reason that all of our rings with pointed-corner or pointed-tip stones have prongs protecting the point. You should never choose a style that allows the point of the stone to hang unprotected without a prong (unfortunately some unscrupulous jewelers don't abide by this industry standard, and sell jewelry with stones they should know better that they won't last intact).
That being said, even though with our jewelry we do the best to protect these tips and corners, this is still an important thing to consider when choosing a center stone shape that will fit you, your personality and your lifestyle.
What will a_* *-cut Stone look like on My/Her Finger?
If you're unsure about how a certain center stone shape might appear on the wearer’s finger as part of a ring, a tried-and-true method is to place just the stone atop the person's knuckle.
Note: We get orders of single stones all the time from people who want to do this, and see how each of certain shapes and/or sizes look on the finger.
If you're reading this and planning to do that, we can send you a series of stones to look at and review for the price of just one stone you purchase. Just get in touch with us and we'll put together a sample package, okay?
And we're not just being magnanimous in saying so; giving you a bunch of options to look at simultaneously while you paid only for the one-- and have promised to send back the ones we provided for free (we trust you!)-- is a lot less difficult for us to do than having someone buy 10 stones and return 9 for refunds! Plus, we know when you/she fall(s) in love with the stone you/she want(s) most, there's a really great chance we'll be getting a ring order sooner rather than later. It's a win-win, baby!
If you're unsure about what your gift recipient wants for sure, here's a tip from our many years as a leader in this market: MOST buyers-- for self or gifting-- tend to go for the more classic look of a round cut or princess/square cut center stone.
In fact, not only are these the two most popular stones but greater than 6 of 10 loose stones and rings we sell have one of those two of the 10 most common center stone shape options*.
In our opinion, you can’t really go wrong with either round cut or princess/square cut as your top choice to buy!
With these considerations in mind, we hope your shopping experience here at CubicZirconia.com will become that much more enjoyable.
Still thirsty for more learnin' time checking your options before you let your inner-buyer out to press that add-to-cart button on our website...or buy from another jeweler's store who somehow manages to work even harder than we do to earn your trust? Then follow us now as we continue this educational series in another article, titled: “Which Center Stone Size Is Best For Me/Her?”
Final note for the man shopping for her ring: Ready to put what you've learned to the test on a real ring or engagement ring product hunt? Here's a follow-along guide to shopping for the perfect high-quality cubic zirconia ring for her, with our compliments. It'll walk you through first choosing the center stone shape (like you've learned here), and that stone shape's carat size, and then adding in whatever else you know/suspect she likes or might want...and within a few clicks taming the million-product-combinations beast that is the CubicZirconia.com website jewelry catalog down to a manageable few you can look at and pick from in less time than it takes to pretend watching an episode of The Bachelor. You're welcome.
Are you ready now to shop engagement rings? You can customize our Cubic Zirconia engagement rings with your choice of total carat weight, center stone size and any of 12 center stone shapes:
From the Desk of:
Danny W., Vice President
Marvin T., Minister for Operations and Marketing Magic
* statistics from CubicZirconia.com sales of loose stones and rings 2015-2018