Brilliant Cut Diamond vs. Step Cut: Which Looks Better?

Brilliant Cut Diamond vs. Step Cut: Which Looks Better?

Are you familiar with the contrast between brilliant cut diamonds and step cut diamonds?

If not, you’ve come to the perfect spot. It’s crucial to understand these well-liked cutting styles before selecting a gemstone for your ring, pendant, or earrings.

In this comparative Twirl Weddings guide, we’ll address the inquiries that will assist you in deciding on your diamond cut.

  • Does a step cut diamond produce a sparkling effect?
  • Is a round brilliant diamond more expensive?
  • Which diamond cut offers better quality and performance?

Differences Between Brilliant and Step Cut Diamonds

  • Diamonds with a brilliant cut have many small surfaces, while step cut diamonds have fewer of these surfaces.
  • When you look at brilliant cut diamonds, they sparkle brightly, while step cut diamonds emit strong bursts of light.
  • You can find various shapes of brilliant cut diamonds, but there are not many shapes available for step cut diamonds.
  • The facets of brilliant cut diamonds are arranged in a triangular pattern, while step cut diamonds have facets arranged like a set of stairs.

What is a Diamond Cut?

The term “diamond cut” can refer to different aspects of a diamond. Sometimes, the shape of the diamond itself is also referred to as its cut. For example, there are princess cut diamonds, round brilliant cut diamonds, oval cut diamonds, and so on.

When we talk about the quality of a diamond’s cut, we are referring to how well it can reflect light. Round brilliant diamond cuts are assigned a cut grade, which can be found on a grading report or diamond certificate.

For fancy shape diamonds (any shape other than round), cut grades are not typically provided on grading reports because there are no specific proportions for those shapes. Instead, there is a range of measurements that can be chosen for each shape to ensure a high-quality cut.

Most modern diamond shapes fall into two cutting styles: brilliant cut and step cut. Retailers don’t often use older cutting styles like rose cut diamonds and old mine cuts. Fantasy cut stones are custom-cut to showcase unique shapes and etchings within the diamond.

What Are Brilliant Cut Diamonds?

A person who cuts gems can determine the shape of a diamond by examining its rough form before cutting it. When aiming for a brilliant cut diamond, the gem cutter will require multiple small surfaces on the gem.

Compared to step cut diamonds, brilliant cut diamonds have a greater number of facets. This cutting technique intensifies the shine and radiance of the diamond. While most brilliant cut diamonds consist of 58 facets, some may have even more.

Brilliant Cut Diamond Shapes

Round Brilliant Cut

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A diamond with a round shape is often referred to as a round brilliant diamond. It is the most widely favored and costly diamond shape overall. Round brilliant cut diamonds are the only diamonds that possess flawless symmetry and precise proportions, as stated by the GIA. On AGS grading reports, they are referred to as Excellent Cut Diamonds or Ideal Cut Diamonds.

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In total, a round diamond consists of 58 surfaces, just like the majority of brilliant cut diamonds. However, super ideal cut diamonds have additional facets, which come with a higher price tag.

Princess Cut Diamonds

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Princess diamonds are the second most favored shape for engagement rings. They give the impression of being bigger compared to round brilliant diamonds of the same weight. Additionally, they are crafted with 58 facets.

When diamond cutters shape a princess diamond, they preserve a greater portion of the original diamond compared to round brilliant cuts. Round cuts typically retain about 40% of the rough diamond, whereas princess cuts save and utilize around 60% of the carat weight. Unlike round cuts, princess diamonds are not as deeply cut, which leads to a larger visible surface area.

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Cushion Cut Diamond

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Cushion-shaped diamonds are the third most popular diamond shape. They are known for being the most affordable per carat compared to other diamond shapes. However, the prices start to change when you move beyond 2 carats and larger diamonds.

Cushion-cut diamonds can be divided into two categories: old mine cushion cuts and modified cushion brilliant cuts. They are also referred to as chunky cushions or crushed ice cushions, based on their appearance.

Crushed Ice Look
Chunky Cushion

The old mine cut cushion is a modern and brilliant version of one of the earliest diamond cuts. It has 58 facets, but these facets are wider and chunkier compared to most brilliant cuts.

Modified brilliant cut cushion diamonds, also known as crushed ice, have thinner and more slender facets. They feature star-shaped facets in the center. Most diamond sellers don’t categorize their cushion diamonds by style, so you’ll need to sort them yourself.

Elongated Cushion Cut Diamond

Cushion-shaped diamonds have a smaller visible area when viewed from the top, similar to round diamonds. There are also elongated cushion shapes that retain the cushion cutting style but resemble radiant cut diamonds more closely.

Radiant Cut Diamond

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Radiant-shaped diamonds have 70 facets, which is a lot more than the facets in a round diamond cut. These additional facets enhance their dazzling brilliance, and they come at a more affordable price compared to super ideal cut diamonds.

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When it comes to radiant cuts, you have the freedom to choose between shorter or longer radiant diamonds based on your preference. The radiant cut was designed to combine features of the round brilliant cut and the step cut diamond shape, known as the emerald cut diamond.

Pear Cut Diamond

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Pear-cut diamonds, also known as teardrop shapes, have a distinctive appearance. They feature a pointed tip and a rounded base, resembling a tear. Like most diamond shapes, they have 58 facets.

These unique shapes are highly favored by many celebrities and attendees of red carpet events. However, pear-shaped diamonds are prone to something called the bowtie effect. The bowtie effect creates a dark shape that appears across the table of the diamond.

Prominent Bowtie
Less Prominent Bowtie

The presence of a bowtie is often inevitable in diamond cutting, but a well-cut diamond will have a less noticeable bowtie compared to other diamonds. It’s an optical phenomenon and doesn’t affect the durability of the diamond. In general, most pear-shaped diamonds do not exhibit prominent bowties.

Oval Cut Diamonds

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Oval-shaped diamonds are quite popular and have the advantage of looking larger than round diamonds. They serve as an excellent alternative to the classic round cut, which is why many people choose them. The elongated appearance of an oval cut diamond is highly admired.

However, oval diamonds are often known for exhibiting prominent bowties. It can be challenging to find an oval diamond with exceptional cutting, so it’s important to stick to the ideal proportion range for oval diamonds to ensure the best quality.

Prominent Oval Cut Bow Tie.
Less Prominent Oval Cut Bow Tie.

Marquise Cut Diamonds

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Marquise-shaped diamonds are the thinnest diamond cuts used for center stones. Their elongated design makes them ideal for creating an illusion of a larger size and elongating the fingers. These diamonds are among the most affordable options due to their smaller surface area.

As the carat weight of marquise diamonds increases, their prices also tend to go up. It’s important to note that they can exhibit a bowtie effect, so it’s recommended to use a 360˚ viewer when selecting loose diamonds to ensure a thorough examination.

Claw Prongs Protect Pointed Tips

When choosing an engagement ring setting for a marquise diamond, it’s crucial to be careful and considerate. Like other shapes we’ll discuss later, diamonds with pointed edges are more prone to chipping if not adequately protected. To ensure the best protection, make sure the points of the marquise diamond are covered by a halo, bezel, or prongs.

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Heart Brilliant Cut

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Heart-shaped diamonds have seen a decline in popularity compared to their earlier days. The heart shape is now less commonly chosen for engagement rings and more frequently used for gemstone and promise rings. However, if you have your heart set on a heart-shaped diamond for your engagement ring, you’ll be joining Avril Lavigne, who also has a heart cut engagement ring as of 2022.

V-shaped prongs protect pointed shapes

While we don’t typically provide a recommended carat weight for diamonds, heart-shaped diamonds tend to exhibit more defined characteristics at a weight of 0.5 carats or higher. Going below this weight may result in the heart shape losing its distinctiveness. It’s important to note that heart-shaped diamonds appear smaller than round diamonds and require a protective prong or setting at the bottom for added security.

RECOMMENDED: Claw Prongs vs. Round Prongs

Trilliant Cut Diamond


Trilliant or trillion cut diamonds are not commonly found in many jewelry stores. This is because their triangular shape presents significant challenges in both cutting and setting. They are often used as accent stones rather than as center stones.

These diamonds are relatively less expensive and have a large visible area. However, the three pointed ends of a triangular diamond make it more susceptible to vulnerability. While prong settings can offer some protection for the edges, many people find them less visually appealing.


Finding a skilled professional who can properly set the diamond is not the only challenge. The diamond itself must also be cut correctly. Due to the combination of three edges and the natural cleavage of diamonds, this diamond shape is more prone to chipping compared to other shapes.

What Are Step Cut Diamonds?

For a diamond to be classified as a step cut diamond, it needs to have a square or rectangular shape. Step cut diamonds are characterized by facets arranged in parallel lines, resembling a series of steps. Unlike the dazzling brilliance of brilliant cuts, step cut diamonds provide elongated and striking flashes of light.

Step Cut Diamond Shapes

Emerald Cut Diamond

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The emerald cut diamond is widely favored and recognized as the top choice among step cut diamond shapes. It features a rectangular shape with trimmed corners, deviating from the conventional square shape. This cut truly exemplifies the essence of the step cut technique.

Emerald cut diamonds showcase a generous face-up area and are crafted with a shallower depth. They possess one of the most expansive visible sizes among diamond shapes. Additionally, they are generally more affordable compared to the majority of brilliant cut diamonds.

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Asscher Cut Diamond

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Asscher cut diamonds are sometimes grouped together with emerald cut diamonds. They are commonly referred to as square emerald cuts. The Asscher cut diamond is a specific diamond cut that was created by Joseph Asscher in 1902.

Similar to emerald cut diamonds, Asscher cut diamonds feature trimmed corners and exhibit a stair-like pattern of facets. However, the way light interacts with the diamond creates a distinct visual effect, showcasing squared steps that set them apart from emerald cut diamonds.

Baguette Cut Diamonds

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Baguette cut diamonds are frequently found in your grandmother’s wedding rings. They are less commonly used as center stones and more commonly employed as side stones or accents. A baguette diamond exhibits a long and rectangular shape, cut in a manner similar to that of an emerald cut diamond.


Brilliant vs Step Cut Diamond: Which Diamond Cut is Better?

The choice of diamond cutting technique for the center of your engagement ring is entirely based on personal preference. Each diamond cut, whether brilliant or step cut, has its own advantages and disadvantages.

In general, brilliant cut diamonds tend to be more expensive. On the other hand, step cut diamonds are comparatively less expensive but require higher clarity to minimize the visibility of inclusions along the edges.

Both step cut diamonds and brilliant cut diamonds can create stunning engagement rings. It’s important to choose the one that resonates with your personal taste and preference.

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