Oval cut diamonds are stunning and look larger than rounds of similar carat weight! But, because the GIA does not grade oval cut diamonds for cut quality, you’ve got your work cut out for you! In addition to standard oval guidelines, there are extra factors you should consider to get the most sparkly, beautiful stone. In this article, we’ll teach you how to spot good contrast and brilliance, avoid ugly oval diamond bowtie and dark tips, as well as all about oval cut diamond fisheyes!

How do you pick an oval diamond?

  1. Choose a stone with some contrast
  2. Avoid dark or watery bowties & tips
  3. Pick between crushed ice oval vs lively oval
  4. Pick a pretty, pleasing shape!
  5. Avoid fisheyes & odd reflections

Want to know more? Read on!


Tip #1: Get an Oval Cut Diamond with Even Contrast/Brilliance

Oval cut diamonds contrast and brilliance side by side

(left) washed out; (middle) even contrast/brilliance oval; (right) too much contrast

Pick an oval cut diamond with evenly spaced “contrast” (dark areas in a diamond) and “brilliance” (white sparkle in a diamond). Yes, you heard correctly! You do actually want some dark areas in your diamond, or else the stone’s sparkle will not show up as well. Still don’t believe me? Think about photographing a white cup against a white piece of paper. Detail is lost, and there’s nothing interesting to look at. Now, imaging that same white cup against a black piece of paper. Wow! Curves, shadows, reflections! The dark background makes that white ceramic POP! Now imagine what it does for a multi-faceted, white-and-rainbow-flashing diamond! In other words, contrast makes your diamond more beautiful, more interesting, and more dramatic!

Contrast also helps to hide dark bowties and tips – which is especially important in an oval diamond (more on that later :). So, when looking for the best oval cut diamond, make sure that your stone has a good smattering of dark contrast amongst your beautiful white sparkle!

Pro tip: Watch the diamond’s facets as your stone turns. Do they stay one color, or do they flash from dark to light? You want the flash, believe me!


Tip #2: Know About Oval Diamond Bowties

Too much dark contrast in the center of your oval cut diamond that looks like a black bowtie is just not attractive, avoid it! Likewise, watery, washed out bowties are not very pretty either. You want a bowtie area with even contrast and brilliance (there it is again!) I receive oval diamond bowtie questions all the time, and there’s a lot of misinformation out there about them – let’s get it straightened out.

Oval diamond bowtie comparison side by side

(left) watery bowtie; (middle) well balanced bowtie area; (right) dark bowtie

Do all oval diamonds have a bow tie?

Yes, all oval cut diamonds have bowties. Though like James Bond’s vs Bill Nye’s, some are simply better than others. An oval cut diamond’s bowtie is in its middle, as a result of this cut’s nice long length! Necessarily, oval facets are shorter width wise, and longer length wise. Thus, an oval diamond’s middle will always look different than its tips! It wears a bowtie!

What causes a bow tie in an oval diamond?

A diamond bowtie occurs when width facets are shorter and are steeper than its length facets. These differences in depth and angles cause light to refract differently in an oval’s center vs its tips. So, if a cutter is not careful, those deep center facets can turn into a dark oval diamond bowtie! But there’s hope! Skilled diamond cutters will avoid dark bowties and also include well placed contrast throughout the stone to make an even appearance.

Is a bow tie in a diamond bad?

Yes, an overly dark bowtie, or a watery bowtie, can look pretty bad. The goal is to look for a stone in which the cutter has blended the bowtie in. This means looking for a stone that has both contrast and brilliance not only in the bowtie area, but also in the tips.

engagement rings with oval cut lab diamond and oval moissanite

Tip #3: Oval Cut Diamond Style Quirks

Oh, you fancy, huh? Oval diamonds are considered “fancy” shapes – and for good reason! There’s several different shape considerations and cutting styles to choose from! End (or “tip”) style, pavilion main (I like to call this “star ray”) style, length ratio, and shoulder curve…the list goes on! Check it out:

What do you mean “tips”?

An oval diamond’s “tips” (also called “ends“) are the soft round arcs at each end! These tips can be cut with one larger diamond shaped facet, or can be faceted with several! While I do not necessarily recommend one over the other, two things are for certain: avoid dark or overly colored tips.

Avoid dark tips

Dark tips take away from the beauty of your stone. This most frequently occurs in diamonds with one flat facet on each tip, and very infrequently in stones with multi-faceted tips. That’s because it’s easier to break up overly dark contrast with more facets at more angles. This doesn’t mean you should throw out all ovals with single facet tips – just to learn what to look for. Watch the 360 video of your stone closely – do the tips look dark as it spins? If so, reject it! Dark tips take away from sparkle and brilliance.

Side by side comparison of oval tip comparison

Dark oval tips (left); bright clear oval tips (middle); color concentration in oval tips (right)

Avoid inconsistent color in your oval tips!

Don’t buy a diamond with more warmth in its tips than its center. Because diamond tips are shallower than its middle (and thus have less opportunity to refract light), they often show more color. So, while you’re looking at that beautiful spinning sparkler, take a look at the color of the tips compared with its belly. Are they the same? Or is there a concentration of warmth in the tips? If the tips look warmer than the rest of the diamond, pass. Color consistency is key!

Oval diamond pavilion main (star ray!) style

Ovals can be cut with 4, 6, or 9 pavilion mains (which look like 4, 6, or 8 rayed stars). One cutting style is not better than another, it is personal preference! Some people prefer the look of a 4 ray which has big bold facets, others like the interesting pattern of the 6 (6s are rare!), and many prefer the added liveliness and pinfire bling of an 8 (this is the most widely cut). Check them out here, which is your favorite?

side by side comparison of 4, 6, and 8 pavilion mains in oval cut diamonds

4, 6, and 8 pavilion main diamonds

Oval cut diamond shoulder curve

Choosing a graceful shoulder curve boosts both beauty and value. A diamond’s shoulder curve is the arc between its belly (its bowtie area) and its tips. An ideal oval cut diamond shoulder is soft and curving. However, shoulders can also look flat (approaching a marquise look) or square/heavy (approaching an elongated cushion appearance). So, take some time and look at the outline of your oval. Is it soft and appealing? Or does it feel bulky or overly pointy? You’re choosing an oval for its shape – choose soft shoulders!

Side by side comparison of diamond shoulders

(left) bulky shoulders; well proportioned oval; flat shoulders (right)

Tip #4: Length-to-Width Ratio in Ovals

Length to width ratio shows you how long and skinny or wide and plump your oval cut diamond will be. While it sounds kind of technical and complicated, it is actually only the length measurement of a diamond divided by its width. That’s it!

What is the best ratio for oval diamond?

Most people say the ideal length-to-width ratio of an oval is 1.35-1.50. Diamonds that fall within this range will not be too round, or too pointy! The lower the ratio, the plumper the oval. Likewise, the higher the ratio, the skinnier! One perk of a higher length-to-width oval ratio is that skinny ovals appear larger than their carat weight due to their length. However, it all comes down to personal preference. Some people prefer rounder ovals (at its extreme, we call it a roval – a round oval) while the opposite extreme prefers a very tall, thin oval (we call his a moval – a marquise oval). These outliers can have a lot of character!

side by side comparison of 1.35, 1.40, 1.45, and 1.50 length-to-width ratios in oval cut diamonds

1.35, 1.40, 1.45, and 1.50 length-to-width ratios

Tip #5: Oval Cut Diamond Fisheyes & Reflections

Nothing is worse than a perfect-on-paper oval that’s littered with random weird reflections. Ok, there’s probably a few worse things, but still, the point stands. So, to get the most beautiful oval, you have to know what you’re looking for. A fisheye is when a diamond’s girdle (it’s very outside edge) reflects awkwardly under its table, making a ghostly white ring. It’s not very attractive – nix them! Additionally, due to their length, oval cut diamonds can show other odd reflections, too. So while you’re watching that diamond spin – look under the table (the big top facet). Are there weird reflections that mess with your sparkle? Pass! The best ovals will have crisp, clean facets showing – you guessed it – even brilliance and contrast.

fisheyes and odd diamond reflections

Fisheyes and odd reflections in oval cut diamonds

Can you help me find the best oval cut diamond?

You betcha! I love ovals – and so does Krish, our founder, he proposed with one! Write to either (or both!) of us at [email protected] and we will custom curate a selection of stunning ovals for you to choose from – all with max bang for your buck!

oval diamond engagement ring with halo in white gold