Oval Cut Diamonds Throughout History

Like so many other cuts, the first diamonds that we would qualify as “oval” were originally just a polished version of the natural rough shape of the stone. The first oval diamond in recorded history is the Koh-i-Noor Diamond, which dates all the way back to 1304. This stone is now a beautiful old mine cut oval, but that is because it was recut in 1852 upon being ceded to Queen Victoria following the Second Anglo-Sikh War. The original shape of this storied diamond was more of a cabochon, but still ovally. It had a high dome, a flat base, and a mixture of triangular and rectangular facets, a style we would now call a “Mughal Cut”. At the time is was recut, the Koh-i-Noor went from 186 carats to a modest 105 carats. While still owned by the British government, the controversial diamond was left out of the recent coronation, and is currently on display at the Tower of London.

Other historic oval cut diamonds include: the famous 47.38 carat Pigot Diamond (also known as the Great Lottery Diamond), the 51 carat Empress Eugénie diamond, the 60 carat (apx) pale pink Noor-ul-Ain (“Light of the Eye”) Diamond, which is currently set in a Harry Winston designed tiara and included in the Iranian Crown Jewels, the more modern 59.60 carat Pink Star Diamond, formerly known as the Steinmetz Pink Diamond, the 102 carat Beluga Diamond, and the unnamed 118.28 carat “D” color “Internally Flawless” oval cut diamond sold by Sothebys in 2013.

The Modern Oval Diamond

The modern oval cut diamond was established in 1957 by a Russian born, New York based diamond cutter named Lazare Kaplan. The design took strong inspiration from the modern round brilliant, with a facet structure designed to maximize light reflection from the top of the stone. This new cut allowed for a unique shape, that gave the owner a larger look, but with a similar sparkle to the round brilliant.

Kaplan’s new design took off, and soon he was producing oval cut diamonds for high end jewelry houses, including Tiffany & Co, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels. It didn’t take long for other jewelers and diamonds cutters to take notice. Within a few years, modern oval brilliant cut diamonds were one of the most popular diamond cuts in the United States and across the world.

Just like a modern round brilliant cut, the oval brilliant cut diamond has 58 facets. The “ideal” ratio for a modern oval cut diamond tends to be a length to width ratio between 1.35-1.50. There are lots of other factors involved in a beautiful oval cut diamond though. The “shoulder curve” in oval diamonds can also be slightly different from one another based on how its cut. The “ideal” oval cut diamond also has a table percentage between 53 – 63% and a depth between 57.5 – 62%.

oval diamond with wide, ideal and skinny proportions
Oval Diamonds with Wide, Ideal and Skinny Proportions

The Bow-tie Effect

The bow-tie effect is a term used to reference the light escape in the center of a cut oval diamond. It is called this simply because the light escape resembles a black bowtie in the center of a shimmering diamond. While this effect is most associated with oval diamonds, it is also found in pear shape and marquise cut diamonds. All elongated brilliant cut diamonds will have some form of a bow-tie effect, but skilled diamonds cutters can form the bottom facets in a way which hides the bow-tie effect and creates consistency in the light reflection throughout the entire stone.

Why So Many People Choose Oval Cut Diamonds

Oval diamonds are one of the most popular “fancy” diamond cuts for engagement rings and fashion pieces alike. They provide a large look (much larger than a round diamond when comparing stones of equal weight), while maintaining the level of brilliance people have grown to expect out of modern brilliant cut diamonds. The oval shape also has the ability to make someone’s fingers appear more elongated.

Celebrities With Oval Diamond Engagement Rings

As with so many other diamond cuts, one of the biggest reasons for the popularity of oval cut diamonds comes from the celebrities who wear them. Celebrities who currently own an oval cut diamond engagement ring include Hailey Baldwin Bieber, Blake Lively, Selma Hayek, Ariana Grande, Kourtney Kardashian, Victoria Secret model Jasmine Tookes, Julianne Hough, Simone Biles, Amber Rose, and of course Kate Middleton, who wears the oval sapphire her late Mother-in-Law, Princess Diana made so famous.

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