Most young girls – and many older ones – dream of the day they can look down at their hand and see a sparking diamond engagement ring on their finger. There are other gemstones which are suitable for that (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime ring, but who can resist the allure of a high-quality diamond?
When you get serious about choosing a diamond ring, though, it’s time to consider some of the specifics which usually don’t factor into daydreams. They include the four C’s (carats, clarity, color and cut), and even more importantly, the shape of the stone. In this article, we’re going to look primarily at diamond rings which often don’t receive the amount of attention they truly deserve – pear shaped engagement rings.
The Most Popular Shapes of Diamonds
Nearly three-quarters of all diamonds sold are round cut because they’re best at reflecting light, giving them a brighter appearance than so-called “fancy” shaped diamonds. They cost more than most other shapes, but that’s not because of their brightness; it’s due to the fact that more of the original stone is lost when cutting a round diamond than any other shape. Also, the high demand for these stones contributes to their higher price.
Despite the overall popularity of the round diamond, it’s not a runaway winner when it comes to engagement rings. About one-third of all engagement rings are now created with a fancy shaped diamond, with the most popular being the relatively-new princess cut, first created about 35 years ago. Many brides favor this shape because its square or rectangular sides create the illusion of being larger than a round cut diamond of the same weight. The fact that it’s less expensive than a round diamond helps, too.
Other engagement ring “fancy” shapes which sell well include the oval cut and its close cousin, the marquise, which has been around since the 18th century (and also gives the illusion of being larger than it really is, due to the large crown area created by its football shape), the classic cushion cut (a square diamond with rounded corners, more fire, and an antique appearance), and the emerald cut (with an elegant appearance and a large table which showcases the stone’s clarity). Heart shaped diamonds are also growing in popularity due to their obvious symbolic significance.
However, one of the most unique and beautiful alternatives to more common diamond rings is the pear shaped engagement ring. It’s distinctive and feminine, it’s flattering to the hand, and it’s versatile when choosing settings and side or accent stones. It’s also more expensive than most shapes of diamonds – but once you’ve taken a good look at a high-quality pear cut engagement ring, you may very well decide that it’s worth a slightly-higher price.
A Closer Look at Rings With Pear Shaped Diamond
Pear cut diamonds (also known as teardrop or pendeloque diamonds) date back to 15th century Belgium, where they were first created by the same diamond cutter who invented the scaif (the wheel used to polish diamonds) and developed the idea behind the sparkle and appearance of modern diamonds: the symmetrical placement of facets. Pear shaped diamonds were quite popular with the wealthy during the Renaissance as more facets were added to them. But most diamond cutters disliked them because of how much of the diamond was lost during cutting and the amount of work the process required, and the cut fell largely out of favor. In the 20th century, celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor were proud to show off their huge pear shaped rings (hers was so large she had to turn it into a pendant), but it’s only recently that this gorgeous cut has grown in popularity.
A pear cut diamond engagement ring is part of the “brilliant cut family” and features a stone which is a hybrid between traditional round and marquise shapes. One end is rounded, and the other end tapers to a point created by a bezel facet, much like that seen on a marquise diamond (although on some pear shaped stones a so-called “French tip” may replace the bezel facet). 58 separate facets must be created in the diamond in order to obtain a perfect pear shape. As you’d expect from a diamond first developed by the expert who mastered the concept of symmetry in diamond cutting, a pear cut stone requires perfect symmetry when it is created. Its point must be directly opposite the apex of the curved end, and each side must curve in exactly the same way with absolutely no straight edges and no “uneven shoulders”, which is the term used to describe arcs that aren’t quite the same.
That’s not where the requirements end for a high-quality pear shaped diamond; the stone’s flat surface (or table) must cover more than half of its circumference (preferably more than 53%). The diamond’s depth should be 53% or more of its width (preferably 58% or higher) in order to prevent what’s called the “bow tie effect”, when a shadow is cast throughout the center of the stone. The culet under the stone should be pointed and extremely small. And the length-to-width ratio should be between 1.5:1 and 1.65:1 (although some buyers prefer longer than optimal stones in order to make their fingers look longer).
The bow tie effect and uneven shoulders, if they exist, will be apparent to the untrained eye. The rest of the specifications are detail most buyers won’t really concern themselves with. But there’s a point to it all: the reason pear shaped diamond engagement rings are so graceful and captivating is their symmetry. Your jeweler, as well as the expert or firm which has appraised the stone, will pay close attention to these requirements; if you’re dealing with trustworthy vendors, you can focus more on the diamond’s color, size and clarity as well its overall appearance (and of course, its cost).
Choosing a Pear Cut Engagement Ring
One of the real pluses to choosing a pear shaped engagement ring is that it shows the color of the stone extremely well. For this reason, it’s best to spend more money on a stone with outstanding color and save money in other areas. If you’re using a white gold or platinum setting, most experts recommend choosing a diamond with at least H color (or higher, if you can afford it) so that your diamond will truly look white. You can settle for a J color if you’ll be using yellow gold for the setting.
An area where you can save a little on the stone’s cost is clarity. Inclusions are hidden quite well by pear shaped diamonds, particularly on the pointed end but almost as well on the rounded end. SI1 or even SI2 should do just fine, as long as the stone is eye-clean without an obvious inclusion.
We’ve already discussed the ideal cut of stones used in pear shaped diamond engagement rings, so you know to look for uneven shoulders and the bow tie effect. A few other cutting errors to watch for (which should already have been noticed by the vendor) are stones which have been cut almost in the shape of a triangle rather than a pear, and ones which have either too much curve or are too “flat”. Basically, if the diamond looks like a third-grader drew a pear instead of an artist, it’s time to put the stone aside and look at the next one.
Now comes the big one – the cost. First, the bad news: stones for pear cut engagement rings are the second-most expensive of all shapes, mostly because of the intricate cutting work which must be done, and also because of the amount of diamond lost during the cut. Now, the good news: as with any other diamond, the price of a larger stone generally increases arithmetically rather than geometrically. To put it another way, if you decide on a 1.5 carat stone, you won’t be paying a huge premium over the per-carat price for a one carat diamond. It’s almost impossible to give ballpark figures for pear cut diamond prices since color, clarity and cut play such a major role in their value. In general terms, figure that a pear cut stone will cost a little more than an “average” diamond, and remember that you can always play around with the 4 C’s, particularly clarity, to get the final number closer to your ideal budget.
Settings To Choose From
Any setting for a pear cut engagement ring should ideally use prongs to hold the stone. That’s because the pear shape brings out the brilliance and fire of the diamond, so it’s important that as much light as possible reaches it. The best way to set a pear shaped stone is with six prongs, five around the body of the diamond and a sixth holding the point. You can get away with fewer prongs, as long as there’s always one protecting the fragile point.
The setting most commonly chosen for a pear shaped engagement ring is a simple solitaire in white or yellow gold, which doesn’t draw attention but allows the eye to focus directly on the stunning, sparkling diamond. Another way to highlight the sophistication of the diamond is with filigree or pave settings, adding another touch of elegance and femininity to the piece.
However, one wonderful attribute of the pear shaped diamond is that it works beautifully with accent stones, which can be used to highlight the symmetry of the central diamond. Some of the designs which blend exceptionally well with a pear shaped stone include smaller diamond baguettes on either side of the stone, halos of smaller diamonds encircling the pear shaped stone, the very popular three-stone diamond ring which looks gorgeous when a pear cut diamond is in the center, or settings which supplement the beautiful diamond with other precious gems such as rubies, emeralds or sapphires.
Of course, there’s no reason to avoid any other type of setting which catches your eye; a pear shaped diamond can look wonderful with anything from a trellis or infinity setting, to an antique or engraved one. And designers love the versatility of pear shaped diamonds, so if you’re thinking of having your own piece custom designed, you’ll find a wealth of possibilities.
The Real Advantages
Now that you know just about everything there is to know about gorgeous pear cut engagement rings, it’s time to put aside the “what” and consider the “why” – in other words, why choose a pear shaped ring?
First of all, we’ve discussed the fact that many other diamond cuts are more popular, which means that pear shaped engagement rings are few and far between. When you wear one, you’ll stand out from the crowd. Everyone at least pretends to notice when a woman wears a nice diamond. When you’re wearing a pear shaped ring, everyone will notice – and will be blown away by its beauty and distinctive look.
Second, a pear shaped ring is extremely feminine looking, and flattering to the hand as well. Your fingers will look longer and slimmer, particularly if you choose a stone that has a longer shape. It will add that touch of elegance you hope for when you wear a diamond ring.
Third, the pear cut is one of the best for showing the color and trademark sparkle of a high-quality diamond. There’s no sense in spending a lot of money on an outstanding stone if it doesn’t make a lasting impression. A pear shaped engagement ring does just that.
Finally, it will give you the freedom to choose almost any setting or side stones you’d like, giving you a pear shaped diamond engagement ring which is truly your own – one of a kind. And isn’t that what stunning jewelry is really for?
One Last Fact
The question that people ask most about pear cut engagement rings is “Which way does the point go?”. Fortunately, there’s no “correct” answer; some prefer that the point is directed out toward their fingers so it looks like a teardrop that’s falling, because it helps elongate the look of the hand. Others prefer to wear their ring pointed in toward their hand, to help protect the point and keep it from catching on clothing. Either way is right – and either way, the ring will be gorgeous.