When you type “most beautiful celebrity engagement rings” into Google, one of the first images to pop up is of Jennifer Aniston’s 10ct oval-cut white diamond sparkler. While the gigantic rock, which cost her husband Justin Theroux a reported $1 million, may be out of our reach for most, it does highlight the undeniable beauty of oval engagement rings.
Contemporary and chic in equal measures, an oval gem not only has a very flattering elongating effect, it also gives you more sparkle for your money. Like the round brilliant, an oval-cut diamond usually boasts 56 or 58 facets, but the drawn-out shape optimises carat weight by making the diamond appear larger than a round-cut stone of the same size. Put into numbers, this means that the average 1 carat oval diamond has a 10 per cent larger surface area than a 1 carat round diamond.
While size is only one of many considerations when choosing an engagement ring, opting for an oval shape will ensure you get a larger gem without having to compromise on colour or clarity. And you will be in very stylish company; as well as the eternally youthful Ms Aniston, other celebrities flashing their oval engagement rings include Blake Lively, Salma Hayek and Leann Rimes. Our favourite Royal, Kate Middleton, also wears an oval-shaped sapphire that belonged to her late mother-in-law Princess Diana, proving that this cut works equally well for coloured gemstones as it does for diamonds.
The modern oval cut was designed in the 1960s by Russian born Lazare Kaplan, one of the world’s best-known diamond merchants, who is also famous for cutting the 726-carat Jonker diamond for Harry Winston in 1936. The ideal ratio for an oval diamond is said to be between 1.33 and 1.66, depending on your personal preference for a longer or rounder shape. A larger ratio can inhibit light diffusion, creating a noticeable shadow known as the bow-tie effect in the middle of the diamond. While all modified brilliant cuts will exhibit some degree of shadow, the effect is less obvious in diamonds that feature an ideal or very good cut.
Unlike other fancy cuts such as the marquise or pear, the lack of sharp corners that can catch on clothes or hair make oval diamond engagement rings ideal for everyday wear. One of the most versatile diamond cuts around, the feminine curves of this modified brilliant cut also make it suitable for a variety of settings and ring styles.
Horizontal stone settings are very fashionable at the moment and rotating an oval-cut gem onto its side lends an engagement ring a more contemporary feel. British designer Jo Hayes Ward juxtaposes the softness of a bezel-set oval diamond with the angular lines and textured surface of a hexagon-shaped gold band. This design also illustrates how the oval shape can add a sense of depth and allure to older, less sparkly, diamond cuts such as the rose cut.
"Oval-cut diamonds are very flattering as the same stone can be used either vertically or horizontally to serve a different purpose," explains Hayes Ward. "A vertically set oval stone can lengthen the finger; a horizontally set oval stone will give a ring presence, while keeping the footprint of the ring relatively small. Oval-cut stones make me think of antique jewellery, which is always an inspiration - in my work I hope to give them a contemporary twist."
Worn vertically on the finger, an oval stone gives the illusion of longer and more slender fingers. Graff’s oval-cut engagement ring boasts pink diamond pavé to add a subtle flash of colour, while the aquamarine ring by Cred brings to mind the calm, pale blue waters of Lake Malawi. For a timeless, vintage-style engagement ring there is the oval solitaire by Soley London with its classic combination of white diamonds and platinum. “To me, an oval shape is the most elegant and flattering cut,” says owner Mark Soley. “Extenuating the length of a woman’s finger, it also shows a sense of individuality amongst the more common round brilliants.”
If you covet the fire of a round diamond but want a more unique shape, an oval diamond engagement ring could be the one for you.