Jewelry Blog

The Complete Guide to French Cut Diamonds

French Cut Diamond Engagement Ring

When the time comes to tie the knot, it’s only natural to do it in style. The french-cut diamond is one of the most stylish diamonds on the market right now!

Yes, you have to think about so many details of your wedding. But don’t forget that you are the most important piece of that day.

You have to remember that every pair of eyes will be fixed on your appearance. The best thing that you can do would be to put a smile on your face and a diamond on your finger.

And if you’re reading this article, you’ve probably got your priorities straight. There’s no better way to search for a perfect diamond ring than starting with the essence of all the cuts.

For centuries, the French cut has been the most popular style for shaping diamonds. This type of cut makes the most of the diamond crystals and allows the gem to shine at its brightest.

If you’re wondering about the full scope of the worth and quality of French cut diamonds, you can find within this post everything that you can possibly want to know.

Origin of French Cut Diamonds

As mentioned, the French cut is one of the oldest styles of faceting that originated as far back as the 14th century.

It’s a progression from an earlier style of faceting known as the table cut, with which the first cut Diamond in history was shaped.

As you might imagine, the table cut refers to the shape of the cut. The top of the diamond is flattened in a fashion that resembles a regular square table. Furthermore, all four sides of the diamond have a bevel-like facet meeting at a pointed bottom.

Cut diamonds, by virtue of the table cut, became incredibly popular among European royalties at that time. That’s especially in the areas of present-day Italy, Great Britain, and France. As table-cut diamonds grew in popularity among the noblemen, additional shaping of the facets came into being.

Over time, four more facets were added to the crown area of the diamond on top of the existing bevels. This shape was already more exclusive and captivating, but further attraction came from the higher amount of reflected light when someone was to look at the diamond.

Perhaps not unexpectedly, this cut grew to become the dominant faceting style.

The following three centuries marked an experimental period in terms of achieving the perfect diamond shaping.

The term French cut came into being for its immense popularity in France that far exceeded any other countries at the time.

Europe and the rest of the world would come to label similarly shaped diamonds as French cut diamonds.

French Cut Modern History: The Art Deco Period to Today

French Cut Diamond Engagement Ring
One of the French Cut Diamond Ring from our collection. Click here to learn more.

The French cut as we know it today traces back to the beginning of the 20th century. It was available in a wide range of cuts and combinations before then, though only a couple of the shapes have endured to this day.

The cut reached peak popularity during the Art Deco period of 1910 to 1940. Thus, it shouldn’t surprise you to find various examples of French cut diamonds in the art and literature of that period.

This period in art is known for its geometric designs, and the French cut complemented the predominant art and architecture of the time like no other facet.

The period’s culture exhibited French cut gems as the accents on bezels, bracelets, and watches.

Today, there are only a few types of French cuts that are still in practice. The original French cut diamonds are rare, having been replaced by modern shapes and facets.

Diamonds of the proper French cut and shape have become almost non-existent at regular jewelry stores. You may encounter them in antique and expensive jewels, especially at auction. If you manage to get a hold of a surviving artifact from the Art Deco era, you could claim to own the perfect shape.

The biggest draw of the French cut is perhaps the simplicity of the cut. That’s why you’re most likely to find the facet on smaller stones as part of a larger jewel.

The Table Shapes of The French Cut

12203 French Cut Diamond and Onyx Engagement Ring
A French Cut Diamond Engagement Ring from our collection. Learn more.

The traditional French cut has a recognizable shape. There’s a rhombus-shaped table sitting on top of a square or rectangular-shaped crown.

Over time, however, the square-shaped table evolved. You may encounter today different French cuts that are variations of the traditional.

With that in mind, when looking for a French cut diamond for your big day, you’ll want to pay attention to all of these table shapes.

Square-Shaped Table (Rhombus shape)

Square French Cut Diamond Diagram and illustration

The square-shaped table is the most common French cut.

Looking at the diamond from above, you’ll notice four triangle-shaped facets pointing to the corners of the square shape. This makes it appear like a four-pointed star.

Also, you may notice that the table is diagonal to the crown, which makes it a rhombus. That’s why the rhombus-shaped and the square-shaped tables are grouped together – they’re essentially the same.

This table is most commonly seen in the smallest gems. It’s convenient and simple to cut and capable of making the gem look more spectacular.

The Table Shapes of The Cut Rectangular-Shaped Table (Rhomboid shape)

At first glance, the square-shaped and the rectangular-shaped cuts are completely different.

That’s because the rectangular cut is thinner, longer, and missing a clear four-pointed-star shape. However, there’s only one difference in cut.

The crown has a rectangular shape and that’s why the table is so named. Depending on the finesse of the cut, the table can look like a rhomboid.

The geometrical structure may seem a bit out of order compared to the square-shaped table cut. However, this entropic nature makes it more attractive to some jeweler aficionados.

The Octagon-Shaped Table

French Cut Diamond Diagram and illustration

Sometimes a French cut can have an octagonal table. It happens when the four triangular facets pointing to the crown corners are split further than usual.

This cutting technique adds a few more angles that further enhance the reflection. Light spreads quickly and evenly throughout the gem for an elegant shine.

The octagon shape has only become more popular in recent times after its introduction in the early 20th century.

What Makes the French Cut so Special?

French Cut Emerald Ring

The French cut has a distinctive look compared to the popular cuts of today. For instance, the reflection can be problematic for anyone who’s looking for a ring that’s just right.

Some of today’s generic cuts are capable of an extremely bright reflection, maybe even too much for some brides. In contrast, other cuts are more subtle with the play of light.

Case in point, the French cut is at a perfect equilibrium in terms of reflection. Not only that, but the shape of the table may highly influence the scale of the reflection. As an example, the octagonal-shaped table gives medium to large reflection.

Another thing is that when you put French cut diamonds together (as side diamonds) they are capable of rather magical optical tricks.

On top of everything, the adaptable geometric shape allows them to look at home in almost any complex jewelry designs.

French Cut vs. Princess Cut

Princess Cut Diamond High Quality

If you’ve spent some time searching for the perfect wedding ring, someone might have suggested a princess cut.

But, is it better than the French cut?

The truth is, the princess cut is just a modern variation of the French cut. While the French cut has an antique look, the princess cut produces a brilliant stone of ultra-modern design.

As to the preference for one over the other, it’s going to come down to personal taste.

However, there’s an important distinction between the two in that Princess cuts are almost always highly reflective.

That can’t be said of the French cut, which is known for its a good balance of scintillating glow and understated reflection.

Types of French Cut Diamonds

The French cut design has come a long way since its first appearance many centuries ago.

Nowadays, gem cutters possess much more advanced technology and modern tools that can make highly precise cuts. This allows them to experiment with a whole host of shapes and forms with the cut.

Although the shape of the table cut is more or less the same, the facets are subject to any number of complicated cutting techniques.

With the abundance of artistic liberty granted today’s gem cutters, you’re likely to encounter a wide range of asymmetrical and atypical French cuts.

Despite it all, there are only four general categories of French cut gems that are available on the market.

1.       Antique French Cut Diamonds

These French cut diamonds are from during or before the Art Deco era. Since they are extremely rare and valuable, you’ll hardly find them at your local jeweler.

The oldest gems would maintain their uneven geometrical shape. Primarily because the gem cutters were not armed with proper faceting tools. For this reason, the facets are often jagged or symmetrical.

After the Great Recession of the late 2000s, plenty of gems got put back on the market. Most of them were period cut diamonds, but you could find an occasional French cut here and there.

The lucky and smart shoppers were able to obtain the gems during this time. Due to the rarity of these diamonds, few if any have been modified to new designs. Today, they are worth much more than their modern counterparts.

2.       Recycled Cuts

The majority of today’s French cut diamonds come from the recycled market.

This means that they are cut from modern diamonds that have been previously cut and polished. Mostly care diamonds, baguettes, and princess cuts.

The problem with recycled cuts is that they are not the same as the original cuts. The cutting of processed gems won’t achieve the same reflection and elegance.

If you’ve familiar the traditional French cut, you can easily spot a recycled cut. They have a deep table preserved from the previously polished gems. The upper bevels would be shallower and unable to reflect light as well.

3.       The Per-Order French Cut

If you want a real French cut diamond on your wedding ring, the best bet is to go for a per-order cut.

Upon order, the gem cutter would cut a new diamond from scratch according to the traditional proportions and geometry of the French cut.

Of course, any given gem cutter may add a unique faceting touch, but even then, there should be a set of constant elements.

First and foremost, there should be a high crown with a table at the top and complete with fine facets in between. If the angle and depth are off, the play of light will be insufficient.

Overall, a traditional French cut diamond should have at least 18 facets and up to a maximum of 24. Due to the small number of cuts, the gem cutter would have to be extremely precise with the measurements.

4.       French Cuts as Side Diamonds

As mentioned, the French cut is especially popular for cutting the smallest of stones and particularly those for use as side stones. You may find them on your favorite engagement ring.

Their diminutive stature reaches the full glittery potential when mounted on a platinum or diamond eternity band.

For instance, you can get a ring with a heart-shaped cut mounted at the top and four French cut diamonds sitting on each of the shoulders, giving off the necessary sparkle.

Overall, this is the easiest and possibly the cheapest way to mount French cut diamonds on a piece of jewelry.

Apart from that, you also have the utmost freedom to choose the type of band or ring for mounting purposes. Their geometry should work with any piece of jewelry.

Where to Buy French Cut Diamonds?

12203 Side View of the French Cut Diamond Ring

The difficulty of obtaining these diamonds depends on the type that you’re looking to get.

For example, if you’re looking to buy a traditional French cut diamond of the Art Deco era, you may have to work harder. These gems are rare and may only be available at specialized jewelry stores.

Rather than your local stores, you may have better luck finding them on the internet. Look up auctions and certified online sellers that can provide the appropriate documentation.

Alternatively, you can find gem cutters that can cut one or a few for you on order. There are online stores in the United States that offer such a service, most would allow you to specify the shape of the table, the height of the crown, and such.

If you’re not looking to splurge, the quest can get a whole lot easier and cheaper with recycled diamonds. These are easier to find and may be available at your local jewelry stores. They are cut from pre-existing polished diamonds and widely available. You can find them on eBay and Amazon, too.

Finally, a compromise would be to use French cut diamonds as the side stones on your ring. These little gems are easy to fit onto the band and rather affordable.

It’s something to consider.

Here are two links of French Cut Diamonds from our website:

If you want to see more French Cut Diamonds, please contact us and we will send an email with more diamonds from our collection.

Famous Examples of French Cuts

Vintage and antique designs are all the rage again. The 2010s were inspired by the Art Deco rings of the early 20th century, which almost single-handedly made French cut designs popular again.

You could see variations of the French cut diamond everywhere. From the red carpets to billboards and catwalks. High fashion, music, and Hollywood for certain have their own French cut representatives.

At the beginning of the decade, the French cut first rose to prominence after Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel. The pop star and actor proposed with an impressive six–carat diamond ring. The main stone was princess-cut and flanked by precise French cut stones.

A few years later, Adam Levine of Maroon 5 fame proposed to Victoria’s Secret model Behati Prinsloo with a diamond straight out of the 1920s Art Deco era. It was mounted on a slender platinum band with a French-cut side diamond on each shoulder.

Another example came in 2014 when actress Scarlett Johansson showed off her vintage Art Deco-inspired ring. Her then-fiancée Romain Dauriac, a French Journalist, probably knew a thing or two about the French cut.

These are but to cite a few. Look around and you’ll see plenty of French cut stones on all sorts of jewelry pieces. Most often as side stone additions to modern-cut diamonds.

As things stand, celebrities are picking up the vintage ring craze. We may expect the French cut and its counterparts to have staying power in the foreseeable future.

Final Thoughts

French cut diamonds possess a perfect blend of insouciance and sophistication.

You can wear such a diamond as a solitaire for a more traditional style. If not, the unpretentious and adaptable nature of French cut diamonds can go with just about any other ring.

For a more subtle reflection, you could mount a step-cut ring and add some French cuts on the side. The same goes for illuminating lights and princess cuts.

One thing is for certain, you can’t help but leave an impression when you’re wearing a French cut. It’s a cut that confident and sophisticated women often turn to in an attempt to add depth to the simplicity of things.

At the most basic, it’s hard to put a label on French cut diamonds. You can hardly go wrong with them.


About Afshin Shaddaie

Afshin moved to New York City in the 1980s, and a few years later, he began his career in the fine and rare jewelry scene. He teamed up with Michael Khordipour, and they've been curating vintage jewelry ever since. He also regularly contributes to Forbes, Rapaport, CNBC, The Knot, and Insider. Afshin constantly travels to international shows and private viewing events in the hope of finding rare vintage rings that will be important enough to make an impression. He is available for appointments at our New York showroom when he's not traveling. In 2019, Afshin authored his book called The Engagement Ring Guide for Men. He is considered one of the world's foremost authorities on vintage jewelry and antique diamonds. His favorite jewelry era is Art Nouveau, and he loves rare Italian jewelry from the 1950s - 1970s. The Natural Saltwater Pearl is his favorite precious jewel.