Diamond Learning Gemstones and Birthstones

What are the differences between step cuts and brilliant cuts? 

What are the differences between step cuts and brilliant cuts?

Two popular styles of diamond cut – step cuts and brilliant cuts – offer distinct visual experiences. You may not even realise there are different styles of cut – but understanding these differences is the key to selecting a gemstone that aligns with your personal style and preferences. 

Step Cuts:  

Step cut examples: Emerald cut, Baguette cut, Marquise cut.

Characterised by their rectangular facets arranged parallel to the edges of the stone, step cuts are epitomised by cuts like the Emerald and Asscher. These cuts are known for their elegant, mirror-like appearance. 


  • Sophistication: Step cuts are well-liked for their sophisticated, understated elegance. 
  • Clarity: These cuts accentuate the clarity of the stone. 
  • Unique reflectivity: Offers a different type of sparkle – a hall-of-mirrors effect, rather than a fiery brilliance. 
  • Vintage appeal: Often associated with Art Deco and vintage-style jewellery. 


  • Less brilliance: Generally, these cuts are less brilliant (sparkly) than their brilliant-cut counterparts. 
  • Clarity requirements: Higher clarity grades are often needed, as inclusions and blemishes are more visible (therefore, your stone will be more expensive). 
  • Style specificity: May not appeal to those who prefer a more modern, glamorous look. 

Brilliant Cuts:

Brilliant cut examples: Round cut, Oval cut, Pear cut.

Brilliant cuts, like the classic round brilliant, are designed to maximise light return, creating a highly reflective and sparkling ‘hall of mirrors’ effect. These cuts feature triangular and kite-shaped facets that radiate out from the centre of the stone. 


  • Maximum sparkle: Designed to produce the most brilliance and fire. 
  • Forgiving of flaws: Can mask certain inclusions or lower colour grades more effectively than step cuts (so you can utilise a cheaper stone). 
  • Versatility: Complement a wide range of jewellery styles, from classic to contemporary. 
  • Popularity: The most popular and widely recognised diamond cut, especially for engagement rings. 


  • Commonality: Some might find them too conventional or lacking in uniqueness. 
  • Price: Can be more expensive due to the demand and due to the percentage of rough diamond lost in cutting. 

Want some more advice on finding your dream diamond?

The choice between a step cut and a brilliant cut depends on personal preference, lifestyle, and the balance between clarity and brilliance that you want to achieve. So while step cuts offer elegance and a distinct clarity, brilliant cuts are all about maximising sparkle and fire. At the end of the day, neither is ‘better’ than the other – it’s the stone that speaks to you. Chat to our friendly team of experts, to help you find the perfect stone for you.