What is the Bow-Tie Effect in Oval Diamonds?

May 11th 2023

What is the Bow-Tie Effect in Oval Diamonds?

You want to shout it from the rooftops. You and your longtime partner are finally making it official, and you think you found the perfect oval engagement ring. It’s classic yet trendy at the same time. But as you look more closely, you’re noticing a dark pattern throughout the gem. It sounds like you have discovered the bow-tie effect, and we’re here to tell you more about it.

Anatomy of Oval Cut Diamonds

Before we jump into the bow-tie effect, let’s go over the key parts of an oval cut diamond. After all, you’ll want to sound knowledgeable when shopping. Oval cut diamonds are basically elongated versions of round diamonds, meaning they feature nearly 60 facets (aka flat polished surfaces) and offer a similar level of sparkle.

The “head”/“end” refers to each of the gem’s rounded “tips,” and “belly” is another name for the stone’s center section. The “shoulder” connects the head and belly. Think of human body parts to help you remember!

What is the Bow-Tie Effect?

You’ll recognize the bow-tie effect when you see a dark pattern forming in the shape of a bow-tie on top of your diamond (aka the belly). Most oval diamonds display the bow-tie effect to some extent, but it’s more noticeable in certain stones. Why? It has to do with the arrangement of facets – those flat polished surfaces – within each gem.

When facets are positioned well, more light enters the diamond and is therefore reflected, creating ultimate sparkle. The bow-tie effect occurs when light is unable to enter and move through the stone. Poorly arranged facets will contribute to this effect and result in a duller gem. You’ll probably see an even more pronounced dark pattern the closer you are to the gem. That’s because your head is likely blocking light from hitting your diamond.

Tips to Limit the Bow-Tie Effect

● Test your diamond in various settings: Sometimes, diamonds shine differently with daylight vs. fluorescent lighting. Before you purchase a ring, check its sparkle under other lights, so you won’t catch any surprises when it’s too late!

● Choose a smaller stone: Yes, oval cut diamonds can make your partner’s finger look longer and slimmer. However, a larger stone will also magnify the bow-tie effect. Therefore, we recommend sticking with a smaller gem.

● Look for symmetry: Unfortunately, fancy cut diamonds, such as oval stones, don’t follow the same strict grading system as round cut diamonds (aka the 4 C’s). So, you can’t rely on rankings that specifically tell you how well a stone is cut. Instead, experts suggest checking an oval diamond’s symmetry by drawing an imaginary line down the middle of the gem. If both halves look the same, you’ll likely have a good amount of sparkle and less bow-tie effect. Experts also recommend a longer oval, which will guarantee more symmetry.

● Leave it up to taste: We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention this last point. You ultimately need to settle on a look that’s best for you and your partner. If a darker vs. lighter bow-tie is appealing, go for it!


Have a question? We can help!

Gage Diamonds is Chicago's premier jewelry showroom and online retailer of engagement rings, wedding bands, and fine jewelry. We offer a selection of dazzling handpicked diamonds and a variety of oval engagement rings.

We’re committed to helping you find the ring of your dreams. For inspiration, browse our website or set up an appointment with a member of our trusted staff at our in-person showroom.

We offer no-credit-needed financing – feel free to apply and get your approval within 24 hours!

Pay over time, because love shouldn’t wait.