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— by Cullen Jewellery — Reading time 12 minutes

What is the Oval Diamond Bow Tie Effect?

When jewellers and jewellery lovers talk about a bow tie effect in a diamond, they’re referring to the bow tie-shaped shadow you might notice running through the centre of some stones. If you’re wondering what a bow tie looks like, whether it will affect the value of your diamond, and what diamond shapes and cuts bow ties tend to appear in — this article is here to add some clarity. We’ll talk value, radiance, and cut — so you can feel empowered to choose a diamond you’ll love at a showroom, online, or at your next ring fitting.

Table of Contents


  • Understand what the bow tie effect is, why it happens, and how it can affect the value of a diamond.
  • Consider how the bow tie effect can be desirable in some stones.
  • Be able to identify a bow tie, and avoid purchasing a diamond with a bow tie if they aren’t for you.

What is a Diamond Bow Tie?

Diamonds are conveyors of light — turning all that’s bright around us into something glittering and beautiful.

Diamonds differ in their light-scattering ability and sparkling effects due to a number of factors — and one of those, arguably the most important, is the diamond’s cut.

An oval diamond exhibiting an obvious bow tie. Source: Cullen Jewellery
An oval diamond without a bow tie. Source: Cullen Jewellery

The bow tie effect isn’t…

…a type of diamond shape (although it has something to do with it); completely unavoidable in certain cuts (oval, especially); or, a scientific explanation for why a perfect suit and bow tie combination makes someone look especially cute — and/or dapper (a perceptible phenomenon, but not diamond related).

Really, a bow tie is a name for the bow tie-shaped shadow we sometimes see in diamonds. This shadow is also referred to as the oval diamond bow tie effect —because it tends to appear in oval and elongated diamond shapes most commonly.

What Causes the Bow Tie Effect?

Bow ties appear when light is lost through a diamond’s pavilion facets (lower facets).

They are most common in oval diamonds and other elongated stones, due to the way the facets need to be cut in these shapes.

The many facets of a diamond. Source: GIA

To Bow Tie or Not to Bow Tie?

That is the question. Generally speaking, a dark bow tie effect is something that jewellers and jewellery lovers find less desirable in a diamond. But opinions vary — as does the intensity, darkness, and contrast of the bow tie effect.

Not All Bow Ties are Made Equal

A dark bow tie can look distracting in the centre of a stone and take away from its overall brilliance, shine, and sparkle. On the other hand — a subtle bow tie can actually create a beautiful, eye-catching effect by adding dimension to the diamond, making it appear larger, and intensifying its depth.

An oval cut diamond ring with a very subtle bow tie effect. Source: Cullen Jewellery
An oval diamond engagement ring. Source: Cullen Jewellery

A Shout-Out to Oval Shaped Diamond Lovers

There are many reasons why a diamond you love might feature a faint bow tie effect. One of the most common is you might want a certain cut more than others.

Bow ties tend to appear in elongated stones — like oval cut and pear-shaped diamonds. These stone shapes are very popular, for good reason:

  • oval diamonds are both stylish and classic
  • elongated stone shapes are flattering on all hand shapes, making hands and fingers look longer
  • oval-shaped diamonds tend to appear larger than their carat weight suggests

The Oval Diamond Bow Tie

Usually, an oval cut diamond will display some level of a bowtie effect because of the way the pavilion facets have to be cut. Although a dark bow tie can sometimes detract from the beauty of the stone, a soft bow tie can actually elevate a diamond’s appearance by creating more dimension and alluring contrast.

If you’ve been dreaming of an oval diamond engagement ring — it will probably show a bow tie to some extent. But a bow tie shouldn’t make your dream ring any less perfect — a subtle bow tie can be preferable by highlighting the elongated shape of the diamond, adding depth, and making your ring truly unique.

Oval diamond ring with some contrast in its centre. Source: Cullen Jewellery

Does a Bow Tie Affect a Diamond’s Value?

A slight bow tie will usually be visible in some stone shapes — such as marquise, oval, and pear — due to the way the diamond’s facets refract light in these shapes. Elongated diamonds without a bow tie are very rare, although they can be possible depending on how the diamond is cut. If an oval diamond is cut well, it will show less of a prominent bow tie and more of a soft shadow.

A faint bow tie in a diamond doesn’t necessarily devalue it. However, if the bow tie is very dark, or takes up a large area of the stone, it might decrease the diamond’s value. Obvious bow ties can distract the eye, make the diamond appear darker, and are often viewed as a sign of a poor cut.

Bow Ties and the 4Cs

Many other aspects of a diamond affect its beauty and its value. Diamonds are typically graded with consideration to the 4Cs:

  • Carat weight
  • Cut
  • Clarity
  • Colour

These characteristics help to determine a diamond’s overall grade. Bow ties, however, are not accounted for in the official grading system for a diamond, and will not be included in its report. Therefore, you will need to look closely at your diamond or speak to a trusted jeweller, to determine whether it has a bow tie or not.

Key Takeaways

  • A bow tie is a shadow that tends to appear in elongated diamond shapes like oval-cut diamonds.
  • A dark, obvious bow tie can distract the eye, and is often viewed as a sign of a poor cut in a diamond.
  • A faint bow tie can be desirable in some diamonds, adding interest, contrast, and depth to the stone, and emphasising its elongated shape.

How to Avoid the Bow Tie Effect

Although bow ties will always be present in elongated diamond shapes to some degree, the way your diamond is cut can lessen the appearance of a bow tie. If a bow tie is something you want to avoid, there are several things to keep in mind when choosing your ring.

At Your Ring Fitting…

Visiting a showroom can be intimidating — with so many stones to choose from, questions to ask, and things to learn. If you plan on making an appointment with a jeweller soon, make sure to remember these two important tips.

Reception at a Cullen Jewellery showroom. Source: Cullen Jewellery
Diagram showing the appearance of a bow tie in an oval cut diamond. Source: GIA

Tip One: Stay True to Your Vision

It can help to come prepared with a vision of the rings you love. Find examples of rings with a bow tie as subtle as you’d like it to be — or rings without a bow tie — and show these to your jeweller. Making a Pinterest board

, learning some diamond terminology, and even designing a custom ring online are also exciting first steps that can help bring your dream ring to life.

Tip Two: Ask and Look

During your ring appointment, jewellers will show you each diamond under specialised lights that really make the stones sparkle. Make sure to look carefully at your diamond. You can also ask the jeweller to show it away from the lights, which can make it easier to see where light is lost in the facets of the diamond.

When looking for a bow tie, diagrams or comparison images can help. You’ll be looking for a dark, horizontal shape running directly across the centre of the diamond.

A jewellery showroom. Source: Cullen Jewellery

Notice a dark area or a bow tie? Want some more sparkle? Don’t be afraid to ask for different options!

At Cullen Jewellery, our goal is that you leave an appointment with your perfect custom ring at your fingertips — or a perfect ring on your finger.

Find the Right Diamond Shape

Round brilliant cut diamonds and oval diamonds are the two most popular shapes for engagement rings. Both are classic and flattering, but when it comes to light refraction — one shape shapes up more often than the other.

Generally speaking, round brilliants will demonstrate a better light performance than elongated stones. If you want to avoid dark areas (including a bow tie) in your diamond, the balanced, symmetrical, and breathtaking cut of a round brilliant is always an excellent choice.

Two pear-shaped diamonds showing a dark bow tie. Source: GIA
Diamonds are available in a range of classic and modern shapes. Source: Cullen Jewellery

Square-shaped diamonds tend to look modern, and can connote strength, cutting-edge style, and balance. An oval shape diamond or a round diamond is usually perceived as more classic and feminine. An oval shaped diamond also has the added benefit of appearing larger than its carat weight suggests.

Despite all the ‘rules’ that determine a diamond’s grade, value, and perceived beauty — the perfect stone for you is ultimately up to your own personal preference. If you love it — you’ll know.

From Square Cut to Pear Shape

Some square, marquise, heart, and rectangular cut diamonds will show a bow tie, whereas others won’t. Every diamond is as unique as we are — so finding your perfect match is always case-by-case, not cookie-cutter. Our one-size-fits-one guiding principle emphasises personalisation in every ring appointment. You’re special — and your diamond should be too.

It’s important to weigh up all the aspects you’re looking for in your stone shape. Think about the things you like, your personal style, and the level of brightness you want.

Loose stones in different shapes. Source: GIA

Choose Moissanite

Dilemma: you’re an oval-over-everything, pear-not-square kind of person (or the special someone you’re surprising is), but you want to avoid the oval diamond bow tie.

Don’t panic — it’s definitely possible to get the best of both worlds.

If you’re dreaming of an elongated stone with lots of shine, then moissanite is especially for you.

Moissanite is a gemstone with a similar appearance to a diamond — with a little more sparkle. Moissanite’s higher refractive index (the way light bends in a substance) means that brilliant-cut oval moissanite stones can usually be cut to avoid the bow tie effect completely.

Gemma engagement ring with a moissanite stone. Source: Cullen Jewellery

Moissanite versus Diamond

Moissanite stones and diamonds are sisters, not twins. We think each is beautiful in its own way.

More and more people are choosing engagement rings, wedding rings, and fashion rings featuring moissanite stones for so many reasons (alongside their bow-tie-less-ness). Moissanite is close in hardness to a diamond: it won’t scratch easily like other gemstones and it will even pass a diamond tester. And the best part? Moissanite is a fraction of the cost of a diamond, so you can take home your perfect engagement ring — and have a little extra to spend on your wedding!

Lab grown moissanite engagement ring. Source: Cullen Jewellery

Making It Yours

Our jewellers are all about embracing every possibility. In your ring appointment, you’ll be able to talk more about every customisation option, from the cut of your stone to its colour (moissanite stones are available in even more colour options than diamonds — from smokey grey to seafoam green).

Lab grown diamond engagement ring. Source: Cullen Jewellery
Moissanite stones in a range of colours. Source: Cullen Jewellery
Oval diamond ring in a halo setting. Source: Cullen Jewellery
A jeweller examining a ring. Source: Cullen Jewellery

A Cut Above

Great jewellers are masters of light and illusion. The cut of your diamond can greatly impact its value, shine, and sparkle.

Jewellers might talk about light performance, black triangles, and symmetry grades when assessing the cut of a diamond. All of these terms refer to how well a diamond reflects light, and are determined by how the diamond is cut.

It’s All Down to Experience

The way light communicates between facets can be the difference between a prominent bow tie and a subtler one. Light, bright things tend to look bigger — so a large, dark bow tie in the centre of your diamond may make it diamond look smaller than it really is. However, a subtle bow tie adds nuanced contrast, creating the illusion of more depth.

An experienced jeweller will be able to make predictions based on how light will pass through the diamond and accurately cut facets that will help the light bounce and dazzle — creating breathtakingly beautiful effects.

Accounting for Bow Ties

Diamonds bought from a reputable jeweller will always come with a certificate, which indicates the grade of the diamond considering a range of factors — including the 4Cs. A diamond’s certificate doesn’t prescribe a value to the diamond, but it can be used to help determine a value. Remember — a bow tie is not accounted for in the diamond grading system, nor will it be listed on a diamond’s certificate. So, identifying a diamond bow tie will be up to you — and a trusted jeweller.

In the End, It’s up to You

Bow ties in diamonds exist on a spectrum — from dark triangle shapes that create too much contrast, to subtler bow ties, which can add depth, dimension, and uniqueness to a diamond.

Without an official grading system — a bow tie’s beauty lies in the lie of the beholder. So, if a diamond ring takes your breath away, the rest doesn’t matter. If you love it, own it (literally, and figuratively).

Pear-shaped Jordanna engagement ring. Source: Cullen Jewellery

Key Takeaways

  • Make sure to look carefully at your diamond in a showroom, and ask to see it under different lighting conditions, so you can spot a bow tie.
  • Some shapes are more prone to bow ties than others — round and square-cut diamonds tend to show better light performance than oval diamonds and elongated shapes.
  • Oval-shaped moissanite stones can usually be cut to avoid the bow tie effect.
  • A diamond’s cut determines its light performance, and can be the difference between a subtle bow tie or a prominent one.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Your questions, answered.

Depending on how prominent they are, bow ties can affect the desirability and value of a diamond. A bow tie is not accounted for in the diamond grading system, nor will it be listed on a diamond’s certificate, but a dark bow tie is generally something to be avoided.

A bow tie is a bow tie-shaped shadow running across the centre of a diamond. It occurs when light is lost in the diamond’s pavilion facets (lower facets).

Certain diamond shapes are more prone to having a bow tie than others. Elongated shapes like oval diamonds and pear-shaped diamonds tend to exhibit bow ties more often than other shapes.

All our rings are made to order and are usually ready in 40 Business Days. Read more

Just like their mined counterparts, every lab created diamond is unique. Grown under the same intense heat and pressure as a mined diamond, a lab grown diamond undergoes the same growth process and may still contain minor internal or surface imperfections like a mined diamond will. This means every lab grown diamond will vary in colour, clarity and cut. Expert gemological labs such as the IGI and GIA evaluate and certify every single lab created diamond using the same strict standards applied to mined diamonds.