Cigars 101: Shapes and Sizes

A cigar shape can vary greatly in size from brand to brand, so describing a cigar by its size as well as shape is important. Cigars are measured by two factors: length, which is given in inches, and "ring gauge," a designation of a cigar's diameter broken into 64ths of an inch. A cigar with a 42 ring gauge, for example, is 42/64 of an inch in diameter.

There is no correlation between the size of a cigar and its strength. An 8-inch cigar made with mild tobaccos will be mellow, while a thin, short cigar rolled with powerful tobaccos will be full bodied. While a cigar's strength is determined by the tobacco it is rolled with, thin cigars have a tendency to burn hotter than fatter ones. Also important to note is that there is no consistency of strength from brand to brand: one company's corona is likely to taste very different from another's.


Parejos are straight-sided cigars; most have an open foot for lighting and need to be cut before smoking. They may be either round or box-pressed, meaning that the sides of the cigar were pressed square prior to packing or, in some cases, by pressure in the box. Parejos are a type of cigar that is characterized by its straight sides and open foot. They are typically either round or box-pressed, with the latter having sides that have been pressed square prior to packing or, in some cases, by pressure in the box. 


This is the benchmark size against which all other sizes are measured. The traditional dimensions are 5 1/2 to 6 inches with a ring gauge of 42 to 44, and a rounded top that needs to be cut. 

Petit Corona

This cigar is, as the name suggests, a smaller version of the corona, and generally measures about 4 1/2 inches, with a ring gauge of 40 to 42. 


A large corona-format cigar, traditionally 7 inches by a 47 ring gauge. The grand size takes its name from legendary cigar aficionado Sir Winston Churchill, who famously was never seen without a cigar.


A short cigar that has become the most popular cigar size in America. The size is generally 4 3/4 to 5 1/2 inches by 48 to 52 ring gauge. 

Corona Gorda

Also called a toro, this cigar is steadily growing in popularity, and is one of the most popular sizes here at Ralphs. The traditional measurements are 5 5/8 inches by 46 ring gauge, but cigars of 6 inches by 50 ring have also come in vogue, and fall under the same banner.

Double Corona

Double coronas are large smokes, with standard dimensions of 7 1/2 to 8 1/2 inches and a 49 to 52 ring gauge. They are fading from popularity, with a variety of Churchills taking their place. 


Long and thin, this size's popularity has also decreased in recent years. Still, it's elegant, with a wide length variation of 5 to 7 1/2 inches and a ring gauge of 34 to 38, and a good number of panetelas are finished with pigtail caps. Cigars longer than 7 inches in this category are often referred to as "gran panetelas." The lancero is a subset of this kind of cigar, and the more common name here in our store. 


A lonsdale is generally longer than a corona and thicker than a panetela, with a classic size of 6 1/2 inches by 42 ring gauge.


Grandes, the thickest cigar shape, burst onto the scene at the dawn of the 21st century. These fat cigars, once considered a fad, have found their way onto the portfolio of nearly every major producer of premium cigars. The ring gauges are 60 and fatter, some even reaching 70 or 80. To be considered a grande, the cigar needs to be a minimum of 4 3/4 inches in length. 


Although the majority of cigars are parejos, straight and open on side, a growing number of cigar companies are broadening their portfolios with more creatively shaped smokes. These cigars are called figurados, and they include any cigar that is not straight-sided. Although cigar makers' interpretations of the shapes vary as widely as the flavors inside their cigars, the basic categories of figurados are as follows:


Pyramids are cigars with cut feet, like parejos, but with heads tapered to a point. Generally the cigars measure from 6 to 7 inches in length, with ring gauges of about 40 at the head widening to 52 to 54 at the foot. The pyramid is treasured because the tapered head allows the complex flavors of the cigar to meld in the mouth. 


Traditional belicosos are short pyramids, often with a slightly rounded pyramid head. Today's belicosos are often coronas or corona gordas with tapered heads. Recent years have also seen the production of mini-belicosos, with smaller ring gauges and tapered heads. 


Torpedoes aren't as specific as other cigars, and usually fit into the pyramid category. Generally speaking, cigar makers will use the term torpedo to convey a pyramid with a sharper point.


The perfecto has both a tapered foot and a tapered head, typically with a bulge in the middle. They vary in length, and range from the symmetrical to the more freeform.


More popular in the past than today, the culebra is perhaps the most exotic shape of cigar made. It consists of three panetelas (or lanceros) braided together, tied with string, and sold as one cigar. The three parts can then be unbraided and smoked separately. Usually 5 to 6 inches long, culebras most often have a 38 ring gauge. 


Diademas are very large figurados, with tapers on both the head and foot, sometimes eight inches or more long. One of the more popular diademas is the Salomone size. All Salomones are diademas, but not not all diademas are Salomones.

While there is no correlation between size and strength, the shape, length, and width are going to determine the taste, flavor profile, and burn speed of your cigar. A perfecto with the same blend as a Corona Gorda is going to be the same strength, but burn quicker and have a stronger flavor compared to the larger stick. It comes down to personal palate and exploration to find exactly what will work for you. If you want to expand your palate or just explore some more unique cigar shapes, we have most of these sizes for sale here at Ralph’s Cigars. 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published