Elegant and unique, the emerald-cut diamond is a beautiful choice for your diamond jewelry. If you’re considering the striking emerald cut for your engagement ring or another diamond design, read on. In this guide to emerald cut diamonds, we’re sharing everything you need to know about this fancy shape. We’re going over the emerald cut diamond’s characteristics, history, sparkle, and best settings, then detailing what you should look for when buying an emerald cut diamond.
What is an Emerald Cut Diamond?
The emerald cut has been one of the most popular diamond shapes for hundreds of years. This diamond shape looks like a rectangle with cut corners when viewed from above. Emerald cut diamonds have step-cut facets that are long, linear, and arranged in parallel rows. These step-cut facets produce beautiful flashes of light and make it easy to see inside the diamond. This gives emerald-cut diamonds a pure, clear look.
The History of Emerald Cut Diamonds
The emerald cut was created in the 1500s, making it one of the oldest diamond shapes still used today. This cut was first used for emerald gemstones, which are brittle due to their high level of natural inclusions. Stonecutters started using the emerald cut because it put less pressure on the fragile emerald, thereby reducing the risk of chipping the gem during the cutting process.
The emerald cut was originally called the table cut. The name emerald cut was coined in the 1920s after the cut became extremely popular for diamonds. Emerald cut diamonds were in high demand during the Art Deco era of the 1920s when the shape’s beautiful symmetry and strong geometric shape were perfectly on-trend.
The emerald cut diamond hit peak popularity during the Retro era of the late 1930s and 1940s. The diamond shape was perfect for the style of the period, which celebrated eye-catching designs, romance, and sophistication. Because emerald-cut diamonds were so in demand during the Retro era, they’re often considered to have a vintage style that harkens back to the elegant glamour of the age.
Emerald-Cut Diamond Sparkle
The emerald-cut diamond produces a unique type of sparkle because it has step-cut facets, rather than brilliant-cut facets.
Most diamond shapes feature a version of the round brilliant cut diamond’s faceting. This type of faceting, called brilliant cut faceting, features many tiny facets that break up light and create dazzling shimmer. The majority of today’s popular diamond shapes feature a brilliant cut. Examples of brilliant-cut diamonds include princess cut, oval cut, pear-shaped, marquise cut, radiant cut, and round cut diamonds.
Emerald cut diamonds, on the other hand, feature long and linear step cut facets that create larger flashes of light. The emerald-cut diamond’s facets are arranged in a parallel fashion, resulting in a beautiful interplay of light within the diamond. The mesmerizing reflection of an emerald diamond’s facets is referred to as its hall of mirrors effect.
Emerald-Cut Diamond Price
A major advantage of emerald-cut diamonds is their price. The emerald cut is one of the most affordable diamond shapes. On average, emerald cut diamonds cost around 20 to 30% less than round diamonds. You can use this price advantage to save money on your diamond jewelry or to upgrade your diamond’s size or quality.
Best Emerald Cut Engagement Ring Settings
Emerald cut diamonds look stunning in every engagement ring setting style. Because the diamond shape has a graphic, minimalist quality, brides often gravitate towards more simple settings for emerald-cut diamonds. Solitaire settings, especially solitaires with thin or split shank bands, are popular for emerald-cut diamonds.
Engagement ring settings with diamond bands are also very popular for emerald-cut diamonds. A pave diamond band, as seen on Beyoncé’s emerald-cut diamond engagement ring, adds a glamorously modern touch to the diamond shape. Step cut diamond accents are a lovely choice for an emerald cut diamond ring, as they create a harmonious, icy look. Take, for example, Jennifer Lopez’s emerald cut diamond engagement ring that features baguette diamond side stones or Angelina Jolie’s emerald cut diamond engagement ring that boasts channel set trapezoid diamonds.
What to Look for When Buying an Emerald Cut Diamond
The unique elements of the emerald cut diamond give it a striking beauty, but can also make picking out a high-quality emerald cut a bit tricky. Here’s what to be aware of and look for in an emerald-cut diamond.
Length to Width Ratio
When you’re shopping for an emerald-cut diamond, you need to decide what you’d like for your diamond’s length to width ratio. Emerald cut diamonds can range in shape from perfectly square to elongated and rectangular. Emerald-cut diamonds with ratios close to 1.0 will have a square shape, while emerald-cut diamonds with higher ratios near 1.7 will be quite long and thin.
Most people prefer emerald cut diamonds that fall into the range of 1.3 to 1.6. Diamonds within that range will have a classic rectangular shape. But note that there is no best ratio for emerald-cut diamonds. This simply comes down to personal preference.
Emerald-Cut Diamond Clarity Grade
Diamond clarity is more important for emerald cut diamonds than it is for most other shapes. The large table and long, open facets of the emerald cut make it easy to see within an emerald cut diamond. This creates a beautifully clear look but also makes it easy to spot flaws within the diamond.
Because it’s easy to see flaws with this diamond shape, you don’t want to go with a lower clarity grade. SI1 and SI2 clarity are usually too low for a step-cut diamond like an emerald-cut or Asscher-cut diamond. VS1 and VS2 clarity emerald-cut diamonds can look eye clean, meaning they look flawless to the naked eye. So, VS1 and VS2 grades can be a good value option for emerald-cut diamonds.
Emerald-Cut Diamond Cut Grade
Cut grade is always extremely important for a diamond since diamond cut has an enormous impact on a diamond’s beauty. Well cut diamonds will capture and reflect light beautifully, while poorly cut diamonds will leak light, causing them to look dull and dim. Very poorly cut diamonds can also be noticeably asymmetrical, which can be particularly easy to spot on an angular diamond like the emerald cut.
Unfortunately, the GIA doesn’t give cut grades for emerald cut diamonds, so you need to rely on other parts of a diamond’s grading report to judge its cut quality. The best emerald cut diamonds tend to have a table percentage between 61 and 69%, a depth percentage between 61 and 67%, a very thin to slightly thick girdle, and no culet. Emerald cuts that still have a very good cut generally have a very thin to thick girdle, a very small culet, a table percentage that’s just a few percentage points outside of 61 to 69%, and a depth percentage that’s just a few percentage points outside of 61 to 67%.
Emerald-Cut Diamond Color Grade
Diamond color grade is always a matter of personal preference. Diamonds are graded on a scale of D to Z, with D grade diamonds being completely colorless. Emerald cut diamonds show color a bit better than other diamond shapes due to their large open table. Still, you can usually go as low as J color and still get an emerald-cut diamond that looks white, especially if your setting has a warmer color. If you’re shopping for a diamond for a platinum or white gold setting, consider sticking with an I color diamond or higher to ensure your diamond looks white against your setting.
Emerald-Cut Diamond Carat Weight
Your choice of diamond carat weight is usually tied to your budget. People usually want the largest diamond they can get within their budget, so they go as high in carat weight as possible.
Luckily for those who want a larger diamond and love the emerald shape, the emerald-cut diamond has a size per carat advantage. This elongated shape features more of its surface area on its table (top) compared to other diamond shapes. As a result, emerald-cut diamonds actually look larger per carat than most other diamond shapes.
Because emerald-cut diamonds both look larger per carat and rank among the most affordable diamond shapes, they’re a great option for anyone who wants to maximize the size of their diamond jewelry.