Should You Buy an Emerald Cut Diamond?
If you’ve got your heart set on an emerald cut engagement ring, this guide is for you! In it, we provide the full run-down on this sophisticated diamond shape, from how they compare to other popular diamond shapes to how to choose the perfect emerald cut diamond.
Characteristics of Emerald Cut Diamonds
Emerald cut diamonds are a type of step cut. This means they have straight linear facets that run parallel along all four edges of the stone. They are predominantly rectangular in shape with clipped corners.
Emerald cut diamonds have a large surface table, allowing for plenty of light to enter the stone. This results in abundant flashes of white and colored light. However, this also provides a big window into the diamond and any inclusions it might have.
Emerald cut diamonds typically appear larger than other shaped diamonds of the same carat weight. This makes emerald cut diamonds popular among those looking for a larger stone without the high price tag. Emerald cut engagement rings are also popular among celebrities, being sported by the likes of Paris Hilton, Amal Clooney, and Beyoncé.
Emerald Cuts Vs Other Popular Diamond Shapes
The most popular diamond shape for an engagement ring is, beyond a doubt, the round brilliant. It’s a classic cut that everybody associates with a diamond. But for those looking for something a little less mainstream, there is a variety of other shapes to choose from. Below, we compare the emerald cut to two similar diamond shapes: Asscher cuts and cushion cuts.
Emerald Cut vs Asscher Cut
While emerald cut diamonds are traditionally rectangular, Asscher cut diamonds are primarily square.
Because of their elongated shape, emerald cut diamonds have a large surface area. This creates the illusion of a bigger stone for the same carat weight as an Asscher cut.
From a quality or value perspective, there is no difference between emerald and Asscher cuts. Thus, it ultimately boils down to the kind of shape you prefer.
Emerald Cut vs Cushion Cut
Emerald cut diamonds have a lot of clean, sharp lines that give them their signature glassy or ‘hall of mirrors’ appearance. Cushion cuts, on the other hand, exhibit a level of brilliance comparable to that of a round diamond. An emerald cut diamond will, therefore, appeal to someone looking for understated elegance in an engagement ring.
Pros and Cons of Emerald Diamonds
Every diamond shape has its advantages and disadvantages. Read on to discover whether the emerald cut is the right choice for you.
- Less expensive per carat than most other diamond shapes
- Understated, elegant appearance
- Readily available at most diamond retailers
- Deep clarity and glassy appearance make inclusions more visible (so you’ll need to spend more money on a higher clarity grade)
- Retains color better than brilliant cut diamonds (anything below an I color grade will have a slight yellow tint)
- More subtle sparkle than other shapes
How To Choose An Emerald Cut Diamond
Like all other diamond cuts, the quality of an emerald cut diamond is evaluated based on the 4Cs of diamond appraisal. These include the carat weight, color, clarity, and cut grade of the stone. We’ve compiled a guide to these factors below to help you get the best value for money when buying an emerald cut engagement ring.
Emerald Cut Diamond Color
A diamond’s color grade describes the general lack of the yellow or brownish tint that is often perceived in natural diamonds. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) grades color on a scale from D to Z. D refers to colorless, while Z refers to a very noticeable yellow or brown tint.
Note that certain diamond shapes mask color better than others, whereas others are better are retaining it. Emerald diamonds fall into the latter category. This is due to the emerald cut’s large table and rectilinear facets, which allow the eye to discern the natural color of the stone.
What We Recommend
The best color grade for an emerald cut diamond is typically an I or higher. But it is possible to go lower depending on the color of the setting metal you choose. For example, a J color diamond set in white gold will have a noticeable yellow tint. But the same diamond in a yellow gold setting will look completely white.
Also, note that the difference between a diamond in the colorless D-F category and a diamond in the near colorless G-I category is usually imperceptible to the casual onlooker. In other words, paying more for a higher color grade is usually not worth the extra money. Remember, all you need is a stone that looks white to the naked eye.
Emerald Cut Diamond Clarity
As mentioned above, emerald cut diamonds have a large, open table that acts like a window into the heart of the stone. This means that any inclusions located in the center will be easy to see. Furthermore, step cut stones lack the signature sparkle that round brilliant cut stones are known to flaunt. This accentuates a diamond’s clarity, drawing attention to even the tiniest flaw.
Put simply, imperfections are more visible in an emerald cut diamond than in a round cut diamond or cushion cut diamond.
What We Recommend
For the best value, we suggest finding an emerald cut stone in the VS1 or VS2 clarity grades (VS stands for Very Slightly Included). Anything below a VS2 is generally not recommended for step cuts. This is because step cuts aren’t cut for brilliance, so there’s no sparkle to hide inclusions.
That being said, if you can find a stone in a lower clarity grade that looks clean to the naked eye, by all means, you should buy it. That is, provided it meets all the other quality requirements.
Emerald Cut Diamond Cut Quality
Assessing the cut quality of emerald diamonds is a little harder than for round brilliants. This is because there is no set standard among grading entities in the diamond industry (GIA included) for evaluating the cut grade of fancy-shaped diamonds. However, there are a few factors you can look at to help you find a well-cut emerald diamond. Specifically, dimensions such as the length-to-width ratio and total depth percentage impact a diamond’s proportions and, as a result, how much light it reflects.
What We Recommend
A good rule of thumb when looking for a well-cut emerald diamond is to find one with a total depth under 74%. Of course, you should take all its specifications into account, but being slightly picky about the depth is a good way to ensure a beautiful emerald cut.
Emerald Cut Diamond Length-to-Width Ratio
The length-to-width ratio of a diamond refers to how squared or elongated its shape is. It is calculated by dividing the diamond’s length by its width.
Emerald cut diamonds typically have a rectangular shape with a ratio ranging between 1.30 to 1.60. But the most common ratio people choose for emerald shaped diamonds is 1.50. Of course, you may opt for a slightly longer or wider shape depending on your personal preference.
What We Recommend
When choosing a stone, you may want to compare emerald diamonds with different length-to-width ratios to determine which one you prefer. Also, bear in mind the type of ring setting you want.
If you like the appearance of an emerald diamond but prefer a more square cut, you may want to consider getting an Asscher cut diamond. These are sometimes referred to as ‘square emeralds’.
Are Emerald Diamonds Expensive?
The short answer is no. Emerald cuts cost less per carat than most shapes, especially round diamonds. This means you will pay less for an emerald cut engagement ring than you will for a round diamond engagement ring. There are two reasons for this. First, you lose the least amount of carat weight when a rough diamond is cut into a polished emerald cut. Second, emerald cut diamonds are not as popular as other shapes.
However, because emerald cuts are a finicky shape, you need to be quite picky when making your selection. Above all, you need to prioritize finding an eye-clean stone because of the large table and glassy appearance of emerald cuts. This means you could end up paying extra for a stone with higher clarity.
But this is not to say that emerald cuts are a bad choice. On the contrary, it is possible to move up in clarity and still get a stone that’s good value for money.
Best Settings for An Emerald Cut Diamond Engagement Ring
A pavé setting refers to a tightly packed row of gemstones mounted inside tiny holes drilled into the band of an engagement ring. This allows very little metal to show between the stones, resulting in a continuous row of diamonds encircling the finger. This serves to amplify the fire of the center stone without taking any attention away from it.
Always a classic choice, a simple solitaire engagement ring will showcase the unique shape of your emerald cut diamond. This minimal setting also allows plenty of light to enter the diamond, amplifying its ‘hall of mirrors’ appearance. Put simply, you can’t go wrong with a beautiful solitaire emerald cut engagement ring.
A three-stone ring setting (also called a trinity, trilogy, or trio setting) features a center stone flanked by two accent stones on either side. The result is three diamonds in a row. The two accent stones are typically smaller than the center stone and help draw attention to and enhance its beauty.
While the accent stones are often the same shape as the center diamond, nothing is stopping you from opting for something different. Two round brilliant diamonds, for example, will contrast with the emerald diamond’s long, straight facets, resulting in an eye-catching appearance.
The Bottom Line
An emerald cut diamond is a unique shape that looks phenomenal in a range of engagement ring settings. It is sophisticated, elegant, and worldly thanks to its long, rectilinear facets, which also give the cut its unique glassy appearance. Emerald cuts are also an excellent option for those seeking a larger-looking diamond without going over budget.
When shopping for an emerald diamond, it is important to pay attention to the clarity grade of the stone. This is because emerald cuts have a large open table that acts like a window, allowing you to see into the center of the diamond. Any inclusions that are present will be clearly visible and will detract from the beauty of the stone. As such, it is well worth paying the extra money for an emerald cut diamond with better clarity.
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