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What is an Emerald Cut Diamond?

by Willyou.net * Apr 18, 2021

Key Takeaways

  • The Emerald cut regularly proves popular for engagement ring shoppers, particularly those looking for something a little different, thanks to its unique facet structure and silhouette.
  • It is important that anyone considering the Emerald cut realizes that it’s not going to offer the same kind of sparkle, but that the elegant shine this shape creates is beautiful in its own right.
  • The Emerald cut does put the spotlight on the diamond’s clarity and color more than the modified brilliant shapes, so you’ll want to invest a little more into a good grade.
  • Then again, the Emerald is one of the most affordable shapes out there, so you may still end up paying a little less than you would have for one of the more popular shapes.
Emerald cut diamond
Emerald cut diamond

Like the Round Brilliant, the Emerald cut enjoys steady, timeless popularity for engagement rings. True, the two cuts represent the polar opposites of one another – and the Emerald is by no means as popular as the Round – but, in this one respect, they are equal.

This is, of course, because of the fact that the Emerald possesses a refined elegance in a unique way that it catches the light and the fascinating ‘hall of mirrors’ effect enjoyed by anyone who gets the chance to look deep into its glassy depths. Its linear shape gives it an air of classic glamour and the Art Deco styles of ‘Old Hollywood’ – something that gives it an undeniable appeal, even among those who initially thought they wanted more sparkle than the Emerald can offer.

What Does an Emerald Diamond Look Like?

The Emerald cut is a rectangular-shaped cut with truncated corners and a broad, flat plane that resembles a staircase when viewed from above.

It is created by the step cuts of its pavilion and its large, open table, producing a hall-of-mirrors effect. The Emerald cut is usually comprised of 57 facets – 25 on the crown and 32 on the pavilion – although the number of rows can vary. The Emerald cut was designed to showcase the diamond’s clarity, instead of its fire, since it offers a clear, glassy view into the diamond’s interior.

As a result, the cut is commonly used to exhibit the incredible clarity of the stone, and to create a seemingly endless labyrinth of angles and steps.

It is striking enough to be worn with very little decoration – as in this classic Emerald Cathedral Engagement Ring – although many choose to complement the refined shine of the cut with the brilliant sparkle of a pavé, as in this Emerald Cut Pavé Ring.

The Emerald Cut History

The exact history of the emerald cut isn’t known, but it can be traced back about 500 years to the multi-faceted table cuts of the Art Deco period in the early 20th century. As its name suggests, it was named after the original purpose of the cut – the cutting of emeralds – when diamond cutters realized the importance of the cut and begin applying it to diamonds as well. 

Under the light, this cut shines and flashes in a way that is totally different to the super brilliant and fiery Round cut – and, of course, the modified brilliant cuts. The unique angles of the Emerald celebrate a different side to the diamond, and give us a clearer view into the very heart of the stone.

Over the years, it has been favored by many – although most notably by Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco, who was, at the time, still lighting up the silver screen as one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Her ring, which featured a 10.47 carat Emerald, made a sparkling appearance in her final film – High Society – and immortalized the appeal of the cut.

Since then, many celebrities have worn the gorgeous Emerald cut, such as Mariah Carey, Angelina Jolie, and Beyoncé, and it’s not difficult to see why. With only 3% of the world’s diamonds cut in the Emerald shape, this unique cut brings with it status and exclusivity. 

Why Are Emeralds Cut in Emerald Cut?

offers strength and durability to Emeralds, which are not as hard as diamond and, often, are made weaker by significant inclusions.

On the Mohs scale for hardness, the Emerald is rated 7.5 – 8, which puts it 2 – 2.5 grades below diamond. Significant inclusions within the stone also make it more vulnerable to cracking. As a result, it’s preferable for the Emerald to be cut into a shape that features no sharply pointed corners, which could easily be broken.

What’s more, the cut is more economical than many other shapes, meaning that the cutter is able to preserve as much of the rough stone as possible – far more than they would be able to preserve otherwise.

Finally, the shape offers a great way to show off the rich, deep color of the Emerald – in much the same way that it allows diamond cutters to show off the perfect clarity and clearness of a diamond.

Do emerald cut diamonds sparkle?

While the Round Brilliant emits countless flashes of fire and brilliance, the Emerald cut shines in a more subdued way – although the effect is no less beauty. 

This gentler shine is how we are able to see deep into the stone, and to appreciate that characteristic hall of mirrors effect.

If you’re drawn in by the basic shape of the Emerald, but still want a little more sparkle, then finding out more about the Radiant cut could be a great place to start. This shape marries together the best of both worlds in terms of geometry and sparkle, creating something even more unique – and highly modern in appearance.

Why Do Celebrities Like Emerald Cuts?

For starters, the cut makes it easy for the wearer to appreciate the clarity of the stone. But, when it comes to style, the refined elegance of the cut is likely what appeals most to wearers.

There’s no denying that sparkle represents one of the main draws for anyone with a fondness for diamonds. No other precious gemstone is capable of creating the same display of fire and brilliance as diamond. However, the Emerald is proof of the fact that there is more to a diamond than its ability to sparkle, and that plenty of appeal lies in the simplicity of a step cut.

Diamonds with a high clarity grade are accompanied by a premium value, and there is undoubtedly an element of high status attached to the large, clear Emeralds that have been photographed on celebrities’ fingers. But, more so than that, there is a certain old-world glamour to this cut, and it’s no surprise that Hollywood’s 21st century starlets are still so fond of its significance.

Do Emerald Diamonds Look Bigger?

Yes, the larger table on the Emerald cut – and its elongated shape – can make it appear larger than other diamonds.

This is often seen as a great selling point for the Emerald, as it is for other elongated shapes like the Oval, Pear and the Marquise cut. What this means is that, for a lower cost, buyers are able to create the illusion of a stone with a much higher carat weight – particularly when it is compared directly alongside diamonds that carry more weight in their pavilion than their crown.

Is the Emerald a Vintage Cut?

Yes and no. The Emerald cut is highly versatile, and can easily capture the Art Deco styles of the roaring 20s, which represents a time of high popularity for the cut.

Then again, depending on how the ring is designed around this cut, the Emerald can look highly modern. Unlike the Round and Oval, the Emerald’s pared-back sparkle and shine mean that it can be perfect for more minimalistic tastes.

It is testament to the beauty of straight, parallel shapes and lines – and a true winner, even if your style is decades away from the 1920s and 1930s.

Emerald Diamond Engagement Rings

solitaire emerald engagment ring and wedding band round diamonds - What is an Emerald Cut Diamond

So, you’re tempted by the Emerald – and why not? It’s unique shape lives up to the natural beauty of diamond, though in an entirely different way to the other, more common engagement ring cuts. Here’s what you should know about creating an Emerald cut diamond engagement ring.

Is the Emerald Cut in Style?

It’s not the most popular cut by any means, but it’s never going out of style.

We mentioned above how the Emerald is pretty rare, and that is represents around 3% of all diamonds cut today. This is, of course, undeniable proof of the fact that the cut is nowhere near the most popular choice. If it were, then diamond cutters would be creating more and more – just as they do with the massively popular Round Brilliant, which accounts for well over half of all diamonds on the market today.

So, no, Emerald cuts are not at the height of popularity – and probably never will be since they just can’t rival the sparkle of the more popular shapes. Nevertheless, the Emerald enjoys a steady popularity. It doesn’t come in and out of style with the same unpredictability as the Pear and Heart cuts, for instance.

In other words, it’s a choice that will outlast any changing trends. Like the Little Black Dress or the Rolex, it’s always in style – and always will be.

Is the Emerald Cut Good for an Engagement Ring?

Yes, it is a beautiful and original choice for any bride to be, without being too ‘out there’.

There’s plenty of reasons to stray from the norm and embrace an Emerald cut – and one of the most compelling is the fact that this shape offers the opportunity to offer a fresh take on some of the most popular ring designs.

Take, for instance, the halo – a feature that is most commonly used on the Round Brilliant, like in this Round Halo Ring. With an Emerald, the design is totally transformed; the contrast between the deep, glassy shine of the center stone and the glitter of the halo and pavé setting in this Emerald Cut Halo creates something more unique, but still classic.

What Does an Emerald Cut Diamond Say About You?

It says you favor a simpler kind of elegance – one that emphasizes the small details – and the timeless elements of style.

It’s also strong, resilient and the perfect blend of unique and understated, making it an ideal choice for many modern brides-to-be looking for a ring to wear and pass down through the generations.

Emerald Diamond Cost

Not all diamonds are created equal, and shape plays a pretty significant role in the value of a diamond. For anyone shopping for an engagement ring, it’s vital to have a good foundation of knowledge in this arena – particularly when understanding the value of certain shapes could wind up benefitting you – and your final bill. 

Is the Emerald Cut More Expensive?

No, the Emerald cut is cheaper than many of the more expensive (and more sparkly) shapes, and an Emerald cut engagement ring will typically cost significantly less than an otherwise comparable Round or Princess cut engagement ring.

What do we mean by ‘otherwise comparable’? In essence, two diamonds that are similar in all respects (sharing the same grades for cut quality, clarity and color, the same level of fluorescence and the same carat weight) and only differ in shape. If this is the case, then the Emerald will considerably less expensive than many of the other shapes.

Nevertheless, there is one major caveat. We’ve already hinted a few times at the fact that the Emerald is great for showing off the clarity of a diamond. It reveals more of the internal structure of the stone than the more brilliant cuts.

What does this mean for you? It means that you’ll likely need to aim for a higher clarity grade for your chosen carat weight than you would in a diamond of the same weight, but which features a brilliant facet pattern.

Why Are Emerald Cuts Cheaper?

There are two main reasons, with the most notable being that the Emerald cut is far less popular than a long list of other shapes, and particularly those that yield more fire and brilliance.

The other reason is down to economy. As with the emerald, it is possible for the diamond cutter to preserve a lot of the original rough stone in the creation of the Emerald cut – much more than they would when cutting a well-proportioned Round Brilliance, for instance.

As a result, less diamond is ‘wasted’, and the diamond cutter does not lose anywhere near as much potential profit by choosing this cut.

How Much is a 1 Carat Emerald Cut Diamond?

You can expect the cost to start at around $1,500, and increase to around $6,000, depending on quality.

If you’re wondering why there is so much discrepancy between those two price points, then it’s worth reading up our guide to the Four Cs of diamonds. We will, however, go into the specifics of choosing a quality Emerald cut – and the grades you can expect to focus on during your search – below.

For now, however, it’s important to keep in mind that you don’t want to be aiming for the lowest price point. This is a value reserved for very low quality diamonds – a definite ‘no’ for any stone, let alone one that reveals as much as the Emerald…

Choosing an Emerald Cut Diamond

There are a few things to consider when choosing an Emerald cut: 

First of all, the length-to-width ratio is very important. Choosing an Emerald cut with the proper ratio is key to finding exactly what you want. A classic cut has a LW ratio of around 1.50.

Emerald Cut Diamond LW Ratios - 1.30, 1.45, 1.60

Emerald Cut Diamond LW Ratios – 1.30, 1.45, 1.60

Secondly, evaluating color is subjective. Many Emerald buyers prefer warmer colors of a GH diamond over the colorlessness of a DF diamond, but the truth is that everyone has their own color preference. 

The following cut, color and clarity guides should be taken into consideration when choosing an Emerald cut diamond: 

Emerald Cut Diamond Cut Guide

The cut attributes of a diamond contribute to its sparkle, brilliance, and bling. Most knowledgeable buyers would choose attributes from the Excellent – Very Good columns.

 ExcellentVery GoodGoodFairPoor
Table %60 – 65.958 – 59.9 or 66 – 72.954 – 57.9
or
73 – 74.9
51 – 53.9 or
75 – 79.9
<50.9
or
>80
Depth %63 – 67.959 – 62.9 or 68 – 69.957 – 58.9 or
70 – 74.9
54 – 56.9 or
75 – 79.9
<53.9
or
>80
GirdleVery Thin
to Slightly Thick
 Very Thin or ThickVery Thin or Very ThickExtremely Thin or Extremely Thick
CuletNoneVery SmallSmallMediumThick

Emerald Cut Diamond Length-to-Width Guide

A classic Emerald cut has a length-to-width ratio between 1.35 – 1.44. 

 ExcellentVery GoodGoodFairPoor
Rectangular1.35 – 1.441.30 – 1.34
or
1.45 – 1.50
1.20 – 1.29
or
1.51 – 1.60
1.15 – 1.19
or
1.61 – 1.90
<1.15
or
>1.90

Emerald Cut Diamond Symmetry, Polish, Cut and Fluorescence Guide

Our experience suggests that Cut, Symmetry, Polish, and Fluorescence contributes to a diamond’s brilliance so that most buyers will choose Excellent – Very Good and Fluorescence None – Faint.

 ExcellentVery GoodGoodFairPoor
CutExcellentVery GoodGood Fair – Poor
PolishExcellentVery GoodGood Fair – Poor
SymmetryExcellentVery GoodGood Fair – Poor
FluorescenceNoneFaintMedium Strong – Very Strong

Emerald Cut Diamond Clarity Guide

Most buyers prefer size over clarity and will buy a diamond of SI1 Clarity.

 ExcellentVery GoodGoodFairPoor
< 0.50 ct.FL – VS2SI1 SI2 – I2>I2
0.51 – 1.00 ct.FL – VS1VS2SI1SI2 – I2>I2
1.00 – 2.00 ct.FL – VVS2VS1 – VS2SI1SI2>I1
>2.00 ct.FL – VVS2VS1 – VS2SI1SI2>I1

Emerald Cut Pros and Cons

There are a few pros and cons to consider with the Emerald cut.

The Pros

The first pro is that Emerald cuts look larger. Because of its step-cuts, an emerald cut has a 5% greater surface than other diamond cuts, making it look larger. As a result, you can channel more money into other features, such as clarity and color, without having to worry about getting the biggest carat weight possible at your price point.

Obviously, cost is another great benefit. You can purchase an Emerald diamond that looks larger for a lower price. Also, because Emerald cut diamonds are elongated, they give the illusion of longer and more slender fingers, making them a highly flattering choice.  

The Cons

A con of the Emerald cut has to do with its sparkle. The Emerald cut doesn’t have a lot of flash and fire, so if that’s what you’re looking for – or if you think your future bride is has her heart set on a sparkly center stone – then you might want to choose a different cut. 

Of course, you can improve the overall sparkle of a ring with a halo, pavé or side stone featuring a more brilliant cut but, even so, many people still favor the light performances of other cuts.

Also, remember that clarity matters even more when it comes to the Emerald. The many small, sparkling facets of the Round and Fancy cuts mean that minor inclusions are much harder to spot. Looking into an Emerald cut diamond is like looking into a clear pool of water, where every small detail is very, very obvious.

Our Summary: Is the Emerald Cut Good?

Yes. Of all the diamond cuts out there, few are as powerful as the Emerald – and none are able to rival the understated beauty and appeal of this cut.

It’s easy to feel ‘warned off’ the Emerald cut by those who focus on its low-key sparkle, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that ‘low-key’ means non-existent. Sure, the Emerald won’t erupt into countless sparks of fire the second the light hits it, but it’s still a diamond, and diamonds will always create a magnificent light performance.

This is why we always urge our readers to go the traditional route and shop from a local jewelry store, rather than online. The Emerald’s true beauty is something that you’ve got to see in person in order to truly appreciate how powerful and alluring it can be.

Besides that, the Emerald is a highly versatile choice. It’s more than capable of creating a spectacular solitaire, like this deceptively simple Emerald Solitaire in Platinum, or something much more ornate – and with heaps more sparkle. If you’re tempted by the Emerald, the best thing you can do is check one out with the help of an experience jeweler. You can take a look at our incredibly wide range of GIA graded Emerald cut diamonds online first, then use our jewelry store look-up to find a local – and, most importantly, trusted establishment – where you can get to know it in greater detail. 

Hand-Selected Emerald Cut Diamonds