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What Is An Emerald Cut Diamond? - Buying Guide

Emerald cut diamond.

Emerald cut diamonds are treasured for their elegant silhouette. The shallow pavilion and crown accentuate the clarity of the diamond, while the reflective steps enhance the color and luster of the diamond.

Emerald Cut Diamond

Emerald cut diamond.

The unique look of the emerald cut diamond is created by the step cuts of its pavilion and its large, open table. Instead of the sparkle of a brilliant cut, emerald cut diamonds produce a hall-of-mirrors effect, with the interplay of light and dark planes. While less fiery, the long lines and dramatic flashes of light give the emerald cut an elegant appeal. The shape was originally developed for the cutting of emeralds, thus the name.

Emerald Cut Diamond Buying Guide


Also referred to as: SQUARE EMERALD CUT


Emerald Cut Diamond Quick Guide


Unique Features
Broad flat pane, truncated corners, step cut
Facets
Usually 57; varies depending on number of rows on crown and pavilion
L/W Ratio
Typically 1.30 - 1.50 (depending on taste)
Origin
Evolved from table cuts 20th Century
Expert Tip
Clarity VS1/VS2 and higher is optimal


Emerald Cut Diamond Ring

Emerald Cut Diamond Ring

Emerald cut diamond ring.


Emerald Cut Diamond Features

Emerald Cut Diamond Features

Emerald cut diamond features.

One of the first cuts to be used in jewellery, the emerald cut is a rectangular shape with truncated corners and a broad and flat plane that resembles stair steps when viewed from above. This style is referred to as a 'step cut'. The emerald is usually comprised of 57 facets (with 25 on the crown and 32 on the pavilion), although the number of rows of facets on both the crown and pavilion can vary, altering the total number of facets for this cut.

While it typically has less fire and brilliance than brilliant cuts, the broad flat plane of this shape highlights the clarity of a diamond and its natural crystalline rectangular growth. Additionally, the flat planes of the edges allow for a variety of side gemdiamonds such as the long thin rectangular diamonds that often flank this cut, known as baguettes.

The vast majority of emerald cuts have length to width ratios between 1.30 and 1.50 with 1.40 considered as the "ideal" or most popular. Those who prefer a more squared shape will opt for lower ratios while those after a more rectangular cut will choose higher ratios. Emerald ratios outside this range are atypical and generally less desirable.

Emerald Cut Diamond Expert Guide

Because of its large open facets, higher clarity grades ( VS2 and above for GIA and VS1 and above for EGL, to ensure it is completely eye-clean) are usually recommended for emerald cut diamonds. As with the Emerald and cushion cuts, more rectangular shapes (larger ratios) help to elongate shorter fingers.

Emerald cut diamonds vary from nearly square to a narrow rectangle. The classic emerald cut diamond has a length to width ratio of around 1.50. If you prefer the look of the square emerald cut diamond, be sure to consider the asscher cut as well (which has a very similar appearance, and is defined by GIA as a square cut emerald).

Emerald Cut Diamond - Cut Guide

While the GIA provides cut grading for some cuts, such as the round brilliant it doesn't provide cut grading for emerald cut diamonds. However, it grades polish and symmetry. These are some of the key features to be considered to have a brilliant and sparkly diamond.

Since there is no industry-wide consent on what cut parameters make an ideal emerald cut diamond, we recommend using the chart below as a general guideline for evaluating the cut quality of emerald diamonds.

The chart below serves as a general guideline for evaluating the cut of an emerald cut diamond:

Swipe left to see more.

Emerald Cut Diamond Excellent Very Good Good Fair Poor
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Depth refers to the distance between the culet and the table when a diamond is viewed from the side.

The depth % of a diamond is calculated by dividing the depth of the diamond by the width of the diamond. So, if a diamond is 3 mm in depth, and 4.5 mm in width, its depth % is 66.7.

The lower the depth %, the larger a diamond of a given carat weight will appear when viewed from above (since more of the diamond's size is in its width vs. in its depth).

Depth % is incorporated in the cut grade of a diamond. For this reason, when purchasing a diamond, use the cut grade first (since it balances multiple measurements, not just depth %). Once two diamonds of equal cut are being compared, consider depth % as a further refinement.

Learn more about the anatomy of a diamond.

61 - 67 59 - 60.9 or 67.1 - 70 57 - 58.9 or 70.1 - 74 54 - 56.9 or 74.1 - 79 <54 or >79
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The table is the uppermost, flat surface of a diamond, which runs parallel to the plane of the girdle.

The table % of a diamond is calculated by dividing the width of the table facet by the width of the diamond. So, if the table facet is 3 mm across, and the diamond is 4.5 mm wide, its table % is 66.7.

Table % is incorporated in the cut grade of a diamond. For this reason, when purchasing a diamond, use the cut grade first (since it balances multiple measurements, not just table %). Once two diamonds of equal cut are being compared, consider table % as a further refinement.

Learn more about the anatomy of a diamond.

61 - 69 57 - 60 or 70 - 72 54 - 56 or 73 - 74 51 - 53 or 75 - 79 <51 or >79
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A diamond's symmetry is the arrangement, size, and shaping of diamond's facets. The facets are the flat planes that run along the surfaces of the diamond. Symmetry is angles and lines that form the placement of the facets. Nowadays, symmetry is completely controlled by the manufacturing process. Machines very carefully cut diamonds to produce the most accurate shapes. However, at times the diamond cutter will leave a symmetry imperfection in the diamond in order to prevent a different inclusion from showing in the finished diamond. Symmetry is a subset of the diamond's cut grade.

Learn more about diamond symmetry.

Good to excellent Good to excellent Good to excellent Fair to Excellent Poor to Excellent
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The term "polish" refers to the overall condition of the surfaces of a finished diamond. A rating is assigned based on the amount of polishing lines that are visible. These polishing lines are caused by very small diamond crystals which are embedded in the polishing wheels used by diamond cutters to polish the surface of the diamond after cutting. Diamond polish is important because it can affect the degree to which light is able to pass through a diamond, rendering it more or less brilliant. Diamonds that are laboratory certified with a good, very good, or excellent polish rating are the most desirable. Diamonds that have poor polish will be less brilliant and not as desirable or valuable. Reputable jewellers diamonds are graded after examining the diamond facet by facet.

Learn more about diamond polish.

Good to excellent Good to excellent Good to excellent Fair to Excellent Poor to Excellent
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The girdle is the outer edge of the diamond, where the crown (top) meets the pavilion (bottom).

A girdle may be faceted (a series of tiny polished sides going around the diamond), bruted (a single continuous unpolished surface going round the diamond; no longer common), or polished (a bruted girdle that has been polished smooth). Whether a girdle is faceted, bruted, or polished usually has no impact on the appearance or value of the diamond.

The girdle is described according to its width. Often, the width of the girdle varies at different points around the diamond, and is quoted in a range designating the thinnest and thickest point along the girdle (e.g. "Thin - Medium" means the diamond's girdle varies in width from thin at the narrowest point to medium at the widest point).

Learn more about the anatomy of a diamond.

Very Thin - Slightly Thick Very Thin - Slightly Thick Very Thin - Thick Very Thin - Very Thick Ex. Thin - Ex. Thick
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The culet (pronounced cue-let) is the small area at the bottom of a diamond's pavilion. The culet can be a point or a very small facet sitting parallel to the table.

The culet size as determined by the GIA, is shown using the following scale:

None, Very Small, Small, Medium, Slightly Large, Large, Very Large.

Any culet size of Medium or smaller will be invisible to the naked eye, and have no negative impact on a diamond's appearance. However, if a culet is Slightly Large or larger, it may allow light entering from the crown to pass straight through the culet facet, reducing the diamond's brilliance. This may also make the culet appear as an inclusion, or create a dead area on the diamond where the light is escaping through the bottom.

Learn more about the anatomy of a diamond.

None Very Small Small Medium > Medium
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The length to width (L/W) ratio is calculated by dividing a diamond's length (the longer measure) by its width (the shorter measure that runs perpendicular to length).

For example, an Oval Cut diamond that is 5.00 mm in length and 3.3 mm in width will have a L/W ratio of 1.50 (5.00/3.33). A perfectly round or square diamond will have a length to width ratio of 1.00, but many will be off slightly since they are often not perfectly cut. Any L/W ratio of 1.05 or less will appear perfectly round or square to the naked eye.

L/W ratio is more commonly used in fancy shapes. There is no "ideal" L/W ratio in a fancy shape diamond. What is important is what looks pleasing to you.

Square
1.00 - 1.03 1.00 - 1.03 1.04 - 1.05 1.06 - 1.08 > 1.08
×

The length to width (L/W) ratio is calculated by dividing a diamond's length (the longer measure) by its width (the shorter measure that runs perpendicular to length).

For example, an Oval Cut diamond that is 5.00 mm in length and 3.3 mm in width will have a L/W ratio of 1.50 (5.00/3.33). A perfectly round or square diamond will have a length to width ratio of 1.00, but many will be off slightly since they are often not perfectly cut. Any L/W ratio of 1.05 or less will appear perfectly round or square to the naked eye.

L/W ratio is more commonly used in fancy shapes. There is no "ideal" L/W ratio in a fancy shape diamond. What is important is what looks pleasing to you.

Rectangle
1.40 - 1.50 1.30 - 1.39 or 1.51 - 1.60 1.20 - 1.29 or 1.61 - 1.80 1.15 - 1.19 or 1.81 - 1.90 <1.15 or >1.90

Emerald diamond cut guide.

Emerald Cut Diamond Ratio

Emerald cut diamond length to width ratio.

Emerald Cut Diamond - Color Guide

Evaluating color in emerald cut diamonds is subjective. Keep in mind that many buyers may actually prefer the ever so slightly warmer colors of a G-H diamond over the cool colorlessness of a D-F diamond. In fact, most of the premium in price associated with emerald cut diamonds at the higher end of the color scale is driven by supply and demand; customers want the D-F color grades, and are willing to pay a premium to get them. In a world without diamond color grading, the price premium for higher grades would be much lower, as the actual differences in color are difficult to perceive.

Color of emerald cut diamonds is graded on a scale from D to Z, where D signifies a completely colorless diamond and Z means an easily noticeable yellow or brown tint.

Due to open step facets and a large table, emerald cut diamonds retain more color than other diamond shapes, meaning it's easy to see the natural color of the diamond. This is especially true for diamonds weighing 1.50 carats and over.

Smaller emerald cut diamonds hide color better, but you may still need to choose a diamond in the colorless range (D-E-F) if you want your diamond to appear colorless. The color chart below provides a general guide for evaluating color in emerald cut diamonds:

Swipe left to see more.

Emerald Cut Diamond Excellent Very Good Good Fair Poor
< .50 ct. D - G H - I J - K L - M > M
.51-1.0 ct. D - F G H - I J - K > K
1.0-2.0 ct. D - F D - F G H - I > I
> 2.0 ct. D - F D - F G H - I > I
×

Fluorescence refers to a diamond's tendency to emit a soft colored glow when subjected to ultraviolet light. Roughly 30% of diamonds fluoresce to some degree.

Colorless (D-F) fluorescent diamonds sell at up to a 15% discount since the fluorescence is perceived as a defect, even though the visible effects of Faint to Medium fluorescence are perceptible only to a gemologist using a special UV light source.

Because the fluorescent glow is usually blue (which is the complementary color to yellow) fluorescence can make diamonds of I-M color appear up to one grade whiter. For this reason, I-M diamonds tend to sell at a slight premium when they possess Medium to Very Strong fluorescence.

Exercise caution in purchasing a diamond with Strong fluorescence in D-F color diamonds or Very Strong fluorescence in G-H color diamonds (which do not possess enough body color to offset the higher degree of fluorescence).

Learn more about diamond fluorescence.


None Faint Medium Strong - Very Strong Strong - Very Strong

Emerald diamond color guide.

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Emerald Cut Diamond Color

Emerald cut diamond color.


Emerald Cut Diamond - Clarity Guide

Like color, evaluating clarity in emerald cut diamonds is subjective. GIA provides excellent help with their clarity grades. Still, it is important to understand that each customer will have a unique standard for clarity. Some may be perfectly comfortable with an inclusion as long as they cannot easily see it. Others may insist on a more technically flawless appearance.

The GIA grades clarity of emerald cut diamonds on a scale from FL to I3, where FL means a flawless diamond and I3 indicates a heavily included diamond.

As mentioned above, emerald cut diamonds are not as fiery as brilliant-cut diamonds. Since they are designed to accentuate a diamond's clarity, it is easier to see any flaws in them, especially if the inclusions are found in the middle of the diamond.

Often, inclusions are easier to see in an emerald cut diamond, While an SI1-clarity might be a great balance of price and appearance in other diamond shapes, in emerald cut a VS2 might be a comparable choice. The clarity chart below provides a general guide for evaluating clarity in emerald cut diamonds:

Swipe left to see more.

Emerald Cut Diamond Excellent Very Good Good Fair Poor
< .50 ct. FL - VS2 SI1 SI2 I1 > I1
.51-1.0 ct. FL - VS1 VS2 SI1 SI2 > SI2
1.0-2.0 ct. FL - VVS2 VS1 - VS2 SI1 SI2 > SI2
> 2.0 ct. FL - VVS2 VS1 VS2 SI1 > SI1

Emerald diamond clarity guide.

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Emerald Cut Diamond Clarity

Emerald cut diamond clarity.


Emerald Cut Diamond History & Background

The exact origins of the first emerald cut remain somewhat ambiguous, although its stylistic specifications can be traced back to the single table cuts of some 500 years ago and the multi-faceted table cuts of the Art Deco period in the early 20th century.

The term "emerald cut" only began being used during the Art Deco period, despite the fact that diamond cutters were already cutting the same shape under different names. Initially, the cut itself was developed specifically for emerald gems in order to reduce the amount of pressure exerted during cutting and to protect the gemstone from chipping. However, diamond cutters soon realized the importance of this cut and applied it to diamonds as well.

Emerald Cut Diamond History

Emerald cut diamond history.

Learn more about what you need to know in our ultimate buying guide, if you're thinking of buying a emerald cut diamond. We break it all down from pricing, other shapes comparison and engagement ring setting choices.