The Diamond Pro

Emerald Cut Diamond: Shape, Quality, Color, and Clarity

By Michael Fried
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1..00ct H/VS1 Emerald Cut Diamond
1..00ct H/VS1 Emerald Cut Diamond from Blue Nile

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It’s often tricky to decipher the Cut quality of an Emerald Diamond—and preference of a more square vs. elongated shape is largely based on personal style. Because of these unique factors, the range of acceptable depth % changes from diamond to diamond.

To find an Emerald Cut Diamond that’s stunning and also high in value—without a giant price tag—we encourage you to contact us directly for assistance and advice.

What is an Emerald Cut Diamond

The Emerald Cut Diamond flaunts an elongated, rectangular shape and chiseled step cuts, with straight linear facets—usually arranged parallelly down the stone. To add stability and prevent fractures, the corners of an Emerald Cut Diamond are usually cropped.

The Emerald Cut Diamond provides for deep clarity and a large surface table. Through its long step cuts, the diamond offers abundant reflections both of white and colored light. Emerald Cuts are more prominent in rectangle but are available in square as well.

A popular choice for those wanting a larger stone without a high price point, an Emerald Cut diamond usually appears bigger than other shaped diamonds in the same carat weight.

Best Setting for Emerald Cut Diamond

Emerald cuts fit well in many different styles, but they really fit perfectly with more understated settings. Emerald cuts go well with solitaire and simple pave settings, and are perfect for three stone settings.

Solitaire

A solitaire setting lets a lot of light hit the diamond, amplifying the “hall of mirrors” effect of a well-proportioned Emerald Cut. It showcases the unique style of an Emerald Diamond perfectly. It’s very hard to go wrong with a simple solitaire setting and a beautiful Emerald Cut.

For inspiration, see this Classic Four-Prong Solitaire Engagement Ring with an Emerald Cut Diamond.

Solitaire setting with emerald cut center diamond

Pavé

A pavé setting will make your ring stand out more, without taking away from the Emerald Diamond as a centerpiece. The accent diamonds add some flair to the ring, at the same time amplifying the fire of the center stone.

See this 14K White Gold Petite Pavé Engagement Ring as an example of how the Emerald Cut can work in a pavé setting.

pave setting with an emerald cut center diamond

Three Stone

Emerald Diamonds also work beautifully in a three stone setting. Two smaller stones flanking the Emerald in the middle helps draw attention to the center stone and amplify its beauty.

Brilliant Cut diamonds on each side provide a great contrast to the Emerald’s long, straight facets, such as in this Marquise Shape Three Stone Ring

Alternatively, you can flank the Emerald with Baguette Diamonds like in this example for a sleek and classy look.

Three stone setting with emerald cut center diamond

For more inspiration, check out these engagement rings that have been recently purchased at the major online retailers.

Emerald Cut Diamond – Cut Quality

Cut quality is a little trickier to assess for Emerald Cuts than Round Brilliants, because lab entities (GIA included) don’t give a cut grade for fancy shaped diamonds. In general, though, there are parameters that make it easy to select a brilliant and beautiful Emerald Cut. 

Dimensions like depth %, table %, and length to width ratios impact how the diamond looks and how much light it reflects. To buy a well-cut Emerald diamond, focus on depth being below 74%. Of course you should pay attention to all the specs available, but the depth itself will present a beautiful Emerald Cut. 

These two Emerald Cut diamonds are examples of stones with a good depth % and other quality dimensions:

If you want to dig into more specifics, review the table of cut recommendations below. Or contact us and we’ll give you a recommendation on any Emerald Cut.

Emerald Cut Diamond – Cut Quality Recommendations

 ExcellentVery GoodGoodFairPoor
Table %61-6957-60 or 70-7254-56 or 73-7451-53 or 75-79<51 or >79
Depth %61-6759-60.9 or 67.1-7057-58.9 or 70.1-7454-56.9 or 74.1-79<54 or >79
GirdleVery Thin – Slightly ThickVery Thin – ThickVery Thin – Very ThickExtremely Thin – Extremely Thick
CuletNoneVery SmallSmallMedium>Medium
Length/Width Ratio1.40-1.501.30-1.39 or 1.51-1.601.20-1.29 or 1.61-1.801.15-1.19 or 1.81-1.90<1.15 or >1.90

Emerald Cut Diamond – Length to Width Ratio

A diamond’s length to width ratio tells how squared or elongated its shape is. The ratio is calculated by dividing the length of the diamond by the width. For example, if a diamond’s length is 6mm and its width is 4mm, the length to width ratio is 1.50 – rectangular shape. On the opposite side, a length to width ratio close to 1 looks like a square, because the length and width of the diamond are similar.

The ideal shape for an Emerald Cut Diamond is rectangular, with the ratio classically ranging from 1.30 to 1.60. Most people choose a ration close to 1.50, however you may have your own preference for a slightly wider or longer shaped diamond.

Review a handful of Emerald Cut diamonds to determine which length to width ratio you prefer. Consider also how the diamond will look in your desired setting.

If you prefer a more square shape—instead of a rectangular design—you may wish to consider an Asscher Cut Diamond, an exquisite alternative to the Emerald Cut.

emerald cut diamond length to width ratios

Emerald Cut Diamond – Clarity

The table (top surface area) of an Emerald Cut is like a clear unobstructed window into the center of the stone. Any inclusions found in the middle will be clearly visible. Because both the pavilion (the bottom slanted portion of the diamond) and crown (the upper diamond resting atop the girdle) are comparatively shallow, Step Cut stones are generally not as bright and never as fiery as brilliant cut stones. Rather, they accentuate a diamond’s Clarity, as even the slightest flaw would be highly visible.

In other words, blemishes in an Emerald Cut Diamond will be more noticeable than in a Round Cut Diamond or Cushion Cut Diamond.

The GIA scale for Clarity ranges from best (void of inclusions) to worst (easily noticeable inclusions). Their designations include:

  • IF – Internally Flawless
  • VVS1 – Very Very Small Inclusions 1
  • VVS2 – Very Very Small Inclusions 2
  • VS1 – Very Small Inclusions 1
  • VS2 – Very Small Inclusions 2
  • SI1 – Small Inclusions 1
  • SI2 – Small Inclusions 2
  • I1 – Inclusions 1
  • I2 – Inclusions 2

We recommend a VS2 Clarity for the best value, like this Emerald Cut Diamond in a rose gold solitaire setting. SI2 and SI1 clarity grades are generally not recommended with Step Cuts such as Asscher Cuts and Emerald Cuts. Step Cuts aren’t cut for their brilliance, so there’s no scattering of light to hide inclusions.

Most importantly, review all possible diamonds carefully to ensure they look clean to the naked eye. If you’re looking for an SI1 or SI2 Emerald Cut, for example, you must verify that inclusions are not in the center of the stone.

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For the best tool in evaluating an Emerald Cut’s Clarity, we suggest James Allen’s ultra-high quality diamond photography. Their technology provides up-close photographs for reviewing stones in detail.

If you’re not confident in selecting an eye clean Emerald Cut Diamond, be sure to contact our experts.

Emerald Cut Diamond – Color

Similar to Clarity, Color is another attribute that is more noticeable in an Emerald Cut. Its large table and step cuts retain more color than other Diamond Shapes, allowing the eye to see the natural Color of the stone.

The GIA grades Color on a scale from D to Z. D is the most colorless while Z contains easily noticeable brown or yellow tint.

When you look at an Emerald Diamond of a J grade or higher with the naked eye, you can easily notice a slight yellow tint. Because the naked eye notices no tint at an I Color grade or better, we recommend this range for the most beauty and best value. If you choose a diamond below an I, such as a G or H, you will likely not notice much of a difference—if any at all. Paying more for a lower Color grade is usually not worth the additional price.

It’s also important to ensure your diamond looks white in relation its setting. For example, this stunning I color Emerald Diamond in a white gold pave setting bursts with white, radiant color. Even this J colored Emerald looks shimmering in a rose gold setting. Overall it’s important to review the Diamond’s Color and setting before purchasing.

Emerald Cuts Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Lower price per carat than most shapes
  • Understated, elegant appearance
  • Relatively easy to find

Cons

  • Glassy nature makes inclusions more noticeable (so you need a higher clarity grade)
  • Not as brilliant as other diamond shapes
  • Emerald Cuts Pros & Cons

Comparing Size and Carat Weight

Take a look at the size differences between different carat weigh of an emerald cut. Keep in mind that those are average  measurements as every emerald cut diamond is slightly different (in measurements and L:W ratio).

size vs carat weight emerald cut

Are Emerald Cuts More Expensive?

The simple answer is no. An engagement ring with an emerald cut will be cheaper than an engagement ring with a round diamond (and cheaper than most other shapes). Emerald cuts are cheaper per carat than most cuts, and are significantly cheaper than round diamonds. This is due to two factors: lower demand for emerald cuts and higher yield on cutting (you lose the least amount of weight when cutting a rough diamond into a polished emerald cut.

But things are not that simple. Yes, emerald cuts are cheaper. But you also need to be far more strict when choosing an emerald cut. Due to its glassy nature, emerald cuts do not hide inclusions nearly as well as other cuts. We normally find SI1 or SI2 clarity grades when selecting a diamond for our readers. When we are selecting emerald cuts, it’s usually a VS2 or even VS1 clarity grade.

Take a look at this emerald cut. Usually an SI1 clarity diamond like this would be eye-clean. Unfortunately, due to the large table and glassy nature, the inclusion is visible to the naked eye. That doesn’t mean that emerald cuts are a poor choice. As we mentioned, emerald cuts are cheaper per carat. You can upgrade in clarity and still get a good deal.

Emerald Cut vs. Asscher Cut

Emeralds and asschers are pretty much identical. The only discernible difference is L:W ratio. Emerald cuts are traditionally rectangular while asscher cuts are square. From a value or quality difference, there is no difference. It all boils down to personal preference or setting style.

Emerald Cut vs. Cushion Cut

Emerald cuts have a glassy, understated elegance to them while cushion cuts have a softer, more modern look. Cushion cuts will exhibit more brilliance and are the more popular cut. Emerald cuts cater to someone looking for a classy, timeless look.

Shop for emerald cut diamond engagement rings here.

Conclusion

Emerald Cut Diamonds offer an elegant shape and unique Step Cuts. Emerald Cuts are a phenomenal choice for those desiring a larger looking Diamond without a hefty price tag.

Because Emerald Cut Diamonds require careful observation of Cut quality, we suggest having an expert review your diamond before purchase. For assistance with finding the perfect Emerald Cut Diamond, reach out to our experts today.

About the author
Michael Fried
Mike learned the diamond business from the ground-up at Leo Schachter Diamonds - one of the world's top diamond manufacturers. He has been recognized as a diamond industry expert by Time, PeopleMoney, The Daily Mirror, NerdWallet, The Times Herald, Yahoo Finance Australia, The Art of Charm, The Washington Diplomat, The Next Web, and more.
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