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The Emerald cut diamond is perhaps the most distinctive and revered of all step cuts. A step cut refers to a diamond that is cut with square or rectangular outlines and with linear facets that are arranged parallel to one another. The result is a diamond with a large table, clear, sharp lines, and extraordinary depth.
Emerald cuts offer exceptional reflections of both colored and white light. They do not ‘sparkle’ in the same way round brilliant cut does as they have less angled facets. Instead, a step cut is all about clarity and craftsmanship.
They emit a unique twinkle and, when they are well cut, have an intense luster. Their alluring maze of angles and facets is truly a beauty to be admired. They become extremely popular during the 1920’s, and today this unique cut still conjures art deco fantasies for modern brides to be.
As with other fancy cut diamonds, some of the decisions you make when choosing an emerald cut diamond will be based on personal preference. Unlike round brilliant or princess cut diamonds, the industry does not have a fixed set of parameters for an emerald cut diamond, and the GIA does not grade on the cut.
However, there are still many factors that should be considered when choosing your stone to ensure you get the most beautiful diamond possible.
Although there are no fixed cut parameters when it comes to grading, the below table shows the proportions that are generally accepted as the most suitable for an emerald cut diamond.
Length to Width Ratio
As is the case with cuts such as pear and marquis, the length to width ratio of an emerald cut diamond will have a significant impact on the aesthetic of the stone.
The length to width ratio is calculated by dividing the length of the diamond by the width; this will give you the length to width ratio, or proportions, of the diamond.
There is an element of preference when it comes to the ratios of your diamond. Some people prefer a squarer stone while others like a more elongated, rectangular shape. A classic emerald cut generally falls somewhere between 1.30 and 1.60, with the majority of buyers opting for 1.50.
It is also important to consider your setting. Some of the more elaborate designs, such as this three-stone design like this one will soften the edges of an emerald diamond, giving it a squarer appearance.
Blue Nile Studio Emerald Three Stones Halo Diamond Engagement Ring
Take a look at a variety of proportions for your diamond, and also be sure to view them in your proposed setting.
Perhaps the most distinctive and beguiling feature of an emerald cut diamond is its larger, open table (top part of the diamond). The table is framed by the parallel facets, instantly drawing the eye deep into the center of the stone. It is because of this, that clarity is so important in this particular cut of diamond.
The multiple facets of a brilliant cut can go some way towards masking the appearance of inclusions, however, in a step cut, even the smallest blemishes or inclusions (particularly those in the center of the diamond) are visible. This cut is about flaunting the depth and clarity of a diamond, as opposed to fire and brilliance.
James Allen 0.81 Carat K-SI1 Emerald Cut Diamond
This SI1 diamond from James Allen shows how just one inclusion can greatly detract from the overall beauty of an emerald cut diamond.
James Allen 0.80 Carat J-VS2 Emerald Cut Diamond
By contrast, this VS2 has no visible blemishes and is an example of the clean-cut lines and deep clarity that you should look for when choosing an emerald cut diamond.
Due to their unforgiving nature, a VS2 is the best clarity grade for a step-cut diamond. At this level, inclusions are only visible under a jewelers loupe and are therefore these diamonds are considered eye-clean.
If budget is tight, consider coming down slightly in carat weight. Emerald diamonds appear larger than other cuts of the equivalent carat weight. Unlike other cuts, which can be more forgiving, sacrificing color and clarity grades can greatly affect the beauty of your emerald cut diamond.
If you are considering purchasing an emerald cut at an SI1 or SI2 clarity grade, it is imperative that you ensure there are no inclusions in the center of the stone.
The large table of an emerald cut means that color is ‘held’ more deliberately within these diamonds. Color grades I-G are considered ‘near colorless’ by the GIA. Within these grades, you will not notice a yellow tint; a slight difference may be seen if you compared an I grade stone with a D grade stone side by side, for example, but would be indistinguishable when set in a piece of jewelry.
If you are opting for a warmer setting such this rose gold French setting from Ritani; a J grade can still appear colorless to the eye. However, on the whole, an I grade is the best option for a balance of beauty and budget.
Whiteflash 18k Rose Gold Ritani French Set Halo Diamond Engagement Ring
The Final Word
An emerald cut diamond is an effortless statement; while echoing the art deco era, its clean, elegant look has proved to be timeless. It will give a larger appearance on the hand than other cuts of the same carat weight, and for many, this allows more potential to get the absolute best color and clarity possible, as is so essential with this unforgiving beauty.
By following the above advice, you are sure to find the perfect emerald cut diamond. Remember to closely examine the chosen diamond either through a loupe or by the high-res imaging offered by online vendors, to get the best quality possible.
Richard Jenkins, The Diamond Guru
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