Emerald Cut Diamond Buying Guide (Optimizing for Brilliance)

To begin with, an emerald cut diamond is a rectangular fancy shape with step cut facets. Although this may be true, the shape of the emerald cut might also be square. In other words, there are emerald cut diamonds that are rectangular and square shape. Under those circumstances, the main difference between the two options is the length to width ratio.

In that case, you'll need to decide which version of emerald diamond you prefer. As a matter of fact, both the rectangular and square shape are step cuts. In that case, they tend to be very brilliant because there is more white sparkle. However, they tend to lack dispersion, so there is less fire (colored sparkle).

That's because the long step facets reflect light differently than the smaller geometric facets of the brilliant design. This video of a Black by Brian Gavin Emerald cut diamond on the left shows the pattern of light reflection.

As you can see, the sparkle factor is not the same or similar to a round brilliant cut diamond. In other words, the sparkle of an emerald diamond might be larger in size, but flatter in intensity.

Whereas the sparkle factor of a brilliant cut is smaller in size and more vivid and intense. Although this may be true, emerald cut diamond engagement rings are more popular than ever.

Where to Buy Emerald Cut Diamond Engagement Rings:

As a matter of fact, the light performance of a square or rectangular step-cut diamond depend on several factors. In the first place, the length to width ratio and the proportions affect how light reflects throughout the diamond.

Emerald Cut Diamond Helix Tension Setting by Stephen Kretchmer

Secondly, the degree of optical precision or consistency of the facet structure dictate the brightness. With that in mind, fifth-generation diamond cutter Brian Gavin produces the most spectcular emerald cuts that I've ever seen.

In fact, the design and light performance of his rectangular emerald shape diamonds is so impressive that it's patented. Speaking of impressive designs, what do you think of this Helix Pavé Tension Setting by Stephen Kretchmer?

This ring is different from other settings because the center stone is held in place by immense pressure. In that case, the design is truly unique because there aren't any prongs to catch. Of course, the center stone is a Black by Brian Gavin emerald cut diamond.

Best Places to Buy Emerald Cut Diamonds:

In the event that you're looking for a lab-grown diamond, then James Allen and Ritani are your best bet. However, you might want to read about the differences between natural and lab-grown diamonds.

Th Heiress Pavé Halo from Blue Nile on the right is a very popular setting. As you can see, the halo of smaller diamonds makes the emerald diamond look bigger.

Blue Nile Studio Heiress Halo Setting

How to Choose an Emerald Cut Diamond:

In the first place, our goal is to help you find the most spectacular looking diamond. With that in mind, we're going to focus mostly on light performance. After all, things like carat weight, clarity grades, and the color grade aren't readily visible from across the dinner table. Whereas the sparkle factor of your emerald cut diamond engagement ring can be seen from across the room.

Brilyens Brian Gavin Signature Emerald Cut Diamonds

With that in mind, we recommend that you start with a loose diamond. Because the diamond will have to be loose in order for you to judge the light performance. Obviously, the sparkle factor and Brilyens® of Brian Gavin Signature emerald cut diamonds is spectacular.

Although that may be true, you don't have to take our word for it. Because we're going to prove it to you using ASET and Ideal Scope images below. In that case, you'll know with 100% certainty that Brian Gavin Signature emerald cuts are the brightest.

Emerald Cut Diamonds Sparkle Factor:

Brian Gavin Signature Emerald Cut Diamond

People often ask me whether emerald cut diamonds are less sparkly. As a matter of fact, emerald shape diamonds sparkle less than their brilliant counterparts. Obviously, the long rectangular step facets are the reason for this. Although this may be true, it's more accurate to say that this diamond shape sparkles differently.

After all, each unique fancy shape diamond is going to reflect light in its own way. In which case, the decision to buy one shape over another is largely a matter of personal preference. As a matter of fact, I wasn't a fan of emerald cuts before seeing the Brian Gavin Signature. That's because the majority of emerald cut diamonds look lifeless and lack luster. In fact, it seems to me that the vast majority of them just sit there looking rather dull.

Although that may be true, it also happens to be one of the more popular diamond shapes. As a matter of fact, many people consider the emerald to be a timeless classic. Be that as it may, I never saw the appeal of this shape until recently.

ASET for LIght Performance:

ASET Brian Gavin Signature Emerald Cut Diamond

In the event that you're shopping for an emerald cut diamond engagement ring, you probably want it to look amazing. Under those circumstances, you can use an ASET Scope to verify the degree of optical precision. In other words, the image on the left enables us to see how evenly the diamond is reflecting light.

As a matter of fact, you can read this article about ASET and what the different colors represent. However, the high concentration of red in this picture tells us that there is a high concentration of primary brightness. In that case, this Brian Gavin Signature diamond is going to be very bright. At the same time, there is an even distribution of blue (contrast) and green (secondary brightness). In other words, this emerald cut diamond is reflecting light evenly.

Ideal Scope for Light Leakage:

Ideal Scope Brian Gavin Signature Emerald Cut Diamond

In the first place, these ASET and Ideal Scope images serve different purposes for fancy shape diamonds. As a matter of fact, the majority of fancy shape diamonds aren't cut very well. In which case, we expect them to leak light extensively. Whereas, it's easier to optimize a round brilliant because of the symmetrical facet structure.

Although that may be true, the Ideal Scope image on the left indicates a high volume of light return. In other words, this emerald cut diamond is leaking very little light compared to most. That's because Brian Gavin doesn't cut diamonds for weight retention, but rather cuts for performance. In that case, he went back to the drawing board and redesigned the rectangular emerald shape from the ground up.

Under those circumstances, the Ideal Scope image above shows very little light leakage. As a matter of fact, the difference between this and other rectangular shapes is like night and day. That is why Brian Gavin is one of the few diamond cutters producing AGS Ideal Emerald Cut Diamonds.

ASET Image for Step Cut Diamonds:

Keep the images of the Brian Gavin Signature Emerald cut diamonds from above in mind. Then, compare the light performance of those with this rectangular emerald from Blue Nile.

Blue Nile Diamond Reviews
ASET Scope Image for Blue Nile Diamond.

In the first place, you can see that this diamond is reflecting light pretty evenly. Under those circumstances, it's fair to say that this emerald cut diamond looks better than most. Although that may be true, the ASET Scope image on the right shows that it's leaking light throughout the fan sections.

In other words, all of those light, white, transparent sections indicate light leakage. Now that you know what you're looking for, you'll see how that makes the diamond look dark in the clarity photograph. Be that as it may, this is the only option available with an ASET Scope image that I could find for comparison.

As a matter of fact, this is not surprising since most fancy shape diamonds do not fair well under these devices. After all, the majority of emerald cut diamonds don't have very good optical precision. In other words, theconsistency of facet shape, size, and alignment is not on par with Brian Gavin.

Characteristics of Emerald Cut Diamonds:

In the first place, the overall look and shape of every emerald cut diamond is uniquely individual. That's because the shape of the rough diamond crystal dictates the shape of the polished gem. At the same time, the diamond cutter might adjust the size, shape, and number of facets to maximize the yield. In that case, the step-facet pattern of an emerald diamond is more of a general guideline than a rule.

AGS Lab Report for Emerald Cut Diamond

Although that may be true, there are some basic characteristics of the emerald cut diamond that are consistent. To begin with, the hall of mirrors effect that emerald diamonds exhibit is the result of the step-facet pattern. The kaleidescope effect of light interplaying within the facets is truly unique.

The ASET map on the lab report to the left shows how rectangular step-cut diamonds reflect light. The longer step facets along the pavilion section reflect light in long stretches throughout the stone. Whereas the bevelled corners step-down and reflect light at different intensities that create contrast.

At the same time, the offset of light reflecting through the step-facets on top of the diamond create further definition and contrast. In that case, an interplay of light and dark contrasting sections combine to produce dramatically bold flashes of light. Although this may be true, emerald-shape diamonds tend to be more brilliant, but less fiery than other diamond shapes.

Step-Cut Facet Patterns:

As shown below, square and rectangular diamonds like the emerald feature a step-cut facet structure. In that case, light reflecting off the facets tends to be larger in size and bolder in appearance. Under those circumstances, the sparkle tends to be brilliant, but there is not a lot of dispersion. In other words, the sparkle is brighter (whiter) but there is not a lot of fire (color).

Step-cut diamonds facet patterns.

The plotting diagram on the left shows the step-facet pattern of a Black by Brian Gavin Emerald cut diamond.

On the right, is the proportions diagram from the AGS diamond grading report. One of the benefits to the AGS grading system is that it provides the crown and pavilion measurements. As a matter of fact, GIA diamond grading reports do not provide those measurements.

Proportions Diagram for Step-cut diamonds

Ideal Proportions for Emerald Cuts:

Until recently it was practically impossible to find an AGS Ideal Emerald cut diamond. That's because the majority of diamond cutters that cut emerald diamonds are mostly thinking about carat weight. In other words, they are trying to maximize the yield from each piece of rough diamond material.

After all, just about everybody is familiar with carat weight and expects to pay more for a larger diamond. However, few people realize the impact that diamond cut quality has on diamond prices. Although that may be true, the overall cut quality of a diamond can affect the price by sixty percent.

AGA Proportions Chart for Step Cut Diamonds:

In the first place, it's a well known fact that diamond proportions can influence the light return and sparkle factor. With that in mind, you might be wondering about the ideal proportions for emerald cut diamonds. Under those circumstances, we're going to share this legacy proportions chart from David Atlas of Accredited Gemological Appraisers.

Proportions Chart for Emerald Cut Diamonds

However, the reality is that it's practically impossible to predict the light performance of fancy shape diamonds by the numbers. After all, the variety of facet patterns and different length to width ratios create an ever-changing model of possibilities. In that case, we use this chart as a guideline when searching for step-cut diamonds. And then we try to obtain the ASET and Ideal Scope images necessary to verify the light performance.

As a matter of fact, the proportions of Brian Gavin Signature emerald cut diamonds have proportions beyond this range. Although this may be true, the fact is that it's not really that surprising. After all, this chart is based on what was known about light performance in step-cut diamonds in the 1980s. Whereas the Brian Gavin Signature Emerald is based on modern day research using state-of-the-art cutting processes. With that in mind, we concentrate on what the ASET/Ideal Scope images indicate and not on the proportions.

Square Asscher Cut Diamonds:

Square Asscher cut diamond

As mentioned previously, an emerald is a step-cut diamond that can be square shape or rectangular. With that in mind, it looks a little bit like the bevelled glass top of a coffee table. The Asscher cut diamond on the left is a hybrid step-cut that offers a distinctly different look.

In other words, an Asscher cut diamond is similar to an emerald cut diamond. However, the facet pattern creates a pattern of concentric squares that is visible under the table facet.

From my perspective, I think it looks like a square spiral staircase as seen from the top down. However, some people see the pattern as being more of a hall of mirrors effect. Regardless of how you see things, they make pretty unique engagement rings.

Length to Width Ratio:

The length to width ratio of an emerald cut diamond is simply the ratio of the length and width. As a matter of fact, there isn't an ideal length to width ratio for fancy shape diamonds. After all, it's primarily a matter of personal preference since beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In order to determine the length to width ratio, simply divide the length by the width in relationship to one.

Length to Width Ratio: 1.36:1.00

Brian Gavin Signature Emerald Cut Diamond

This 2.01 carat, Brian Gavin Signature emerald cut diamond measures 8.58 x 6.33 x 4.24 mm. In that case, simply divide 8.58 by 6.33 and has a 1.36:1.00 length to width ratio. As you can see, the diamond has a nice rectangular outline that is quite pleasing.

In addition, the diamond faces-up bright and white and is full of life. As a matter of fact, these are the brightest looking emerald cut diamonds that I've ever seen. The higher degree of optical precision and proportions creates incredible brilliance. With that in mind, it's easy to see why I recommend Brian Gavin Diamonds so highly.

Of course, this diamond is graded AGS Ideal-0 cut by the American Gem Society Laboratory. As a matter of fact, very few fancy shape diamonds receive this rating because they can't pass the ASET evaluation. Another plus is that the AGS provides all the measurements on the lab report. Needless to say, the ASET and Ideal Scope images for this diamond look amazing.

1.45:1.00 Length to Width Ratio:

James Allen Diamond Reviews

For example, this 2.01 carat, emerald cut diamond from James Allen measures 8.75 x 6.03 x 3.92 millimeters. Under those circumstances, the length to width ratio is 1.45:1.00. As a matter of fact, this diamond has a nice looking rectangular outline as a result.

Of course, the proportions of this diamond are within the range specified above. With that in mind, the total depth is 65% and it has a 63% table diameter. Be that as it may, the GIA does not provide crown or pavilion measurements for fancy shape diamonds. Under those circumstances, the lab report is basically incomplete. As a matter of fact, that is another reason why I prefer the AGS Laboratory.


1.65:1.00 Length to Width Ratio:

Rectangular Diamond Length to Width Ratio

This emerald cut from Blue Nile has a length to width ratio of 1.65:1.00. As a matter of fact, that's a bit long in the tooth for my personal taste. However, there are lots of people who like rectangular step-cut diamonds that are longer looking. After all, it's all a matter of personal taste and whether or not you find the outline attractive.

Be that as it may, I want you to notice how each of these diamonds reflects light differently. As a matter of fact, this is one of the challenges that you'll face when buying fancy shape diamonds. That's because literally every diamond is different because of the differences in facet structure.

In other words, every emerald cut diamond tends to have a slightly different shape. That's because of differences in the shape of the diamond rough and facet structure.

Emerald Cut Engagement Rings:

Now that you know what to look for in an emerald cut diamond, it's time to think about the ring. As a matter of fact, emerald cut engagement rings are available in all the popular styles. That means that you'll have a lot of ring styles to choose from. Of course, at the end of the day, it's really a matter of personal preferences. With that in mind, let's look at some of the popular styles of emerald engagement rings:

Ring-spiration from Blue Nile Studio:

Popular Styles from James Allen:

Spectacular Designs from Ritani:

Shopping for Emerald Cut Diamond Rings:

Obviously, there is a lot to consider when you're shopping for emerald cut diamond rings. In the first place, there are the obvious factors, such as:

Black by Brian Gavin Solitaire Diamond Engagement Ring

Then there are the less obvious factors, such as the facet structure and the length to width ratio. Plus, there's all that stuff pertaining to the proportions and light performance. As a matter of fact, that's quite a lot to think about.

Especially when all you really want to do is plan a marriage proposal and tie the knot. In that case, all you really need to know is her ring size and favorite shape. Well, actually, it's also a good idea to know whether she prefers rose gold, yellow gold, white gold, or platinum. Of course, it's even easier to think in terms of pink, yellow, or white.

Although that may be true, it's probably better if you leave those details to us. That's right, we said it. After all, we've got 35+ years of diamond buying experience.

Finding The One Isn't Easy:

With that in mind, we want to invite you to take advantage of our free Diamond Concierge Service. Just click on that link to begin and tell us what you're looking for.

For example, I'm looking for a 2 carat emerald cut diamond ring for $30K. You can also tell us about any preferences that you have for clarity, color, and blue fluorescence. And then, we'll do all the searching for you and find the best options available. That means that your time will be freed up to work on whatever you do best. How does that sound?


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