Engagement Rings

The Emerald-Cut Diamond Engagement Ring Buyer’s Guide

Pros/Cons of Emerald-Cut Diamonds: Looks bigger than its carat weight, but flaws in clarity and cut can appear to be relatively more pronounced compared to other diamond shapes.

Tip 1: Make sure the stone is highly polished for maximum bling.

Tip 2: Spend more on clarity, and less on carats.

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If this diamond cut sounds familiar, it may be because it’s often mentioned during celebrity engagements. When the super-rich and famous wed, the bride-to-be is often spotted with a massive rock on her ring finger — and there’s a good chance it’s an emerald-cut diamond.

Sarah Jessica Parker, Amal Clooney, and Mariah Carey are just a few of the A-listers who wear big emerald-cut diamonds on their left hands. In 2014, Brad Pitt designed his own ring for Angelina Jolie around a 7-carat emerald cut.

Photo of Amal Clooney's Engagement Ring via Getty Images.
Photo of Amal Clooney’s Engagement Ring courtesy of US Magazine.

The History of the Emerald Cut Diamond

Emerald cuts, with their concentric rows of facets, began back in the 1500s as a popular shape for big, deep-colored stones like emerald, hence the name. The cut’s beveled corners allow prongs to hold a bulky stone in place, and the large table (top surface) and deep pavilion draw light into a stone, intensifying the color, while the stepped facets reflect it back.

But those stepped facets on the crown and pavilion create a different kind of light show with a diamond. In recent years, it’s gained popularity as a fancy cut for diamonds, both colored and colorless. 

An emerald cut lends an elegant, architectural geometry to a ring.  The center stone is usually worn length-wise in line with the finger, to show off the stone and flatter the hand. But a smaller emerald-cut stone can also be mounted sideways — or east-west — in line with the ring shank for a unique and sophisticated look. (Photo below of a pavé Set Diamond Halo Engagement Ring courtesy of James Allen.)

Pavé Set Diamond Halo Engagement Ring courtesy of James Allen

So she wants an emerald-cut diamond? Go to James Allen or White Flash to see what kinds of ring designs work best with that shape (and others). Their selection spans from vintage to modern — and across all budgets

Famous Emerald-Cut Diamonds

Among the first emerald cuts to gain international attention was the 10.47-carat Cartier diamond Grace Kelly wore when she married Prince Rainier in 1956. Even more famous was the 29.4-carat Cartier diamond Mike Todd gave Elizabeth Taylor a year later. Thanks to these two, demand for emerald-cut diamonds spiked. You still see this shape a lot in “famous engagement ring” round-ups (yes, those are a thing).

Parker wears a 5-carat emerald cut on a simple yellow band, Clooney’s is 7 carats, and Mariah’s is bigger than both combined. During her decade married to Nick Cannon, Mariah wore a 17-carat emerald-cut diamond surrounded by 58 pink diamonds. After they split, she traded it for a 35-carat emerald cut from Australian billionaire James Packer, which she sold for a couple million when the relationship went south.

Photo of Mariah Carey's engagement ring courtesy of @mariahcarey
Mariah Carey’s engagement ring from James Packer. (Photo courtesy of @mariahcarey)

The trend continues. In March 2019, baseball legend Alex Rodriguez proposed to Jennifer Lopez with an 18-carat emerald cut. Tom Kaulitz proposed to Heidi Klum with an emerald-cut teal sapphire with cushion-cut diamonds.

Technical Details of Emerald-Cut Diamonds

The emerald cut offers a very different light show from the scintillation of a brilliant cut. Typically, an emerald cut has 25 long, rectangular facets on the pavilion, 25 on the crown, and 8 more on the girdle. Its facets give off a clean, stepped reflection, with three rows of top steps and three rows of bottom steps. The image below display where the crown and girdle are, though not using an emerald cut.

Are Emerald-Cut Diamonds Expensive?

They can be. Amal Clooney’s 7-carat diamond ring from Jacob Arabo of Jacob & Co. allegedly cost George Clooney around $750,000. J.Lo’s 18 carats probably cost at least $1.8 million, while Beyoncé’s 18-ct flawless emerald-cut from Jay-Z designed by Lorraine Schwartz was an estimated $5 million.

Assuming you’re looking at something a bit smaller, an emerald-cut shouldn’t cost much more than any other diamond of a modest size.

How Much Does a 1-Carat Emerald-Cut Diamond Cost?

A decent quality 1-carat emerald-cut diamond solitaire in a simple platinum ring can range from around a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Note that corner prongs make the diamonds read more rectangle than emerald.  

Here are a few specific examples, including one from Blue Nile (E color, VVS1 clarity) for for $4,437 at press time, below.

Tip: James Allen’s is shaking-up the diamond industry by offering mega selections at competitive prices — along with 360-degree video views for full transparency and detailed listing info your local jeweler just doesn’t have.

Blue Nile ring

And a Tiffany ring (E color, VS2, excellent cut with pavé diamond band) for $16,600, below.

Tiffany-ring

And a a Tiffany & Co 1-carat emerald cut at Lang Antiques for $9,750, below.

Choosing the Best Settings for Emerald-Cut Diamonds

A modest-size emerald-cut diamond is usually set with one prong at each corner, which keeps the setting clean but squares the corners so you don’t notice the beveled shape. 

Here’s the general idea behind how a prong-set diamond looks.

Another option is to opt for a more modern bezel setting. Quadrum Gallery carries a handcrafted 1.20-ct emerald-cut diamond in a gold bezel by Marni for $9,400. (Photo below courtesy of Quadrum Gallery)

Photo courtesy of Quadrum Gallery

Here’s an explanation of why a bezel-set ring can be advantageous.

Emerald-cut diamonds weighing in at several carats are often held in place with multiple prongs that you don’t really notice. That 7-carat emerald cut George Clooney gave wife Amal, for example, has two slender prongs at each corner. You barely see them at a glance because the rock itself visually overwhelms the setting. 

One way to bring out that classic emerald shape is to add a diamond halo. A diamond “surround” adds girth to the center stone at a reasonable cost, while emphasizing the softer corners of the emerald cut. The smaller diamonds are mounted outside prongs at the beveled corners. This may not be the clean, modern look you’re going for — especially if you’ve fallen for those big celebrity versions — but it’s a good way of hiding the prongs while showing off that classic emerald-cut shape.

Here’s an example of a halo setting from Gabriel & Co for $4,125. The idea is to make the prongs disappear in the diamond surround.

And finally, here’s an example of a pavé setting.

What Are the Benefits of an Emerald-Cut Diamond?

Unlike round diamonds, emerald cuts are faceted in steps that get smaller toward the center of the diamond. These steps combined with the unusually large expanse of the table (top surface) make the diamond appear larger than its carat weight.

Mounted perpendicular to the ring band, a larger emerald cut elongates the bulk to flatter the finger. But smaller diamonds can be mounted in line with the band for a more unique look, like this one, pictured below, with a halo from the Sylvie Collection.

Photo courtesy of teh Sylvie Collection

What to Watch Out for in an Emerald-Cut Diamond

The large top surface and straighter facets of an emerald cut transform the diamond into something of a picture window so it’s harder to hide flaws. You may need to invest a bit more in clarity and bring along someone who can examine the quality.

Best to avoid anything less than a VS2 in clarity for this cut. If you opt for SI1 or SI2, examine closely to make sure inclusions are off to the side and not visible.

Emerald cuts have fewer facets so reflect less light than a brilliant cut, but that top surface is like a mirror that bounces back light. Make sure the stone has a good polish. 

Bottom Line

This shape has come to spell luxury to many. If you can afford a somewhat bigger stone, it’s a beautiful and flattering way to elongate the profile. But even with a modest size diamond, the beveled corners make room for embellished settings that can make for a lovely silhouette, a bit less flashy than a conventional brilliant but still quite elegant. 

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