Learn the pros and cons for emerald-cut diamonds and asscher-cut diamonds and how to find a high-quality diamond while staying in your budget.
Pros and Cons of Emerald-Cut & Asscher-Cut Diamonds
While most consumers are drawn to round brilliant diamonds for their incredible sparkle, emerald & asscher-cut diamonds have a more subtle appeal. These fancy cut diamonds reflect light in broad flashes, offering a unique and sophisticated style.
Better yet, emerald & asscher-cut diamonds are much cheaper than the ubiquitous round diamond. Take a look at these three 1-ct H-color VS2 diamonds. By choosing an emerald-cut diamond or asscher-cut diamond, you could save 35-40% or choose a larger center stone! With these cuts, you can find that perfect engagement ring without breaking the bank.
What’s the Difference Between an Emerald Cut and an Asscher Cut?
The cutting patterns for emerald & asscher cut-diamonds have slight differences. However, you’re unlikely to notice these unless you’re a lapidary or gemologist!
The primary difference between emerald cuts and asscher cuts is the shape. Traditional emerald cuts are elongated rectangles with the corners cut out. Asscher cuts are square versions of emerald cuts with more prominently truncated corners. This gives them an almost octagonal shape.
Some emerald-cut diamonds are square, causing extra confusion. However, their corners are less truncated than a true asscher-cut diamond.
Emerald-cut diamonds have an entrancing hall of mirrors effect, and their elongated shape looks very attractive on the finger. In addition, emerald-cut diamonds appear much larger because of their shape.
Asscher-cut diamonds were first popularized in the 1920s and are perfect for vintage-style engagement rings. Their facets create a mesmerizing pattern that’s seen a recent resurgence in popularity.
Judging Step-Cut Diamonds
The cut quality of step-cut diamonds, like emerald or asscher cuts, is more subjective than it is for round brilliants. While round brilliant cuts are carefully perfected to provide the most sparkle, step cuts reflect broadly, and a number of different angles can create a beautiful pattern of light.
But that doesn’t mean every step-cut diamond looks great! Avoid diamonds that show large, dark areas.
In addition, consider the overall shape appeal. Make sure that the shape is symmetrical.
For asscher-cut diamonds, make sure all 8 facets meet in the middle. Some poorly cut diamonds have corner facets that reach only part way to the center, leaving the diamond looking awkward. These stones lack the mesmerizing “windmill” effect seen in most asscher-cut diamonds.
The length-to-width ratio (L/W) greatly affects the appearance of step cuts, especially in emerald-cut diamonds. Most consumers prefer a L/W of 1.3 to 1.6, with the majority around 1.45. Take a look at these emerald-cut diamonds. What shape do you prefer?
Photos © James Allen. Used with permission.
Avoid the awkward zone of L/W 1.06 to 1.20. These diamonds will look off-square. For asscher-cut diamonds, stick to a L/W of 1.00 to 1.05.
Unlike in round brilliant diamonds, the depth and angles in step cuts are less important. Instead, for step-cut diamonds, try to find a shallower diamond. Diamonds with more depth will “hide” their weight. In other words, deeper diamonds look smaller than shallow ones!
Always look at the measurements when comparing emerald-cut & asscher-cut diamonds. For example, take a look at these two 1-ct H color VS2 diamonds. The shallower stone is 6.88 x 4.80 mm, and the deeper one is 6.55 x 4.74 mm. That’s a 6% difference in face-up area!
In these asscher-cut diamonds, there is a 10% difference in face-up size — and for the same price!
So, it’s best to keep the total depth percentage at 67% and under. However, it’s not a crucial measurement. Depths of 70% can still be well-cut stones. Above that, just know that you’ll be paying for weight that you can’t see.
Again, there are no strict requirements when it comes to table size. The table is the large facet on top of the diamond that provides a window into the stone.
While it’s best to avoid particularly large tables, as these can impair diamond performance, small tables pose less of a concern. Sticking to tables under 69% will help you find a great diamond.
Check out the tables on these three asscher-cut diamonds. The crown facets (on the top edges) of the diamond with the largest table appear squished, while the smaller tables look great! More importantly, this diamond’s performance isn’t as lively.
Photos © James Allen. Used with permission.
Polish and Symmetry
Unlike brilliant cuts, step cuts don’t hide imperfections. Make sure to look for imperfections under the table of the stone, as these are often visible to the eye.
Stick to a VS2 clarity grade (“very slightly included”). These are almost always eye-clean and less expensive than higher clarity grades. Why pay more for something that looks the same?
Still, with some searching, you may be able to find an eye-clean stone with the lower clarity grade of SI1 (“slightly included”).
For larger emerald-cut diamonds (>3 cts), keep in mind that the imperfections in a VS2 stone may be more visible.
To ensure an eye-clean clarity, check out the laboratory report for a map of the diamond’s imperfections. If you’re using James Allen, take advantage of their experts, who will review the diamond with you and help you determine whether it’s eye-clean.
Fancy cuts also tend to show more color than round brilliant diamonds. For emerald-cut & asscher-cut diamonds, an H color diamond will appear white. Although higher color grades will appear slightly whiter, you’ll never notice the difference in color. However, you’ll notice the difference in the price tag!
If you’ve chosen a halo, side stone, or three-stone setting, try to match the side stones in color grade. A color range for these diamonds should be shown in the ring details.
For rose gold and yellow gold settings, I color diamonds will still appear white.
Since diamond color is determined by the body color, not the face-up color, you may be able to find a J or K color diamond that faces up white.
Where Should I Buy Emerald & Asscher-Cut Diamonds?
If you’re buying an emerald-cut or asscher-cut diamond online, always buy from a reputable dealer and review their return and exchange policies. For these cuts, it’s essential that you can review the clarity imperfections and see how the diamond performs. Blue Nile and James Allen both offer high-quality, close-up 360° videos of their diamonds.
In addition, James Allen has diamond experts ready to review your choices with you. They will help you determine if the stone is eye-clean and whether it has surface-reaching imperfections that can weaken the stone. They also offer an extensive selection of ring designs to choose from! Search James Allen’s diamonds based on our recommendations.
Blue Nile does offer one advantage when shopping for emerald-cut diamonds. They allow you to limit your search by the L/W ratio. If you’re picky about the shape or looking for a replacement stone, this feature will help you narrow your choices.
If you just can’t seem to find what you’re looking for, consider using a custom jeweler such as CustomMade. Their experts will help you design an engagement ring you’ll love with a diamond you’ll cherish for years to come.