As its name suggests, this cut was originally reserved for emeralds but was later used for other stones, including diamonds. Cut to emphasise the lustre of the gemstone, an emerald-cut diamond is known as a step cut because its flat facets resemble the steps of a staircase, with a rectangular top and bevelled edges.
With less facets than the more sparkly round brilliant diamond, the appeal of the emerald cut is down to those long lovely, facets. If you are considering an emerald-cut for your engagement ring, bear in mind that it is the most unforgiving cut. Because you can see right through an emerald-cut diamond, revealing the slightest flaws or inclusions, it is important to go for the highest grade of clarity and colour your budget allows.
A diamond is graded according to the 4 Cs: cut, colour, clarity and carat. Because of its broad, flat surface, an imprecise cut, poor colour and flaws, which affect a diamond's clarity, are all more visible in an emerald-cut diamond. But while this means it's a bad idea to scrimp on the quality of your diamond, the emerald cut is renowned for showing off a high-grade diamond at its best, accentuating its clarity and polish.
Emerald-cut diamonds were hugely popular in the Art Deco period and are currently enjoying a revival, thanks in no small part to celebrities flashing their emerald-cut diamond engagement rings all over the Internet. It is the stone of choice for numerous Hollywood stars, with Jennifer Aniston, Paris Hilton, Emily Maynard and Kate Hudson all part of the emerald-cut brigade.
How big you go in terms of carat size is up to you. An emerald-cut diamond of the same carat size as a round brilliant won't look as big because its surface diameter is less, but it more than makes up for it with its distinctive look.
Think about how an emerald-cut diamond will look on your finger too. They are best suited to long and slender or larger hands because the cut is deep, which means it sits higher on the finger, and its rectangular shape may make fingers appear shorter.
Head to the big jewellers to get a better idea of what is out there - most have an impressive emerald-cut engagement ring in their bridal collection. Here are a few of our favourites.
The Tiffany & Co. Soleste Emerald Cut ring features an emerald-cut central diamond surrounded by bead set diamonds. The effect is full-on sparkle in a classically elegant design.
Given that an engagement ring is a jewel that will hopefully be worn for the rest of your life, a classic design that won't date is always a good choice. Clean lines and a four-prong set emerald-cut solitaire lend the De Beers Classic Solitaire engagement ring a timeless, elegant feel. Or opt for three emerald-cut diamonds in a row for a dash of 1920s glamour with the De Beers Classic Trio engagement ring featuring three prong-set emerald-cut diamonds set on a platinum band.
For a touch of old-world allure, Asprey's emerald-cut diamond engagement ring is the kind of ring you could imagine the eternally chic Audrey Hepburn wearing. It features an emerald-cut diamond on a platinum band, half-set with a sprinkling of pavé diamonds.
With tapered baguette side stones and a large emerald-cut diamond, the Classic Winston with tapered baguette side stones, by 'king of diamonds' Harry Winston, cuts an impressive figure.
The Ballerine solitaire by Cartier, meanwhile, provides some quintessential vintage glamour, with a central emerald-cut gem gently cradled by a curved setting of brilliant-cut diamonds.
On-trend but with an elegance that will last a lifetime and beyond, emerald-cut diamond engagement rings are here to stay.