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Oval and emerald cut diamonds are two popular choices for engagement rings. They offer an alternative to the traditional round cut while still displaying a sense of elegance.
The main difference between oval and emerald cut diamonds is oval cuts have brilliant facets, which result in stronger light performance. The step-cut facets on an emerald cut have a subdued glow, and it’s elongated shape means it has a wider surface area than most cuts.
Let’s compare oval versus emerald cut diamonds across the most important areas to consider, from their brilliance and clarity to size and durability.
What is an Oval Cut Diamond?
Oval cut diamonds are a combination of pear and round cuts. It has the round edges of a pear cut, but neither end comes to a sharp point.
Notice how all the edges on the oval cut below are rounded.
At a quick glance, you might mistake it for a round cut.
This modern cut is often designed with a length to width ratio of 1.30-1.45, which strikes a balance between distinguishing it from a round cut while also not cutting it too shallow.
Most oval cuts have 57 or 58 facets.
Russian diamond cutter Lazare Kaplan introduced the cut in the mid-1990s. He started with a damaged rough gemstone used to create smaller diamonds, and when he cut away some of the pieces, it turned into the sleek, modern oval cut.
You’ll often find them as the center diamond in an engagement ring, but they also serve as side stones that surround the main one. It’s rare to see oval cuts used as accents on the shank, with most jewelers preferring round, princess, or baguette diamonds in these positions.
What is an Emerald Cut Diamond?
Emerald cut diamonds have a rectangular shape and feature parallel facets that run across its table. Most include 57-step cut facets that resemble a set of stairs that begin in the middle and extend to its edges.
Take a look at the emerald cut below.
That style of facets is most evident when viewed from the top-down.
This is known as a “hall of mirrors” effect.
Another distinct trait of emerald cuts are its four beveled corners. Along with its straight edges, there’s a total of eight sides. Four are the same length, and the other four also mimic each other.
The optimal length to width ratio is 1.4. Most on the market have a ratio of 1.3-1.5, and none of these measurements cause it to appear square.
Emerald cuts are often compared to baguettes because of their rectangular shapes. The difference is baguette diamonds have squared-off corners for a total of four sides.
How are Oval and Emerald Cut Diamonds Different?
Emerald and oval cut diamonds have many differences across the factors that most determine a diamond’s appearance and performance.
We explore each of these in detail below.
Brilliance, Fire and Scintillation
A diamond’s light performance is a combination of brilliance, fire, and scintillation. Brilliance is the white light, fire refers to colored flashes, and scintillation is the interplay between the two when a diamond is twirled.
Oval cut diamonds have superior sparkle compared to emerald cuts because of the way their facets are designed.
They mimic the triangular-shaped facets on a round cut that are developed to capture light, bounce it around inside the diamond, and return as much as possible to the viewer.
I’ve highlighted the triangular facets on this oval cut diamond.
While an oval cut’s brilliance, fire, and scintillation doesn’t match a round cut, you aren’t sacrificing too much glimmer.
This isn’t the case with emerald cuts. Their step-cut facets aren’t created with brilliance as the priority. Instead, it’s a subtle, warm glow that produces slow flashes of light.
For oval and emerald cuts, the best way to maximize light return is to choose a quality cut. It’s the factor that most impacts how a diamond sparkles, even more than its clarity and color grade.
Cut is one of the factors that affect the price of a diamond. Round cuts rank as the most expensive because it results in more waste of the original rough diamond, and there’s higher demand.
Cushion cuts are often the least expensive, and oval and radiant cuts fall in between.
We compared prices for these cuts from James Allen, an online jewelry vendor, with the following qualities:
- Carat weight: 1.00
- Clarity: VS
- Color: I
The average price for an emerald cut with those grades was $3,832, with a range of $2,170-$4,610.
For oval cuts, the average was $4,581, with a range of $3,370-$5,050.
That’s a 20 percent premium for oval versus emerald cuts.
Online diamond retailer Blue Nile performed a similar comparison and found their emerald cuts are often seven percent less expensive than their oval cuts.
The clarity grade of a diamond refers to the presence of inclusions and how they impact its durability, visible appearance, and light return.
In general, more inclusions diminish a diamond’s quality in these areas, but it depends on their type, size, and location.
Oval cuts often disguise inclusions to the naked eye more effectively than emerald cuts for two reasons.
The first reason is brilliant-cut facets display more white light, which hide some minor instances of flaws like black spots, twinning wisps, and feathers.
Additionally, the large facets in emerald cuts leave inclusions exposed. You can more easily peer inside the diamond and spot blemishes.
This means you may have to choose a higher clarity grade in order for it to appear flawless without magnification.
For most oval cut diamonds under one-and-a-half carats, you can begin your search with an SI diamond. Always view it in person or through high-quality images so you know whether inclusion are noticeable.
As an example, this 0.90-carat oval cut from Brilliant Earth earned an SI1 clarity grade.
You can view minuscule black specks in the image, but we wouldn’t expect them to be visible without magnification.
For emerald cuts, you may have to start with a VS2 clarity grade. You’ll pay a higher price for that grade, but the cost is balanced out by emerald cuts selling for a lower price.
Colorless diamonds are more valuable than ones that show yellow or brown tints. At one end of the color scale are D, E, and F, which are colorless.
The other end of the spectrum holds S-Z diamonds.
For similar reasons to clarity, oval cut diamonds hide color more than emerald cuts. The strong brilliance from oval cuts overcomes light yellow shades, so it appears colorless.
Large, deep facets in emerald cuts can’t do the same and instead retain color.
Start your search for an emerald cut with H color grades. You’ll avoid the premiums of a colorless diamond, but it may still appear that way to the naked eye.
For oval cuts, there are ones with I color grades that disguise the yellow.
For example, this diamond received an I color grade from the Gemological Institute of America.
Although that falls into the “near colorless” category of the GIA scale, you can’t see that color, even in the high-resolution image.
Size in Relation to Carat Weight
The primary way to measure the size of a diamond is its weight. One carat equals 0.2 grams.
So a one-carat oval cut and a one-carat emerald cut are considered the same size.
But certain cuts look larger or smaller to the naked eye depending on their shape. They could also have different lengths and widths, which are measured in millimeters.
Oval and emerald cuts appear larger than most other shapes like Asscher and radiants.
They both earn that status because of the elongated, stretched shape. If you placed each of them next to a round or princess cut of the same carat weight, you’d likely think they were heavier.
This allows you to buy a lower carat weight while still retaining the size of these other cuts.
It’s an effective way to save on the cost of your ring because there are disproportionate price increases as you move to higher carat weights.
Types of Settings
Oval and emerald cuts fit a variety of settings.
I personally chose a four-prong solitaire setting for my wife’s engagement ring, which is one of the most popular styles for both cuts.
But I recommend to my readers that they should also explore alternative styles to enhance the aesthetic of the piece.
For example, your options for an oval cut also include:
This oval cut engagement ring is placed in a halo setting with diamond accents lining the shank.
It creates the illusion of a larger diamond because the halo blends together with it.
This setting features tapered baguette diamonds surrounding the oval cut.
Notice how the baguette diamonds are distinguished from the main gem instead of blending in like the halo.
Many of the same options are available for emerald cuts, but there are also unique variations.
As an example, this emerald cut engagement ring setting has a bezel setting.
A ring of metal wraps around the entire diamond for added protection, and there are no accents on the shank.
It’s a simplistic style that focuses all the attention on the emerald cut at the center.
This setting for an emerald cut features two different cuts along the shank. There are four alternating round and marquise cuts that weigh a total of one-third of a carat on each side of the diamond.
These examples demonstrate there are many styles that complement emerald and oval cuts, so you don’t have to choose a simple four-prong, solitaire setting.
Should You Choose an Oval or Emerald Cut Diamond?
Deciding on an oval versus emerald cut diamond involves knowing the traits that determine their overall performance as the center diamond on a ring.
Here are some guidelines to help you know whether to choose an oval or emerald cut.
You should choose an oval cut if:
- You want a diamond that has many qualities in common with round cuts but costs less per carat
- You’re interested in an alternative to the most popular cuts but don’t want to sacrifice brilliance
- Its overall shape is appealing to you, and you want a diamond that effectively hides blemishes and yellow tints
You should consider an emerald cut if:
- You aren’t interested in a diamond with strong light performance
- You’re looking for a cut with one of the lowest costs per carat
- You want a rectangular diamond with large facets
By comparing oval and emerald cuts, and pairing them with multiple styles of settings, you can discover the perfect diamond ring for you.