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Emerald Cut Questions


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I'm looking toward buying an ~1 Carat Emerald (<$4300, either square or rectangular) over the next month or two and had a few of questions that google couldn't answer me.


1) What is the purpose of depth in a step cut? Seems to me that lower is better (within reason). In other words I understand how depth works in a brilliant cut, but in a step cut I would think you just want it deep enough to set properly and not look like glass. The reverse I would guess is true with table, I would think bigger (within reason) is better.


2) What's the downside of a thick girdle? I see why a thin girdle could be bad (easily chipped) but I don't see what the downside of a thick girdle is on a step cut.


3) A diamond like the one below, seems nice at a great price. Only "negative" I see is the ratio, which I could care less about.




Are their other things I should watch out for.


4) Lastly, I know a picture is worth a thousand words, but most of the online stores don't have pictures, just numbers. Should I be asking for pictures (even though 90% seem brokered), or do I need to just trust the GIA numbers.

Edited by Orlando_FL
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Other than ruling out the serious outliers, total depth percentage teaches you nothing.


Thick girdle adds weight without adding faceup surface area. As I'm sure you've noticed, diamonds are priced by weight but the end result, that is to say, how it looks in a ring, has a lot more to do with the faceup size. Bling per square millimeter would be an interesting unit if it were available but, unfortunately, it's not. Diamonds are sold by weight and we just have to live with that reality.


The reason that one is comparitively lower priced is the strong blue fluorescence. l:w ratio has nothing to do with pricing unless you're talking about a serious outlier (which this isn't)


GIA numbers are trustworthy, they just don't tell you want the stone will look like. Actually, photos are a mixed bag for that as well but it's better than nothing. The best way to tell is to actually look at it and the only way to do that is, well, to look at it. Shop the online stores with the thought that you aren't really buying a diamond. You're buying some shipping to bring it in and take a peak. You can show it to your friends, show it to your appraiser, even take it in and show it to local jewelers to see if they have a better offer. Only after that are you commiting to buy the stone.


Table size has a huge component of taste to it but, in general, smaller is better in my opinion if you like sparkle and fire. The tradeoff, like depth above, is a tall crown with a small table drives up the weight (and therefore the price) without making the stone face up any bigger.

Edited by denverappraiser
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Good advice from Neil. If I may add a point or two in favour of images:


1. There's other aspects of a stone that can be captured rather accurately in a photo (as long as it's taken with a little care). For example, the extent to which the corners are canted. This can have a significant effect on the look of the stone, and you may prefer one vs. another one just based on that. For example:





similarly for other variables (e.g. number and size of crown and pavilion steps: 3 is the most common, but there are stones with 4 and they do look different from each other). And though you say you are indifferent to l/w ratio, it does make a difference to the look. It is purely a question of personal aesthetic preference, but




do look rather different...


not to mention clarity. For example, the stone below is an SI2 in a 25x image.


SI2? Really? But I though you weren't supposed to get below VS2 to get a clean looking step cut stone? Exactly... but this type of image should give you some reassurance that when a vendor says "eye clean" they mean it.


2. The fact that the vendor has the stone in hand to get the photo is not insignificant either. They can provide you with more info, an opinion and options before you fork out even for the shipping charge. The dealer should be your ally, not your enemy - at least until you enter price negotiation grounds.

Edited by davidelevi
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I agree that photos have merits. The problem is that they are so often taken out of context. People want them to provide more information than they do. You don’t know how the picture was taken or how it was processed after the fact. Lighting affects the look in a BIG way and if you’re not experienced in looking at these pictures it’s easy to point at one and call it brighter or more sparkly than another when all you’re seeing is a better photo. This is especially true if you’re comparing two pictures from two different source or that were taken under wildly different conditions. Dealers tend to take ‘glamour’ shots (if they can) because they want to make things look as good as possible. They’re salespeople, that’s their job, but when you compare it to a mug shot, even if it were of the same stone it, can look very different.

Should you buy from the dealer who takes the best pictures? Maybe. As Davide points out, this is evidence that they actually have the stone, which is a good sign. It’s also evidence that they’ve spent the time and investment required to get good at it, which ain’t easy. This suggests that they’re not a fly-by-night outfit and goes to the vetting of the dealer. The big dropshippers usually can’t do it and the local mom-and-pop’s don’t usually have the talent, tools and/or the temperament. Presumably each brings to the table their own strengths and you get to pick one based on what’s important to YOU.

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I definitely appreciate all the help.


Can comment on this stone or at least on my logic behind it...


The table isn't too big, but its got a very big face up size. Price seems high, but as its under a carat and relatively old stone (GIA report 2008) there might be room to negotiate down to just under $4k (I have no clue what kind of flexibility jewelers have on that). I have no idea what impact a culet would have on an emerald cut.



Item#: AE0273443

  • GIA Report: 2105269075
  • Carat Weight: 0.98 carat
  • MM: 6.85X5.28X3.24
  • Color: F
  • Clarity: VS1
  • Cut Very Good
  • Depth: 61.4%
  • Table: 65%
  • Girdle:TN-MD
  • Culet: Very Small
  • Polish: GD
  • Symmetry:GD
  • Fluorescence: None
  • Price: $4,346 / $4,477

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The very small culet is not an issue. However, we are back to post 1 (or 2) - table and depth tell you very little about what the diamond looks like, and you have no other information (GIA does not grade step cuts for cut, and the "Very Good" cut is a vendor attribution based (g)UD only knows on what).


I doubt you (or UD) will negotiate $400 on a $4400 stone, but you never know. As you point out, it's been sitting around for a while, however it may not have been sitting in UD's books for that long.

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I know - the engineer in me however keeps wanting to point out that measuring the resistivity in the mild steel used to build a reinforced concrete structure may be interesting and even strangely reassuring, but not very useful in choosing the steel. (Yes, I am an engineer - I'm not kidding you!) ;)


More seriously - and UD online may not be the best vendor for this, given their business model - there can be quantitative (or at least repeatable) measures like reflector imaging (ASET, IS) and scans of stone geometry (Sarin, OGI) which may somewhat help. With an emerald cut, though, I really think you need some images and then a "face-to-facet" session. There's just too many parameters.

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Do you live in Orlando? You are pretty close in proximity to us. We could actually show you a stone in person before you purchase it.


In the same price range you can get a VS1 D with a newer lab report with Very good polish and symetry versus a VS1 F. This stone also has larger dimensions.




Edited by jan
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