All You Need To Know About Emerald Cuts And Shapes

If you’re in the market for an heirloom piece or alternative engagement ring with an emerald, but are unsure which shape of emerald is best for your purposes, look no further. Here, we’re breaking down the features of popular emerald shapes and things to take into consideration when deciding which to choose for jewellery.

First, it’s important to make the distinction between gemstone ‘shape’ and ‘cut’. While often used synonymously or in combinations that confuse the meaning between them, the two terms refer to different things.

Emerald cut vs. shape

Gemstone shape refers to the overall outline of a gemstone. On the other hand, gemstone cut refers to the way a gemstone is faceted and polished to maximise its optical properties and enhance its natural beauty. In short, the shape of a gemstone determines its basic form, while the cut determines its overall aesthetic appeal.

Emeralds can be crafted into any shape, but some common emerald shapes for jewellery setting that best display the profundity of colour are emerald, round, oval, pear, and octagon. Take one single shape like a round emerald – this can be faceted with various cutting styles like brilliant cut, old mine cut, modern round cut, or rose cut.

diamond cut into emerald cut that reveals the pure clarity of the gemstone

Inclusions are common in emeralds due to their natural formation process. These are sometimes referred to as “gardens” because the trapped crystals or gas can look like foliage. While particular shapes and cuts are used to minimise the visibility of internal flaws in emeralds, preference ultimately comes to the individual. Inclusions are even valued by some jewellers and shoppers due to their unique look.

Having said this, in the following deep dive into common emerald shapes, we will sometimes refer to them as ‘cuts’ as this term is generally used in everyday language within the gemstone industry to refer to the overall shape and faceting style.

Emerald shape

The ‘emerald cut’ was a shape developed specifically to protect the brittle green gems from chipping during faceting. This rectangular shape is characterised by chiselled step cuts arranged in parallel facets and cut corners, which lend the emerald a regal and elegant look. Today, the ‘emerald cut’ is one of the most recognizable gemstone cuts in the world.

The con of this shape is that you need an emerald with few inclusions and even colour distribution throughout. (Colour zoning, where a gemstone exhibits patches of uneven colour throughout, can be less desired for the inconsistency in saturation.) Because the top of this gem shape allows viewers to peer deep into the stone, imperfections are more readily visible.

Round shape

The round cut is another popular shape for handling emeralds. It features a circular shape with a flat top and rounded bottom, as well as 50+ symmetrical facets arranged in a circular pattern to maximise the reflection of light. This gives round cut gems endless sparkle back through the crown of the stone, which can help reduce the appearance of imperfections in emeralds. 

Round emeralds have a classic and timeless appearance that appeals to many. For this reason, they are popular, but can come with a premium price tag because more rough wastage is produced when crafting them.

Oval shape

The oval cut is similar to the round cut, in that it is also symmetrical and allows for a lot of light reflection. However, it differs in that it has a more elongated shape that can provide a flattering look on the hand, slimming the fingers. While round cut gems can vary in size but not in shape, oval shapes can be longer or shorter and wider or thinner. Oval cut emeralds also allow a great amount of brilliance, but not the same level of sparkle as round cuts.

Pear shape

emeralds in pear shapes and baguette shapes

The pear cut for emeralds is a combination of the classic round shape and pointed end of the marquise shape. Resembling a teardrop, a pear shape emerald is desired for its non-traditional and feminine silhouette. They tend to appear larger than round shaped emeralds of the same carat size due to their elongated end. The pear shape can be oriented with the point towards the fingernail, or east-west for a unique asymmetrical look. Another significant pro of this emerald shape is that they usually cost less than round emeralds.

Octagon shape

The octagon cut shares the similarity with the emerald cut of having facets running parallel to its girdle (the open face of the gemstone when you, for example, look down at a ring). However, it has eight sides instead of four and can be square or rectangular, making this a more versatile shape suitable for various kinds of jewellery, such as a pendant or ring.

Similar to the emerald cut, an octagon shape conveys more weight in the depth of the stone. This can be optimal for giving the emerald its dreamy look, as if you’re peering deep into it. This is another shape that makes the gemstone look large.

Which shape of emerald is good?

Deciding which emerald shape is best comes down to personal preference. You may prefer a round or square octagon emerald for a style that will never go out of fashion and gives the gem tons of depth. Or, you may prefer the pear or oval shape for a more whimsical and slimming look.

There are also budget considerations. As mentioned, certain shapes require an especially high-quality gemstone with even colour distribution and eye purity, which are pricier. Of course, you may decide you want to have a lower quality stone in a shape that more readily reveals inclusions, like emerald or octagon cut, if you are willing to sacrifice clarity for the overall aesthetic.

Emeralds are judged more for their colour than clarity, anyway, since inclusion-free emeralds are rare. The more vivid and purely green (i.e., not yellowish or bluish), the more valuable the emerald stone is.


With BIRON®, you don’t have to choose between quality and affordability. We produce lab-grown coloured gemstones that are exponentially more eye clean than natural gemstones due to the controlled environment in which they grow. They are also more cost-effective because they are more readily available than mined stones. With lab-created gems, you also have the liberty of customising colour and size of your desired precious stone.

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