Step Cuts: Development

The emerald cut is one of the oldest stone shapes, evolving from the first faceted cut, the 15th century table cut. In order to protect the vulnerable sharp corners of square and rectangular stones, especially more delicate colored stones like emeralds, gem cutters began cutting them off, creating the strong, symmetrical 8 sided profile that makes the emerald shape so iconic to this day. Over time, step cuts were integrated to increase refraction and scintillation, and the emerald cut was born.

It wasn’t until the 1940’s that this cut took on the name “emerald cut” after the stone for which it was most commonly used. Emeralds are a prime candidate for this cut not only for the strength and protection offered by the shape, but also for the increased play of light and depth of color developed by the step cuts and deep pavillion. Diamond cutters use this cut with a similar brilliant effect, letting the form of the rough diamond crystal guide the stone’s ultimate direction and shape.

In 1902, the Asscher cut was created, refining the emerald cut’s elongated shape into a balanced square. In order to highlight the natural beauty of the rough diamond material, antique Asscher cuts carry more weight than other cuts towards the crown. It’s no wonder that this cut became the darling of the Art Deco era, with its small tables, high crowns, and broad step facets that draw your eye straight to the stone’s center, creating the perfect centerpiece for the elegant, geometric designs of the time.

With such a rich history, step cuts have truly earned the classic feel that we so often associate them with today. Not only does their shape invoke balance, strength, and eye pleasing symmetry, but it truly represents the purest form of what a diamond is, highlighting the natural rough diamond’s material while adding the brilliance and sparkle that make cut diamonds so enchanting. We have no doubt that step cuts will continue to captivate for centuries to come.