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The Guide to Princess Cut Diamonds


As the most popular fancy diamond shape, the princess cut diamond offers a modern, edgy, and extremely sparkly look for diamond engagement rings. Introduced in the 1960s, the princess cut caught the world’s attention with its incredible brilliance and fire, and efficient use of rough diamond stone so there was less wastage. Today, the princess cut is only second in popularity to the round brilliant cut, so let’s review all the reasons it holds that spot, and tips for choosing your perfect princess cut diamond.

History of Princess Cut Diamonds

With its effortlessly classic yet modern appeal, many people may believe that the princess cut diamond has been around for hundreds of years. In fact, this cutting style was only developed in 1961 by Arpad Nagy, a diamond cutter based in London. Over the next several years, leading diamond cutters around the world worked to perfect a stunning new cut in response to a market that was overly saturated with round diamonds, yet still featured their ideal faceting positions to showcase a diamond’s sparkle.

The result was the modern day princess cut with facets in a similar position to those of a round brilliant cut diamond. The princess cut is a perpetual favorite among diamond cutters because its final shape is so complimentary to the composition of diamond rough. As it grows, diamond rough naturally develops into what looks like a double pyramid if you glued the bottom of two pyramids together. So cutting it down the middle basically creates two princess cut diamonds that need some structure and faceting.

When to Go Princess: Pros & Cons

There is a ton to love about the princess cut diamond. The diamond shape you choose for your engagement ring should always be a matter of style preference, but you should always know practical considerations as well. These are some pros and cons to consider about a princess cut diamond:

 

Pros:

  • - Because of how they’re cut, they will always be more economical than a round diamond, and can cost 30% less than one of equivalent weight.
  • - Of the fancy cut diamonds, princess cuts have the most exceptional light performance, creating incredible brilliance and sparkle.
  • - Effortlessly conveys a modern and chic look.
  • - Their diagonal measurements make them appear slightly larger than their carat weight and size would suggest.

 

Cons:

  • - The corners of the princess cut leave it vulnerable to chipping.
  • - Princess cut diamonds display more body color due to its large table.
  • - A diamond’s sparkle comes from the quality of its cut, and gem laboratories like GIA don’t grade cut quality of fancy cuts.
  • - Outlining edges can be misaligned or uneven but not very noticeable except when viewing in person.


Evaluating an Princess Cut Diamond: The 4Cs  

Cut

Princess cut diamonds can have different facet patterns and do not receive an assigned cut grade from GIA on grading reports like a round diamond. Because of this, it can be hard to assess a princess cut diamond’s light performance purely by looking at the numbers and not seeing the diamond in person.

The variations are based on the way the pavilion and crown facets are cut with the pavilion having configurations of two, three, or four chevron patterned facets. This is important because the brilliance of a diamond increases with additional sets of facets, and light dispersion unfolds differently in each configuration. The two chevron pattern creates a very bright diamond with lots of sparkle and less scintillation. The three chevron pattern has a very desirable balance of brilliance and dispersion of light. The four chevron pattern creates an intense fire and scintillation, but the light dispersion is less defined giving a “crushed ice” effect like in a modern cushion cut.

The crown of the princess cut is cut between two styles: a bezel facet cut from the corner of the table to the stone corners, or a French corner where the facets on the table point to the corners. The differences between the crown faceting style is usually dependent on the cutter’s preference. The important thing to remember about the corners is that they are fragile regardless of the cut style, so need a setting to protect them.

The princess cut is known for its square shape, but there are length to width ratios to be found that extend into a slightly rectangular appearance. The preferred ratio is generally accepted as between 1.0 to 1.05. This range would make it fairly impossible to tell if the diamond was ever so slightly off-square. Moving above this range, you could likely find princess cuts with a ratio of 1.06-1.12 and these would have a more easily perceived rectangular look.

Color

Since the princess cut employs the brilliant cut faceting technique, it will succeed in chopping up light so the color of the diamond rough is harder to perceive. However, it has less superior light return than the round brilliant and typically more depth where color can hide, so there is more of a possibility that color can be noticed.

Typically, a well-cut princess cut diamond will exhibit fire and brilliance that will hide body color and help mask inclusions. Color is also highly subjective and should be left to personal preference. Where one person may prefer a cool, icy white in their diamond, another may be much more drawn to the warmth of some color being noticeable in the stone.

Clarity

All diamonds have slight imperfections and the most important thing to remember about clarity is to look for a diamond that is eye-clean to the naked eye. For a princess cut diamond, it’s also important to steer clear of imperfections located near the corners of the stone. Because of the angular nature of the corners, they are already more susceptible to chipping, and any inclusions located there will further hinder the stone’s integrity.

Since so much of the diamond rough is kept when cutting a princess cut, it’s not simply a case of cutting around imperfections and blemishes during the process. This isn’t to say that princess cut diamonds are more prone to exhibiting inclusions, but it may be harder to find an eye-clean one in better clarity grades because it would mean the diamond rough was of exceptionally high quality to begin with, and that’s rare.

Carat

Princess cut diamonds are available in a variety of carat weights. Similar to round brilliant diamonds, the princess cut diamond tends to have linear changes in carat size and dimensions. This means that increasing weight and size of a princess cut diamond will tend to move together in a linear pattern.

These diamonds also have the benefit of appearing larger for their carat weight and size. Their large diagonal measurements draw the eye outward to the corners, effectively stretching the look of the stone. However, because of their greater depth, more weight can be distributed deeper in the stone instead of towards the surface.

D color, princess cut diamond

K color, 1 carat, princess cut

K color, princess cut diamond

Choosing an Ideal Princess Cut Diamond  

The quality of cut for a princess cut diamond is going to be extremely important in delivering a beautiful, sparkly stone. Because of how much of the diamond rough is retained, a princess cut diamond requires higher depth percentages – between 69-76% – in order for it to exhibit excellent light return. Additionally, the table size shouldn’t be too large, staying in the range of 63-69%, as this affects the stone’s fire and colored light dispersion properties. If this feels a bit too technical, just remember that the table percentage shouldn’t be greater than the depth percentage.

Even though GIA will not indicate a cut quality grade for princess cut diamonds, they will issue gradings for polish and symmetry. These are very useful markers in their own right because they do help create the overall picture of a cut quality. Aim for Good, Very Good, or Excellent to insure a better cut.

Clarity and color are two places where personal preference will play a larger role because there’s no set standard for what makes a beautiful diamond. Princess cut diamonds do retain color, but they’re also cut in a brilliant faceting style that helps disperse the color. Instead of focusing on one grade, consider the metal for your setting. If you’re choosing white gold or platinum, an H or I color will produce a lovely clear, icy look. If using yellow or rose gold, dropping down to a J will see a beautiful warmth in the diamond.

And when considering a clarity grade, the real concern is the corners. Princess cut diamonds naturally hide imperfections well, but when inclusions are too near any of the four corners, chances of the diamond chipping are greatly increased. These are vulnerable spots where durability is threatened. Since princess cut diamonds display good scintillation and brilliance, dropping down to the SI1 or VS2 clarity range should still give you a lovely diamond as long as it’s eye clean.

Princess Cut Diamond Prices

Compared to round brilliant diamonds, princess cut diamonds generally average out to being 20 - 30% less expensive due to the higher yield from the rough diamond cutting and subsequent limited wastage. This is because the pyramidal shape of the princess cut diamond allows for minimal weight loss during cutting and polishing.

Additionally, out of all the fancy-shaped diamond cuts, princess cuts tend to be the cheapest per carat. This can really help provide some options for prioritizing certain features of the stone, whether that be carat size, clarity, color, or cut.

Designing a Ring With a Princess Cut Diamond

Princess cut diamonds are the epitome of a modern, cool look with an undeniable classic charm. This cut is so versatile, you’re really not limited to any type of design or look for an engagement ring. The only thing to be certain of is that your setting incorporates prongs at the four corners of the stone to provide the most protection and stability for the diamond.

The princess cut diamond is a beautiful standout all on its own, which is why solitaire engagement rings are extremely popular for this cut. In our Katie, a gorgeous princess cut diamond is bezel set for a minimal and modern look.

Adding a halo of diamonds brings a romantic and sentimental feel to the princess cut diamond. In our Ellen, we’ve created a 14k white gold halo band with pavé diamonds surrounding the gorgeous center stone, down the sides of the band, and underneath the basket for a little peek-a-boo fun.

Another classic – the three-stone ring – is elevated with a modern sensibility when featuring a princess cut diamond. With our Nally, we’ve made a ring covered in diamonds, starting with a fabulous princess cut diamond flanked by two round brilliant diamonds. Then down the sides of the ring, we feature a double row of pavé-set diamonds for extra sparkle.

And for the truly unique, we offer our Loxlynn. Featuring a stunning princess cut diamond, set on its side for a twist of the unexpected. Then a cluster of dazzling diamonds in various round sizes surround the beautiful stone before flowing into a pavé-set band.

Katie, bezel set princess cut diamond ring

Loxlynn, cluster princess cut diamond

With a princess cut diamond, you’re blending a modern, chic, and classic style with sharp lines that feel fresh and sophisticated. The abundant brilliance, fire, and scintillation of this cut are like the icing on top of a very delicious cake. Add in the fact that they’re a less expensive option, and you really can’t go wrong with a princess cut diamond!



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