Diamonds 101: Princess Cut

With its clean lines and breathtaking shimmer, the princess cut diamond shape radiates confidence and beauty. If you’re drawn to the striking princess cut, this Diamonds 101 guide is for you. In this comprehensive guide, we’re covering everything you need to know about princess cut diamonds, including their characteristics, history, advantages, and disadvantages. We’re also going over the most popular settings for princess cut diamonds, detailing what you should look for in a princess cut diamond, and sharing how princess cut diamonds compare to similar diamond shapes. 

Princess-Cut Diamond Characteristics 

Princess cut diamonds are shaped like inverted pyramids. When viewed from above, they appear square and feature an x-shape within their many small facets. The geometric elements that create the princess cut diamond give it a bold, modern style.

The princess cut features a modified version of the round brilliant cut diamond’s faceting pattern, allowing the shape to create excellent brilliance and fire. This modified faceting pattern can have more variation compared to other shapes. Princess cut diamonds, also sometimes called square modified brilliant diamonds, can have anywhere from 50 to 58 facets. They can also have a different number of chevrons. Most often, princess cut diamonds have 2 or 4 chevron facets. 

princess-cut diamond engagement ring

The History of Princess-Cut Diamonds 

The name “princess cut” was first used in the 1960s by London-based diamond cutter Arpad Nagy. Nagy had invented a variation of the French cut, a square cut with an x-shaped facet pattern. He called his creation the profile cut or the princess cut. Other diamond cutters, such as South Africa’s Basil Watermeyer, invented square diamond cuts of their own around the same time. Watermeyer created an 81 facet rectangular diamond called the Barion cut, which used a brilliant-cut on its rectangular shape. Other diamond cutters would also invent new square cuts and give them unique names. However, the princess cut moniker is what stuck in the mind of the public and, over time, “princess cut” became the name people used to describe all brilliant-cut square-shaped diamonds. 

Advantages of Princess-Cut Diamonds 

There’s so much to love about princess cut diamonds. These fancy-shaped gems are sophisticated, yet incredibly eye-catching. Their sleek edges give them a bold and contemporary look, while their impressive scintillation gives them plenty of glamour and drama. 

In addition to having beautiful brilliance and a striking style, princess cut diamonds have an attractive price point. Princess cut diamonds cost around 20% to 40% less than round diamonds on average. In part, this is because princess cut diamonds are fancy shaped and all fancy shaped diamonds cost less than round diamonds. But princess cut diamonds have an additional price advantage over other fancy shapes due to how they are cut. If you place two princess cut diamonds together, table to table, you’ll see that they have almost the exact same shape as a rough diamond crystal. This means that cutting princess diamonds leads to very little rough diamond waste, helping diamond cutters keep them more affordable. 

Disadvantages of Princess Cut Diamonds 

Princess cut diamonds have one potential disadvantage: the fragile nature of their corners. Diamonds are the hardest naturally occurring material on earth, but they can still break. The pointed corners of a princess cut diamond are very thin, making them more susceptible to chipping. 

Due to the lower durability of princess cut diamond corners, those with active lifestyles should consider a more protective setting if they choose a princess cut diamond. Bezel settings and halo settings are good protective options for princess cuts, as both completely enclose a diamond’s edges. 

Princess-Cut Diamond Engagement Ring Styles 

The most popular engagement ring setting style for princess cut diamonds is the solitaire style. The striking, geometric shape of a princess cut diamond looks stunning in a simple solitaire engagement ring, so it’s easy to see why princess cut diamond solitaires are so beloved. Prong settings tend to be more popular for princess cut solitaires than bezel settings, perhaps because prong settings allow princess cuts to keep more of their sharpness. 

princess-cut three-stone engagement ring

Other popular engagement ring styles for princess cut diamonds include halo engagement rings and three-stone engagement rings. Halo engagement ring settings add glamour and impact to princess cut diamonds, while three-stone settings can add a traditional or romantic look. Three-stone princess cut diamond engagement rings typically feature princess cut diamond side stones, but baguette and tapered baguette diamonds are also popular additions. 

Princess-Cut Diamond Buying Guide

Grading Report 

The first thing you should look for when buying any center diamond is a diamond grading report. A diamond grading report contains information on a diamond’s qualities, such as its carat weight, cut grade, color grade, and clarity grade. This report can tell you much about a diamond’s quality and beauty. Even more importantly, a diamond grading report proves that your diamond is a real diamond with the qualities the seller says it has. If you want to make sure your center stone is authentic, you should only buy a gemstone that comes with a grading report from a reputable gemstone grading laboratory, such as the GIA or EGL USA. 

The 4Cs of Princess Cut Diamonds 

Every diamond shape tends to show the 4Cs of diamonds—cut, color, clarity, and carat weight—a bit differently. Princess cut diamonds are similar in size to round cut diamonds per carat since both are proportional shapes. However, there are special considerations you need to keep in mind for princess cut diamond cut grade, color grade, and clarity grade. 

princess-cut diamond engagement ring

Princess Diamond Cut Grade

Diamond cut grade is a grading of how well a diamond was cut, which greatly affects a diamond’s sparkle and symmetry. Trickily, however, princess cuts do not get a standard type of diamond cut grade. The GIA only grades the Polish and Symmetry of princess cut diamonds and does not give them an overall cut grade. The reason for this is, essentially, that there is no consensus within the diamond industry on what defines a perfect cut for princess cut diamonds. 

So, how can you choose your cut quality if princess cut diamonds don’t get cut grades? You have to look at the finer details on the diamond’s grading report. Generally, we’d recommend looking for a length to width ratio between 1.00 and 1.05, a table percentage below 75%, a depth percentage between 68% and 75%, and Polish and Symmetry ratings of Good or higher. 

Princess Diamond Color Grade

When deciding on your ideal color grade for a princess cut diamond, keep in mind that they tend to show color a bit better than round diamonds, especially at their thin corners. Therefore, you don’t want to go too low with color grade. A good rule of thumb is to select a princess cut diamond with a color grade of H, I, or higher for white gold or platinum settings. For rose gold or yellow gold settings, you can also usually get away with a J color grade for princess cut diamonds. 

Princess Diamond Clarity Grade

The way princess cut diamonds differ in clarity is good news for those who are shopping for the shape. Like round cut diamonds, princess cut diamonds tend to mask flaws very well. This means you can usually go fairly low in clarity grade but still end up with an eye-clean diamond. You can often go as low as SI2 clarity (or even sometimes I1 clarity) with princess cuts and still find that they’re eye-clean. 

princess-cut diamond engagement ring

Princess-Cut vs. Other Diamond Shapes 

Not sure whether you’d prefer a princess cut diamond or another similar diamond shape? Let’s take a closer look at how princess cut diamonds compare to other perfectly proportioned and rectangular shapes. 

Round vs. Princess-Cut

Round and princess cut are both brilliant-cut diamonds with balanced length-to-width ratios of around 1:1. They’re also both quite popular. Round is the most popular diamond shape, while princess cut is the second most popular. 

The three main differences between round and princess cut diamonds concern style, shimmer, and price. Round diamonds have a softer, more classic look compared to princess cut diamonds, which are more bold and modern. While princess cut diamonds are highly brilliant, round brilliant cut diamonds are a bit more brilliant. Round diamonds are also considerably more expensive compared to princess cut diamonds, costing around 20% to 40% more on average. 

Cushion-Cut vs. Princess-Cut 

Cushion-cut diamonds have a square or rectangular shape, round edges, and a brilliant-cut faceting pattern. They’re similar to princess cut diamonds in that they’re brilliant-cut and can have a square shape (depending on their length to width ratio). The main difference between cushion-cut diamonds and princess-cut diamonds is their style. While cushion cut diamonds are similar to princess cut diamonds conceptually, their rounded edges give them a more romantic, vintage look. 

princess-cut diamond engagement ring

Asscher-Cut vs. Princess-Cut 

Asscher cut diamonds are square diamonds with cut corners and a distinctive step-cut faceting pattern. Like the princess cut, the Asscher-cut has a square shape and a geometric look. Apart from that, these shapes are very different. The distinctive arrangement of the Asscher cut’s step-cut facets gives it a highly unique, Art Deco era vintage style. The Asscher cut’s facets also give it a different type of light reflection. These facets produce more flashing light and less shimmer compared to the brilliant-cut facets of the princess cut. 

Emerald-Cut vs. Princess-Cut 

Emerald cut diamonds are rectangular with cut corners and step-cut facets. Emerald cut diamonds and princess cut diamonds are similar in overall shape and sharpness but are generally more different than they are similar. Emerald cut diamonds are elongated, while princess cut diamonds are perfectly proportional. Emerald cut diamonds have long, linear step-cut facets that produce flashing light, rather than shimmer like a brilliant cut. Then, emerald-cut diamonds are not as bold or modern in style compared to princess-cut diamonds. Emerald cut diamonds have an elegant, Retro era vintage style. 

Radiant-Cut vs. Princess-Cut

Radiant cut diamonds have the same shape as emerald cut diamonds, yet feature a brilliant-cut faceting pattern rather than step-cut facets. This gives radiant cut diamonds a fairly similar look and style compared to princess cut diamonds. Both are beautifully brilliant and shimmery, and both have a bold, modern style. The primary difference between radiant cut and princess cut diamonds is their overall shape. Princess cut diamonds are proportional with sharply pointed corners, while radiant cut diamonds are elongated with cut corners.

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