The “Princess Cut” Diamond Shape Explained (Buying Guide)

Julie Janecka
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What Is A Princess Cut Diamond?

A princess cut diamond is a modified square cut that was introduced in the late 1970s. It gets its name from the pointed ends that are reminiscent of the pointed top layers of the crown of a princess. They were designed to address the tendency for light to reflect at the ends of a square, creating a gap that detracted from the diamond’s sparkle. It is an uncommonly shaped diamond and one that many people love.

The shape of this diamond can be rotated to display different proportions of light in its sparkle: altering the appearance of the sparkle from soft to brilliant. They are available in every color, clarity, and size and can bring the same fire and brilliance to engagement rings as its more familiar round, princess, and oval shaped counterparts.

The most desirable princess cut diamonds come from South Africa because of the bright, lively, exceptional clarity and sparkle they display. You can learn more about buying or selling princess cut diamonds here.

Pros And Cons of Princess Cut Diamonds

Princess cut diamonds, like other diamond shapes, are graded by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the worldwide authority on diamonds. The distinction between diamond shapes purely comes down to their faceting styles. The most popular diamond shape in American stores is called the round brilliant, also referred to as the full-cut fancy shape.

If you want to understand the difference between a princess cut diamond and a round diamond, you have to take into account some factors besides cutting style … the most notable difference being the shape. As the name implies, a round diamond has a shape in the round (also called a cabochon), but a princess cut diamond is flat.

The shape of a diamond is just one of the many factors you will want to consider when shopping for diamonds. Shape alone, is not a good indicator of a diamond’s quality. It doesn’t matter what your price range is or the kind of setting you’re looking for; there are differences from diamond to diamond. It’s good to know what these are.

Jewelers usually group the diamond shapes in two categories: modified brilliant cuts and step cuts. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages …

Pros

The princess cut diamond offers many of the same advantages of its popular sibling the round brilliant cut with some added benefits that make it a favorite. It has a classic shape and is found in antique jewelry and the crown jewels of Great Britain.

The cut is easier to set because of its square shape. This also means it is less likely to catch on clothing, which is helpful for bridal or statement earrings. The most notable characteristic of the princess cut diamond is its brilliant combination of brilliant facets and a large surface which has a lot of reflective properties.

The sharp angles of the princess cut allow it to reflect more light and sparkle more than other cuts, including the round cut. It is considered a very bright and fiery cut. In certain light, you can see a halo of light around the diamond. This gives it an impactful and dramatic look. However, it can be difficult to attain a high color grade with this cut and it draws attention to any fractures or inclusions.

The biggest drawback to the princess cut is its flat surface. This means that the surfaces look more prominent when viewed straight on, and therefore, the princess cut is sometimes considered to look more disappointing than it really is.

Cons

While a gemologist is not necessary, the guidelines above can help you understand more about gemstone certification and buying. While these suggestions can help you make an informed decision at the gem and jewelry store, it is not a bad idea to further your knowledge on diamonds and other gemstones with a gemologist. This is especially true if you have a significant financial investment in the stone.

Visit a trusted jeweler and ask to speak to a gemologist before committing to buy the stone. If you are buying a diamond as an engagement ring, contact the seller at least two weeks in advance to allow enough time for the gemologist to get there. Most jewelers would love to provide this service to a valued customer, so don’t be afraid to ask. If a jeweler refuses to let a gemologist examine the diamond, walk away and find another one.

How To Choose A Princess Cut Diamond?

A princess cut diamond has the same shape as a square, but with round edges. It’s also nearly identical to an emerald cut, except that it has more facets and a pointed top. The princess cut diamond gets its name from its resemblance to a crown, which may explain its popularity with royals.

Beware though that a princess cut diamond is often mislabeled as a cushion cut. Since cushion cuts are relatively new, you’ll find many sellers mislabeling princess cut diamonds as cushions. Always ask the jeweler or shop assistant if the diamond is a princess cut or cushion cut.

The princess cut diamond differs from the emerald cut in that it has a more rectangular shape instead of triangular and has more facets. Also, a princess cut diamond is usually less expensive because the shape itself is less exclusive than cuts like emerald or modified emerald.

Cut

Cut is one of the most misunderstood aspects of a diamond. You might think that the cut is pretty straight forward; diamonds are well-known for their beauty and sparkle. However, most people never consider one of the largest contributors to a diamond’s beauty.

Diamonds do not shine on their own, in fact, you’re more likely to see a bright white sparkle from a highly polished diamond than an unpolished one if they are placed on a dark surface. The light reflecting off the facets of the diamond really make a big difference in the beauty of a diamond.

Diamonds are cut to maximize the number of interesting reflections they produce on their surfaces. While symmetry is important, the facets of the diamond and angle at which they are cut can enhance or destroy a diamond’s sparkle.

In this post, we are going to break down the different components that go into a diamond’s cut rating and go over the ways in which it impacts a diamond’s performance. We will also share the basics of the modern round brilliants shape and also explain the various common cut types.

The last thing we will do is to share some tips on how to find a diamond with the best cut on a budget.

Clarity

VS. Color

The most important difference between diamonds that have the “princess cut” shape and those that don’t, is the clarity.

“Clarity” refers to the number and size of internal imperfections in a diamond. Clarity is rated on a scale of FL to I.

As a general rule, the smaller the flaw in the stone, the better. The clarity of the diamond is less important than the size of the stone. Look at a diamond in as many angles as you can. Get a really good look at it. If you’re still confused, there are several helpful resources on the internet that can help you judge the clarity of the stone.

A diamond with a “princess cut” shape can have clarity of FL – I.

The other difference between numbers is the color.

“Color” refers to the presence of color to the naked eye. Color is categorized into D to Z and ranges from colorless to yellow.

Color

The Princess cut diamond has become one of the most popular shapes available today. Princess cut diamond engagement rings are especially popular during the holiday season, when both brides-to-be and members of the groom’s party get princess cut engagement rings.

This is a square-shaped diamond with the top corners cut off to create a more rounded appearance. It looks best when it’s cut in a deep or shallow “cushion” setting with plenty of metal surrounding it.

Color is an important factor when it comes to princess cut diamonds, and most jewelers and retailers will usually advertise diamond colors based on the Modified Color Distance System: D, E, F, G, and H. This color grading system is based on the average difference between the color of the diamond and the ideal color of the diamond. The higher the grade, the closer the diamond is to the ideal color.

Using this grading system, D would be the closest to ideal, while H is the closest to the color of the yellow, inexpensive diamonds. The D through G colored diamonds are increasingly more expensive as they become increasingly more similar to the ideal color.

Carat

Vs. Clarity

While the only significant difference between your diamond shape and others is the cut (which we’ll cover in the next section), there are various other factors you need to consider when buying a diamond.

The most important primary factors you need to consider are carat and clarity, because these factors pertain to the diamond’s size and quality.

Carat refers to the weight of the diamond, which is measured in carats. The higher the carat weight, the bigger and more expensive the diamond.

Clarity refers to the number, size, and appearance of the internal inclusions or blemishes in your diamond. Inclusions and blemishes affect the sparkle and shine, so quality clarity is an important factor in selecting a diamond.

Carat is a primary factor because it’s the main factor in determining a diamond’s size and its price. Clarity is also a primary factor, as it affects the diamond’s clarity, brilliance, fire and scintillation. But of these factors, clarity is the one that’s found most undervalued on diamonds.

Princess Cut vs Other Diamond Cuts

The most popular shape for diamonds today is the round diamond. They make up about 75% of diamond sales. However, there are other, less common diamond shapes, such as princess cut diamonds.

Princess cut diamonds (also known as “square modified brilliant” diamonds are similar to square or emerald cut diamonds in the way that they have 4 main facets. However, a princess cut diamond has 5 crown facets rather than the usual 6, which gives it a slightly different appearance.

It’s an uncommon shape and doesn’t have the same popularity as the round, emerald, or princess cuts. However, princess cut diamonds may be a good choice for those who want to make more of an investment and have more options to choose from.

Princess Cut vs Round Cut

Diamonds: How do you tell them apart?

The appearance of these two diamond cuts is distinctly different. Both are showstoppers, but the Princess cut highlights the stone's shapely profile, while the round cut highlights the stone's gleaming surface. The most distinguishing feature is that a princess cut diamond is flat on the bottom, while a round cut diamond is rounded on the bottom. Yet, both cuts have each mastered the art of radiance … and I'll explain why below.

The Princess Cut Diamond

The Princess cut diamond is named for its royal appearance. It's basically a square modified octagonal diamond. The sweeping edges are designed to reflect light inward to maximize a diamond’s brilliance.

The round shape is also called a "square modified brilliant" cut and the octagonal shape is also referred to as a "modified brilliant" cut; both fall into the category of a modern cut.

Bridgeway, one of the most famous diamond cutters in the industry, puts it as follows: "The princess cut diamond receives its name from its similarity in shape to a regal crown. A square modified octagonal cut diamond is generally regarded as the most brilliant diamond cut in existence.

Princess Cut vs Cushion Cut

When talking about diamond cut, the princess cut diamond shape is the only diamond cut with its own specific name.

In addition to its name, the princess cut diamond shape is unique from a visual standpoint as well. It’s the only diamond cut with a completely straight top girdle (neck), and it has more facets on its top than any of the other diamond cuts.

In fact, it’s the most complex of the cuts, with 58 facets on its top and 32 on its bottom. This is why it’s also the most expensive of the diamond cuts. Diamonds can vary in shape and size, but all princess cut diamonds share the same basic cut characteristics.

Princess Cut Diamond Shape Characteristics:

  • Its top is 58 facets and its bottom is 32
  • Its top facets are square shaped
  • Its bottom facets are triangular shaped
  • Its most clearly defined lines form a “T” or “X” pattern (more clearly defined than the other diamond cuts)

It has the most facets – 58 on top and 32 on the bottom.

Where To Buy The Best Princess Cut Diamond?

A princess cut diamond is one of the most classic and exquisite diamond shapes available. It has a large number of facets which results in a larger looking stone. It’s also very durable and has the potential to be the most expensive of the diamond shapes.

A princess cut diamond can be cut in any size from .25 carats to 50 carats … from very small to very large. However, the most popular sizes are the 1.00, 2.00 and 3.00 carat sizes. The most sought-after sizes are 1.50 carats and 3.00 carats. You will find that most princess cut diamonds are either brilliant cut or very slightly modified brilliant cut. Very rarely, you will find diamonds that are crown cut or asscher cut. Because the princess cut diamond can be a wealth investment, it’s imperative that they are evaluated by a reputable and respected jeweler. This way, you will know you are making an investment in a stone that will not only look beautiful but also retain its value.

What Are The Best Settings For Princess Cut Diamonds?

Princess cut diamonds are also used for engagement rings and necklaces. These diamonds are known for their elegance and beauty. If you're not familiar with the Princess Cut diamond and why it's superior, read this short guide for all the info you need to know about this amazing diamond cut!

When it comes to picking the princess cut diamond that is right for you, you have to consider the shape of the diamond, its carat weight, and the settings. Since the princess cut diamond is a square or rectangular shape, it is necessary for you to take this into consideration when matching the princess cut with other diamonds in a ring setting. But apart from knowing the details on the cut of the princess cut diamond, you also need to know other information before making the final decision. There are factors such as color, clarity, certification, and price, giving the user a lot to consider.

Here is a quick guide on choosing the right princess cut diamond.

Learn More About Jewelry

Shapes, Deposits, and Quality:

To learn more about the different shapes and qualities of diamonds that are the most common in production today, check out my blog post on understanding the quality of a diamond.

For more information on setting goals with your budget and exploring your diamond budget, check out my blog post on diamond pricing.

To learn more about different diamond shapes, check out my blog post explaining the most common diamond shapes.