“Princess Cut” Diamond Shape Explained (Buying Guide)

Looking for an expert guide on princess cut diamonds?

Perfect, you're in the right place!

In this LearningJewelry.com guide, you'll learn:

  • What is an princess cut diamond?
  • Pros and cons of this diamond cut?
  • How to save money when buying a princess cut diamond
  • Where to buy the best princess cut diamond?
  • And much more!
princess Cut Diamonds Engagement Ring Setting Guide

Princess cut diamonds are ideal for the person who wants a diamond shape that goes into many different styles. They want to be a square in a sea of circles, or round brilliant cuts in this case.

 Brides-to-be love the bold edges of the princess cut look and the way it can soften in  vintage engagement ring styles or look striking as a solitaire engagement ring. 

While princess cut diamonds don't have an official cut grade, you'll have to really pay attention to the grading report of the diamond to determine if you're coming across a great diamond. Thankfully, you don't have to do the research. Let's check it out!

Read Also: What are the best places to buy engagement rings online?

What Is A Princess Cut Diamond?

Princess cut diamond engagement rings are the second most popular diamond shape in the jewelry market today. Princess diamonds serve as a more angular alternative to the round diamond. It is also a brilliant cut, meaning that a diamond cutter has cut it so it has the most brilliance and return of light

There is a bit of debate as to who and when the princess cut diamond shape was invented. Some say it was in the 1970s, when Basil Watermeyer created the "Barion cut".

However, more people say that diamond cut was a cross between an emerald and marquise cut diamond. Many agree that princess cut diamonds were invented in the 1960s by Arpad Nagy. It was called the profile cut then. 

It wasn't until a few years later that profile cut diamonds became known as princess cut diamonds by Betzalel Ambar, Ygal Perlman, and Israel Itzkowitz. That's when princess cut diamonds began to rival the beautiful round brilliant diamonds.

Read Also: Which is better for engagement rings, round cut or princess cut?

Pros And Cons of Princess Cut Diamonds

As with any diamond shape, the princess cut has both highlights and drawbacks.

But are these drawback deal breakers? You be the judge.

princess cut diamond

Pros

Great in any ring setting

Modern or classic

Brilliant cut

Less expensive 

Looks bigger

Cons

No strict diamond grades

Can be vulnerable to chipping in an exposed setting

How To Choose A Princess Cut Diamond?

When picking out a diamond of any shape, there are standards to go by that determine the quality of all diamonds. This system was set forth by the most respected name in the business, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The GIA assess diamond quality by what's known as the 4Cs: cut, clarity, color, and carat.

Cut

Princess cut diamonds are cut to maximize brilliance and sparkle. But they are a fancy cut diamond, which means there isn't a standard cut grade that princess diamonds follow.

You can purchase an Ideal Cut princess diamond from places like James Allen, but they don't have a standard cut grade that is recognizable to the GIA or AGS. 

With fancy cut diamonds (all shapes aside from the round brilliant), you have to pay more attention to the angles and depth of the diamond parts as well as the length-to-width ratio (L/W). But first, you'll need to understand the anatomy of a diamond.

diamond parts


Princess cut diamond can actually differ in design, all while keeping their main square shape. This is why it's hard to assess a true cut grade. The crown of the princess cut can have bezel set corners and others have French corners. 

Bezel corners include facets have diamond shaped facets that extend towards the edge of the stone. French corners have facets that look like a pointed star on the table. It's advised to keep to bezel cuts, unless you really have to have French corners. Bezel set corners are just more durable. 

When you look at the pavilion, or underside of the diamond on a princess stone, there can be a few variations in the facets. These facets produce chevron shapes, which affect the ultimate brilliance of the stone.

A princess diamond can have 2, 3, or 4 chevrons. With 2 chevrons, your stone will have bold flashes of light. As the chevron shapes increase, the light is broken up more, creating a glittering effect. 

You'll want to keep your depth between 65-75% when searching for a princess diamond. If the stone is cut outside those parameters, the light that flows through the diamond doesn't flow through properly and impacts the overall beauty of the diamond.

Keep table size to 75% and below. You'll also want to keep the L/W under 1.05. Anything over that and the shape starts to look wonky. 

When it comes to girdles, you'll want to avoid thin girdles because it makes diamonds susceptible to breaking. You don't need a super thick girdle, but one in the middle.

You need it thick enough to support the prongs. Lastly, polish and symmetry should always be at least "Good". 

All of these percentages and cut quality factors can be found on any GIA or AGS grading reports. We recommend only buying loose-diamonds with grading reports from these laboratories as others do not have strict guidelines. The GIA is the number one resource in diamond quality in the world. 

Clarity

Brilliant cut diamonds don't typically need high clarity grades because of all of their tiny facets. The more light reflected through the diamond, the less noticeable the inclusions will be.

For princess cut diamonds, we recommend a minimum clarity grade of SI1. It's possible to find a clear SI2, but you'll have to survey the diamond to make sure any visible inclusions do not impede the table view of the diamond. 

You shouldn't need a higher clarity than a VS2. Higher clarity grades like a VVS2 will have you paying more for little difference. Look for diamonds whose inclusions reside on the edge of the diamond.

If you're in-store, ask to see the diamond under high magnification. If you are shopping online, shop from a place like James Allen or Whiteflash, who let you view thousands of loose princess cut diamonds using video or 360 degree viewing technology.

Color

The color of a princess cut diamond should be at least a I color grade. Like all other fancy cut diamonds, they tend to show more color. You shouldn't need higher than an H color grade. While being colorless is great and all, you'll wind up paying more for little difference. Check out the difference in color from this E color grade princess compared to the H color grade.

e color princess cut diamond 1.01 carat


Princess Cut (E Color)

h color princess cut diamond 1.01 carat

Princess Cut (H Color)

So, is the color difference worth the extra $400? And those are just pictures.

Famous jewelry retailers will either convince you that you need the highest diamond grades if you have the funds, but will tell you diamond grades aren't important if you are looking for something cheaper.

Both of these sales tactics are wrong, so I'm setting the record straight.

Carat

Carat is the least significant of the 4Cs with almost all diamond shapes. The carat weight of the diamond is commonly mistaken as the size of the diamond. Different 1 carat fancy shapes will appear different sizes, but the carat weight is the same. 

While carat weight is based on personal preference, if you are wanting a larger carat weight, remember that the minimum diamond grades mentioned above may not be enough with a 2 carat diamond. The price also increases heavily because it is harder to find a larger, clearer 2 carat diamond than it would be a 1 carat diamond.

Princess Cut vs Other Diamond Cuts

Being the #1 fancy cut diamond and #2 most popular diamond shape, the princess cut diamond has been compared to many diamond shapes. Let's see how it measures against its competition.

Princess Cut vs Round Cut

Of course we'd have to measure the #2 diamond against the cream of the crop, the round brilliant. While the round brilliant oozes perfection, the princess cut is a strong contender. 

princess cut 14k white gold engagement ring

Princess Cut Diamond

round cut 14k white gold engagement ring

Round Cut Diamond

Which is more expensive?

The round brilliant diamond cut is the most expensive diamond shape on the market, as well as the most popular. The reason for the expensive price tag on round brilliants is because jewelers and gemstone cutters have cut away a lot of the rough to develop this cut.

Round brilliants use about 40% of a rough diamond, where as princess cut diamonds can retain 70-90% of the rough. This makes them less wasteful and more abundant, so the prices will be lower. 

Which sparkles more?

Even though both diamond shapes are brilliant cuts, a round brilliant center diamond will have more sparkle. This is because diamond cutters have the exact symmetry down to create a round diamond that exudes top tier brilliance.

While there isn't a GIA officially recognized ideal cut for princess diamonds, you can still obtain a top tier princess diamond that is comparable to the round. 

James Allen's True Hearts collection of diamonds features princess diamonds that are cut to their recommended proportions, dubbed as perfect symmetry. They have the highest polish and best recommended measurements such as length to width ratio and pavilion depth percentage. 

Click to read our full buying guide for round cut diamonds

Princess Cut vs Cushion Cut

Cushion cut diamonds are basically a cross between a round and a princess. They are the third most popular diamond shape. 

Princess Cut 14k yellow gold engagement ring

Princess Cut Diamond

cushion Cut 14k yellow gold engagement ring

Cushion Cut Diamond

Which looks bigger?

Even though though the two are very similar in shape, the princess cut has the edge (quite literally) over the cushion cut when it comes to table size. The square shape of a princess allows for a much larger face up view than it does when looking at a cushion from face up. However, the cushion cut still looks larger than the round brilliant. 

Which is more durable?

When it comes to durability, the princess cut diamond doesn't have as much resilience to breakage as the cushion cut. This is simply because any fancy cut diamond with pointed edges is more susceptible to breaking or chipping.

Really, any diamond can actually chip. Most people assume because diamond is the hardest mineral known to man, it must be impervious to damage. Actually, anything can break if its hit in the right place at the right pressure. 

But just because a princess cut diamond would be more likely to chip or break than a cushion cut, doesn't mean that it's going to break. And if you're really concerned about it, you can get a princess cut engagement ring in protective ring styles, such as a halo or tension setting.

I would avoid solitaire engagement rings if you are concerned about the corners, or make sure the prongs are big enough to protect the edges.

Click to read our full buying guide for cushion cut diamonds

Where To Buy The Best Princess Cut Diamond?

If you're on the hunt for princess cut diamond rings, your first thought is to go to your local fine jewelry retailer, like Helzberg or Kay Jewelers. But have you considered buying your princess cut engagement ring online? You should. Here's why. 

At normal fine jewelry retailers stores, anybody other than someone in management has no real qualifications in diamonds or gemstones. But an online jewelry store like James Allen or Blue Nile has diamond experts on standby, ready to answer your toughest questions.

Best of all, they don't make any sort of commission, so you don't have to worry about misinformation being given in order to inflate sales. 

When you buy a diamond online, you can look at thousands of different loose princess cut diamonds to survey their color and inclusions. In store, there are very few retailers that have more than a couple loose diamonds to look at. Sure, you can build a custom princess cut engagement ring with Kay's, but the labor costs will skyrocket.

At James Allen, they have a wide selection of loose diamonds of varying diamond grades and ring settings with no labor cost! Why buy a ring that everyone else has and create one easy on your very own?

360 diamond display technology

What Are The Best Settings For Princess Cut Diamonds?

One thing I love most about the princess cut diamond is its versatility. It can give off a modern geometric look with a bit of spunk, or a fairy tale vintage ring picked out for Cinderella.

Whether you decide to go classic, modern, or to the beat of your own drum, the princess cut is here for it. This cut also looks fantastic in any metal type as well. Check out some of our favorite princess cut engagement rings. 

  1. 14K White Gold Criss Cross Diamond Solitaire
  2. 14K Rose Gold Art Deco Inspired Fleur-De-Lis Pave Engagement Ring
  3. 14K Yellow Gold 0.25ct Channel Set Princess Shaped Diamond Engagement Ring
  4. Princess-Cut Floating Halo Engagement Ring
  5. Classic Pear Shaped Princess Cut Sapphire Engagement Ring

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