Round Cut vs Princess Cut (7 Key Differences Explained)

Last Updated on September 26, 2022 by Juli "Jewels" Church

When most people imagine an engagement ring, they think about either a round brilliant diamond solitaire or princess cut diamond solitaire.

Maybe it's because the round diamond and square shape diamond are the two most popular diamond shapes in the jewelry market today. 

Even though there are many other fancy diamond shapes, someone who isn't familiar with jewelry automatically thinks they have to go with a round or square diamond engagement ring. 

round vs princess cut diamond

They love the sparkle and overall brilliance of the diamond shapes. Both round diamonds and princess diamonds have a brilliant cut, meaning diamond cutters have faceted the diamond shapes to optimize the diamond for ultimate light return of the diamond.

While these two shapes have things in common, they also have some significant differences. So, does one diamond shape have the edge over the other?

Ahead, we'll break down an overview of both round diamonds and princess cut diamonds as well as their pros and cons to so that you can truly determine which is truly the best diamond shape for you and your situation. 

Read Also: VVS diamonds price and best places to buy them

Factors To Consider When Comparing Round vs Princess Cut Diamonds?

Every diamond sold with a grading reports goes through some sort of grading process to determine its diamond grades.

It's our recommendation that no matter what diamond shape or where you purchase it from, you should always buy a diamond with a grading report from either the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or from the American Gem Society (AGS). Other grading labs have looser guidelines, and these two are the top respected in the gem industry. 

The GIA has created a diamond grading system that determines overall how high quality a diamond is based on a system called the 4Cs: Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carat.

That said, that's how we'll be doing this comparison! Let's get into it.

Do Princess Cuts Sparkle More Than Round (Cut)?

Cut is the foundation all diamond quality and that coveted "sparkle". You should never compromise on cut quality in order to save money. Cut quality determines how durable and beautiful your diamond is.

If you don't have a good cut on your diamond, it's vulnerable to breakage and chipping. This is one of the reasons why a grading report is important. It lets you know that your diamond is exactly what it is being sold as. 

Round Cut Diamond Rings

Marcel Tolkowsky's invention of the ideal cut diamond, which basically boiled the cutting technique down to exact proportions.

A GIA grading report doesn't recognize the term "ideal cut", but instead uses Excellent Cut as the highest cut grade for a round diamond. The AGS grading report will have the ideal cut term instead of Excellent Cut. Both are the highest cut grades. 

Read More: What do you need to know when considering round cut diamonds?

Princess Cut Diamond Rings

Princess cut stones don't have an Excellent or Ideal cut grade, so you should be looking for Very Good for cut grades. The round cut diamond is the only diamond shape that has exact symmetry. That's why the brilliance of a round diamond is highly coveted.

You can find "ideal cut" princess diamonds, but they aren't officially recognized as such. But that doesn't mean that every Very Good princess cut diamond is the best you can get. 

To get the best brilliance out of a Very Good princess cut diamond, you should stay within these guidelines. 

For a  princess cut diamond, your cut grade proportions should staying within the following: 68-75% depth, a table size under 75%, 1-1.05 length to width ratio, and Very Good/Excellent symmetry. 

Read Also: What do you need to know when considering princess cut diamonds? 

Which Is More "Eye Clean", Round Cut or Princess Cut? (Clarity)

Diamond clarity is how clear of natural inclusions or  your diamond is when you look down at it. The clarity grade scale for diamonds sold is I3 I3 I1, SI2 SI1, VS2, VS1, VVS2, VVS1, and IF. With all diamond shapes, you don't really need a clarity grade higher than a VS1. 

Round Cut Diamond Rings

Because a round cut diamond has been cut to exact symmetry for the best light performance of all diamond shapes, it is the least likely diamond to need a high clarity grade. Brilliant cut diamonds in general don't usually need higher clarity grades because of their many tiny facets. We recommend a minimum clarity of SI1 for round brilliant cut engagement rings.

james allen round cut diamond

SI1 Round Cut Diamond

james allen princess cut diamond

SI1 Princess Cut Diamond

Princess Cut Diamond Rings

Princess cut diamonds also don't need a high clarity because of the brilliant cut technique too. However, due to the broad, lengthy flashes of light from the square shape, some darker inclusions will be more visible than a round cut in an engagement ring. We recommend a princess cut engagement ring with the minimum clarity grade of an SI2 for eye-clean unlike the one above.. 

Tip: Emerald cut engagement rings are step-cut diamonds, which need higher clarity grades.

Which Has Better Color, Round of Princess Cut? (Color)

Diamond color grades are determined based on if the diamond is colorless or to a faint yellow. The GIA color grade scale starts from D,E,F for colorless diamonds, G,H,I for near colorless diamonds, and J for faint yellow. K is also used in some market, but L-Z get more into the fancy yellow color. 

Round Cut Diamond Engagement Rings

The ideal cut faceting of round diamonds makes the fire of the diamond more prominent than the actual color of the stone. We recommend a color grade of I, though it's quite possible to find a J that looks great too and it'll save you money.

You can't really tell the difference in color grades unless you compare every other color grade such as the  difference between an E and F, but you'll notice the difference between an E and G. Of course, the difference is quite subtle. 

Princess Cut Diamond Engagement Rings

The surface area of the table is also larger than a round stone. Color will show more in a princess cut engagement ring. So, for minimum color grade for a princess cut diamond is an H.

You really shouldn't need a color grade higher than this, especially with brilliant cut shapes. All of the white light reflection will detract from any faint yellow hues. 

 You can find a nice looking I color diamond. If you can't afford a near colorless diamond, you might not want to buy a princess cut diamond. 

Tip: J or K color graded princess cut diamonds may look good in a yellow gold ring setting. The yellow color of the metal band makes diamonds appear whiter.

Read Also: Why are the cuts on diamonds so important?

Do Princess Cut Diamonds Look Bigger Than Round? (Carat)

Diamond carat weight is commonly referred to and confused with the actual size of the diamond. But carat weight is how heavy in diamond material it is, similar to weighing gold.

The heavier the carat weight, the larger the diamond is. But two 1 carat diamonds don't equal the price of one 2 carat diamond. In fact, the larger the carat weight, the higher your clarity grade and color grades have to be in order to maintain the beauty. 

Round Cut Diamond Engagement Rings

Round cut diamonds have the one of the smallest table sizes of diamond shapes. When compared to an emerald cut diamond or a radiant cut diamond of the same carat weight, the round will look the smallest.

While normally we say that carat is up to personal taste, we do recommend that you shouldn't buy a solitaire engagement ring lower than a .5 or 1/2 carat center stone. Any smaller than that, it'll look weird on your hand. 

Tip: Under 1/2 carat center stones may be too small for a solitaire setting, but they'll look fantastic in other ring styles. One of the best styles for smaller center stones is going to be the halo setting. 

Princess Cut Diamond Engagement Rings

The larger table size of a princess cut diamond is an asset when it comes to carat weight. While smaller carat weights in general aren't too appealing on a solitaire, a princess diamond wouldn't look near as small as a round diamond would.

This is why it's important to know the table sizes of your diamond. There are princess cut diamonds with under 70% table size, but they are harder to find.

Read Also: Which setting style is best for engagement rings?

Is Princess Cut or Round Cut More Expensive? 

Price is one of the biggest factors when buying diamonds. And yes, different diamond shapes have different prices. The round cut is both the most popular shape and the most expensive.

This is because when diamonds are formed in the rough, diamond cutters have to discard the unusable rough diamond material. The more rough diamond that a diamond cutter is able to use, they don't have to make up for that cost in commercial price. 

A round brilliant diamond only retains 40% of the rough diamond material. A princess cut diamond retains 70% of the diamond material. This is why princess cut diamonds are cheaper than round cut diamonds.

Another factor that makes round the highest is that you know you need the best of the best with an Excellent cut or ideal cut, so they will always come with a premium. With a princess cut, the quality is more fluid, therefore the prices fluctuate.

Where to Buy Round Cut and Princess Cut Diamond Engagement Rings?

If you really want a good comparison visually of a princess cut diamond and a round cut diamond, you should go to James Allen is an online diamond retailer that takes out the salesy language and pressure of buying an engagement ring today by providing you assistance 24/7 online. 

They use 3D viewing technology that lets you see your diamond from every angle, so you know exactly where each inclusion will be on your diamond when it arrives. James Allen has diamond experts on standby to go over every detail of your center stone, grading report, and answer any questions you have.

They offer all their customers a 30 day return policy, lifetime upgrade, and a lifetime warranty that covers all of the routine maintenance that an engagement ring needs. The warranty covers rhodium plating white gold ring designs, retipping prongs, and 1 free ring resizing. 

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