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What is a Princess Cut Diamond?

by Willyou.net * Apr 29, 2021
princess cut diamond
1 carat princess cut diamond

It’s hard to imagine any diamond shape evoking images of luxury and affluence faster than the Princess cut. The sumptuousness of this cut is hinted at well before you even set eyes on those perfectly glassy facets, or the precise and meticulous square shape that, so far, has gone unrivalled by any other popular diamond cut.

On name alone, it’s hard to imagine any other cut being better suited to a blushing bride.

Obviously, there’s a lot more to it than that – but the Princess cut certainly thrives first impressions and, we’re willing to bed, closer inspection, too…

What Does a Princess Cut Look Like?

The cut is a square diamond with sharp edges, and between 59 -78 facets which create a distinctive, chevron-like pattern within the diamond – visible when you look through the table.

What’s unique about the Princess cut is that if you look at it from above, it appears square. And when you look from the side, it looks more like an inverted pyramid.

The Princess cut features a large table, which allows a lot of light to enter and refract through the upper surface – ensuring a truly mesmerizing light performance. Its shape is unusual, given that most geometric diamond shapes feature beveled corners (creating an irregular octagon, rather than a true square) or rounded corners, as in the Cushion cut.

While it is possible to find Princess cuts featuring rectangular dimensions, rather than square, these are considered far less desirable on the market. Finding a Princess that is cut as close to the proportions of a square as possible is considered a far better use of your time and money.

The Princess cut is such a stunning and brilliant diamond, it’s no wonder that it’s such a popular choice for brides.

Princess Diamond History

While a similar cut was first developed in the 1960s, the design was then perfected and named the Princess cut in 1980 by Betazel Ambar and Israel Itzkowitz. From that moment on, the cut proved immensely popular – particularly throughout the 80s and 90s.

Most recently, Prince Harry proposed to Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, with a three stone engagement ring featuring the distinctive Princess cut back in 2017. Although she has since traded her original engagement ring in for a Cushion cut, the Princess sparked an explosion of popularity that continues on to this day.

The cut is a modern, contemporary, and beautiful – and, of course, totally befitting of modern day royalty (hence the name) and any bride-to-be who has a taste for life’s greatest luxuries.

Why is it Called Princess Cut?

The name was first given to a different cut in the 1960s – one that did not prove popular among shoppers – it was reused during the introduction of this cut, and, as you can imagine, was perfect for appealing to shoppers’ appreciation for the opulence and luxury of diamond.

While it may sound a lot less romantic, the Princess cut is also known by the name ‘square modified brilliant.’ This can be useful to know but, for the most part, any jeweler will refer to these diamonds as the Princess cut.

Princess Diamond Engagement Rings

It’s not difficult to understand the allure of the Princess cut. From the name to the distinctive internal structure, there’s a lot to love – but how does it look on the finger? Here’s what you need to know about Princess engagement rings.

Are Princess Cut Diamonds Popular?

Yes – the Princess is commonly regarded as the second most popular diamond cut, alongside the Oval – and, of course, behind the Round Brilliant.

It’s highly unlikely that the Princess cut will ever surpass the Round Brilliant in terms of sheer popularity. This diamond cut has been the symbol for proposals and engagement rings for so many years that it seems pretty much impossible to imagine it ever slipping down the ranks.

Regardless, the popularity of the Princess has it sitting alongside the Oval as a highly compelling cut for couples around the world.

Are Princess Diamonds in Style?

Yes, Princess diamonds have proven popular ever since their introduction in the early 1980s, but they are particularly popular at the moment.

The Princess is a great shape for so many reasons, and not least of all because it features a highly versatile and striking silhouette. The precise, geometric square shape is bold and modern in appearance, but subtly so. It’s unique qualities are, for the most part, qualities that you only begin to truly pick up on when you look a little closer – and that’s what makes it the perfect cut for the term ‘modern classic’.

Just take a look at this Princess Solitaire in Yellow Gold, which takes the most traditional engagement ring design of all – the emblematic solitaire – and modernizes it using the angular shape of the Princess. The result is something truly stunning, without it straying too far from the traditional design.

But, that’s not to say that the Princess is incapable of creating something truly unique. This super feminine Princess Cut Infinity Engagement Ring manages to combine some of the most romantic design elements possible for something that will leave any new-fiancée starry-eyed: an elegant twisted shank, intricate pavé, blushing rose gold, and, of course, the Princess at its center.

Cuts like the Pear and Marquise are much more distinctive from a distance. There is, of course, absolutely nothing wrong with that – plenty of beautiful engagement rings are created using these bold shapes. But, if you’re on the hunt for something that isn’t tied to the ups and downs of trends, the Princess is a great cut to focus on.

In other words, yes it’s in style – and we’re willing to bet that it always will be.

Do Princess Diamonds Sparkle?

Yes, the Princess Cut is one of the best cuts out there for fire – and, of course, brilliance. This is one of the most coveted features of the Princess.

Its ability to turn like into mesmerizing flashes of white and colored light is down to its meticulously structured facets – so picking a very high quality cut here is essential (but more on that below).

Not only that, but the Princess offers the perfect opportunity to gain the most brilliance possible from the square shape. Unlike both the Radiant and the Cushion, it features those dramatic, sharply pointed corners and, unlike the Asscher, it features the brilliant facet pattern than ensures a truly stunning light performance from all angles.

A small amount of sparkle is lost due to the sharp corners of the shape. Whereas the Round Brilliant, Cushion and Oval feature smooth edges, the sharpness of the Princess prevents as much sparkle from being created in these parts of the stone. This isn’t major, and definitely isn’t a reason to write-off the shape straightaway. The best thing to do to put your mind at ease is to look at it in person.

If you’re worried about the (albeit minor) loss of sparkle, then it would be worth looking into a halo ring setting further down the line. Take a look at this Princess Cut Halo Engagement Ring, which offers a tremendous sparkle thanks to the halo and pavé shank, which is sure to off-set the slight loss of sparkle at the diamond’s corners.

princess diamond ring with wedding band - What is a Princess Cut Diamond

Does the Princess Cut Look Bigger?

Yes, the Princess Cut can appear larger than other diamonds – particularly the highly popular Round Brilliant – due to the fact that, with the right proportions, it will feature a larger table.

Obviously, how big, or small a Princess cut looks alongside other shapes will vary. A square Princess cut (far more desirable than a rectangle) won’t look as long as an Emerald, for instance, but it will look wider and more evenly proportioned – providing, of course, that the two diamonds feature the same carat weight.

In any case, a Princess will certainly command a lot of attention – no matter what diamond it’s held up against.

How Big is a 1 Carat Princess Cut Diamond?

While this will depend on the proportions of the diamond, one that has been cut to a very high standard will measure approximately 5.5mm across.

Of course, ideally, the diamond will feature the same measurement on each side, in other to create that perfectly proportioned square – rather than a rectangle or, worse still, an irregular, wonky shape. We look at the ideal L/W ratio in more detail below.

A 2 carat Princess cut diamond will measure approximately 6.94mm – creating a very noticeable 1.44mm difference that will command even more attention on the finger – provided, once again, that it has been cut to idea proportions.

As you might have already gathered, keeping a close eye on cut quality and proportion is essential to ensuring that you make a strong choice over your diamond. As with any shape, Cut is the most important of the Four Cs, and the one that has the most significant bearing on the sparkle and first-impression made by your diamond ring.

Are Princess Cut Diamonds Fragile?

Relatively speaking, yes, they are one of the more vulnerable diamond shapes – although they are still very strong, and weak points can be protected by a skilled jeweler.

While diamond is the hardest natural substance on earth, with a grade of 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness, any fine or sharpened points represent a definite weak point for a stone. This same fact holds true for the Pear, the Heart, and the Marquise.

The Princess, due to its shape, features four vulnerable corners – and this can be where the question of Princess vs Radiant leans more in the Radiant’s favor, due to its beveled corners.

Nevertheless, the popularity of the Princess cut is testament to the fact that it is possible to protect this stone from damage. While some cutters now follow a process known as ‘chamfering,’ which adds a small (near microscopic) facet on each corner, it is possible for a skilled jeweler to protect the vulnerable points of the Princess cut with precise placement of the prongs.

Some settings, like the bezel, offer additional security, but they are not for everyone and may inhibit your diamond’s light performance.

What Does a Princess Cut Diamond Say About You?

Princess cuts are feminine and luxurious, but also highly modern and refined. Their wearers tend to exude the same sense of style, and, while they appreciate the finer things in life, they remain highly sophisticated.

The Princess cut is more than just a fancy name. Its popularity stems from the substance beyond the name – the unique geometric pattern within the table, and that explosion of fire and brilliance we are treated to whenever the light falls upon the surface of the stone.

So, while its wearers may have been initially drawn in by the royal connotations of its name, you can be sure that there is a lot more going on beneath the surface. At heart, its wearers appreciate the innate beauty of a diamond – and the power of a skillful cut.

Princess Diamond Cost

While ‘talking money’ may go against the royal protocol, it’s important to know quite how much your dream Princess diamond engagement ring will set you back. Fortunately, there are no regal price points here, and plenty of ways to make your money go as far as possible.

Why is Princess Cut More Expensive?

They’re not. While popularity has increased the Princess cut’s value over the years, the truth is that Princess cuts are still one of the more affordable choices on the market.

This is mostly down to the fact that, for a diamond cutter, creating a Princess is a process that saves a lot more of the rough stone than creating many other shapes. While creating a Round Brilliant usually means sacrificing around 60% of the rough stone, a Princess can create as little as 10% wastage.

Since they don’t have to sacrifice anywhere near as much of the original weight of the diamond during the process, cutters don’t have to charge as much for the Princess.

Is Princess Cut Cheaper than Round?

Yes. Per carat, a Princess is around 40% cheaper than the Round.

The Round remains the most important diamond cut (by far) because of two factors. First and foremost, its popularity (primarily driven by that high degree of sparkle, and the versatility of the shape) means that vendors are able to charge a little more.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, wastage is high. Just as we mentioned above, wasting around 60% of the original stone means that, for every 1 carat rough stone, cutters are able to create a Round Brilliant of around 0.40 carats.

Obviously, the exact numbers vary from stone to stone – and some will feature poor proportions for the sole reason that large diamonds always sell – but it’s useful to understand why Round diamonds remain so much more expensive than other shapes.

How Much is a 1 Carat Diamond Princess Cut?

While prices for poor quality stones – like those with visible inclusions or color – will be significantly lower, you can expect to find an eye clean and well-cut diamond from around $3,500 – $4,000 and up.

Remember that this just refers to the diamond, and not the ring setting – although the diamond will likely account for around 75% – 85% of your overall spend on your engagement ring.

Also, if you’re already doing equations in your head, don’t presume that budgeting for larger diamonds will be as simple as doubling the cost of a 1 carat diamond….

How Much is a 2 Carat Princess Cut?

A 2 carat Princess cut (again, with no visible inclusions or color, and a quality cut) will often cost upwards of $10,000, for the simple reason that larger diamonds are highly coveted by shoppers.

The premium cost of higher carat weights is something that any buyer will have to quickly get used to as they move ahead with their search.

As always, the best way to ensure you get the highest carat weight possible without sacrificing quality is to understand more about the process of choosing a diamond…

Choosing a Princess Cut Diamond

A Princess cut diamond should be set with prongs that protect the four corners in order to avoid chipping. Princess cuts work with many different styles, including solitaire and three-stone engagement rings.

For a classic Princess cut, look for a length-to-width ratio of 1.04 and below. A length-to-width ratio of 1.05 – 1.08 may still look square because the sides of the diamond will create the illusion of a greater width in the center.

Princess cut diamond ratio LW – 1.00, 1.05

The following cut, color and clarity guides should be taken into consideration when choosing a Princess cut diamond: 

Princess Cut Diamond Guide for the US – Cut

 ExcellentVery GoodGoodFairPoor
Table %67 – 72.960 – 66.9
or
73 – 75.9
56 – 59.9
or
76 – 82.9
53 – 55.9
or
83 – 85.9
<52.9
or
>86
Depth %67 – 72.964 – 66.9
or
73 – 74.9
58 – 63.9
or
75 – 79.9
56 – 57.9
or
80 – 84.9
<55.9
or
85
GirdleVery Thin
or Slightly Thick
 Very Thin
or
Thick
Very Thin
or
Very Thick
Extremely Thin
or
Extremely
Thick
CuletNoneVery SmallSmallMedium> Large
L/W Ratio1.00 – 1.0291.03 – 1.0391.04 – 1.0591.06 – 1.08>1.09

Princess Cut Diamond Color Guide for the US

 ExcellentVery GoodGoodFairPoor
CutExcellentVery GoodGood Fair – Poor
PolishExcellentVery GoodGood Fair – Poor
SymmetryExcellentVery GoodGood Fair – Poor
FluorescenceNoneFaintMedium Strong – Very Strong

Princess Cut Diamond Clarity Guide for the US

Most buyers prefer size over clarity and will buy a diamond of VS2 – SI1 Clarity.

 ExcellentVery GoodGoodFairPoor
< 0.50 ct.FL – VS2SI1 – SI2I1I2> I2
0.51 – 1.oo ct.FL – VS1VS2 – SI1SI2I1 – I2> I2
1.00 – 2.00 ct.FL – VVS2VS1 – VS2SI1 – SI2I1> I1
> 2 ct.FL – VVS2VS1- VS2SI1 – SI2I1> I1

Princess Cut Diamonds Pros and Cons

As always, there are advantages and disadvantages to any diamond cut, including the Princess.

Pros

A major plus side to choosing the Princess cut is the lower price-per-carat than other round cut diamonds, allowing you to get a bigger diamond for the same amount of money. It also gives the perfect opportunity for you to get the benefit of a brilliant facet pattern (meaning a lot of fire, brilliance and scintillation) within the square shape, creating something more modern and unique than the Round Brilliant.

Cons

One of the most significant downsides to choosing a Princess is, of course, the extra vulnerability to damage caused by its sharp edges. Because of the corners in the cut, some of the light and sparkle gets lost. Also, those sharp points need to be treated carefully within the ring design, as they are a lot more vulnerable to breaking than the smooth corners of, say, the Cushion.

As we mentioned above, however, talking your concerns through with your jeweler as you design your ring setting will allay any fears you might have.

Our Summary: Is a Princess Cut Diamond Good?

The Princess is one of the most beautiful and dazzling diamond shapes out there, and it’s the perfect choice for many brides-to-be.

While the name may suggest an ultra-feminine, ultra-lavish cut, there’s so much more to the Princess than shoppers might imagine. It’s a bold, modern cut – one that masterfully combined some of the most coveted aspects of multiple older and more classic designs: the Round Brilliant and the highly geometric Emerald.

Its facet structure is close enough to some of the more traditional shapes that it doesn’t look too ‘out there,’ but remains intricate enough to live up to its royal name and offer something truly magnificent to place on the finger of your partner. If you want to know more, then take a look at our wide range of GIA graded Princess cut diamonds, and let us connect you with a trusted local jeweler who can talk you through the specifics of your choice, advise you on ring designs, and ensure that you are able to create the perfect ring for your partner.

Hand-Selected Princess Cut Diamonds You Should See