Princess Cut Diamonds: The Ultimate Guide (Top Tips Included)

The princess cut diamond is arguably the most popular of all fancy-cut diamonds. Whilst nothing can match the round cut diamond for brilliance, fire, and sparkle, the princess cut gives it a good go!

Its edgy and more masculine appearance means that the princess cut diamond has a lot to offer the world! If you don’t have a princess cut diamond floating around in your jewelry box, you might wonder…What's all the fuss about?!😝

Well, I'll be happy to explain.

The strong yet subtle nature of the princess cut diamond is appealing to both the modern and traditional buyer. It offers individuality and a unique take on the elegance and sophistication of the sofer diamond cuts.

Let’s dive in!

Princess Cut Diamond in Jewelry Tweezers

Basics: What is a princess cut diamond?

The princess cut diamond can be easily distinguished by its geometric, square-edged shape. This sleek and angular cut features strong lines and a modern feel in contrast to the much-beloved round brilliant cut diamond.

But, do not be fooled! Despite the round brilliant cut diamond sitting at the number one spot in popularity due to its extraordinary brilliance, fire and scintillation…the princess cut is the second most popular cut on the market today!🔥

In fact, the princess cut is often nicknamed the "Square Modified Brilliant" cut. Why? Because it is essentially a square-shaped modification of the round brilliant cut diamond.

And you know what that means…It offers an excellent display of light!

This is what makes this cut so unique. Besides the princess cut, most angular diamond cuts, such as the emerald or Asscher, don’t exhibit the same level of scintillation. So, it is due to its cutting quality and adaptation of what makes the round brilliant cut so fabulous that allows the princess cut to not only ooze flashes of light (what do we often see with other step cuts) but also hypnotizes the eye with a spectacular amount of fire.🦚

Despite its pyramidal and geometric shape, the princess cut still exudes an impressive display of brilliance and fire. Invented in 1980 by Betazel Ambar and Israel Itzkowski, the predecessors of the princess cut diamond include the French cut and the quadrillion cut.

Is it square or is it rectangular?
The majority of princess cut diamonds have a length-to-width ratio of 1.05 and below. Why is that important I hear you ask? The reason is that once the ratio starts to edge above 1.05, the princess cut diamond can begin to look rectangular.

And whilst there is nothing wrong with a rectangular princess cut, this may not be what you’re looking for!

Understand the anatomy of a princess cut diamond

Unlike the round brilliant, princess cut diamonds do not have a set number of facets. The round brilliant almost always consists of 57 or 58 facets whereas the princess cut diamond can vary widely depending on the cutting style.

The princess cut is certainly far more complex as there is no set expectation for exactly what it should look like.

Both the number of cuts on the pavilion as well as the pattern on the crown can differ with each stone, however, this does not necessarily mean that it has any great impact on diamond quality!

When considering the anatomy of a princess cut diamond we can consider two special aspects:

The corner style

When looking down at the crown of a princess cut, you could be faced with two different types of corner styles; French corners or bezel corners.

  • French corners - Princess cut diamonds with French corners have star-shaped facets that point toward the corners of the stone.
  • Bezel Corners - Princess cut diamonds with bezel corners have diamond-shaped facets pointing towards the corner of the stone. Overall, bezel corners are considered more durable and may be preferable to French corners for strength.

 The number of chevrons

Chevron shapes are what are responsible for a diamond’s brilliance. So, you would think there would be a "one size fits all" kind of approach here.

However, when we turn a princess cut over to look at the underside of the stone (the pavilion), where we can see these chevrons clearly, a princess cut can have anywhere between two to four chevrons.

Different Numbers of Chevrons on Princess Cut Diamonds
Image: Whiteflash

As a rule of thumb, the more facets there are then the smaller the surface size of those facets will be. And of course, this applies to our boomerang-shaped chevrons.

A two chevron princess cut will have larger facets to work with that produce bold flashes of sparkle and light. Whereas a four chevron princess cut diamond will produce a more subtle, twinkling effect.⚖️

We can see distinct flashes of light performance from a princess cut with two, three, or four chevrons...they will simply sparkle with slightly different characteristics.

Buy a princess cut diamond: What to look out for?

As always, when considering any diamond cut we always want to take into account the 4Cs of diamond quality: cut, color, clarity, and carat weight.

What is interesting, however, is that, unlike a round brilliant cut diamond, princess cut diamonds can be tricky to evaluate because some diamond laboratories (such as the GIA) do not give an overall cut grade for these types of fancy cut diamonds.

"But CUT IS KING?!" I hear you cry!😀

We know by now that the cut quality is paramount when considering which diamond gives us the best bang for our buck. However, GIA instead grades cut-related aspects such as the polish and symmetry of princess cut diamonds.

With that said, when considering the cut quality we must also consider other crucial factors such as length-to-width ratio, total depth, and table size. And don’t worry, I’m about to go over each of these with you!

Princess Cut Diamond: Cut quality

Alright, let’s dive right in, shall we?

As mentioned above there is no industry-wide consensus on what parameters are best for the perfect princess cut diamond. So below are aspects we can review during the buying process along with recommendations as to what might be most desirable.

Different Views of a Princess Cut

Length-to-Width Ratio

If you’re looking for a princess cut that is definitely square in shape then a length to width ratio of 1.05 and below is recommended. With these ratio aspects, you will be sure to find a princess cut that is beautifully even and symmetrical in shape.

However, if you are looking for a rectangular princess cut diamond then we would advise an L/W ratio of at least 1.2.

Whichever you choose, you want the diamond to either look definitively square or definitively rectangular.

When these aspect ratios are too close to one another, you can end up with a princess cut that looks slightly off, unsure of whether it is a square princess cut or a rectangular princess cut!

Total Depth

It is important to understand that if a diamond is cut either too shallow or too deep, it is not optimized for light reflection and can appear dull. For light to be properly reflected back into your eye, it is best to search for a princess cut with a depth percentage limited to 65-75%.

It is not always the case but, generally speaking, the lower the total depth percentage, the better!

Table Size

When discussing "table percentage" we are really talking about how large the top facet is in comparison to the width of the diamond. For best results, we recommend keeping the table percentage below 75%.

Some industry dealers very much live by the idea that "the smaller the better" where table percentage is concerned. And these folk look for tables that are below 68%! However, it is worth noting that these small table princess cut diamonds are far rarer and will be much harder to find in the marketplace.

(Something to be aware of if small tables are your vibe!)

Polish and symmetry

As mentioned earlier, laboratories like GIA only grade polish and symmetry for their princess cuts.

So, it is recommended that we opt for a GOOD polish and symmetry grade or better. Besides these specific grades, it is important to also inspect the diamond via high magnification images or videos (or with the help of a diamond loupe)🧐 since diamonds of the same grade can offer different light performances.

In particular, we are looking for beautiful and elegant reflections and even contrast within the diamond.

What we mean by "contrast" is the areas of dark and light within the diamond and you might be surprised to learn that yes, you do want some! The dark areas of contrast within the diamond are actually what allows the white and rainbow flashes of light to pop and sparkle!

Because of the sharp angles and larger tables of a princess cut, this contrast is even more important.

Likewise, elegant reflections are evident when we can see clean-cut lines, even facets, and even patterns within the stone. Ask yourself, does the pattern look even and attractive? Does anything look out of place or does every pattern and line look like it belongs?

ASET images are also there to help!
If in doubt, we can also check the ASET images with our jeweler if these images are provided. These images use red, blue, and green paint to clearly identify the pattern and areas of light leakage (hopefully there aren’t any!) which give a clearer understanding of the overall cut, polish and symmetry of the stone.

Princess Cut Diamond: Color

Unlike the round brilliant, a princess cut diamond like its other fancy-shaped cousins does not do such a good job of hiding hints of color.📝

However, there is no need to break the bank. Whilst G+ color ratings offer a true white (colorless look) you can easily find an H or I grade princess cut that appears colorless, especially to the naked eye.

Unless comparing side by side, the color that is present in these grades should be fairly un-noticeable especially if paired with a white metal band such as white gold or platinum.

What is worth our attention is the color distribution among the princess cut diamonds, as oftentimes the color can concentrate in the stone’s corners, which is visible to the naked eye. So keep an eye out for that!

Princess Cut Diamond: Clarity

For a princess cut diamond a clarity grade of VS2 or SI1 (very slightly included or slightly included) would certainly be enough to give you an eye-clean looking diamond at an affordable price point.

The high quality of diamond rough that princess cuts are often cut from means that finding a princess cut of SI2 and I1 is incredibly hard. So, whilst this is common to look for in a round brilliant as oftentimes they are still considered eye-clean…they will be much harder to find in a princess cut.

IMPORTANT!
Be aware of any inclusions featured in the corners of a princess cut diamond. Inclusions in the tips or corners of the stone may affect its durability and they could be easily chipped if knocked!

Princess Cut Diamond: Carat Weight

You may be surprised to learn that where appearances are concerned, a princess cut diamond can look larger than a round cut diamond of the exact same carat weight. Despite the round having a slightly larger face-up surface area, the diagonal measurements of the princess cut can make it APPEAR larger.

The reason for this is also because of their larger tables. Because of this larger surface area on the top of the diamond, a princess cat can seem comparatively bigger than a round cut diamond which is, in fact, of the exact same carat weight!

Something else worth our attention (and certain to peak your curiosity!) is that a 1-carat princess cut diamond can cost up to 30% LESS than a 1 carat round diamond. And you know what that means? We can get more for our money when it comes to a princess cut.

Just remember: if you want to opt for a larger stoner, you might need to upgrade the other quality factors. Inclusions, blemishes, and color will be more apparent in a larger princess cut diamond.

What about the pricing of princess cut diamonds?

A princess cut diamond is the PERFECT diamond cut of choice if you’re seeking a stunning and exuberant diamond that is also affordable!

The reason for this is the lack of roughage waste in the cutting process.

Without getting too technical here, a rough diamond already takes an octahedral shape when it is mined from the earth. So, simply put, oftentimes all that is needed is for it to be sliced right down the middle and there you have it…two basic princess cut diamonds!

Imagine if, with the same piece of rough diamond, you instead tried to cut a round brilliant stone—there would be a huge amount of waste in comparison.

To be sure, the princess cut is a diamond cutter's dream!

This is the primary reason why a 1-carat princess cut diamond can cost up to 30% less than a 1 carat round cut (not to mention…nothing is as popular as the round brilliant cut diamond!)

Is a princess cut diamond right for you? (Pros & Cons)

With all of that information, I know exactly what you’re thinking…is a princess cut diamond right for you?

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of buying a princess cut diamond to help you with your buying decisions:😚

Pros

  • More masculine shape - Compared to the smooth, round edges of the round brilliant cut, the princess cut offers a more masculine look. Unlike the soft subtlety of its round cousin, the princess cut diamond’s sharp and angular shape are perfect for someone looking for a more masculine and bold cut.💪🏻
  • More modern shape - Whilst the princess cut is still arguably timeless, it makes for a nice modern contrast to other shapes. Its smooth and angular lines are great for simplicity whilst also providing a modern and alternative look to other more classic styles.
  • More affordable than round brilliant - The lack of rough wastage makes the princess cut a more affordable stone which means, if the budget allows, you can go ever bigger with the size and carat weight compared to that of a round brilliant.
  • Second most popular shape - If trends inspire you then it is worth a reminder that after the round brilliant cut, the princess cut is the second most popular diamond cut on the market!
  • Princess cut can appear larger - What a lot of diamond lovers appreciate about the princess cut diamond is that its larger tables can give the appearance of a bigger stone compared to a round brilliant cut diamond. If bigger means better, then the princess cut has a lot to offer!
  • Exceptional light performance - Despite its geometric shape, the princess cut diamond exudes an astonishing display of white light and fire. Although this can differ depending on the number of facets, bold flashes of light and color will always be displayed in a well cut princess-cut diamond.🌟

Cons

  • Corners are prone to vulnerability- Even diamonds are susceptible to damage and where princess cut diamonds are concerned, it is worth taking extra care to those pointed corners. In comparison to smoother and softer edged shapes, the corners of the princess cut are more likely to be accidentally knocked which could cause chipping or slight cracks. Take care!
  • Large tables display more color - Hints of color and imperfections are less easy to hide in cuts with larger facets. This is worth noting if you are looking for a princess cut on the bigger side.

Best places to buy princess cut diamonds?
Here are a few of our favorite places to purchase your princess cut diamonds!

Quality and affordable princess cuts:

Premium princess cut diamonds:

Bonus #1: Best Settings for princess cut diamonds

Let’s take a look at four different popular settings that are extremely well-suited to the princess cut diamond:

Solitaire Prong Settings

Four-Prong Solitaire Princess Cut Diamond Ring (James Allen)

The solitaire prong setting is absolutely perfect for any blushing bride looking for a subtle and simplistic engagement ring. With this setting, the princess cut diamond is front and center, making a dazzling statement with maximum opportunity for light to enter.

Do not fear the lack of metal in this setting, as the prongs should be able to well-protect the corners of this stone.👍🏻

Bezel or Semi-Bezel Setting

The full bezel setting surrounds the princess cut with metal on all four sides. This adds to the masculinity of the shape and is perfect for added protection. Alternatively, a semi-bezel only has metal on two sides of the stone, rather than all four. This opens the diamond up for more light exposure and adds a modern touch of character and a unique perspective.

Three-Stone Setting

Three-Stone Princess Cut Diamond Engagement Ring (Two Round Cut Side Stones)

A three-stone (or trilogy) setting offers a true air of romance and extra dazzle! This can be mixed and matched in a variety of ways for a piece that is truly yours and matches your character and style. You could consider a three-stone setting consisting of three princess cut diamonds (two smaller princess cut diamonds on either side of one central, larger princess cut diamond)...Or, you could mix it up and choose a different shape for the two side stones to really contrast and bring focus to the featured princess cut diamond.😎

Channel-Set Setting

Princess cut diamonds are so incredibly perfect for the channel setting! The flat and even edges of these square-cut stones allow them to sit neatly side by side without any gaps in between. The strip of diamonds feels smooth to the touch and the compact way in which they sit together allows for added protection and security.

Bonus #2: The princess cut diamond for men's diamond wedding bands

Yes, men like diamonds too!

And when it comes to searching for a men’s diamond wedding band, nothing could be more fitting than the princess cut diamond.

The femininity of the round brilliant cut silhouette can often be off-putting for the man who is looking for something a little stronger, a little more robust, and a little edgier. The princess cut diamond is a perfect choice for this!

And, to go one step further, men can also choose a black or blue colores princess cut diamond for an even more masculine touch!

Princess cut diamonds: The final word

Whether you are looking for a diamond with fantastic brilliance and scintillation or something with a modern flair, the princess cut diamond will not disappoint. As the second most popular shape in the marketplace, it’s not difficult to see why it rose in popularity.

For the modern bride-to-be, looking to combine the new with the old, the princess cut diamond offers the glamour and elegance of a round brilliant cut diamond with the sharp and sleek edges of the modern world.

If you’re in the market for a princess cut diamond, this guide will surely set you off on the right foot.

And whether you’re brand new to the jewelry world or a diamond lover of old, the princess cut has something to offer you.

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