Princess vs. Asscher Cut Diamonds: Which One to Choose?

For future brides with a square-shaped stone in mind for their engagement ring, you're likely considering whether princess vs. Asscher cut diamonds are more your style.🤪

While they have similar silhouettes, quite a few distinctive characteristics make these two cuts very different in appearance, sparkle, durability and aesthetics.

We'll give you everything you need to diamond shop like a pro, so you can find a quality stone in a cut you love.

Princess Cut vs. Asscher Cut Diamonds

The basics: What are princess and Asscher cut diamonds?

Before we dive into the differences between princess and Asscher cut diamonds, let's start with their basic anatomy and history.

What is a princess cut?

Despite being a newcomer to the diamond cut scene, the brilliance and sparkle of the princess cut diamond have skyrocketed it to esteemed status as the second most popular diamond after round, brilliant cuts.

While there is some debate about when the stone first appeared, most agree that the modern iteration and name were the work of Betazel Ambar and Israel Itzkowski in the 1980s.

The distinctive diamond cut features a square body and pointed corners, with an inverted pyramid shape underneath. They are typically in a 1.0-1.05 length-to-width ratio, though you may be able to find rectangular princess cut diamonds.

While there is no set number of facets, most princess cut diamonds have between 50 and 58. These facets are a mix of brilliant and step cuts, which allows gem cutters to provide a distinctive, geometric appearance with beautiful fractal sparkle.🌟✨

They're more affordable than round brilliant cuts while offering you more diamond per carat due to a rough diamond's natural octahedral shape, resulting in less waste during the cutting process.

What is an Asscher cut?

At first glance, the Asscher cut looks remarkably similar to the princess cut due to its "squarish" shape, in which the length and width are equal. However, a few crucial differences give it distinctive characteristics.🎯

The Asscher is similar to an emerald cut, thanks to its truncated corners giving the gem an octagonal shape and the vintage step cut facets.

This cropped shape is what makes the Asscher cut so unique. Looking at it head-on, it has X-shaped facets running from each corner that meet in the center of the gem, creating a "windmill" visual effect.

When Joseph Asscher introduced the cut in 1902, it had 58 facets. It was trendy during the Art Deco period due to its architectural design, which fit well with the geometric silhouettes of the time.

While it fell into obscurity for many decades due to the "function over form" sensibilities during World War II, the improved Royal Asscher revived the once old-fashioned style. This modern iteration, created in 1999, upped the facet count to 74, enhancing the sparkle and shine.

Even with the additional facets, the cut retains its glam "hall of mirrors" glow typically associated with the parallel nature of step cut stones.

Like the princess cut, Asscher stones are reasonably efficient in rough loss during cutting, with 65-75% of the original weight present in the final stone. However, they are visually smaller than other cuts.

The higher crown helps offset some of the size loss, giving the diamond a weightier appearance due to its smaller table and deeper pavilion.

Comparing princess vs. Asscher cut diamonds

Princess and Asscher diamonds are both timeless, sophisticated options with distinctive characteristics that set them apart.

As you consider which diamond you would like in your engagement ring, keep these comparisons in mind:🤹🏻

Shape and cut

Princess and Asscher cut diamonds both have square bodies, with the critical difference being the angle of the corners. Princess is an actual square with 90-degree corners, while Asscher is technically an octagon because of the truncated, 45-degree corners.

Both gem cuts look best with a 1.0-1.05 length-to-width ratio. Otherwise, the gems lose their square bodies, resembling something closer to rectangular or emerald cuts.

Like all diamonds, the cut of princess and Asscher gems coaxes out its beauty as the number and position of the facets determine how light enters the table, reflects across the pavilion, and returns that light to your eyes.

Princess demonstrates an impressive amount of fractal sparkle, as it features both brilliant and step cuts that give it unmatched scintillation amongst other angular diamonds.

Asscher, however, relies on the step cut to create the parallel facets that showcase the stunning pattern. The tradeoff, however, is that this cut shines rather than demonstrating the classic diamond sparkle. It also has more facets than the princess cut.

Fire, brilliance and scintillation

Princess cut stones are so sparkly that they are often called "modified square brilliant." The facets are designed to maximize the brilliance, fire and scintillation, similar to the classic round brilliant cut.

Compared to princess gems, Asscher cut can't stand up to the sparkle, but they have a genuinely fascinating "hall of mirrors" glow that some couples prefer. It's also sparklier than other step cut stones due to the X-shaped facets on the table.

While most couples don't shop for Asscher cuts with sparkle in mind, you'll find that a well-cut stone with a smaller table and deeper pavilion has a surprisingly scintillating presentation for a step cut.

Color and clarity

The brilliant cut facets of a princess cut reflect enough light to minimize yellow colorations and inclusions, which the long, open step cut facets of an Asscher don't do quite as well.

That means you'll need to buy a higher-quality Asscher cut to get the same eye-clean appeal as a comparatively lower-quality princess cut.💡

Remember, though, that there are some exceptions to the rule.

For example, the size and location of the inclusions play heavily into how visible they are. Inclusions at the corner of a princess cut also affect how sturdy the stone is, making them more prone to chipping if there are internal flaws at the tips.

You should always spend time inspecting the stone thoroughly before choosing, ensuring that you are in love with the overall look of the diamond rather than relying solely on the 4Cs standard.

Durability

While true that diamonds are the hardest naturally occurring substance in the world, that doesn't make them invulnerable to chipping or damage.

Princess cut diamonds are particularly vulnerable to breakage at the corners. However, you can mitigate the danger by choosing a protected setting, such as:

  • Bezel: The diamond has a thin metal rim that encases the gem's girdle.
  • Halo: This ring setting consists of a "halo" of accent stones around the center stone.
  • Corner Prongs: Popular with any diamonds that come to a point, corner, or v-tip, prongs protect the most vulnerable parts of your gem from breakage.
  • Tension: A compression-based setting that holds the diamond between two separate bands or within the center of the main band.
Halo Settings
Not only do halo settings offer your princess cut diamond more protection, but they also help bring in light from the sides, further enhancing the sparkle and making the center stone look much more prominent.

The Asscher's cropped corners don't present the same fragility, making it a sturdier cut than the princess.

Price

Don't let the price deter you from choosing one cut over the other. Both are reasonably affordable compared to round diamonds, as their square shape gives stonecutters a higher yield than round shapes.

With that in mind, an Asscher—which only makes up 2-3% of the diamond supply—sometimes fetches a slightly higher price than the plentiful princess.

Tips for buying princess and Asscher cut diamonds

As you start your diamond-choosing journey, you'll want to focus on the 4Cs of diamond grading: cut, color, clarity, and carat weight.

By finding stones that optimize these qualities according to each cut's distinctive traits, you can get the most bang for your buck.

Tips for buying the best princess cut diamonds

Princess cut diamonds mask many flaws thanks to their ability to throw radiant displays of brilliance, fire and sparkle, making them unique amongst other angular stones.

Princess Cut Diamond Wedding Ring Set

Polish & symmetry

As one type of fancy cut stone, princess cut diamonds won't receive an overall cut grade from grading labs. However, polish and symmetry are two prominent criteria used to evaluate a stone's cut quality.

A princess cut diamond should have a polish and symmetry grade of Good or better, with even areas of light and dark that highlight the pops of white and fiery light.

The stone should also have clean-cut lines with sharp, even facets in a symmetrical pattern. If you notice lines that look out of place, it can make your diamond appear unbalanced and affect the light return.

Length-to-width ratio

If you're looking for a classic princess cut diamond with an accurate square silhouette, look for a length-to-width ratio no larger than 1.0-1.05.

For an unexpected take on the shape, you may prefer the look of a rectangular princess, which has a ratio of at least 1.2.

Avoid falling between those two ranges, however, or your stone won't have a definitive square or rectangular shape, making it appear disproportionate.

Depth and table percentage

The proper depth is crucial for achieving a princess cut diamond's stunning scintillation. Otherwise, it won't be able to properly reflect and refract light across the facets, giving your ring a dull appearance.

Your princess cut stone should have a depth of 65-75% and a table percentage below 75%, as these ratios will maximize the light reflection and return the gorgeous, fiery sparkle you're looking for.

What are depth and table percentages?
Depth percentage is the ratio of the princess stone's height to its width. A higher depth percentage means the ring is taller than one with a lower depth percentage.

Table percentage compares the top facet's size to the princess diamond's overall width. The larger the ratio, the larger the gem's main facet.

Color grade

Princess cut stones can't compare to a round brilliant cut regarding color masking, but it's less of a concern when stacked against the Asscher.

For that reason, you'll find stones with an H or I color grade appear colorless to the naked eye. However, if you're searching for a truly colorless stone, you'll need to find a princess with a G grade or better.

Clarity

When it comes to clarity, you can get away with a lower grade in a princess cut than other angular cuts because of its exceptional brilliance, which will easily mask flaws in VS2 stone.

In some cases, you may find eye-clean gems at SI1, though you'll want to check them carefully at the corners. Even tiny inclusions in the fragile tips can lead to breakage.

Tips for buying the best Asscher cut diamonds

Because the Asscher cut features such significant step cut facets, flaws are more prominent. You'll want to pay particular attention to the color and clarity to avoid noticeable inclusions or discoloration in your gem.

Polish & symmetry

While no amount of polish will give your Asscher cut diamond the same sparkle as a brilliant cut gem, you can still achieve quite a bit of shine with Excellent or Very Good polish and symmetry grades.

These grades ensure you get the perfect windmill pattern from the X-shaped facets in a size proportional to the square body.

Ratio

For a classic square silhouette, your Asscher cut stone should have a length-to-width ratio of 1.0 to 1.05.

While rectangular Asscher diamonds are an option, with ratios up to 1.50, they tend to look very similar to emerald cuts and elongate the windmill pattern.

Depth and table

Asscher cut diamonds tend to be deep, giving them a tall silhouette that may not appeal to all brides-to-be.

Look for stones with a table and depth of 60-68%, which will still give your ring that sophisticated, step cut glow without the additional height.

Color grade

The open table of an Asscher cut diamond does little to mask discoloration, especially as the weight of the stone increases.

A color grade of I or better suits most Asscher stones, but you'll want H or better for diamonds larger than 1.5 carats. For an utterly colorless look, you'll need a color grade of G.

Clarity

The most considerable appeal of Asscher cut diamonds is their soft glow, achieved by cutting large, open facets that drink in as much light as possible to reflect off of the angular step cuts.

They also act as unobscured windows to any inclusions, so you'll need to invest in stones with a clarity grade of VS2 or higher for a flawless finish.

Which diamond cut is best for your dream engagement ring?

When selecting an engagement ring, there is no "best" answer. It would be best to base your diamond's cut on what characteristics appeal most to you.💋

To help you in your final decision, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Do you want vintage chic or edgy elegance?

With its Art Deco appeal, the Asscher cut diamond looks right at home in a vintage band, such as those with an angeled halo setting or brightly-colored accent stones.

The edgy princess cut is better suited to a more modern band design, as they boast plenty of brilliance without the need for accent stones.

Pairing these sizeable stones with unadorned white metal bands only enhances their icy shine and shows the stone's remarkable scintillation.

Princess cut's sharp lines and angles make it an appealing option for men's wedding bands, as they have a more masculine appearance than the softer Asscher cut.

Do you prefer a glowy shine or brilliant sparkle?

While not as scintillating as princess cut diamonds, Asscher stones have a "hall of mirrors" effect that gives your ring an irresistible glow. What it lacks in sparkle, it makes up for in intriguing flashes of color across the parallel facets.

If brilliance and fire are what you're looking for, the princess has it in spades. Its status as the second most popular cut after brilliant round stones is well-earned, as it has comparable sparkle at a much smaller price point.

Are you working within a strict budget?

If budget is your primary concern, you can usually save money by opting for a princess cut stone over an Asscher.

However, the price difference is negligible, often only dozens of dollars or a few hundred dollars for similar carat weights and grades.

Princess vs. Asscher cut diamonds: The final word

With their similarly square bodies, princess and Asscher diamonds have a geometric flair that will set your engagement ring apart from the classic circle cut.

For an edgy elegance that's wildly popular at the moment, a princess cut is hard to beat. It offers brides-to-be a modern shape with remarkable sparkle.

There's also a lot to love about architectural Asscher, with its Art Deco-inspired shape and vintage shine that is sophisticatedly understated.

As you make your final decisions about your engagement ring design, remember that your top priority should be choosing a stone cut that appeals to your taste.

There's no right or wrong answer as long as your ring puts a smile on your face every time you see it sparkle.

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