Princess Cut Diamonds

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The 4Cs of diamond quality provide us with a universal and globally accepted means of qualifying the quality of a diamond. The 4Cs are: Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat Weight. Cut is so important it sits within the 4Cs. The Princess cut is a specific type of cut. Understanding its nature will enable you to make informed decisions about purchasing Princess Cut diamonds and engagement rings.

The Fundamentals of the Princess Cut Diamond

Let’s first look at the basic elements of a Princess cut diamond and what makes it unique, as well as what makes a Princess cut diamond of high quality. Fundamentally a Princess diamond is square.

  • Settings: The Princess cut works well in a broad range of settings. We see it often in a contemporary engagement solitaire as much as we see it in intricate multi-diamond pieces. Owing to its striking cut, the Princess cut does work particularly well as a solitaire.
  • Clarity: With the Princess cut you need to look at diamonds classified as VS2 or SI1 in order to be sure you are getting the best value. Whilst most SI1 & SI2 are not eye clean many established diamond companies like Whiteflash offer an “Eye Clean” Review service, to learn more about this click here. Additionally, you may see VS1, VVS2, VVS1 and IF (Internally Flawless). These are absolutely stunning pieces but their effect on the naked eye is no greater than the others, and therefore you will be paying more for something which looks the same.
  • Color: With the Princess cut you want to consider an I color or better. The most frequent color for Princess cuts is H and this will deliver a striking piece. You could also choose G, F, E or even D, but again the marginal improvements in looks may not be worth the additional price tag.
  • Cut Parameters: You should be looking for depth parameters of 65% to 75%, understanding that below 70% is very rare. The table parameters should be below 78%. Generally speaking, the smaller the table, the rarer. Length to width ratio should of course be 1.00 to 1.05 being a square. Finally, Polish and Symmetry should be rated as good, very good, or excellent.

The Princess Cut – Contemporary Style

The Princess cut comfortably ranks as the second most popular diamond cut for engagement rings after the classic round cut. This makes it the most popular ‘fancy’ cut diamond. We first saw this cut in the 1960s, originating in the UK and gaining popularity in Israel. It is now hugely popular around the world.

The Princess cut meets the needs of those looking for something a little different, but still elegant and classic. The light play is striking, and the overall effect is eye-catching. It’s therefore hugely popular among consumers, and particularly for engagement rings.

However, it is also very popular with diamond cutters themselves because of the excellent yield which is obtained from the rough stone. It’s pure geometry that you can get more in terms of Princess cut from the same stone as you’d get from a round cut.

Why Are Princess Cut Diamonds Cheaper?

Firstly, the yield situation above enables a diamond cutter to get more from the same piece of rough when opting for the Princess cut in favor of the Round. Often, they can get two Princess Cut diamonds when they would only be able to achieve one Round. So it’s pure economics.

Additionally, Princess cuts are only ever made from very high quality clean rough. There’s less ‘wastage’ and higher return. This means that clarity grading for Princess cut diamonds is essentially always going to be at the high end of the clarity grades.

Princess Cut Engagement Rings

What makes a good Princess cut for the consumer, particularly in the engagement ring market? You will need to consider the 4Cs again in slightly more detail.

  • Color: With a Princess cut diamond you need to take a little more consideration of the color compared to some other cuts, notably the more popular Round Brilliant cut. The nature of the light dynamics, particularly the light return, following the cut mean that the true color from the original rough can be harder to identify. For this reason, I recommend you choose and H or I color grading. Beyond H you are unlikely to be able to say the increase in color is worth the extra cost. Do however make sure that all diamonds in the ring have the same color grade.
  • Clarity: Clarity shouldn’t be a noticeable problem when a Princess cut is first created, however, here’s a word of warning – the cut is good at hiding small imperfections (inclusions). The four corners of the Princess cut are, by their very nature, prone to being chipped. If a hidden inclusion is in the corner areas, a chip is more likely. It is therefore often prudent to buy the diamond already set in the ring. You will need to further protect yourself by choosing VS2 or SI1 clarity grading.
  • Cut: The quality of the Princess cut itself requires some attention. The most popular diamond cut, the Round, comes with a GIA rating for cut giving you an easy to interpret standard. This doesn’t apply for Princess cuts, and its back to beauty being in the eye of the individual beholder. It all hinges on the shape and dimensions of the piece of rough, and diamond cutters are flexible in the cut in terms of depth and table size. This is why it’s useful to impose your own parameters and the cut numbers and look for 65-75% depth and a table size under 75%.

This is further complicated because even the experts have a long running debate over what table size is best. On one hand, some argue that it should be under 68%, and the other work with the natural result usually around 75%. The second is easier to achieve and therefore there are more of them.

If you have your heart set on a small table Princess cut then I would recommend approaching a well reputed diamond jeweler with exclusive relationships, such as Whiteflash if you’re looking for the highest quality cut or James Allen or Blue Nile if you need something more affordable.

Richard Jenkins, The Diamond Guru

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