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The princess cut diamond has held its impressive popularity for decades. Second only to the esteemed round brilliant, the emergence of princess cut diamonds is thought to have taken place somewhere between 1960 and 1980, and while this makes them a relatively modern cut, they shook the jewelry world with a force that has not subsided.
The journey of the cut that we know and recognize today as a princess cut started back in the 14th century with the French cut. This fairly rudimental cut featured less facets than the modern princess cut and was best viewed in the soft candlelight of the era.
Developments in cutting technology and a progressive, experimental era in diamond history followed; although the princess cut would not emerge as we know it until much later, the seed was sown for a sparkling, faceted diamond that was just a little different from a round brilliant diamond.
Unfortunately, popularity does not automatically lend itself to quality. Although it may seem as though they are a lot of princess cut diamonds on the market, only a limited selection of these will give the definitive sparkle and clear, chevroned lines that we have come to expect from this beloved cut. Following some key guidelines will ensure that your princess is looking its best.
- Princess Cut Pricing
- Princess Cut Lab Diamonds
- Settings for Princess Cut Diamonds
- Final Word
Below is an example of a stunning Vatche Setting with a Princess Cut Diamond:
Whiteflash 18k White Gold Vatche Pave Diamond Engagement Ring
Below is an example of a James Allen setting with a Princess Cut Diamond:
James Allen 18k Yellow Gold Engraved Princess Shaped Diamond Engagement Ring
Before we delve into the percentages and proportions, I first offer a welcome fact regarding the cutting of princess diamonds. If you have already started making comparisons yourself, you may have noticed that the price for princess cut diamonds is lower than that of their equivalent carat and quality in a round brilliant stone. In fact, they come in cheaper than most cuts.
This is because the shape of a rough diamond is easily cut to form the shape of a princess cut diamond. A quality rough diamond is octahedron in shape, meaning that it forms two pyramids. This means a cutter can produce two princess cut diamonds with very little waste.
A round brilliant diamond will only yield around 40% of the rough, whereas a princess cut diamond can retain anywhere from 60-90%. This lowers the price of the stone. Furthermore, princess diamonds tend to be cut from a much cleaner, high-quality rough as these are the stones which take on the octahedron shape. As a result, there are far more princess cut diamonds on the market with a high clarity grading than other diamond cuts.
However, this economic decision also means that there are no set cut parameters assigned to a princess cut. The diamonds are cut to fit the rough, as opposed to round brilliants which are cut to exacting proportions regardless of the shape of the rough.
There is a disparity between the recommended depth and table proportions for a princess cut, meaning it can be a little more difficult to be sure you are getting the optimum cut for your budget.
Lab Grown Diamond Pricing
Lab-grown princess cut diamonds offer a cost-effective yet high-quality alternative to natural diamonds. Here are some key points about their pricing:
- Cost Efficiency: Lab-grown diamonds, free from mining costs and with controlled production, can be 40%-60% cheaper than natural diamonds while maintaining quality and aesthetics.
- Better Value: The savings with lab-grown diamonds allow for a larger, higher-quality diamond or a premium/designer setting within the same budget.
- Access to Premium Features: Lower costs can allow for premium features like higher color, clarity, or precise cut quality, at a lower price than natural diamonds.
- Market Factors: Prices can vary due to demand, production costs, and advances in diamond synthesis. Consulting a diamond expert can ensure best value.
- Certification: Lab-grown diamonds are also certified by institutes like GIA or IGI, confirming their specifications.
- Ethical Considerations: Lab-grown diamonds offer a conflict-free choice, adding value beyond pricing.
Prioritize the four C’s – cut, color, clarity, and carat weight, when choosing a diamond, with excellent cut quality being crucial for maximum brilliance in a princess cut diamond.
Some people prefer a small table (below 68%) while others are happy with the table size that is naturally produced from the rough cut (around 73%-78%). Ultimately this is a matter of preference, although diamonds with a smaller table are much harder to come by so be prepared for a longer search.
Look for a total depth between 65% and 75%
Length to Width Ratio
A good length to width ratio for a princess cut diamond is between 1:00 and 1:05. There is a degree of personal taste when it comes to length to width ratios; although a princess cut diamond is traditionally square, you will occasionally see some that are rectangular in shape. Some people prefer the elongating effect of a slightly more rectangular stone.
The GIA clarity grading system categorizes diamonds as follows:
Flawless (FL) – No inclusions or blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification
Internally Flawless (IF) – No inclusions and only blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification
Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) – Inclusions are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10× magnification
Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) – Inclusions are minor and range from difficult to somewhat easy for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification
Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) – Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader under 10x magnification
Included (I1, I2, and I3) – Inclusions are obvious under 10× magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance
Just as each diamond is entirely unique, so too are the requirements of each diamond buyer. However, it is fair to assume that most people want a sparkling diamond with no visible flaws and better still if they can get it at a good price.
As a modified brilliant, princess cut diamonds are fairly forgiving when it comes to the appearance of inclusions. The positioning of the inclusion is also significant in this particular cut. As princess diamonds have pointed corners, an inclusion in this area can increase the chances of the diamond chipping. Equally, an inclusion directly in the table of the diamond will reduce light performance and will diminish the beauty of the stone (especially if it is visible by eye).
As they are cut from a cleaner rough, there are less SI clarity princess cut diamonds on the market. Look for an eye-clean VS2 with no durability compromising inclusions for the best balance between beauty, longevity and price.
The light return on a princess cut diamond is marginally lower than that of a round brilliant; although they are still a stone with impressive brilliance, they do not conceal color as effectively as a round brilliant.
I would recommend a minimum of an I in color for the diamond to still appear colorless within a setting. Some people actually prefer the slightly warmer hue of a near colorless stone, however a princess cut diamond can look particularly striking when it holds the icy whiteness of a high color grade.
If you are looking for the sharp, glinting white that is so fitting of a princess cut diamond and have a little more movement in your budget seek an F in color for a truly striking stone.
Princess Cut Lab Diamonds
Princess-cut lab diamonds have become increasingly popular among diamond enthusiasts due to their timeless elegance and exceptional brilliance. Lab-grown diamonds, also known as synthetic or man-made diamonds, possess the same physical, chemical, and optical properties as natural diamonds, making them a highly sought-after choice for those seeking an affordable diamond alternative.
Characteristics of Princess Cut Lab Diamonds
The princess cut is a square or rectangular diamond cut with sharp corners and a brilliant faceting pattern. It is renowned for its incredible fire and brilliance, making it an ideal choice for engagement rings, pendants, and other jewelry pieces. Lab-grown princess cut diamonds offer several distinctive features:
Lab-grown diamonds are created in controlled laboratory environments using advanced technology, allowing for greater customization options compared to natural diamonds. With princess-cut lab diamonds, you can choose from a range of carat weights, colors, clarities, and even cut qualities to suit your personal preferences and budget. This versatility enables you to create a unique piece of jewelry that perfectly matches your style and individuality.
Lab-grown diamonds typically offer better value for money compared to their natural counterparts. Due to the controlled production process, lab-grown diamonds can be priced more competitively while still maintaining exceptional quality. This affordability allows you to obtain a larger, higher-quality diamond for your budget or even a designer setting, allowing you to create a truly remarkable piece of jewelry without compromising on beauty or durability.
The setting you choose for your princess cut diamond is not just a matter of aesthetics; it also plays a crucial role in protecting your precious gemstone. Given the vulnerability of the princess cut’s pointed corners to chipping or damage, careful consideration is required when selecting the appropriate setting. Here are some key points to consider:
Types of Settings for Princess Cut Diamonds
- Prong Setting: Prong settings are traditional and popular for their ability to secure the diamond while allowing maximum light exposure. For a princess cut diamond, a four-prong setting is typically used. The prongs grasp the corners of the diamond, thereby offering protection. However, the prongs should not cover too much of the diamond, as this can hinder its brilliance.
- Bezel Setting: The bezel setting encases the diamond in a thin metal rim custom-made to hold the stone. This setting is perfect for those with an active lifestyle as it offers maximum protection. It is also a great choice if you prefer a more modern, sleek look.
- Halo Setting: The halo setting is characterized by a ring of smaller diamonds surrounding the central diamond. This setting not only provides additional protection to the princess cut diamond but also enhances its brilliance and perceived size.
- Channel Setting: In this setting, diamonds are set into the band of the ring, forming a ‘channel.’ It’s an excellent choice for princess cut diamond engagement rings with side stones, as the clean lines of the princess cut align perfectly with this setting.
The choice of metal for your setting can dramatically affect the overall look of your diamond. Here are some options:
- Platinum: This is a strong, durable material that does not easily wear down, making it excellent for securing a princess cut diamond. Its white sheen also complements the diamond’s brilliance.
- Gold: This traditional choice comes in various colors – yellow, white, and rose. While 14k gold offers a balance between price and durability, 18k gold gives a richer color and a more luxurious feel. However, it’s softer and may scratch more easily.
- Palladium: This is a less common but excellent choice. It’s similar to platinum in strength and color but is usually cheaper.
Tips and Advice
- Always ensure the setting protects the corners of the princess cut diamond, as these are the most vulnerable points.
- Consider your lifestyle. If you’re active or work with your hands, opt for more secure settings like bezel or halo.
- Think about future maintenance. Prong settings may need to be re-tipped over time, while bezel settings require less maintenance.
- Opt for a setting that complements your diamond’s size. Large diamonds may look better in simple settings, while smaller diamonds can be enhanced with halo or pave settings.
- Consider the wearer’s style. A modern, clean line style might suit a bezel setting, while someone with a vintage style might prefer a halo setting.
- Color matters. If you’ve chosen a diamond with a lower color grade, a yellow or rose gold setting can make the diamond appear whiter.
Remember, the setting is not just about appearance. It’s also about showcasing your diamond in the best way possible while keeping it secure. So take your time, do your research, and make sure to ask for professional advice if you need it.
The Final Word
A precise cut, an internationally respected certification (GIA, IGI & AGS), sparkling clarity and a dazzling color are the key ingredients to begin your journey towards the perfect princess cut diamond.
Be sure to consider your budget, and never sacrifice cut quality in favor of a larger stone. If you are looking for ways to maximize the look of your diamond, read my guide to setting styles for an easy way to add impact to your ring.
Richard Jenkins, The Diamond Guru
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