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An initial decision in selecting a diamond to buy is choosing its shape. There are a variety of options available, but two of the most popular are princess cuts and Asscher cuts.
Though they look similar at first glance, the two have a unique appearance, performance, and style. To help you make the most informed decision choice, we’ll compare princess versus Asscher cut diamonds across their primary characteristics such as price, brilliance, color and more.
Once you have an understanding of how these diamonds are crafted and what makes them so popular, you’ll have the confidence to know which cut is right for you.
What is a Princess Cut?
A princess cut diamond has a square or rectangular shape with 57 or 58 facets. It’s in the category of “brilliant” cuts because it’s designed to maximize light performance. Princess cuts are also referred to as “square modified brilliants.”
They feature four sharp edges, and if you flip it upside down, it looks like a pyramid.
The princess cut was developed in the late 1960s or early 1970s but became more popular two decades later. Now, it’s the second best-selling type of diamond behind round cuts because it’s the fancy shape that best competes with round in terms of brilliance.
What is an Asscher Cut?
An Asscher cut is a squared version of emerald cuts. It’s an octagonal shape with a high crown, deep pavilion, and 58 layered facets. This layered look is commonly referred to as a “hall of mirrors” and means it’s more brilliant than an emerald cut.
It’s also given a cleaner appearance because of the straight-edged facets and equal length and width. This “step-cut” is designed to draw attention to its clarity, as opposed to brilliance.
The Asscher cut was developed by the Asscher brothers in the early 1900s but wasn’t popular again until the 2000s.
There are two versions of the Asscher cut: the standard one and the Royal Asscher. The Royal Asscher cut has 74 facets, which results in a “mirrored pool” effect that absorbs even more light.
What are the Differences Between Asscher and Princess Cut Diamonds?
In order to make the best decision between princess and Asscher cuts, you should understand their differences across the primary qualities used in considering a diamond.
There isn’t a clear answer as to which is better overall, but instead it’s about understanding which characteristics are most important to you and learning which cut excels in those areas.
Cut doesn’t refer to the shape of a diamond. It’s about how the facets are arranged and shaped on the diamond, which determines its ability to capture and reflect light.
Princess cuts are a modified form of the brilliant cut, which means it’s designed to capture the most amount of light and keep it from leaking through the sides and pavilion.
The same cannot be said about Asscher cuts. Instead, Asscher cuts are a step cut diamond. The facets are straight and run parallel to each other and the girdle.
You should pay attention to the depth of the stone because it affects light performance. For an Asscher cut, the ideal range is 60-70%, while for princess cuts, 70% is recommended.
A princess cut has superior brilliance compared to Asscher.
Brilliance is often the most sought-after quality in a diamond because of how it can enhance or diminish the appearance. A diamond with a high degree of brilliance will sparkle and glimmer in the light, while the opposite will result in dullness, no matter how colorless or large it is.
The reason princess cuts have more brilliance is because they are designed to maximize that quality, while Asscher cuts are more about clarity and the unique shape.
That doesn’t mean Asscher cuts will always appear dull, but if it’s compared to any brilliant cut such as princess, it will fall short in that area.
It would be an understandable mistake to think princess and Asscher cuts are the same shape. They’re both squarish with equal lengths and widths, but if you examine them more closely, you’ll spot the difference in the corners.
On an Asscher cut, you’ll find an octagonal shape made from eight angled sides. The corners feature a straight edge, as opposed to sharp points.
Princess cuts have four sharp corners that form right angles. These four corners are all connected with a straight edge.
Price is a prominent consideration in the minds of most diamond buyers. There’s so many choices to be made about the qualities you want in a diamond, and each move up or down on the grading scales results in a price change.
While you can expect the prices to differ depending on the shape of a diamond, this difference when comparing princess versus Asscher cuts is minimal. At most, you could expect to save seven to nine percent on an Asscher cut compared to a princess.
For example, let’s compare two diamonds from James Allen that have the following qualities:
- Carat: one
- Color: G
- Clarity: VS1
- Cut: Very good
The reason princess cuts are slightly more expensive than Asscher is because of the desirable brilliance. Aside from that, the cost to the jeweler doesn’t differ much because they use close to the same amount of the rough diamond and don’t have to discard large portions of it.
You can also find examples where an Asscher cut with the same grades as a princess is more expensive. So if you’re deciding between the two, it’s generally not necessary to let cost be the deciding factor.
Colorless diamonds are considered most valuable, and as they gain yellow or brownish tints, the price drops. You might think the shape and cut of a diamond doesn’t affect its color, but there actually is a connection.
Because princess cuts are designed to best reflect white light, they hide tints of yellow better than an Asscher cut.
The superior light performance acts as a disguise and can result in a similar looking color, even if it’s lower on the GIA color scale.
For example, a princess cut might receive a I color grade from the GIA, meaning it’s near colorless. If you were to place it next to an Asscher cut with an H or G grade (the next two grades higher), they would appear to have the same color.
If you want an Asscher cut that appears colorless to the naked eye, it’s recommended to buy one with at least a G color grade. For a princess cut, any grade above J will likely appear colorless.
This means you can save money with a princess cut because you won’t have to pay a higher price for it to appear colorless.
The clarity of a diamond is determined by the inclusions present within it. Depending on the type, size, and number of these inclusions, diamonds are graded as flawless all the way down to included.
The comparison between princess and Asscher cuts in regard to clarity is about how well the shapes hide the inclusions that are present.
Similar to the way it hides color, a diamond with stronger brilliance will disguise imperfections better than one with lower brilliance.
That means princess cuts beat Asscher diamonds when comparing clarity.
Most diamond buyers are searching for one that’s eye-clean, meaning inclusion can’t be seen with the naked eye. If you opt for an Asscher cut, VS2 clarity is the lowest you should go.
For princess cuts, an SI1 clarity grade generally means inclusions are only visible under a microscope. There are exceptions, so view the diamond in high-definition online or in person before purchasing.
Even though diamonds are the hardest naturally-occurring substance on Earth, they can still break. So it’s no wonder many buyers are concerned about the durability of princess and Asscher cuts.
Princess cuts are more vulnerable to chipping because of its sharp, pointed corners. The risk is offset with a quality four-prong setting that places a metal claw around each corner, like this setting from Ritani.
The Asscher cut doesn’t have as high of a risk because it lacks sharp edges, and its eight edges slope downward.
This gives it an additional level of durability.
The size of a diamond is referring to its weight in a unit called carats. So if an Asscher and princess cut are both two carats, they’re considered the same size.
But many wonder which looks bigger to the naked eye. If you placed both two carat diamonds next to each other, you might think the Asscher cut was larger. That’s because it’s table size is bigger.
The difference is minimal enough that you shouldn’t make your decision thinking the Asscher cut will look noticeably larger.
The setting is what will show off your new diamond, so it’s important to know the types of settings available for princess and Asscher cuts.
The good news is you have a variety to choose from with both cuts. They fit well within a solitaire, pave, three-stone or even tension setting.
For example, this 1.00-carat Asscher cut diamond from James Allen is held in place with a 14K white gold solitaire setting. This minimalist look highlights the uniqueness of the cut and doesn’t draw any attention away from the diamond.
Princess cuts can still shine with a setting that features other diamonds. For example, this three-stone setting features a prominent princess cut in the middle, surrounded by two baguette diamonds.
Online retailers such as Blue Nile and James Allen allow you to test how the diamond looks in multiple settings, so place each diamond in multiple settings to learn which one best fits your style.
Finding the right diamond also includes matching it to your personal style. While the round cut is the traditional look, fancy shapes such as princess and Asscher cuts offer the wearer the chance to make a different type of statement.
Princess cuts represent a modern, chic look. It’s distinct from the popular round brilliant cut but still mimics much of its cut and brilliance. To double down on the modern style, the princess cut can rest between a tension setting or be surrounded by similar, small stones.
Asscher cuts are on the opposite end of the spectrum. Instead of a modern appeal, buyers often choose Asscher for a vintage look. This is because Asscher is reminiscent of the Art Deco era of the 1920s.
Pair it with a colored metal setting such as rose gold, and it’ll stand out from traditional and modern styles.
Princess vs. Asscher: Which Cut is Right For You?
Princess versus Asscher cut diamonds is a common choice for buyers. They offer a similar appearance on a quick glance, but when you understand their intricacies, you realize it’s a choice between two distinct diamonds.
Your final decision will likely come down to which qualities are most important to you. If brilliance and sparkle is top of mind, you should choose princess. If you want a unique shape that highlights clarity, Asscher fits the criteria.
When it comes to style, your choice is between modern and vintage. It’s a clear contrast, but both can result in a stunning ring you’ll show off for years to come.
Take the time to compare your specific choices across cut, shape, durability, and more, and you’ll have the confidence you need to buy a lasting diamond.