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Princess vs Square-Cut Diamonds (Comparison)

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Princess Cut vs Square Cuts

A diamond’s cut is one of its most important qualities that affects brilliance, durability, and appearance.

While round diamonds are viewed as the traditional choice for engagement rings, fancy shapes like princess cuts and other square-cuts are an appealing alternative to the classic style.

The main differences between princess cuts and other square-cut diamonds is that princess cuts have a length-to-width ratio equal to or close to 1.00, brilliant cut facets, and sharp corners. Many diamonds with similar shapes often have higher length-to-width ratios, step-cut facets, or sloped edges.

We’ll compare princess versus square-cut diamonds, so you’ll know which is right for you.

What is a Princess Cut?

Princess cut diamonds are also called “square modified brilliants.” It refers to its squarish shape, although it may not be perfectly square, and its triangular facets.

Princess Cut

They’re cut to rival the brilliance of round cuts, though it doesn’t match their light return.

Most princess cuts have 57 or 58 facets, and their shape resembles a pyramid when viewed from the bottom-up. From the top-down, it appears square.

In fact, any princess cut with a ratio between 1.00-1.05 will appear square to the naked eye.

Since its development in the 1960s, it has become the second most popular cut for engagement rings, ahead of all other square-cut diamonds.

Take this princess cut engagement ring as an example.

Princess Cut Diamond

The distinguishing features are its straight edges and the four corners held by prongs. It’s an elegant shape that still returns a significant amount of light to the viewer.

How do Princess Cuts Compare to Other Square Cuts?

There are several diamond cuts that resemble a square, though its exact shape depends on which length-to-width ratio the manufacturer chooses. These include:

  • Radiant
  • Asscher
  • Cushion
  • Emerald
  • Baguette

Let’s dive into the details of princess cuts versus these other square-cut diamonds.

Princess vs. Radiant Cuts

Princess vs Radiant Cuts

The primary difference between princess and radiant cuts is that princess cuts have sharp corners, and the corners on radiant cuts are sloped to create eight edges.

And although radiant cuts can be cut as a square with a length-to-width ratio of one, they’re often closer to 1.25.

Radiant cuts have 70 brilliant facets. Another distinct feature is it’s a square-shaped diamond that has those triangular facets on the pavilion and crown.

It demonstrates strong brilliance but doesn’t surpass that of a round cut. In fact, its design is a combination of round and emerald cuts. The facets resemble the former, but its overall shape mimics the latter.

If you’re comparing the light performance of princess versus radiant cuts, princess cuts have a slight advantage. They were designed to rival the sparkle of round cuts while still offering an alternative shape.

A benefit of radiants over princess cuts is they’re more durable. The four cropped corners are less prone to chipping.

So while you might decide to protect your princess cut with a double claw or bezel setting, a simple four-prong setting for radiant cuts is often sufficient.

Four-Prong Setting for Radiant Cut Diamond

Because princess cuts often have a more shallow cut compared to radiants, they don’t retain as much color. You might have an easier time finding a princess cut that appears colorless to the naked eye. 

For example, check out this princess cut with a J color grade. Even with a high-resolution image, it doesn’t show yellow.

But the shade of color is more obvious in this radiant cut with an identical grade.

Radiant Cut with J Color Grade

The same principle is true for clarity. While you could find princess and radiant cuts that are eye-clean in the slightly included range, you might decide on a very slightly included radiant cut.

Princess vs. Asscher Cuts

Princess vs Asscher Cuts

Princess and Asscher cuts are both square. The differences are that Asscher cuts have a deeper pavilion, higher crown, cropped corners, and step-cut facets.

Its 58 facets are arranged in parallel lines across the table, creating a “hall of mirrors” effect in this octagonal diamond.

Its step-cut facets result in less brilliance compared to princess cuts. They aren’t designed to capture and return the most light. Instead, elongated facets produce a warm glow.

It’s why many buyers choose side stones, a halo, or pave for their Asscher cut diamond rings. 

For example, this 14K white gold ring produces a strong sparkle from its halo and pave.

It compensates for the lack of light from the Asscher cut.

Similar to radiant cuts, Asscher cuts show more inclusions and color compared to princess cuts. 

The lack of light return from step-cut facets doesn’t disguise flaws or shades of yellow as well, so you’ll likely have to choose a higher grade to achieve eye-cleanliness.

Asscher cuts are often less expensive per carat than princess cuts. To demonstrate, we analyzed prices of 29 one-carat Asscher and princess cuts with G color and VS1 clarity grades.

In our research, the average price of a princess cut was $4,715, with a range of $4,200-$6,110.

Price of Asscher Cut Diamonds

For Asscher cuts, the average was $4,156, and the range was $3,230-$5,450.

That’s a 13 percent premium for princess versus Asscher cuts.

But because you may need to choose higher color and clarity grades, or a setting with more accents, you can apply the savings to those areas.

Princess vs. Cushion Cuts

Cushion cuts are the diamonds that most resemble the square shape of the princess cut. 

Although there are many types of cushion cuts, the classic design has a 1.00 length-to-width ratio. You’ll find them up to 1.30, where it’s an obvious rectangle.

Its shape mimics a pillow.

The 58 facets are known to produce strong fire that matches that of a princess cut. Fire is distinct from brilliance. It refers to the flashes of colored light that radiate from a diamond.

Cushion cuts fit a variety of settings. One of my favorites is a channel-set ring, where small diamonds are placed within grooves.

For example, the setting below features a cushion cut as the main gem, with ten round diamonds inside the ring.

Cushion Cut Diamond Ring

The channel-set diamonds will compensate for the slight lack of brilliance in a cushion cut compared to a princess cut diamond.

Cushion cuts are more durable than princess cuts because of their rounded corners. If it experiences hard impact or is dropped, these areas are less likely to chip.

While you should generally avoid choosing a diamond with impactful inclusions near the corners, this is more true about princess diamonds than cushions.

If you’re comparing costs of princess versus cushion cuts, you’ll find they’re similar. The International Gem Society compiled prices of each cut for diamonds with G color and VS2 clarity grades.

They found a one-carat princess cut averaged $4,799, and a cushion cut cost $4,229. The prices of 0.70-carat diamonds were even closer, with the princess cut costing $2,188, and cushions being priced at $2,060.

This shows there’s variability in diamond prices, even if they have the same qualities.

To the naked eye, the differences between a few hundredths of a carat, or a single clarity or color grade, is often indistinguishable. 

So you can adjust these characteristics for princess and cushion cuts to find the right one for you.

Princess vs. Emerald Cuts

Princess vs Emerald Cut

Emerald cuts have elongated, step-cut facets, which distinguishes it from a princess cut.

Most have a ratio of 1.30-1.50, but some are closer to one and cause it to resemble a square.

Many of its traits mimic an Asscher cut, such as its:

  • Warm, soft glow instead of strong brilliance
  • Inability to hide inclusions and color
  • Lower cost per carat than princess cuts

While princess cuts are considered a modern style, emerald cuts are vintage. You’ll often find them paired with settings that have milgrain or filigree to match the designs of prior periods.

This emerald cut diamond ring has Art Deco-inspired features.

Art-Deco Emerald Cut Diamond Ring

Notice the small beads outlining the round cuts on each side of the emerald cut.

If you switch the image to show the ring in 14K yellow gold, the diamonds are even more prominent because they contrast the band.

Princess cuts are more commonly placed in four-prong solitaire settings. Their brilliance doesn’t require additional diamonds on the ring.

But if you’re searching for an alternative, consider a halo setting like the one below.

Princess Cut with Halo Setting

The halo of diamonds matches the square shape of the princess cut to create a cohesive aesthetic.

Overall, you should choose a princess cut over emerald if you’re concerned about its fire and brilliance. An emerald cut can’t compete with brilliant-cut diamonds in these areas.

Princess vs. Baguette Cut

Princess vs Baguette Cut Diamond

Baguette diamonds are another cut that’s often rectangular, but some are shaped to appear closer to a square. The best comparison for a baguette cut is an emerald, because its shape and facets are similar.

The difference is baguette cuts have sharp corners, which is why its outline mimics a princess cut.

Baguettes have inferior brilliance compared to princess cuts. 

In fact, they’re rarely used for engagement ring diamonds because of their dull appearance. At many popular jewelry retailers, they aren’t available as loose diamonds.

But you’ll find plenty of princess cuts.

Baguettes show color at grades where a brilliant cuts hide it, and the same is true of inclusions.

Although you won’t often find them at the center of an engagement ring, they’re a common choice for accents surrounding princess cut diamonds.

It’s a style known as tapered baguettes. The longer sides are tapered inward and form a trapezoid. They’re positioned on each side of the princess cut diamond.

Princess Cut with Tapered Baguette

Instead of choosing between a princess or baguette cut, you can include both on your diamond ring. 

You’ll have the strong brilliance of the main gem complemented by the subtle glow from the baguettes.

Which Square-Cut Diamond is Right For You?

If you’re exploring princess versus other square-cut diamonds, there are many factors to consider beyond its shape. 

The exact length-to-width ratio varies between cuts, and the style of its facets affects its light performance and how it hides inclusions and color.

Here are some questions to ask as you consider a princess cut or a radiant, Asscher, cushion, emerald, or baguette diamond:

  • How important is its fire and brilliance?
  • What type of setting interests you?
  • Are you willing to pay a higher price per carat for a princess cut compared to others?

By understanding how the traits that make up a diamond impact appearance and performance, you’ll learn whether a princess cut or a different square-cut is right for you.

Devon Tyler

Devon Tyler

Devon Tyler is the founder of TeachJewelry.com.

He earned an Applied Jewelry Professional Diploma from the Gemological Institute of America and now brings you essential information about diamonds, settings, and more.

Devon has consulted with leading jewelry brands, and his work has been cited in Diamond Nexus and other industry publications.

He's also a member of the International Gem Society.

Devon enjoys discussing jewelry with readers, so contact him with any questions at tyler.devon@teachjewelry.com.

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