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Princess vs Square-Cut Diamond (Comparison)

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Princess Cut vs Square Cuts

Fancy shape diamonds like princess and other square-cuts are an appealing alternative to the classic style.

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

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

What is a Princess Cut Diamond?

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.

Check out the example below to identify these features in close detail.

Princess Cut

Notice its four sharp corners and tiny facets.

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

Most princess cuts have 57 or 58 facets. 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

It’s placed in a pave setting, but its brilliance allows it to stand alone in a solitaire setting as well.

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 when it’s twirled.

What are the Differences Between Princess and Other Square-Cut Diamonds?

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

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.

Here’s an image of these two cuts side-by-side, where it’s easy to spot the distinctions.

Princess vs Radiant Cuts

Although radiants can be cut as a square with a length-to-width ratio of one, they’re often closer to 1.25 and are obvious rectangles.

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, the 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 than the sharp ones on princess cuts.

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.

Here’s an example of a radiant cut with this style of setting and channel-set accents.

Four-Prong Setting for Radiant Cut Diamond

It’s a sleek aesthetic that still keeps the attention on the main 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 (SI1 and SI2) range, you might decide on a very slightly included radiant cut (VS1 or VS2).

Clarity Grades for Princess and Radiant Cut

By viewing the diamond in-person or through high-quality images, you can land on the right clarity grade for your ring.

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.

In this side-by-side image, they aren’t as easy to distinguish as the comparison above.

Princess vs Asscher Cuts

An Asscher cut’s 58 facets are arranged in parallel lines across the table, creating a “hall of mirrors” effect in this octagonal diamond.

The 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.

But you’ll still find engagement rings with Asscher cuts in a solitaire setting. Just don’t expect to be impressed by its glimmer.

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.

I recommend starting with VS1 clarity and an I color grade and working your way up the scale from there.

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

In my 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.

In the end, the costs for an engagement ring could be similar.

Princess vs. Cushion Cuts

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

Princess vs Cushion Cut Diamond

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, with edges that are slightly rounded.

The 58 facets are known to produce strong fire that matches a princess cut.

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. 

But I recommend starting your search for both at SI1 clarity and an I color grade.

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

Princess vs. Emerald Cuts

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

In the image below, they’re held by the same setting, but there’s a clear difference in the overall shape.

Princess vs Emerald Cut

Most emerald cuts a ratio of 1.30-1.50, but some are closer to one and 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.

It doesn’t return the same amount of light as a round or princess cut, but that isn’t the goal for every buyer.

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.

Halo Setting with Princess Cut

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

Overall, 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

Baguette diamonds are another cut that’s often rectangular, but some are shaped to appear closer to a square.

Princess vs Baguette Cut Diamond

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 instead of beveled ones, 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. In regard to these qualities, you could put them in the same category as emerald and Asscher.

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.

Here’s an example in 14K rose gold, and I’ve highlighted the tapered baguettes.

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. It’s a winning combination that’s distinct from traditional styles.

Is a Princess or Another Square-Cut Diamond Right For You?

If you’re exploring princess versus other square-cut diamonds, there are many factors to consider beyond 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?
  • Do you want a diamond with a 1:1 length to width ratio, or one that’s closer to 1.05 – 1.10?

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

Jacob Clarke

Jacob Clarke

Jacob Clarke is the founder of TeachJewelry.com.

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

Jacob has consulted with leading jewelry brands, and his work has been cited in Clean Origin, Diamond Nexus and industry publications.

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

He enjoys discussing jewelry with readers, so contact him with any questions at jacob.clarke@teachjewelry.com.

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