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PURCHASING A PRINCESS CUT DIAMOND RING?
Bottom Line Recommendation:
- Setting Styles. Princess cuts are especially versatile and can fit seamlessly with almost any style from simple solitaire to baroque vintage styles. My setting of choice for princess cuts is a nice channel set band.
- Color: I Color or better. Going for an H Color or I Color in your Princess Cut will provide optimum value.
If you opt for higher diamond colors (to D, E, F, or G Diamond Color), you will enjoy an incremental advantage, although I am not completely sure if it’s worth the incremental price.
Unless you are going with a yellow gold or rose gold setting, J color would be less than ideal with Princess cuts since they maintain color a little more than Round Brilliants.
- Clarity: Follow VS2 clarity SI1 clarity for optimum value.
SI2 and I1 clarity Princess Cut diamonds are quite rare because of the exceptional quality of diamond rough that Princess Cut Diamonds are trimmed from. If you manage to get one, and confirm its clarity (using, for instance, James Allen’s Diamond Display Technology), the better it would be for you.
VS1, VVS2, VVS1, and Internally Flawless (IF, or FL) are superb choices, although I don’t see the point in investing more if they all follow the same clean look.
- Cut Parameters for Princess Cut Diamonds:
- Depth: 65% to 75% (below 70% is rare)
- Table: Below 75% (There are two popular approaches or school of thoughts: the Small Table school and the Normal Table School. Examine both – below 68% table and above 70% table and determine which one suits you best. One important reminder – small tables are more difficult to find)
- Polish/Symmetry: Good, Very Good, or Excellent
- Length/Width Ratio: 1.00 to 1.05 for Square Princess Cut
The Princess Cut – Modern Cut Gaining in Popularity
After doing some research on Diamond Cuts on the Internet, I learned that modern Princess Cut first came into existence in 1960 from A. Nagy of London.
When you look at today’s Diamond market, the Princess cut is widely considered as the next best choice to the Round Brilliant. The chart from Jogia Diamonds’ blog that I used as a reference in making an article about Diamond Shapes revealed that 23% of searches made on their site were for Princess Cuts.
Although the percentage is nothing compared to the 64% that were for Round Brilliants, it’s still pretty impressive especially if you look at the third next best search, which is Emerald Cut with only a meager 3% of total searches. With that being said, the Princess cut is undoubtedly the second most popular choice in the market today.
A Diamond Manufacturers Dream
Diamond cutters love Princess Cut for one special reason — it crafted from rough. Take that picture on the left for instance. If we cut the piece of rough equally in half, straight down the middle, the result would be a pair of princess cuts! Put in some appropriate structure and clever faceting and you have yourself a nice piece of stone.
With a Round Brilliant, the process is a lot more complex and wasteful – you would lose a lot of material with the cut.
Why Princess Cut Diamonds Are Cost Effective
A Round Brilliant normally comes with 40% yield (which means if you cut 1-carat piece of rough you will have a 0.40ct polished round diamond) while a Princess Cut has a generous 80%-90% yield! This is the main reason why, other things being constant, a Princess Cut is more cost-effective than a round diamond.
Aside from being cheaper, Princess Cuts are also made purely from rough diamond crystals with exceptional quality and form.
Since the selection of clarity grades on Princess Cut Diamonds particularly lean on the high end, it would be impossible to find a huge selection of SI2 and I1 Princess Cuts.
This has been a constant source of headache for my former boss, Leo Schachter, as they were providing major Princess Cut programs to the major retail chains. Meeting SI2 and I1 Princess Cut demands, regularly proved challenging.
Buying the Best Diamond for a Princess Cut Engagement Ring
Now that you have properly acquainted yourself with the Princess Cut, let’s move on to the more important pieces of this guide.
You need to be extra cautious with a Princess Cut diamond than you would with a Round Brilliant in terms of color. Because both are superior cuts, both are adept at splitting up light making it difficult to determine what the true color of the rough material is.
But because the light return on the Round Brilliant is far better, it is also superior at hiding the true color of your diamond. With that being said, when purchasing a Princess Cut Diamond, the H or I color is the ideal option.
Things to Consider
You can opt for higher colors, but I am not sure that the incremental whiteness you’ll enjoy is worth the incremental price you’ll have to incur.
Bear in mind, however, if you are purchasing a diamond as an Engagement Ring, never forget to match the color of your center stone with that of the accent diamonds.
When it comes to Clarity, a Princess Cut shares the same inclusion-hiding feature that comes with Round Brilliant. Keep in mind though, Princess cuts are not known for their durability,
Because of their four sharp corners, they tend to chip (And whoever said Diamonds Were Forever?). If one of the corners is an inclusion, the chances of it getting chipped become even higher.
But you won’t have much problem if you’re purchasing the diamond as a set in a ring.
Recommended Clarity for Princess Cuts
When it comes to Round Brilliant Cuts, the ideal clarity would be SI2s or even I1s that are verified to be clear through an eye test. With Princess Cuts, however, it’s a little more difficult to accomplish since they are so few and far between.
Thus, with Princess Cuts, the appropriate route would be purchasing VS2 or SI1 clarity diamonds that are verified to be clean through eye test (you can also go about this with a tool such as James Allen’s Virtual Loupe).
Determining Cut quality is probably the most challenging part when it comes to purchasing an ideal stone for a Princess Cut Diamond Ring. When it comes to Rounds, it’s pretty straightforward. GIA simply makes their recommendations and you can bet your money on their expert opinion.
When it comes to Princess Cuts, you won’t enjoy the same kind of convenience. GIA will only grade Polish and Symmetry on a Princess Cut diamond. Compared to Rounds, there’s no industry standard or guidelines that indicates a perfect Princess Cut.
Now if by coincidence, a diamond rough resembles a neatly proportioned Princess Cut diamond, then it will, coincidentally, end up as one. However, if by coincidence it resembles a very deep and disproportionate Princess Cut, it will, sadly, likewise end up as one.
Because of this, Diamond Cutters do not want to follow a specific standard or guideline. They require the necessary freedom to fashion their polished diamond to the rough diamond.
Total Depth Recommendation
As suggested at the start, in the Bottom Line Recommendation, opt for a Total Depth between 65% and 75%. As a good rule of thumb, the lower the depth the better it would be. The best stones tend to be in 68% to 73% range. They provide the optimum balance of brilliance to size.
In terms of Table Percentage, the ideal number is below 75%. And as I mentioned at the start, there are two popular approaches regarding Princess Cut table sizes.
If its small table princess cuts that you wish to follow, the ideal depth percentage lie in the 74-77% range.
Tables Size Approaches
One group loves small tables (68% and below) while there are those that believe that it’s not important, so they opt with what the rough naturally produces – slightly larger tables in the 73%-78% range.
Small tables are not so popular in the industry, so keep in mind that if it is what suits you, finding a diamond might prove challenging.
If you prefer small table princess cuts, an excellent option would be to check out Brian Gavin’s Signature Princess cuts. These are all certified as ideal by AGS (the only serious lab to offer cut grades on non-Rounds).