What is a Princess Cut Diamond?


princess cut - engagement ring
“Diamond Macro 3,” 1-ct princess-cut diamond engagement ring, by Stephen Durham. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

There appears to be some confusion over what exactly constitutes a princess cut and what it really looks like. This design began as a diamond cut, so I spoke with several friends in the diamond trade. We looked at a lot of cut diamonds sold as princess cuts.

Princess Cut Characteristics

Other than having square or modified square shapes, several of these diamonds had designs with no relation to each other.

However, as we continued our examination, one design became prevalent overall. It had the following characteristics:

  • Square corners.
  • A series of “V” shaped facets on the pavilion. (Depending on the stone’s size, we found 2 to 4 tiers of these facets).
  • A simple, step-cut crown.
  • At the table, a tier of scissor cuts.

All the stones we examined had very large (70% plus) tables.

According to Eric Bruton, FGA, the author of Diamonds, A. Nagy, a London cutter, introduced the princess cut in 1960. It was intended as an economical cut for flat diamond crystals.

The Princess Cut Design

My diamond trade friends and I think a princess cut looks like the design below. I’m not sure if this is exactly what the original cut looked like. However, it is certainly what people in the diamond trade are calling a princess cut.

princess cut design

Princess Cuts and Colored Gemstones

Due to the angles involved, this design won’t cut with much brilliance in most colored gemstones. Zircons may be an exception. (Perhaps not surprisingly, since zircons have a long history of use as diamond simulants).

If you’d like something like princess cuts for colored gems, consider the Gram Princess or Gram Prince. For these designs, I modified the traditional cut to suit the lower refractive indices of most colored gems.

princess cut sapphire
“Engagement Ring,” 18kt yellow gold with princess-cut yellow sapphire, by Lorraine Hughes, dotthejewellers.com. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

About the author
Jeff R. Graham
The late Jeff Graham was a prolific faceter, creator of many original faceting designs, and the author of several highly-regarded instructional faceting books such as Gram Faceting Designs.
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