Princess Cut Diamond Guide

Consider this when purchasing the perfect South African princess diamond.

The name of the princess cut diamond, otherwise known as a square brilliant cut diamond, connotes sovereignty, youth, beauty, and immaculate style. This royal gem has a classic appearance in an engagement ring, being perfectly suited to a hand with longer, slim fingers. The rough diamond crystal from South Africa is often a princess shape, so when the diamond is cut there is minimal wastage, thus the rough diamond yields greater value in carats when compared to other brilliant cuts, making it an ideal investment. Basically, you pay less for a larger stone.




The princess cut diamond draws on icons of independent femininity in its now classic form. This diamond cut was created relatively recently, in the 1970s-80s, making it a desirable, modern choice.

Length to Width ratio: According to GIA-grading, the length to width ratio of a princess cut diamond should not be more than 1.05:1. Anything more than this ratio means the diamond is not a square modified brilliant, though a princess cut can include a perfectly acceptable rectangular modification of the brilliant cut diamond.

Symmetry: The symmetry of a diamond should be visible to the naked eye. When viewed from above, ideally the areas of darkness and brilliance reflected from within the stone should be balanced in appearance, meaning that each half should reflect the other half, both horizontally and vertically.


Facets: The brilliant cut faceting of the princess diamond distinguishes it from other square diamonds such as the Asscher cut square diamond, which has step-like facets resembling those of an emerald cut diamond. A princess cut diamond has at least the same number of facets as a brilliant cut diamond or sometimes more due to the number of chevrons on the bottom. Princess diamonds have no culet. Instead, the pavilion or cone-shaped base of the diamond should end in a perfect point.

Chevrons: The V-shaped facets around the central pavilion facet in each quadrant of the square diamond’s pavilion are called chevrons. These facets increase the movement and sparkle of light throughout the stone. A diamond with too few chevrons can lack fire, and may appear dull. Generally, a large princess cut stone should have more chevrons, whereas fewer chevrons are required in a small diamond. Cape Diamonds stocks only the most scintillating princess diamonds with the maximum number of chevrons on the pavilion. All our square modified brilliants have bezel corners and 4 chevrons on the pavilion. We do not sell French corner diamonds, as we believe the bezel corner is more sparkly.

Table size, depth percentage, and pavilion angle: 
the GIA certificate will reflect the table size as a percentage of the girdle diameter of the stone. Seen from above, the table of a princess cut diamond has 8 sides and 8 subtle corners. Unlike a brilliant round diamond, the cut quality of a princess diamond is not specifically graded as a separate category by GIA laboratories, therefore you will have to examine and certify the stone carefully and also consult with an expert when purchasing this stone. When considering optimal table size relative to other proportions, please obtain expert input from a trustworthy and reputable wholesale diamond seller, such as Cape Diamonds. The GIA certificate will also stipulate the depth of the stone in a percentage relative to the girdle of the diamond.


Pavilion angle and shape: The certificate issued by a GIA laboratory will not show the pavilion angle but Cape Diamonds stocks only diamonds with decent pavilion angles to ensure that the princess diamond has maximum sparkle. The square cut of the princess diamond resembles a pyramid shape with a lower crown and deeper pavilion than in other brilliant cuts, but the pavilion should not be too deep or at too shallow an angle, as this results in unsightly areas of darkness or milkiness in the diamond. Also, when seen from the side, the cone-shaped pavilion should not bulge overtly and have fat belly, as this causes light to leak out at strange angles, resulting in asymmetrical dark areas on the sides and milky parts in the center of the stone. Perfect polish: GIA-certified princess cut diamonds are not graded specifically on their cut quality, which distinguishes them from brilliant round cut diamonds. However, grading for the polish and symmetry of the diamond will appear on the diamond’s certificate, along with the level of fluorescence in the gem. Polish refers to the smoothness of the surface of the diamond. Cape Diamonds endorses GIA-certified diamonds that have polish and symmetry gradings ranging from “excellent” to “good”.


Clarity: the GIA certificate of a diamond will include a clarity grading. The certificate will also include a diagram of the stone, showing any imperfections such as inclusions, chips, “feathering” and “needles”. Feathering is when the diamond naturally contains a feathery shape.

As the name suggests, a “needle” in a diamond is a natural inclusion that appears as a thin light or dark rod across the diamond’s facets. Needles are not worth worrying about as they cannot be viewed with the naked eye. Avoid princess diamonds with large black inclusions in the table or in the middle of the stone.

While you are obviously looking for a perfect stone, it is important to remember that a diamond is a natural crystal and, unless internally flawless, will have tiny inclusions that give it character. After all, you are not buying an item made by a machine or robot, but rather a piece of the earth, formed under massive shifts in temperature and pressure. Tiny inclusions, when not overtly visible, can give your diamond character and allow it to be identifiable. Chips and indentations are obviously not natural but rather man-made inclusions. At Cape Diamonds we recommend GIA-certified princess cut diamonds in the clarity range vs1 to si2. If you stick to these guidelines, your diamond will not have compromisingly visible inclusions or man-made imperfections.


Carats: When it comes to choosing the size of a princess cut diamond, in order to maximize scintillation, make sure that you increase in carat size, and count the number of chevrons.


Colour: At Cape Diamonds we recommend GIA-certified diamonds in the colour ranges from D to I. Please call our team for expert advice.


Setting: Great attention to detail must be maintained when setting a princess cut diamond. If the setting is not robust enough to encase and protect this stone, there is a small chance it may chip at the edges. Therefore you must insist on a sturdy 4-8 prong setting, or even a bezel setting in which the metal protectively enfolds the girdle of the stone. Though the most classic setting is undoubtedly a solitaire princess diamond, sometimes with small side diamonds on the band resembling an eternity ring, alternative settings may include princess or baguette cut side stones for extra sparkle. Halo versions of the princess cut diamond engagement ring are also extremely scintillating and help to protect the central stone.

As a modern take on the brilliant cut, the princess diamond is matchless in its striking, voguish beauty.




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