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Choosing an engagement ring is no easy feat. This is a piece of jewelry that will last a lifetime and be worn every day. So, it has to be something that you absolutely love!
If you have decided to go with a diamond engagement ring, that’s one big decision ticked off. But what shape are you going to choose? While there are over 10 well-known cuts, there are two that are the most popular.
The round cut and the princess cut.
From the two, the round cut heads the race as the most popular diamond shape. Over 70% of the world’s GIA-certified diamonds are fashioned into this shape while the square-shaped princess cut accounts for only about 5%.
Percentages aside, deciding between the round and the princess cuts can be difficult because they both have pros and cons. But to help you decide, we’ve focused on the most important factors that you need to consider when making your choice.
Ready? Let’s get right into it!
The Round Cut Vs. The Princess Cut
The Round Brilliant Cut Diamond
The round cut, as we’ve already gone over, is the most popular among diamond engagement rings. It has been around since the tradition of giving diamond rings as an engagement gift began and is considered the classic engagement ring cut.
The round cut exhibits the most brilliant sparkle of all the diamond cuts. This specific quality is due to the round shape that allows maximum light to pass through and be reflected on the surface. The faceting pattern of the cut also contributes to this sparkle. No other cut is able to equal, let alone rival, the brilliance of the round cut.
A round cut has the advantage of producing symmetry from all angles especially when the faceting is excellently executed. This symmetry is what gives the round cut greater light performance that angular cuts just cannot compete with.
The Princess Cut Diamond
The princess cut is more recent and was designed with the aim of creating a square cut that could exhibit brilliance similar to the round cut. It is the second most popular diamond engagement ring shape, and has a modern and trendy appearance.
Among all the fancy shapes for diamonds (non-round cuts), the princess cut has the most potential to show equal brilliance and sparkle of a round cut due to its faceting pattern. It combines the brilliance of the round cut with the modern, trendy square shape.
This edgier cut is typically square in shape but can also appear slightly rectangular. In gemology, the princess cut is termed as the square modified brilliant, owing to its square outline shape and brilliant facet arrangement.
Round Cut vs. Princess Cut: Brilliance and Sparkle
The main similarity between these two cuts lies in the fact they are both designed to maximize brilliance and sparkle. While the round cut contains 57 or 58 facets, the princess cut can have either 57 or 76.
The winner of this round? The round cut.
While the princess cut is the most brilliant of all the fancy shapes, it just doesn’t have the ability to reflect light like a round diamond. A high-quality round diamond, that has been expertly cut, can reflect more than 90% of the light that enters it. It just has that extra brilliance that no other cut has.
Round cut diamonds have exceptional sparkle. See this ring here.
The princess cut is the most brilliant square shaped diamond. See this here.
Round Cut Vs. Princess Cut: Price and Value
Diamonds don’t come cheap and cut is a factor to consider. Unfortunately, the most popular cut also happens to be the most expensive cut of all.
Why is this, you ask?
It boils down to a couple of factors. The demand for round diamonds and the yield from the diamond rough.
The amount of diamond rough wastage that occurs when cutting a round shape is much higher than when cutting a princess shape.
Consider that a rough diamond is naturally cubic in shape. In order to cut a round diamond, only about 40% of the diamond rough is used! Couple this with the fact that most people want round diamonds, and you can see why the round cut commands premium prices.
On the other hand a princess cut uses about 80 to 90 percent of the rough diamond, with only about 20% wasted! Two princess cut diamonds can be shaped from one diamond rough, resulting in a lot less wastage of the rough diamond.
The two examples below show a round diamond and a princess diamond that have very similar features. However, the round diamond is more expensive than the princess cut by a very significant amount.
If budget is a priority, then opting for a princess cut isn’t a bad way to go. The princess cut is consistently cheaper than the round.
Round Cut vs. Princess Cut: Clarity
Princess cuts happen to be more forgiving of inclusions and impurities contained within the stone.
Because of its angular shape and the faceting arrangement, princess cuts can hide a flaw better than a round cut.
What does this mean for you, the shopper?
You don’t have to choose the highest clarity grades for your stone.
If you know anything about diamond clarity, you’ll know that the higher the clarity level, the higher the price of the diamond. All things being equal, a flawless stone always commands a higher price.
When choosing your princess cut, you can opt for a VS1 grade diamond for a larger stone and still get an excellent rating. For smaller stones, you can opt for VS2 with excellent eye quality.
For round diamonds, it is recommended that you go as low as VS2 for small stones and VVS2 for larger carat sizes in order to still have an excellent clarity rating and eye-cleanliness.
Round Cut vs. Princess Cut: Which is Bigger?
This is a tricky question.
If we were to measure a 1-carat princess cut and a 1-carat round cut, we would find that the round cut has up to 10% more surface area than its square counterpart. So mathematically, the round cut is winning in this area.
However, the diagonal length of a princess cut measures longer than the diameter of a round diamond. This means that when you look at the two stones, you may see the princess cut as bigger.
This optical illusion is why many people say that the princess cut is much bigger than a round cut.
From a logical standpoint, if you were to spend the same amount on a princess cut as you would on a round diamond, you would be able to buy bigger diamond due to the difference in price.
Round or princess? Check out the Home Preview service by With Clarity here for a free test drive these styles.
If you would like to see which looks bigger and better on your finger, you can make use of With Clarity’s Home Preview Service, which allows you to customize up to 2 engagement rings and then have replicas posted to you to try out for a few days. Note that this service is completely free of charge with no commitment to buy. This would give you the opportunity to compare the round and princess cuts and decide which of the two you prefer. For more information read our complete review on With Clarity’s Home Preview Service here.
Round Cut vs. Princess Cut: Durability
Since round cuts have no angles, the stone does not catch on objects such as hair and clothes. Also, there is less worry that the stone will chip.
Princess cuts, on the other hand, have four sharp corners that are quite vulnerable. These can catch on every day objects which can compromise its durability. The princess cut diamond should ideally be placed in protective settings to enhance its security.
Round Cut Vs. Princess Cut: Settings And Styles
Both these shapes are quite versatile and look stunning in most settings. Here are the most popular types of settings for round and princess cut diamonds.
If choosing a prong setting, the round diamond is typically placed in 4-6 prongs that hold the diamond securely in place. For princess diamonds, there would ideally be 4 prongs at each corner, protecting the tips of the diamond. Often these prongs are wide or v-tipped, minimizing the exposure of the diamond’s tips to impact.
Halo settings offer protection and extra sparkle for the diamond. They are an excellent choice for princess cuts as they provide an added layer of security for the diamond.
Bezel settings offer the most protection for diamonds. These are perfect for princess cut stones but may minimize the sparkle and size of the diamond.