Choosing Your Diamond: The Princess Cut

Photo Courtesy of Tiffany & Co.
Here's a royal dilemma: you love the fire of a traditional round diamond, but you want something a little different and a little more modern than a classic emerald or radiant cut.

Princess, have we got a stone for you! The square princess cut diamond marries the sharp geometry of an oblong with all the brilliance of a traditional round.

There are three basic styles of diamond cuts; brilliant, step, and mixed. Brilliant cuts, including the classic round and our modern princess— have kite-like facets radiating from the center of the stone. A step cut has parallel facets, and a mixed cut combines both. Because the princess is a brilliant cut, it will have more fire and sparkle than either the step-cut emerald or the mixed-cut radiant. Remember that the word "cut" really refers to the arrangement of facets in a diamond, not the shape of its perimeter. But since each shape also has a basic arrangement of facets, it is ok to just say "cut" and nobody will think Your Highness hasn't learned her diamond facts.

A princess cut is a little more forgiving than the emerald or radiant cuts, so even if your prince's budget isn't quite royal, you can drop a grade or two in clarity and still have a beautiful stone.

The princess cut lends itself well to channel setting, where diamonds are tightly lined in a row between two metal walls, i.e. in a channel, and also to an invisible setting, where they are held in place by metal set underneath and the top appears as an unbroken surface of diamond.

Take care that your princess-cut solitaire is set to protect its delicate corners from chipping. A bezel around the stone is one option, but if you want a more open look then choose a classic prong setting. You'll need at least four prongs, and make sure they gently cup all four corners of the stone.

But why, you ask, isn't a diamond the hardest material on Earth?

Yes, it is. Diamond is as hard as it gets: a ten on the Mohs scale of hardness, which means that nothing but another diamond will scratch its surface. But toughness— meaning how well it resists impact— is not the same as hardness. A diamond is pretty tough, but a sharp blow in the wrong place can chip it, especially on the vulnerable corners of a princess cut.

Always take your fine jewelry off before playing sports, cleaning the house, or (as Queen Elizabeth purportedly can do) fixing the car.

It’s hip to be square!

Jewelery pictured is available at Tiffany&

The facet arrangements of a princess-cut diamond. Left face up right face-down. The kite-like facets underneath are what give it its brilliance.


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