You’ve reached that special time in your life when you’re about to buy an engagement ring for your beloved – congratulations! It’s definitely a cause for celebration, however, it’s also quite a stressful thing to get into: What kind of ring should you get, what materials should it be made of, what type of diamond or other stone should it have… these and many others are questions often plague young couples.
We can’t answer all of them in a single article but we can answer one of the more popular questions – princess vs round cut diamonds for engagement rings – which is better?
There are a lot of pros and cons to both cuts which is why they are the two most popular cuts for engagement ring diamonds. Round cuts may be the hands-down leader in terms of popularity today with around 70% of all engagement ring diamonds being round cuts, however, princess cuts are still quite popular at 5% and bring a lot of positives to the discussion.
What Real People Say
Choosing between the princess and the round cuts can be difficult. Here’s what some of our readers have said:
Monica: I chose a round diamond for my engagement ring because I wanted a timeless, classic option. I just didn’t like the look of the sharp edges of the princess cut. For me, no other cut will do but round!
Chia: I just knew that a princess cut was ‘me’. Even though everyone told me that the round cut offered more value for its price, I stuck to my guns and got a princess cut. I love it and haven’t regretted my choice.
James: I knew my fiancé to be wanted a classic diamond ring so I opted for a round cut. I think it’s the safest choice. After all, its the most popular diamond shape for a reason.
Princess vs. Round: Faceting and Sparkle
So, what’s unique about these two cuts in terms of how they are, well – cut?
The round cut is the most popular for engagement rings and other jewelry pieces for a reason – its shape and faceting are ideal for maximizing the brilliance and sparkle of the light that passes through the stone. No other cut, including the princess, can match a round cut diamond in terms of sparkle and brilliance and that all comes down to the optimal shape and faceting of this cut.
The princess cut, on the other hand, is definitely a close second to the round cut in terms of brilliance. This newer diamond shape was specifically designed to be a trendier and more modern alternative for jewelry and engagement rings to the traditional round cut while matching its sparkle and brilliance. And while it falls just a bit short and doesn’t match the round cut’s sparkle, it’s definitely close.
Princess vs. Round: Size
The diagonal lines of the princess cut can trick the eyes into seeing it as bigger than the round but the round cut has a larger surface area by 10%.
Because of their shape and design, two diamonds of a similar carat weight – let’s say 1 carat – will often have a different surface area. Physically, the round cut has a 10% larger surface area thanks to its design and the crown of the stone.
According to our readers:
Mia: My engagement ring was originally a princess cut diamond and I absolutely loved it. I later upgraded to a round diamond with the same carat weight and I have to admit that it looks larger than the princess cut.
Carol: If you get a great cut, I think round diamonds give you a larger looking diamond and the most bang for your buck.
Sometimes, the diagonal line of the princess cut can trick your eye into seeing it as larger than the round but in general, most users agree that round diamonds appear larger than an equivalent princess cut. The best way to determine between these two is to place two diamonds of the same carat weight side by side and compare.
Princess vs. Round: Durability
This is probably the most significant difference between these two cuts. While both look gorgeous and offer fantastic sparkle and brilliance, the pointed corners of the princess cut put it at a disadvantage in terms of its durability because it is easier for these to chip or break. The square shape can snag on everyday objects which can damage the diamond.
If you get a princess cut stone for an engagement ring you’ll need to be extra careful to protect the stone ensuring that the ring setting provides protection for its vulnerable edges.
Round cuts, on the other hand, are a lot more durable as they have no edges or sharp corners.
Style and Settings
One of the things that make both round cut and princess cut diamonds so popular is that they work very well with almost every ring style and setting. Technically the princess cut is viewed as the more “modern” of the two because of its edgier and more non-traditional look while the round cut is the very embodiment of the word “classic”.
This isn’t a restriction on how these stones ought to be used, however – you can just as effectively use a princess cut diamond with a vintage-style ring setting or a round cut diamond with a modern channel set ring setting.
Of course, when choosing a setting you shouldn’t just think about style and design but also about protection. As we said, princess cuts are more susceptible to being harmed and damaged so protective settings like the bezel or a protected halo setting are great in that regard.
Some settings can tend to limit the stone’s sparkle and brilliance because they cover it more fully so it’s a trade-off either way. Round cut stones are easier to match with a setting because with them you don’t need to make as much of a compromise between beauty and security.
- Solitaire Setting: The quintessential and most popular engagement ring setting. This provides a perfect balance between beauty, sparkle and security. Solitaire settings can be less expensive as they typically feature a plain band. They’re ideal for both princess and round cuts, but ensure that the prongs are set at each corner for a princess diamond.
- Vintage Setting: Adds an old-world charm to a modern day ring. These settings are perfect for either type of diamond.
- Halo Setting: Adds extra sparkle and size to the diamond with excellent security. This setting is perfect for having an extra buffer of protection without compromising in any way on the beauty of the ring. Halo settings tend to make the diamond appear larger and more prominent, especially if set in a white gold setting.
- Bezel Setting: Provides the most protection but reduces the sparkle and size. Bezels are the most secure setting type and will keep your diamond safe. But they tend to make the stone appear smaller as it minimizes light performance and the only way to see the stone is from the face up.
Pro tip: If you aren’t sure whether to opt for a princess or a round cut, and wish to ‘test drive’ each shape, we recommend trying out With Clarity’s free Home Preview service that allows you to customize two replica rings and have them sent over for you to try at home. Because there’s no commitment, you can simply send the rings back if you find that they don’t suit you.
Princess vs. Round: Price
This is one aspect where the princess cut actually has the upper hand because it’s significantly more budget-friendly than the round cut. There are a couple of main reasons for that:
- Because of their popularity round cut diamonds are in more demand which naturally drives their price up. Because princess cuts are less sought-after, jewelers are more willing to sell them at lower prices.
- Because of how each diamond is cut and faceted from its diamond rough round cut stones result in more waste. To make a round cut diamond from a piece of rough, the cutter usually needs to remove ~40% of it – that’s 40% of the diamond’s total weight that ends up as much cheaper diamond melees or diamond dust. With princess cut stones, on the other hand, only ~10-20% of the stones are being wasted and the cutter is able to create a much bigger stone from the same piece of rough.
Princess vs. Round: History
The round cut isn’t just the classic choice for engagement rings today – it’s been the most popular type of diamond for centuries and millennia, so much so that most people instinctively imagine a round cut when they hear the word “diamond”.
While the round cut’s fame throughout history is undisputed, a truly round shape as we know it today wasn’t really possible until the 1800s – that’s when the bruiting machine was invented and round cut diamonds could be shaped in a truly perfect form with their 58 facets that we know and love today. Prior to this innovation, most “round cut” diamonds were actually somewhere between round cuts and cushion cuts and had much fewer facets of poorer quality.
As for the princess cut, it’s very much a newcomer to the scene. The cut was invented in 1980 by Betazel Ambar and Israel Itzkovitz, however, the term “princess cut” has been used since 1960 when the cutter Arpad Nagy referred to a type of profile cut this way. The princess cut was intended very much as a modern and cool alternative to the classic round cut. And while it couldn’t dislodge it from the first place in terms of popularity, it did gain a fair bit of deserved following itself.
Princess vs. Round: Which should you choose?
Ultimately, it all comes down to personal preferences. If you want something classic, something that maximizes brilliance and sparkle, and something that doesn’t’ require a more protective setting to be safe – the round cut is the best choice on the market.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for something a bit different and modern with amazing sparkle and brilliance, and if you’re looking to save 10-20% of the stone’s price – the princess cut was created for you.