There are a lot of terms within the world of jewelry that can sometimes be confusing. A diamond’s “cut” ranks at the top. Many people confuse the cut of a diamond with the diamond shape and use the terms interchangeably.

However, they aren’t quite the same thing although they bear similarities. When talking about a diamond’s “shape” you might refer to it as a heart shape diamond, pear shape, or a square shape diamond. The difference is important to understand because engagement and wedding rings are a large investment, making an informed decision crucial. Read on to find out more information about the differences between a round and princess cut diamond ring.

What Does Diamond Cut Mean?

The “cut” of a diamond is how the facets of a diamond are arranged during the cutting process. It’s a true art form, requiring a delicate balance of symmetry, proportion and polish so that the diamond sparkles as brilliantly as possible.

A poor cut can significantly decrease the value of a diamond and impact how brilliant and beautiful it is. Poor cuts make a diamond look dull and if diamonds are a girl’s best friend, no one wants a dull best friend! 


Anatomy of a Diamond

To understand the cut quality of a diamond, you have to understand a diamond cut’s anatomy.

Diamond cuts consist of:

How each of these are cut determines how well light is able to interact with the gemstone. The more light is able to reflect and refract in a diamond, the more brilliantly it will sparkle. 


How is a Diamond Cut Graded?

The GIA (Gemological Institute of America) evaluates the cut of a diamond by studying visual effects of light on its many facets, such as scintillation, brightness and fire (dispersion). Although slightly different, the Nexus Diamond™ alternative is graded in a similar fashion by Forever Companies using a stringent code of ethics.

Scintillation is how much a diamond sparkles and how reflections and refractions within the diamond create a pattern of areas that are light and dark. A well-cut diamond should refract and reflect light beautifully. 

Fire is when white light is scattered into what looks to us like different colors of the rainbow. The light hits the diamond’s table, enters the diamond, bounces around, breaking into colors and reflecting off the facets before leaving the crown and hitting the eye. When we see it, it’s like tiny flashes of color, or “fire.”

Brightness, also called brilliance, is the white light that is internally and externally reflected from a diamond to the eye. Again, light enters the diamond via the table, or top of the gemstone, bounces around and reflects colors off the facets of the diamond, then exits through the top of the diamond, combined into white light.

Grading also factors in craftsmanship and design and other things like the thickness of the girdle, the symmetry in the arrangement of facets, weight versus diameter and how polished each facet is.

GIA grades cuts for round diamonds as one of five choices:

Most jewelers won’t even sell fair or poor cut diamonds, they’re just that bad. Something else to keep in mind is that even diamonds that have the same grade can have quite a bit of differences between them.

With a princess cut diamond, there is no standardized grading system, so grading can vary somewhat from jeweler to jeweler. Your safest bet is to assess the diamond cut quality in person if you can, to ensure you’re getting the best of the best for your engagement ring.


Why is Diamond Cut Important?

Not only does a good cut increase the value of the diamond jewelry, it also enhances the appearance. It’s probably the most important of the 4Cs of diamonds because a poor cut can look dull and lifeless, no matter how well the clarity, color and carats stack up. A good cut can even make a diamond look larger than it actually is when compared to a diamond of similar carat, color and clarity with a poor cut.


What is a Round Cut Diamond?

One of the most popular diamond cuts today that accounts for roughly 60% of all diamond jewelry sales, is the round cut diamond. People love how much they sparkle. The round cut diamond first made its appearance way back in the 17th century, with only 17 facets found on the top half of the gemstone. Later, in 1919, round cut diamonds became world-renowned for their scintillation and fire.

Today, round brilliant cuts have 58 facets to catch and refract light, and are extremely versatile. They pair well with several different ring designs and styles, especially designs like solitaires, halo arrangements and rings that feature two or three stones.

When it comes to flaws in color and clarity, they are also much more forgiving than other diamond cuts. This is because even when the diamond has minor flaws, because of the cut and how brilliantly it sparkles, the flaws remain hidden and noticeable only to a well-trained eye.

Round brilliant cut diamonds have been around for a long time and are considered by many to be a diamond engagement ring standard. They are also quite durable because unlike other cuts, there are no edges that make the diamond vulnerable to snags, chips and breaks. 

What is a Princess Cut Diamond?

A princess cut diamond is probably the second most popular cut for diamonds, accounting for roughly 15% of all diamond sales today. This type of cut is modern and chic, and is seen most often in more contemporary style rings. Princess cut diamonds also have a high level of sparkle for those that love that “bling bling” factor and happen to be perfect for those who love geometrical and symmetrical outlines.

You can find princess cut diamonds in square and rectangular shapes that really show off their brilliant cut and color for maximum effect. You might say the princess cut is the perfect combo of the round cut diamond and the emerald cut or square cut diamond, resulting in a versatile, brilliant cut that is in high demand.

Like round cut diamonds, princess cut diamonds can be fairly forgiving when it comes to flaws and inclusions. However, make sure there are no inclusions in any of the four corners of a princess cut, because otherwise it will be vulnerable to chips. 

Are Round Diamonds More Expensive Than Princess Diamonds?

Most of the time a round cut diamond is more expensive than a princess cut diamond, carat for carat. All things relative, you can get a larger diamond in a princess cut, for the same amount of money you would spend for a round cut of similar carat-size. Princess cuts result in a greater yield and less waste when cut, which means more carats are kept. Since the jeweler saves money by creating princess cuts, you save money too. Ergo, a larger diamond for less. 


Does a Princess Cut Diamond Look Bigger Than a Round Diamond?

Optics are a tricky thing! Since the table or top of the diamond is larger and the pavilion or bottom of the diamond is smaller in a princess cut, the same exact carat-size will look larger than its round cut counterpart.

However, there are drawbacks to princess cuts. They can lose some of their sparkle when compared to round cuts. This is because even though the table of a princess diamond is larger than a round cut diamond and catches plenty of light, the bottom pavilion is smaller, which means there’s less refraction. That amounts to less sparkle and brilliance in a princess cut vs round. 

Round vs Princess Cut Diamond—Which Should It Be?

There are pros and cons to each diamond cut. You should weigh them carefully before making a purchase.

Round cuts are:

Princess cuts are:

Some people prefer to stick with a classic look like the round cut diamond and not buck tradition. Others that are more progressive may prefer the contemporary style of a princess cut and enjoy a look that’s more unique. There’s no wrong answer, only different tastes and budgets. In the face-off between a round cut and a princess cut, there’s no clear winner. You are the ultimate judge. 

Besides the round or princess cut, there are also many others to choose from. Read on for more information on cushion cut vs princess cut before making your decision!



*Here at Diamond Nexus, we strive to provide valuable information while being clear and honest about our products. The Nexus Diamond™ alternative is a patented lab created diamond simulate that, among all simulants, most closely imitates the look, weight and wear of a diamond, with two exceptions - it is absolutely perfect in every way, and it costs significantly less. Price points and environmental facts expressed in this blog were taken from popular online retailers and may vary. Learn more about the environmental impact of mining by visiting our blog.