Last updated on December 24, 2022
Consumers often compare emerald and princess cuts when they think of a square-looking diamond. Although these two cuts share some traits, several features set them apart. Emerald cut vs princess cut diamonds – let’s discover the difference between the two.
What Is an Emerald Cut Diamond?
The emerald cut is one of the oldest diamond shapes, with origins tracing back to the 1500s. Initially crafted for emerald gemstones, it was applied to diamonds as the step cut facet arrangement was reducing the pressure during the cutting process and preventing chips in the gems.
Emerald cut diamonds are prominent in a rectangular shape with cropped corners; however, they are available in a square shape as well. They typically feature 57 facets parallel to each other and the stone’s girdle. The emerald cut is less fiery than the brilliant cut as it is not fashioned to maximize the gem’s fire, brilliance and scintillation. This cutting technique is meant to emphasise the stone’s clarity. However, it is worth mentioning that the emerald cut emits wider and more dramatic flashes of light than the brilliant cut.
The term emerald cut was not used until the 1920s, when the cut increased in popularity. During the Art Deco period (1908 to 1935), where clean lines and symmetry were admired, the emerald cut became a huge trend. Since then, emerald cut diamonds have been among the most popular choices for engagement rings and other jewellery pieces.
What Is a Princess Cut Diamond?
The history of the princess cut traces back to the early 1960s when Arpad Nagy, a diamond cutter based in London, created the profile cut, which was often referred to as the princess cut at the time.
However, many believe that the true princess cut traces its roots in 1971 when Basil Watermeyer patented a new diamond shape and called it Barion cut. Being a very complex cut, Barion proved to be extremely difficult to create. Incredibly symmetrical lines were challenging even for the expert diamond cutters.
Nearly ten years later, another cut similar to the Barion was patented and named Quadrillion. The Quadrillion cut gained some popularity as it was easier to create due to its use of 49 facets compared to the 80 facets of the Barion.
The modern princess cut is a relative newcomer to the diamond world. It was created in 1981 by Betzalel Ambar, Ygal Perelman and Israel Itskowitz. A princess cut diamond can have as few as 50 facets, but the number of the facets is often modified (up to 144) to maximize brilliance and sparkle. The “gold standard” is 58 facets.
Although the princess cut is usually described as a square shape with sharp corners, the shape of the cut is closer to an inverted pyramid; however, it can also come in tapered and rectangular shapes.
Emerald Cut vs Princess Cut Diamonds
Like many other diamond cuts, the emerald and princess cut diamonds may look similar at first glance. However, at a closer look, the difference in design becomes apparent. Emerald cut diamonds have cropped corners which give them an angular shape, while princess cut diamonds feature sharp corners giving them a more geometric appearance.
From the durability perspective, the princess cut is more prone to chipping, especially if the diamond has inclusions close to its sharp corners.
Cut and Facets
One of the key differences between the emerald and princess cut diamonds is the way they are cut. The princess cut belongs to the brilliant cut group, while the emerald cut is in the step cut group, which means they have a different facet arrangement and face-up outline.
Step cut gemstones feature parallel facets, which give them a clean and sleek look, making it easier to see their pattern. For this reason, it is recommended to purchase emerald cut diamonds with higher clarity and colour grades.
In comparison, brilliant cut stones exhibit more fire, brilliance and scintillation, but their facet pattern is not that easily distinguishable for an untrained eye.
Fire, Brilliance and Scintillation
The princess cut belongs to the brilliant cut group, meaning its facets are arranged to maximize a stone’s fire, brilliance and scintillation. In emerald cut diamonds, facets are not cut with this goal in mind. They are cut to emphasize the stone’s clarity, but they tend to have wider and more dramatic flashes of light.
If you compare these two cuts in terms of sparkle, the princess cut will exhibit more brilliance than the emerald cut.
Colour and Clarity
Diamond sparkle directly affects colour. If you compare two diamonds with visible yellowish tints, the more brilliant diamond will look less coloured as the higher level of brilliance makes the tints less noticeable.
Since princess cut diamonds belong to the brilliant cut group, they exhibit more brilliance and have an advantage over emerald cut stones, which in turn tend to show visible colouration.
The difference in brilliance between the emerald and princess cuts also leads to the difference in the visibility of their flaws. Since the princess cut diamonds show more sparkles, their inclusions are less visible than those in emerald cut diamonds of the same clarity grade. That is why if you are considering an emerald cut diamond, you will want to pay special attention to the size and location of its inclusions.
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