The princess cut diamond is one of the most popular diamond shapes. People love the square brilliant design and crisp, clean corners. When a princess cut diamond is cut properly, it will produce edge-to-edge sparkle. The challenge, of course, is finding a well-cut princess. The reality is that most princesses are cut like, uh, shall we say drek?!?!
Which in case you don’t know it, is Yiddish for, uh, rubbish (putting it politely). For instance, you might look at a poorly cut princess and say “Get that piece of drek away from me!”
Which is the total opposite of what you’ll say about this 1.314 carat, Brian Gavin Signature princess diamond. It delivers 5.8 millimeters of eye popping, retina’s burning, edge-to-edge sparkle. Because it’s cut like a dream! How do I know? Because Brian Gavin used to cut princess cut diamonds for our in-store private label.
Throughout the years, I’ve personally evaluated thousands of Brian Gavin Signature princess cut diamonds. If I were going to choose one word to describe them, that word would be OUTSTANDING.
The reason that Brian’s production of princess cuts looks so amazing is simple. It’s a combination of 3 specific factors: Facet Design • Optical Precision • Proportions.
Key Point: at the trade level, the princess cut diamond is known as a square modified brilliant. Which is why the Shape and Style indicate “Square Modified Brilliant” on this diamond grading report. Obviously, that is the trade name for a princess cut diamond. It’s not really important, I’m just pointing it out so that you don’t get thrown off by it.
Let’s look at what make Brian Gavin Signature princess cut diamonds so amazing and unique. The first thing you want to look at is the multi-color ASET Scope image on the lab report. Notice the high concentration of the color red, that indicates that the diamond is super bright. This is because the diamond is gathering light from the brightest light source in the room.
The color green represents secondary brightness, or light reflecting from the second brightest light source in the room. The reality is that you want a mixture of light reflecting from the two light sources. That way your princess cut diamond will be full of life!
It’s a little known fact that the chevron facets on a princess cut diamond are a critical component of sparkle. As a matter of fact, the number of chevron facets dictates the size and intensity of the sparkle! Nevertheless, this seems to be where the majority of princess cut diamonds fall short. For this reason, I’m going to teach you how to count the chevron facets on a princess cut diamond.
All you need to do is look at the plotting diagram provided on the diamond grading report. The plotting diagram is a representation of the facet structure of the diamond. This diagram is from the diamond grading report for a Brian Gavin Signature Princess.. The chevron facets are highlighted in the colors yellow, green, blue and purple.
The orange color ‘X’ in the middle of the plotting diagram represents the pavilion main facets. The four sections extending outward from that point are the chevron facets. In this particular instance, there are 4 chevron facet sections. The color yellow represents the first group of chevron facets.
The typical princess cut diamond features two, three, four or five chevron facets. For the most part, I’m going to suggest that you focus on princess cuts with 3 chevron facets. This is because it tends to produce a really nice balance of both large, medium and smaller size sparkle.
Whereas I find that princess cut diamonds with 4-5 chevron facets tend to produce sparkle that is smaller in size. Conversely, two chevron facets on a princess cut diamond tend to produce sparkle that is larger in size. However, that sparkle also tends to be kind of flat looking. It’s kind of like the flat, shallow looking sparkle that you’d see bouncing off of a shallow fish pond.
Sparkle that is larger in size tends to look bolder, brighter and more vivid. Nevertheless, sparkle which is smaller in size can seem more piercing and intense. It seems to me that 3 chevron facets create the perfect blend, the best of both worlds. Because it creates a nice, even mixture of sparkle of all sizes.
Which is why I personally prefer the look of a princess cut diamond with 3 chevron facets. As a result of ongoing research into princess cut light performance, Brian Gavin came to the same conclusion. Which is why all the new Brian Gavin Signature Princess cuts feature 3 chevron facets.
All right, so now you probably want to limit your search to princess cut diamonds with 3 chevron facets. The next thing you want to keep an eye on is the size of the pavilion main and chevron facets. You want them to be pretty even in size. Take a look at the facet structure of this 1.20 carat, H-color, VS-1 clarity, James Allen True Hearts princess shape diamond.
Notice the width of the pavilion main facets which create the ‘X’ pattern in the middle. Then notice how the width of the two chevron facet sections is about the same size. That’s what you want because produces a nice, even distribution of sparkle from edge-to-edge. But you want there to be 3 chevron facets, instead of the two that you see here. I’m just using this plotting diagram, to show you what two chevron facets look like.
There are multiple facets that you need to take into account when buying a diamond. I’m trying to make sure that you’re looking at all of them. Which is why I threw this 2 chevron facet princess cut diamond from James Allen into the mix. I’m hoping that your brain does a little jog and says:
That’s right Padwan, now you’ve got it! I personally prefer the look of a 3 chevron facet princess cut diamond. Not only would I only buy a 3 chevron princess cut diamond, but also I want the pavilion mains to be the same size. In addition, I’m looking for the light performance of a Nice Ice Diamond. Which means that I’m going to buy a Brian Gavin Signature Princess.
After all, Brian was in charge of producing diamonds for our in-store private label. So it goes without saying, that I know exactly what to expect from his production. He’s the only guy I know who consistently produces princess cut diamonds that look absolutely incredible. Every one of his diamonds exhibits edge-to-edge sparkle that is nothing short of spectacular. So really, why would I recommend anything else? (besides the fact that I’m paid to review other brands)
Speaking of which, I’m pretty sure that some of those other brands are going to be a little hot under the collar when they read this review. But secretly, between you and me, they know that I’m right, they’re just mad that I’m saying it. What they fail to recognize is that everybody has different preferences and tastes. Perhaps you agree with what I have to say, or maybe your preferences run in a different direction.
The reality is that most people buy a princess cut diamond without knowing anything about it. At least not anything really in-depth anyway. The majority of diamond buyers certainly don’t take the number of chevron facets into account. In the final analysis, it’s likely that they don’t consider anything beyond the Basic 4C’s.
But now, you’re not the average diamond buyer are you? You’re taking the time to learn more about princess cut diamonds before you buy one. Which is why you’re reading this article (all the way to the end). As a result, you know that princess cut diamonds are cut with 2-3-4 chevron facets.
Consequently, you also know that the number of chevron facets creates different types of sparkle. That’s a point that most jewelers probably overlook when they buy a princess cut diamond. That’s crazy, right? But I’ll bet if you ask your local jeweler how many chevron facets are on the princess cut diamond they show you… They’re going to look at you like you’re a space alien!
On a positive note, you’re not likely to buy the first piece of drek that somebody shows you. Nope. You’re now one of the few people who really understand how a princess cut diamond works. You know that the best light performance comes from a Brian Gavin Signature Princess. Now maybe you’re willing to pay the premium for that kind of sparkle factor and maybe you’re not. That’s not for me to say.
The fact of the matter is that it takes about four times longer to cut a diamond to that higher degree of optical precision. You’re no doubt familiar with the old adage time is money. Well, that’s certainly applicable in the diamond business when it comes to production costs.
All things considered, it’s definitely worth it to buy the Brian Gavin Signature Princess. But if for some reason, you’re not leaning in that direction (hey, it’s possible) then you should also check out:
These are the 3 places that I search first when I’m searching for the next tier down from Brian Gavin. When doing so, I’m going to limit my search to princess cut diamonds with an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal or GIA Excellent. For the most part, you’re really not going to get the kind of light performance you’re looking for from anything less.
Naturally, I took a quick look around to see what I could find. I set the range of carat weight between 1.20 – 1.49 carats, D to I-color, VS-2 clarity and higher with a price cap of $8,000.00 here’s what I found:
This 1.13 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Blue Nile Signature Princess features 3 chevron facets. You can actually count the pavilion main facets extending outward from the ‘X’ pattern pavilion main. It’s actually easier if you view the full-size video and then freeze the frame. You can do that by simply clicking on the icon of the diamond.
Now what I want you to see here is how the ‘X’ created by the pavilion main facets is larger than the chevrons. This is because the pavilion mains are broader than the chevron facets. This is not really a look that I like in a princess cut diamond, because it can create kind of a dead-zone in the middle. That being said, this is a really popular style of princess cut diamond design. On the one hand, this might simply be because people don’t know any better. On the other hand, it might just be that people like different things.
This 1.21 carat, I-color, VS-1 clarity, Blue Nile Signature Princess features 4 chevron facets. Click on the link and look at the plotting diagram on the GIA diamond grading. Count the number of chevron facets extending outward from the pavilion main which is the ‘X’ in the middle.
Oh hey, if you want to speak like an industry insider, we call this structure a 4+1 princess. Meaning that there are 4 chevron facets, plus the 1 pavilion main. Beware that a jeweler might not have a clue if you say this to them. It’s diamond-speak for the cutting side of the industry, which I’m more familiar with because I’m a buyer. Getting back to business. Do you notice how much smaller the reflections of light appear under the table facet? The higher number of chevron facets splits the light apart into smaller and smaller pieces.
On a positive note, our eyes tend to interpret sparkle that is smaller in size as brilliance (white sparkle). On the negative side of things, this is because our eyes are not dispersing the light into color. Thus the diamond might appear to be more brilliant, but it is at the expense of dispersion or fire. But if you prefer more of that icy-white, disco ball type of effect, then you might like it. The reason why there are so many variations of princess cut diamond design is because different people like different things.
The majority of princess cut diamonds on the market are graded by the GIA Laboratory. Unfortunately, the GIA short changes fancy cut diamond buyers in the information department. Surprisingly, a GIA diamond grading report does not feature the crown, nor pavilion measurements. GIA diamond grading reports for fancy shape diamonds only provide total depth and table measurements. This means that you’re only getting half the information you need from a GIA diamond grading report.
On the other hand, their sister organization, the AGS Laboratory provides you with complete details. Plus, the AGS Laboratory evaluates diamonds for light performance. Which is another thing that the GIA apparently feels that you don’t need to know? Another critical difference that I’ve noticed over the years, is that the GIA does not always use the right plotting diagram. There have been times when the faceting diagram on the report has not matched the actual structure of the diamond.
Whereas the AGS Laboratory creates a diagram that represents the structure of each specific diamond. In fact, the plotting diagram on an AGS report is actually a scale representation of the diamond. With this in mind, I am more apt to buy a princess cut diamond with an AGS report.
It goes without saying that I’m more likely to buy a Brian Gavin Signature princess cut diamond above all else. For one thing, every Brian Gavin Signature Princess cut diamond is graded by the AGS Laboratory. Consequently, this means that they’re graded on the Light Performance grading platform. Which means that the diamond is subjected to Angular Spectrum Evaluation Technology (ASET).
That’s quite a mouthful, right? To put it quite simply, ASET measures diamonds for light performance. You want to buy a diamond that exhibits a lot of red in the ASET image. Red is an indication that the diamond is gathering and reflecting light from the brightest light source in the room. You also want a good amount of green, which is the second brightest light source in the room. Blue represents contrast, which is important because it creates a feeling of depth. All things considered, you can see why Brian Gavin Signature diamonds are graded by the AGS Laboratory. The AGS Diamond Quality Document (DQD) provides all the proportions measurements. While the ASET provides incredible insight into light performance. Thereby providing you full insight.
I hope that you find this tutorial on how to buy a princess cut diamond useful and insightful. Be sure to take advantage of my Free Diamond Concierge Service if you want my help searching for diamonds. Or if you would like me to look over the details for any diamond that you are considering.
Todd Gray is a professional diamond buyer with 30+ years of trade experience. He loves to teach people how to buy diamonds that exhibit incredible light performance! In addition to writing for Nice Ice, Todd "ghost writes" blogs and educational content for other diamond sites. When Todd isn't chained to a desk, or consulting for the trade, he enjoys Freediving! (that's like scuba diving, but without air tanks)
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