Princess Cut Gemstone
The princess cut is a relatively recent development in gemstone design, but one which has become remarkably popular. In fact in the diamond world it has become the second most popular shape after the round brilliant cut. It is now being used extensively for colored gemstones as well.
The princess cut was developed to solve a specific problem in gemstone cutting -- what is the most attractive way to cut a square or oblong gemstone? The classic solution to the problem was the step cut. Used in emerald and baguette cuts, the step cut emphasized color and luster, but at the expense of brilliance, scintillation and fire.
The step cut has a large flat table with broad flat facets resembling steps of a stair. The princess cut, by contrast, is a modified version of the brilliant cut with 76 facets in its typical form. The technical description for the princess cut is "a square modified brilliant cut."
Emerald Cut Citrine Gem
The princess cut has its origins in 1961, when Aprad Nagy in London developed what is now known as the "Profile Cut." Since Nagy's cut was much flatter, the modern day princess cut is now attributed to Basil Watermeyer, a diamond cutter from Johannesburg, who in 1971 developed developed the Barion Cut. Though the barion cut and its variants were protected by patents, a number of these patents have expired during the last 10 years and stones cut in a similar style are now known as princess cuts.
Round Brilliant Cut Gem
There many variations on the princess cut. Ideally a princess cut stone should be fully square with a 1:1 length to width ratio. In practice the length to width ratio may be as high as 1.15:1. The princess cut usually has 76 facets, but there are other versions with at least 45 facets.
The princess cut does have some weaknesses. The four pointed corners are prone to both chipping and light leakage. This has lead to cuts being developed with tapered or beveled corners. But many gem aficionados believe this negates the timeless look of the princess cut.