The names of gemstone cuts can be highly confusing for the uninitiated. For example, you might have seen the terms "emerald cut" and "princess cut" when looking at an engagement ring. At first glance, these two gemstone cuts may appear similar: roughly square or rectangular in shape, and often used for the center stone of a ring. However, emerald cut and princess cut gemstones--in spite of their similar shapes--have several differences upon closer inspection. While both cuts require high-quality gems, they have different advantages and highlight different aspects of a stone.
Shape and Proportions
When the gemstone is viewed from the top, the classic princess cut appears square in shape, with sharp corners. However, a stone can be slightly rectangular and still bear the name. An emerald cut is rectangular, with beveled corners. The greatest difference between the two cuts is in the "pavilion," or underside of the stone. The pavilion of an emerald cut stone is faceted in a series of graduated rectangles, while the pavilion of a princess cut stone is triangular.
The princess cut tends to throw off a greater amount of light when viewed from different angles due to the many different-facing facets on the pavilion. Therefore, the perception is generally that a princess cut gemstone is more “sparkly.” The advantage of this cut is that it can coax much eye appeal out of a slightly flawed or off-color gemstone. An emerald cut, on the other hand, allows the viewer to see the inside of the stone in much greater detail when inspected closely. This cut highlights the intrinsic beauty of a stone with excellent color and clarity.
Expect an emerald cut stone to be more expensive than a princess cut stone if the gem is extremely high in quality--especially if the stone in question is a diamond. A slight discoloration--such as yellowing at the edges of a diamond--is readily apparent in an emerald cut stone, which means that a problem stone is unlikely to be selected for an emerald cut. If you are purchasing jewelry on a tight budget, consider shopping for a piece with a princess cut stone instead.