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Princess cut loose diamonds are quite popular among buyers and jewelers alike, second only to the round brilliant in loose diamonds sales. Not only does it maximize a stone's brilliance, but it wastes very little of its carat in the cutting process.
The princess cut loose diamond was developed in 1971 by Basil Watermeyer, a noted loose diamond cutter from Johannesburg. His design was shaped like a square or octagon, with an internal cross. Sometimes the design is mistakenly attributed to Arpad Nagy, a London jeweler, who incorporated v-like grooves into a flat diamond to help create additional brilliance. However, Nagy's techniques are not limited to square or rectangular stones in fact, the loose diamond itself can take the form of heart loose diamonds or an oval loose diamonds and are actually called "Profile Cut" today.
True princess cut loose diamonds are always square or rectangular, and incorporates multiple facets. Watermeyer recommended using 76 facets, and the multiple surfaces help reflect the light and create the princess cut's beautiful shine. It helped remedy a problem commonly associated with traditional square cuts, which tended to look "dull". Today there are many variations of the princess cut loose diamond, some having as little as 50 facets, while others as intricate as 144 facets. Traditionalists believe that the "perfect" princess cut loose diamond must have a proportion of 1:1 length to width in other words, a symmetrical square. But there are many stones that take on a more rectangular dimension, with ratios of 1 to 1.15.
Another advantage of the princess loose diamond cut is that it can help compensate for diamonds that have less-than-perfect clarity or color. It can be used to hide inclusions, or hints of yellowish or brownish streaks. However, one of the weaknesses of the princess cut loose diamonds is the fragile corners, which can be vulnerable to chipping. Because of this, some jewelers have tried tapering the edges, leading to "newer" variations like The Regent, The Tiffany Lucida, and The Dream. Diamonds with a princess cut tend to cost less than the round brilliant of the same carat, since it doesn't waste as much of the raw stone in the cutting and polishing process. However, budget should not be the only consideration when selecting the stone. Be sure to examine it for craftsmanship, keeping an eye out for thin girdles (which can make a diamond vulnerable to chipping) and uneven sides. Princess loose diamonds are quite popular among brides. In fact, it is the preferred fancy shaped loose diamond chosen for engagement rings, the eternity ring, anniversary jewelry, pendants and earrings.
A rectangular princess cut loose diamond, set in a parallel along one's hand, can help lengthen short fingers. It can also be used as a solitaire, or clustered with other loose diamonds to create interesting geometric designs. For example, one can mix loose diamonds of different colors, such as a brilliant blue with perfectly colorless white princess loose diamonds, for a modern art deco setting. Smaller princess cut loose diamonds can also be imbedded into the wedding band, with a larger stone as a centerpiece.