November 5, 2021

Do Round or Square Cut Diamonds Look Bigger

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Round diamonds have a larger surface area, but the square shape can trick the eye and look bigger in size. Which diamond shape is best for you? Read on.

Classic round or edgy square? If you love both diamond shapes, you might be struggling to choose.

Are they equally as brilliant? And which one looks bigger on your finger?

In this guide, discover how round and square diamonds compare in size and appearance. Plus, learn which style is best for your budget and lifestyle.

What is a Round Cut Diamond?

Round diamonds are the most popular choice, with 47% of brides rocking a round center stone. The shape is timeless and looks great in every ring style.

Round diamonds are the most brilliant of all diamond shapes. The modern round cut has 58 facets. It's been perfectly engineered to reflect the maximum light.

Because it's so sparkly, round diamonds can hide flaws and mask color better than other shapes. This means you can get away with lower grade color and clarity.

Round Cut Diamond Pros & Cons

  • Timeless and classic
  • Looks good on all finger types
  • Very brilliant
  • No corners
  • Most expensive diamond cut

What is a Square Cut Diamond?

When people say "square cut," they're probably thinking of a princess cut diamond. It's a true square-shaped diamond with sharp corners and straight edges. When looking at it from the top, it has a unique X pattern.

14% of brides choose a princess diamond, making it the 2nd-most popular shape. It's perfect if you like geometric shapes, but also want something feminine and delicate.

The modern princess cut has 55-58 facets. It's the second-most brilliant diamond shape. Just like round diamonds, it can hide some flaws and color tints.

Square/Princess Cut Diamond Pros & Cons

  • Unique and feminine
  • Cheaper than round diamonds
  • Also very brilliant
  • Has sharp corners that can snag or get knocked on things

Is Round or Square Cut Bigger?

A lot of people wonder which shape is bigger. Let's look at the math.

  • A 1 carat round diamond has a diameter of 6.4 mm. This is a surface area of 32.17 mm2.

  • A 1 carat princess diamond is 5.5 mm x 5.5 mm. This is a surface area of 30.25 mm2.

Based on the math, round diamonds are about 8% larger in surface area than princess diamonds. But visual optics can trick the eye. It can make the square shape look bigger.

How does that work? Read on.

Why are all 1-carat diamonds not the same size? Carat refers to the weight of the diamond. A 1-carat round diamond and 1-carat prince diamond only weigh the same. But princess diamonds are cut deeper than round diamonds. More of the weight is in the bottom part under the surface, where you can't see it.

Do Round or Square Cut Diamonds Look Bigger?

Even though the surface area of round diamonds is larger, the corner-to-corner length of princess diamonds is longer.

For a 1-carat princess cut diamond, the diagonal length is 7.78 mm. The largest cross measurement is only 6.4 mm for a round diamond. This can make the princess cut diamond appear larger than a round diamond.

Plus, the prongs can help a diamond look larger too. Take the classic 4-prong round solitaire setting vs princess solitaire (below). The claws help add to illusion of more diagonal length, which makes the princess seem larger.

If you really want the biggest-looking diamond, consider shapes like oval, pear, and marquise. For the same carat weight, these diamonds have larger surface areas, and the elongated shape makes them look big.

Other Square Cut Diamonds

Besides the princess cut, there are also other square cut diamonds. If you think the princess is a little "too square," you may like one of these shapes.

  • Asscher cut:
    This cut can be thought of as a modern, more sparkly upgrade to the vintage emerald cut. It's a step-cut, meaning there's a big "window" into the diamond. The effect is like peering into a hall of mirrors. It's enjoyed more for its luster rather than brilliance.

    The downside is that the asscher cut has the smallest surface area of all diamond cuts because of its cropped corners.

  • Radiant cut:
    This cut can be rectangular or square-shaped. It combines the best of round, princess, and asscher cuts. This gives the radiant diamond incredible brilliance (like the name).

    The radiant cut has a crushed ice look, whereas the princess has a symmetrical X design. It also has cropped corners, which make it look smaller.

  • Cushion cut:
    This cut is in between a round and a square cut. It has rounded corners and edges for a softer, romantic look. You may like it if you think the square shape looks too harsh.

    Another pro point is that cushion cuts are one of the most affordable shapes. But it tends to look a little smaller than both round and princess cuts.

Still undecided on your ideal diamond shape? Shop all the shapes mentioned here at our top online diamond retailers: James Allen, Blue Nile, and Brilliant Earth.

Are Round or Square Diamonds More Brilliant?

If you're looking for the sparkliest stone possible, a round diamond is the undisputed winner. Round diamonds are unmatched when it comes to brilliance and sparkle.

Out of all the fancy shapes, princess diamonds are the sparkliest. However, a well-cut round diamond will still exhibit more brilliance and fire.

To illustrate, here are light performance images for a round and princess diamond. Both diamonds are Super Ideal cut - the highest cut grade possible.

via Whiteflash

Red areas show where the light is brightest. Green areas are less bright. The more red there is, the more brilliant the diamond. You can see the clear difference between a round and princess cut diamond.

The brilliance of a well-cut diamond can also make it appear larger, since so much light is reflected back.

How to make a diamond as big and sparkly as possible:
The diamond cut grade is the single most important factor that makes a diamond beautiful. This refers to the proportions and angles that affect how light is reflected back. It's important to choose an Excellent or Ideal cut.

An ideally cut diamond will be the biggest size possible, while providing the maximum light return. On the other hand, a poorly cut diamond will leak light and appear dull.

Are Round or Square Diamonds More Affordable?

Round diamonds are the most expensive of the diamond shapes. All other diamond shapes cost 20%-40% less than round diamonds (for stones of the same quality).

This means for the same budget, you can get a larger square diamond. For example, for the cost of a 1 carat round stone, you can get a 1.2 carat princess cut diamond - which will look significantly larger.

Here's an example of a 1-carat round and 1-carat princess diamond prices. All specs are equal.

via James Allen

Other square shape diamonds generally cost less than princess cuts. Here's what you can except for the other cuts (assuming the same color and clarity grades):

Round diamonds are more expensive because of the high demand. Round diamonds also require more of the rough stone to be cut away. This is factored into the higher price. On the other hand, square cut diamonds don't waste as much rough.

Which is Better: Round or Square?

Still not sure whether to choose round or square diamond? Here are some things to consider.

  • Lifestyle: If you are very active and do a lot with your hands, round may be a better fit. Princess cut diamonds have sharp corners, which can snag on things. Or worse, the diamond can even chip if you knock it just right.

    If you still like the square shape, consider if cushion, asscher, or radiant may be better for you. They have cropped or rounded corners.

  • Budget: If you're looking to maximize budget and size, a square cut diamond offers the best value.

  • Personal taste: Ultimately, it comes down to preference. Round diamonds will be timeless and they have a softer look, while square cut diamonds are unique and edgy.

    If you really can't decide between the two, remember that there's the cushion cut - the best of both worlds.

Bottom Line

If your biggest priority is maximizing budget, then a square diamond is the more affordable option. But if sparkle is the most important, nothing can match the brilliance of a round diamond.

Ultimately, the choice will come down to what you like. Don't worry too much about which one looks bigger. Make the choice that you will love 10, 20, or even 50 years from now.

Anna G is a contributing writer at CreditDonkey, a diamond jeweler comparison and reviews website. Write to Anna G at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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