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Ask a Diamond Pro: 2nd Opinion on 1.1 Ct. Princess Cut

By Mike Fried,

In the exciting journey of finding the perfect symbol of love, understanding the world of diamond engagement rings can sometimes feel overwhelming. We’re always happy to receive messages from readers who are eager to gather knowledge to make informed decisions.

Recently, one such inquiry caught our attention—a search for the ideal eye-clean princess cut diamond to grace a solitaire platinum setting, all while being mindful of making the most of every precious dollar. With a budget hovering around the $8,000 mark, the challenge lies in finding the right balance between size, quality, and budget.

Here’s the reader’s original email:

I am so happy I found your site and have been pouring over your articles to learn more about maximizing my dollar in purchasing a ring for my soon-to-be fiance. Thank you so much for putting your knowledge out there to help us make informed decisions when purchasing diamonds/rings!

I am searching for the best eye-clean princess cut I can find that will be going into a solitaire platinum setting. Based on your articles, I have been doing quite a bit of searching at James Allen, and look forward to doing business with them if possible.

Ideally, my budget for the setting and the stone is in the $5,000 range. I have found a setting I like on the JA website, which leaves my budget at $4,000 for the stone. Based on what I’ve learned from your articles and what I’ve found in the JA inventory, I would like to find a diamond of 1.20 carats or above.

So far, this diamond seems to meet what I am looking for:

Link: https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/princess-cut/1.10-carat-h-color-vs1-clarity-sku-20836888?a_aid=dmnd1357

(!! Note: The original diamond that the reader purchased is no longer listed on James Allen, so this blog contains a link to similar substitutions.)

That said, I’m writing to solicit your feedback. Would this be about the best I can do on my budget? I’m a little afraid to slide down to an I color considering the platinum setting and princess cut.


The diamond our reader found is stunning. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. But because he chose such a high clarity, he couldn’t find anything larger. Dropping down to a VS2 or SI1 clarity grade can help them find a larger diamond without sacrificing quality.

An engagement ring

How To Choose a Princess Cut Diamond

Choosing the perfect princess cut diamond requires a keen eye and a bit of understanding about its unique characteristics. Firstly, pay close attention to the diamond’s cut quality. The princess cut is renowned for its square shape with pointed corners, but not all princess cuts are created equal. To ensure they exhibit optimal fire and brilliance, follow our recommended depth and table percentage ranges. You can read more in our guide to the princess cut diamond.

Secondly, consider the diamond’s color and clarity. While princess cut diamonds tend to hide inclusions pretty well, it’s still essential to select a stone with minimal imperfections. Aim for diamonds with clarity grades of VS2/SI1 or higher for eye-clean appearances. Also, make sure there are no major inclusions in the corners. Because a princess cut diamond has sharp corners, it’s more prone to chipping when it hits something. Any inclusion there increases the risk of damage.

When it comes to color, make sure to select a princess cut based on the style of your setting and the metal it’s crafted of. Opt for stones in the near-colorless range (G to H) to achieve a bright, white appearance in a halo setting. For pavé/side-stone or solitaire setting styles, consider an I color.

Lastly, don’t forget about carat weight. Balance your budget with your desired carat weight, ensuring you prioritize cut quality and clarity to maximize the diamond’s brilliance and beauty.

Carat Weight vs. Clarity

The reader found a diamond with a slightly higher clarity grade than our recommendation leading to a smaller carat weight than initially desired. While the diamond was beautiful, they wanted to explore options for a larger diamond within their budget.

A VS1 clarity grade isn’t always bad. By choosing a diamond with that grade, you can be almost certain to receive an eye-clean diamond. Alternatively, if you choose a slightly lower clarity grade, you might be able to increase the carat weight while still getting a clear diamond without any noticeable inclusions.

Dropping the clarity even just by one grade can already result in a larger stone. Look at this 1.20ct H VS2 princess cut diamond from James Allen. The price is very similar, yet the diamond is 0.10ct heavier and larger in actual measurements.

size vs. carat weight princess cut
Princess cut size chart

Carat Weight vs. Color

Even though we recommend an I color princess cut diamond for a solitaire setting, the reader requested an H color as the minimum. This is perfectly reasonable, as some people are more color-sensitive or have different personal preferences. Sometimes, they want the color of the diamond to match other diamond jewelry they have. Whatever the reason, as long as you understand the choice and what it means (e.g. a bigger price tag), it’s absolutely fine.

Final Thought

Princess cut diamond are gorgeous but they can be tricky to pick. From carefully considering clarity to making nuanced choices about color, each decision not only affects the sparkle of a diamond but also the emotions it evokes.

However, beyond these technicalities lies a deeper truth—beauty, in its many forms, goes beyond mere specifications. Whether it’s the flawless charm of a high-clarity gem or the captivating radiance of a slightly larger, less perfect stone, each princess cut diamond tells a unique story, reflecting the individuality and journey of its wearer.

In the end, our reader chose a gorgeous H color diamond they found on their own and we couldn’t be more proud.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our experts are here to help you with any questions you may have.

James Allen James Allen is the leader in online diamond sales. Their imaging technology is the same as inspecting a diamond with a jeweler's loupe. They have the largest exclusive loose diamond inventory online and fantastic prices. They also have the nicest collection of lab-created diamonds online.
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. James Allen will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free International Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisals
  • One free resizing within 60 days of purchase
  • Free ring inscriptions
  • Best-in-class high quality imagery of all diamonds in stock
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • Best-in-class packaging
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Blue Nile Blue Nile is the largest and most well-known internet jewelry seller. They have a very large exclusive online inventory. Their high-quality images are catching up to James Allens' and their prices are amazing. 
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. Blue Nile will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisal
  • One free resizing within the first year of purchase
  • High quality images of about half of their diamonds
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • 100% credit towards future upgrades (must be at least double in value)
  • Best in class fulfillment
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