Buyer’s Guide to Cushion Cut Diamonds

The vintage charm of an antique diamond, with rainbow flashes of dispersion dancing in candlelight. The brilliance of a modern diamond, with facets sparkling in the spotlight. Cushion cut diamonds give you the best of both worlds. Even a simple solitaire becomes unique when set with a cushion diamond. It’s not surprising that cushion shape engagement rings have been increasing in popularity. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Prince Harry proposed to Meghan Markle with a three stone cushion diamond engagement ring. Or that Karlie Kloss, Miley Cyrus, Chrissie Teigen, Jessica Biel, Olivia Palermo, Priyanka Chopra and Kim Kardashian all wear cushion cut diamonds. Cushion engagement rings couldn’t be more fashionable. And they have been that way for hundreds of years.

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The History of Cushion Cut Diamonds

Cushion cuts are inspired by old mine diamonds, one of the first brilliant cuts. Developed in the eighteenth century, the old mine cut was developed to take advantage of the shape of diamond rough from mines in Brazil, which had just been discovered. It maximized the weight of the cut stone and also maximized rainbow flashes of fire. When diamonds were discovered in South Africa, Brazil became the “old mine.” Old mine diamonds are a brilliant cut with the rounded square silhouette of the cushion with a high crown and deeper pavilion, similar to the shape of an octahedral diamond crystal.

cushion diamond
The modern cushion diamond cut still has the rounded corners but it is much less deep than the old mine cut.

It generally has more facets than the old mine cut and it has much more brilliance, while still excelling at displaying fire.

Many of the world’s most famous historical diamonds including the Hope Diamond, the Cullinan II, the Regent, the Jubilee, the Tiffany Diamond, and the Archduke Joseph are all cushion cut diamonds.

Why We Love Cushion Cut Diamonds

There is more variety in cushion cut diamonds than in any other diamond shape. Each cushion cut diamond has its own individual personality. There are square cushions and rectangular cushions, depending on the length to width ratio. There are chunky cushions and antique cushions with fewer larger facets and cushion cut diamonds with extra small facets. Which style you prefer is up to you but you’ll likely never meet anyone who has a cushion diamond that looks exactly like yours.

Their vintage look means that cushion diamonds look as nice in rose gold as in white gold and yellow gold ring settings.

And there’s one more thing we love about cushion cut diamonds. They sell for 10-20 percent less than round brilliant diamonds of the same size and quality. It’s not surprising that cushion cuts have become such a popular diamond choice for engagement rings.

cushion cut diamond

How to Buy Cushion Cut Diamonds

Ready to buy a cushion diamond? The basics of the 4Cs are the same as for round brilliant diamonds but the GIA grading reports for cushion diamonds don’t include a cut grade. (AGS does offer cushion cut grades.)

The variety that we love so much means it is a bit more complicated to compare cushion cut diamonds than any other diamond shape. Here are just a few of the different facet patterns of cushion cut diamonds that you’ll see on the market.

Each faceting style creates a different overall pattern in the diamond. Which you like best is a matter of personal preference. You will sometimes see the different facet pattern options described as chunky cushions, which look like antique cushions, crushed ice cushions which have more facets and reflections, and hearts and arrows cushions, which shows the distinctive pattern of arrow facets you know from round brilliants. The star arrow pattern of a hearts and arrows cushion, like our own Cushion Brilliant designed by master cutter Brian Gavin, gives you the brilliance of hearts and arrows round cut diamonds but sells for less per carat. It’s a popular diamond choice for people who love diamond brilliance but also the charm and uniqueness of a fancy shape.

Hearts and arrows cushion cuts are always a square shape square because maximum light performance requires maximum symmetry.

All the other facet styles can be rectangular cushions as well as square cushions.

If you are looking for a square shape cushion, you will look for a low length to width ratio. A longer rectangle cushion will have a higher length to width ratio.

What ROSI Recommends

Sorting through all the cushion cut options can be challenging. That’s why we created
ROSI, an artificial intelligence personal shopping tool powered by IBM’s Watson: to sort through all the cushion diamonds available on the market to find the best balance of quality and value for your budget. See the best cushion cut diamond for your budget.

ROSI generally recommends a color grade of H and a clarity grade of VS2 for cushion cut diamonds with an antique look or a hearts and arrows look. If you prefer a crushed ice style cushion, this cutting style tends to concentrate color so you may want to upgrade to a G color grade. This style does hide inclusions so you can look at SI1 clarity. ROSI thinks you will see inclusions in an SI2 cushion so recommends a better clarity.

The most visible factor in the appearance of your cushion cut diamond is the length to width ratio. ROSI recommends a length to width ratio of 1.00 to 1.10, which gives you a symmetrical square shape for maximum brilliance.

Cushion Cut Quality Checklist

  • Color: H
  • Clarity: VS2
  • Ratio: 1.00-1.10
  • Depth: 63%-70%
  • Table: 55%-62%
  • Symmetry: Very Good or Excellent
  • Polish: Very Good or Excellent

Some websites will tell you that if you want a chunky look for your cushion, you should look for “cushion brilliant” on the report and if you want a “crushed ice” look you should look for “modified brilliant.” Unfortunately it’s not that simple, since there are many options for facet patterns and GIA calls any variation “modified.” If fact hearts and arrows cushions, the best possible quality cushion cut, also are described as “modified” and they don’t have the crushed ice look at all.

It’s better to look at images of each cushion cut or let ROSI comb through the options available and select a cushion that’s beautiful and a good value than relying on the plot or description on a grading report.

Cushion Cut vs Round Brilliant vs Radiant Cut Diamonds

The three diamond shapes that are most similar to a cushion cut are round diamonds and radiant cut diamonds. Round brilliant diamonds are more common than a cushion cut so you lose the unique factor but they are often more bright than a standard cushion diamond. The round brilliant is less unique but it is easier to shop for, since all round brilliant diamonds look almost the same. A round cut will also cost more per carat than a cushion cut.

A radiant cut is another option for those who love the cushion cut. It has a more contemporary look with square corners rather than the rounded silhouette of the cushion. Its facet pattern is similar to the “crushed ice” style cushion. A radiant cut is a good option if you prefer diamonds with straight sides rather than curves. The cut corner silhouette of a radiant cut diamond has more of a vintage look than a princess cut diamond. Whether cut in a square shape or a rectangular shape, a radiant cut diamond also has more brilliance than emerald cut diamonds or Asscher cut diamonds so it’s a good compromise for those who love both square cuts and the brilliance of a cushion.

Best Cushion Cut Diamond Engagement Ring Styles

Our customers’ favorite setting for cushion cut engagement rings is simple cushion cut diamond solitaire with a delicate pave band. Delicate micropave halo cushion engagement rings are also popular. Meghan Markle’s three stone cushion cut engagement ring with two round brilliant diamonds on the sides has made this classic combination fashionable again.

You’d be surprised how far your money can go shopping for a cushion cut engagement ring. Here are ROSI’s picks for some common engagement ring budgets or set your own engagement ring budget and see what ROSI selects for you.

Solitaire with Pave Band

Kelly

Cushion Halo

Cosette

3-Stone Round

Anita
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