Jewelry Guide

8 Tips to Choose the Best Cushion Cut Diamond

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The cushion cut diamond has been around for about 200 years and is among the oldest diamond cuts. At the time of its invention, this beautiful design (sometimes called the old mine cut) was the most popular diamond cut of its time, like the round diamond is today.

Created to sparkle under candlelight, the cushion cut was highly popular until the early 20th century and was the closest to a round cut that was possible with the technology available at the time. It then took a backseat as the round diamond cut began to dominate the scene.

Lately, however, the cushion cut is back in the limelight, with a lot of buzz about it. It has risen to become among the most popular engagement ring cut and is increasingly sought after by couples interested in vintage inspired designs. It seems that this renewed interest in cushion cuts comes with the surge in popularity of vintage an antique designs.

This timeless cut has been modified to suit modern day requirements and comes in a couple of versions. It is a sophisticated and elegant shape that suits any finger and its popularity is set to remain.

Let’s look at what you need to know about the cushion cut diamond to help you choose if this is the right cut for you.

  1. Best Settings and Styles for Cushion Cut Diamond Rings

The cushion cut pairs beautifully with a range of settings and styles, as it is a very versatile cut. While it does have an old-world charm about it and looks stunning in vintage designs, it looks amazing set in modern designs as well. Also, as the cushion cut does not have any vulnerable points, it does not require a protective setting.

For the greatest visibility and light performance, choose a prong setting. Most cushion cuts come with 4 prongs to hold the diamond at each corner securely while still allowing light to interact with the diamond. For larger or rectangular shaped cushions, 6 prongs may provide more security.

prong setting cushion shape engagement ring

See it here

For a brilliant and flashy look, the halo setting is ideal as the sparkle of the center diamond is accentuated by the tiny surrounding diamonds. Halo settings also provide an extra level of security, as the halo acts as a buffer against impact for the diamond’s edges.

halo cushion shape engagement ring

See it here

If you’re looking for vintage and antique designs, the cushion cut is ideal. Whether you choose an actual antique or simply a vintage-inspired design, the cushion cut will give you many options.

vintage cushion shape engagement ring

See it here

Some contemporary designs the cushion cut set in bezel settings, but these can make the diamond appear smaller while also minimizing its sparkle. However, if you’re interested in minimalist designs, bezel settings are a good option.

  1. Different Shape Options

The cushion cut can be either square or rectangular, with rounded corners and bevelled edges. They have been compared to cushions and pillows (it’s also known as the pillow cut) due to their shape.

While cushion cuts are traditionally square, they come in a range of different shapes. You can choose the shape you want by altering the length-to-width ratio of the stone. For a perfectly square cut, choose a length-to-width ratio of 1 to 1.05. Anything over this and the shape starts to become rectangular. A length-to-width ratio of about 1.20 to 1.30 will give you a rectangular cut, similar to the emerald shape.

Check Cushion Shape Diamonds Here

  1. Two Categories to Choose From

The cushion cut comes in two main cut categories: the standard and the modified cuts. The standard cut is the original faceting pattern for the cushion cut and has been around for a while whereas the modified cut are modern versions of the cut.

The differences between these two are very minimal and will not make a huge difference on the appearance of your stone, so it really doesn’t matter which you choose. This also does not affect whether you decide to choose a crushed ice cushion or a chunky cushion.

  1. Chunky or Crushed Ice?

This refers to the two main faceting patterns of the cushion cut that can affect how a cushion cut appears.

Old cushion cut diamond close up

Old cushion cut by Ivy and Rose Vintage. See it here.

Chunky cuts are sometimes known as the antique cushion cut and the cushion brilliant. Chunky cushions have clearly defined and larger facets when viewed face up and are similar in their faceting arrangement to round brilliant diamonds. They are more popular and highly desirable.

cushion cut diamond-

Crushed ice cushion cut. See more here.

The crushed ice cushion diamonds have no specific faceting pattern and are similar to radiant cut diamonds. When you look at them, you will see a number of sparkling facets seemingly haphazardly organized, somewhat like ‘crushed ice’. These are also known as cushion modified brilliant diamonds. The crushed ice cushion is sometimes less expensive than the chunky cushion as it is not as popular and it yields more diamond from the rough.

Whether you choose the chunky or the crushed ice cushion depends on your preferences.

  1. Avoiding Bad Cuts

A lot of cushion cut diamonds on the market today are cut from lower quality diamond rough, resulting in poorly cut stones. These can be ill-proportioned, lack sparkle and may be quite shallowly cut in order to save on the rough diamond.

Lab reports don’t provide any information about the specifics of the cut, including whether it is a chunky or a crushed ice cushion. As the GIA does not grade the cut of fancy cuts (which includes the cushion cut), you’re on your own for this.

Cushion diamond shape price

Have a look at these four randomly selected diamonds from James Allen.

You can see that the corners of the second stone are highly rounded whereas the other three are squarer in appearance. All have similar specifications and on paper they would be nearly identical. This is why it is critical to see high quality images and videos (if possible) of the actual diamond to check for cut quality.

For the best look, choose a depth and table percentage that is less than 67%. You can go up to 70% and still have a very good looking diamond. However, over 70% for the depth and table will give you a diamond that lacks sparkle and vibrancy.

While cushion cuts are less brilliant than round diamonds, they often have better fire, which refers to the colored sparkle seen in a diamond under light.

  1. Choose the Color Grade

One significant characteristic of the cushion cut is its ability to retain color. This is why the cushion cut is so popular for colored diamonds and gemstones, as it can maximize the beauty stone’s color. For colorless diamonds, color retention is an issue as ideally the diamond would show no yellow tints at all.

I color cushion shape engagement ring

I color cushion diamond set in yellow gold. See it here.

The setting metal you choose for your diamond can affect the color grade you choose. If you choose yellow or rose gold, you can drop the color grade of your cushion cut diamond down to I or J and still have a fabulous looking piece as the contrast with the metal reduces the appearance of the tints in the stone. For silver-hued settings (such as white gold and platinum), it is best to choose H grade or better.

For the perfect whiteness and luster, choose a diamond from the D – F range. However, because the difference between these three grades is so slight, paying a premium for a D grade diamond is hard to justify.

Check out these two similar diamonds, with the main difference being color.

D color cushion cut diamond.

I color cushion cut diamond.

The D grade diamond is several hundred dollars more expensive than the I grade stone. The stone you pick depends on your preferences and budget.

  1. Choosing Your Clarity Grading

When choosing the clarity grade of your cushion cut diamond, consider whether it is a crushed ice cushion or chunky cushion. Crushed ice cushions tend to hide flaws and impurities in the diamond. The faceting pattern makes it difficult to see these flaws. Chunky cushions, however, tend to show more inclusions due to their distinct faceting pattern.

Regardless, the most important factor is to see whether the diamond is eye-clean or not, rather than simply focusing only on the clarity grade.

cushion diamond clarity

Take a look at these three similar diamonds. They are all SI2 diamonds, but each has varying levels of inclusions. Bear in mind that these diamonds have been magnified by up to 20 times. Being able to see the diamonds clearly allows you to choose the one that has the highest clarity.

Where to Buy Cushion shape Diamond Online

Ensure that the retailer you choose to purchase from is licensed and reputable, with a history of good service. Check that they provide you with a certificate of authenticity for your diamond and that the certifying lab is reputable such as GIA or AGS.

Also ensure that you see images and/or videos of the actual diamond and not simply a stock photo to check for symmetry, eye-cleanliness and light performance. Also check that the after sales policies are solid including returns and warranty.

It’s best to choose a respected retailer such as James Allen who offer high quality photos and special Diamond Display Technology that will allow you to inspect your diamond closely. Blue Nile also has an excellent collection of cushion cuts at competitive prices with HD videos to inspect the stones closely. 

If you’re worried about purchasing your cushion cut engagement ring online, why not check out With Clarity’s Home Preview Service, which allows you to customize your ring online and then sends you a replica of your ring to try at home before you commit, all completely free of charge. Find out more about this innovative service in our review here.

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