Cushion Cut Diamond Buying Guide

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A cushion cut diamond is an excellent choice for an engagement ring. It will appeal to those who like the square shape of a princess cut but who are looking for something a little less mainstream. Adding to its appeal is its relatively low cost compared to a round diamond.

Below is a guide with everything you need to know about cushion cut diamonds, from an explanation of the cut itself to advice on color and clarity. You will also find a comparison of some of the most popular diamond cuts to help you decide whether a cushion cut diamond ring is right for you.

What are Cushion Cut Diamonds?

Traditional cushion cut diamonds are square with rounded corners resembling a pillow, hence the name. You can also find elongated cushion cut diamonds with a more rectangular shape. Cushion cut diamonds combine the facet patterns of the Old Mine cut and the modern round brilliant cut. This gives them their brilliant, dynamic appearance.

Cushion cut diamonds are becoming increasingly popular for diamond engagement rings. We believe there are two main reasons for this. The first is that cushion cut diamonds manage to look understated and elegant while still displaying a level of brilliance comparable to a round diamond. The second is that cushion cut diamonds are significantly cheaper than round diamonds. Of course, this is likely to change if the popularity of cushion cut diamond engagement rings continues to grow.

Characteristics of a Cushion Cut Diamond

Here are some key features that set cushion cut diamonds apart from the rest:

  • Multiple cut styles to choose from (e.g., modified ‘hybrid’ vs brilliant, ‘crushed ice’ vs ‘chunky’)
  • Square or rectangular shape
  • Rounded edges
  • 58 facets (similar to round and princess cut diamonds)
  • Vintage appeal
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Pros and Cons of Cushion Cut Diamonds

Every diamond shape has its advantages and disadvantages. Read on to discover whether the cushion cut is the right choice for you.

Pros

  • Rising popularity
  • Less expensive per carat than round cut diamonds
  • Unconventional shape for a more personalized engagement ring
  • High level of fire and brilliance (reflects white and colored light well)
  • Rounded edges make it more durable
  • Combines classic appeal with modern charm

Cons

  • Goes by multiple names that can confuse the buyer (i.e., classic cushion, modified cushion, chunky cushion)
  • Large, open table means inclusions can be more visibleto the naked eye (we recommend an SI clarity grade or higher)
  • More likely to exhibit a slight yellow tint than other diamond shapes (we recommend an H color grade or higher)

How Does The Cushion Cut Compare To Other Popular Diamond Shapes?

Although the cushion cut has been gaining popularity in recent years, the round brilliant has always been the number one choice for a diamond engagement ring. But there are also several other fancy shape diamonds that will appeal to those seeking a unique alternative. We provide a comparison of some of these shapes below.

Cushion Cut Diamond vs Round Cut Diamond

Platinum riviera pavé diamond engagement ring by Blue Nile
  • Round diamonds are more popular. Over 50% of all diamonds sold are round cut. This makes them a classic, timeless choice for a diamond engagement ring. But those looking to break with tradition should consider a cushion cut engagement ring.
  • Round diamonds offer more sparkle. The round cut has 58 facets. This is what gives round brilliant cut diamonds their unparalleled shine. Cushion cut diamonds also have 58 facets, but their faceting pattern is slightly different. Nonetheless, cushion cut diamonds still offer a significant amount of brilliance.
  • Round diamonds are more expensive. Round cut diamonds command premium prices due to their popularity. A cushion cut diamond can be up to 30% cheaper than a round diamond of the same carat weight and quality.
  • Cushion cut diamonds can appear round. Due to its rounded corners, the cushion cut can appear round from a distance.

Cushion Cut Diamond vs Princess Cut Diamond

Petite twist diamond engagement ring in platinum by Blue Nile
  • Princess cut diamonds are more popular. While the round cut is the most popular diamond shape, the princess cut comes in a close second. Cushion diamonds are, therefore, ideal for anyone looking for an unconventional diamond shape.
  • Princess cuts are more prone to breakage. The princess cut is a square cut with pointed corners that are susceptible to chipping. Conversely, the rounded corners of the cushion cut make it more durable.
  • Cushion cuts and princess cuts offer the same amount of sparkle. These two shapes perform similarly in terms of their ability to reflect light. While princess cuts do have slightly more shine, the difference isn’t significant.
  • Cushion cuts and princess cuts cost more or less the same. There isn’t a huge price difference between these two cuts, as long as you are comparing diamonds with similar characteristics.

Cushion Cut Diamond vs Radiant Cut Diamond

14K white gold floating marquise and round engagement ring by Blue Nile
  • Radiant cut diamonds are more rectangular. Although an elongated cushion cut diamond is not unheard of, most tend to be square. The most common length-to-width ratio for a cushion cut diamond is 1.00 to 1.10. Conversely, most radiant cut diamonds have a length-to-width ratio of 1.25.
  • Cushion cuts and radiant cuts are durable. Both of these shapes have trimmed corners, making them less prone to chipping.
  • Radiant cuts offer more sparkle. With 70 facets, the radiant cut is one of the most brilliant diamond shapes available today. It combines the contours of the emerald cut with the shine of the round brilliant. Cushion cut diamonds are slightly less brilliant but are still a beautiful choice.

General Guidelines for Buying Cushion Cut Diamonds

Petite diamond engagement ring in platinum by Blue Nile

The 4Cs

All diamonds are evaluated according to the 4Cs of diamond appraisal: cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. Cushion cut diamonds are treated the same way. Below, you can read more about how to choose a cushion cut engagement ring using the 4Cs to ensure you get your money’s worth.

1. Cushion Diamond Cut Parameters

Cut is the most important C as it has the biggest visual impact on a diamond engagement ring. This means you should prioritize it above all else.

While it’s impossible to evaluate a stone’s cut quality based on numbers alone, here are some general recommendations for what you should look for in a cushion cut diamond:

  • Depth: Under 70%
  • Table: Under 70%
  • Polish/Symmetry: Good, Very Good, or Excellent
  • Length-to-Width Ratio: Whatever you like!

2. Cushion Diamond Clarity

A diamond’s clarity describes its lack of internal inclusions or surface blemishes. Flawless diamonds are incredibly rare in nature and, therefore, command premium prices.

But here’s the thing: clarity is not all as important as it may sound. In fact, all you need to do is find a diamond that’s eye-clean.

‘Eye-clean’ refers to a diamond that looks free from inclusions when seen by the naked eye. This means that the diamond may still have inclusions, but that these will only be visible under a microscope or jeweler’s loupe.

So, as a general rule, you should always look for the lowest clarity you can find that’s eye-clean.

For cushion cut diamonds, this can be a bit tricky. This is due to their large, open table, which can make imperfections difficult to hide. But note that this isn’t the case for all cushion diamonds. For example, a cushion cut diamond with a ‘crushed-ice’ look is generally quite good at hiding inclusions.

You can start your search for a cushion cut diamond at the SI1 or SI2 clarity grades, but be prepared to pay a little extra if you need to move up the grades. Remember: your goal is to find an eye-clean stone at the lowest clarity. This will ensure that you get the best value for money.

3. Cushion Diamond Color

Generally speaking, cushion cut diamonds aren’t good at hiding their color. So, if you’re looking for a white diamond engagement ring, we recommend not going below the H color grade. That is, unless you opt for a yellow or rose gold setting (in which case, you can go down to a J or a K).

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An H color diamond is in the near-colorless category, meaning it has a slight yellow tint. But this color will go unnoticed by most people, especially if the stone is set in a yellow or rose gold setting, which helps to offset the slight color.

4. Cushion Diamond Carat Weight

The carat weight of a diamond simply refers to how much it weighs. One carat is roughly equal to 0.2 grams. You will find that higher carat weights command higher prices. This is because it becomes harder to find gem-quality rough diamonds as you move up in carat weight.

You will also notice a significant jump in diamond prices at the half-carat and whole-carat marks. This is because diamonds of these carat weights are the most sought-after for engagement rings.

Because cushion cut diamonds are one of the most affordable diamond shapes, you can easily go up to 2-carats for an engagement ring. For comparison’s sake, if you were to choose a round brilliant diamond of the same carat weight, you would pay around 30% to 40% more.

Price

Many factors influence diamond prices. As mentioned, a diamond’s carat weight has a huge impact on price, but so do its color, clarity, and cut. Also, don’t forget to factor in the cost of the setting metal for your engagement ring.

For a 1-carat, SI1, H color cushion cut diamond, you can expect to pay around $3,500. Strictly speaking, you could save money by choosing a lower color or clarity grade, but this could mean settling for a less beautiful diamond.

Similarly, you could go for higher grades in these areas, which will cost a lot more. But bear in mind that going up in a diamond’s grade is unlikely to make any significant visual improvements, especially to the naked eye.

Standard Cushion Cut vs Modified Cushion Cut

There is one last distinction that we need to make before we wrap up our discussion on cushion cut engagement rings.

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Modern cushion cut diamonds are often divided into two categories: standard and modified. These terms can be very confusing to buyers, but rest assured that the differences between them are minute. Likewise, their effect on a stone’s appearance is minimal.

In fact, the only thing that sets them apart is history. The standard cushion cut refers to a more antique cutting style, while the modified cushion cut is simply a variation of the original facet pattern.

The Truth About Cushion Cuts

Some diamond jewelry websites will tell you that you need to buy a standard cushion cut diamond if you want a ‘chunky look’. On the other hand, they will tell you that you need to buy a modified cushion cut diamond if you want a ‘crushed ice’ look.

But the truth is, whether a cushion cut diamond is standard or modified hardly makes any difference to its appearance.

That being said, there is a noticeable visual difference between the two respective ‘looks’. We will discuss these in more detail below.

‘Chunky’ Cushion Cut Diamonds

‘Chunky’ cushions are also referred to as ‘antique’ or ‘Old Mine’ cushions. These have the oldest faceting style for cushion cuts. They are easy to recognize by their clearly defined, geometric facets that can be seen when looking at the stone from a top-down view.

Cushion Modified ‘Crushed-Ice’ Diamonds

This is one of the most recent cutting styles for cushion cut diamonds. It refers to cushions with no discernible facet pattern on their table. All you can see is an effect resembling broken glass or ‘crushed ice’ (hence the name).

Cushion Brilliant and Cushion Modified ‘Hybrid’ Diamonds

These are the other two types of faceting styles for cushion cut diamonds.

The cushion brilliant cut was born from the Old Mine cut, which, coincidentally, also gave rise to modern round brilliant diamonds. Thus, cushion brilliants tend to resemble the way round diamonds present themselves. They also look larger in diameter for their carat size when compared to the other types of cushion cuts.

The last cutting style for cushion cut diamonds features a combination of the brilliant and ‘crushed ice’ faceting patterns (hence why it is called a ‘hybrid’). This cushion cut is similar to the cushion brilliant in that it looks larger for its carat size.

Frequently Asked Questions about Cushion Cut Diamond Rings

What is a cushion cut diamond?

A cushion cut diamond is a traditionally square-shaped diamond with round corners resembling a pillow. You can also find elongated cushion cut diamonds that are more rectangular.

How many facets does a cushion cut diamond have?

Cushion cut diamonds normally have 58 facets – the same number that round brilliant diamonds have. However, this can vary given the number of faceting styles that are available for cushion cuts.

What is the best setting for a cushion cut diamond engagement ring?

Cushion cut engagement rings come in a variety of styles due to their classic appeal. However, a cushion cut in a halo setting surrounded by an extra row of smaller stones is one of the best ways to showcase the diamond’s beauty.

How much is a 2-carat cushion cut diamond?

The price of a 2-carat cushion cut diamond can vary quite a bit depending on its other characteristics, namely its color, cut, and clarity grades. But for a standard 2-carat cushion cut, with grades SI1 for clarity and H for color, you can expect to pay between $17,000 and $19,000.

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