The “Cushion Cut” Diamond Explained (Expert Review)

Looking for an expert guide on cushion cut diamonds?

Perfect, you're in the right place!

In this LearningJewelry.com guide, you'll learn:

  • What is a cushion cut diamond?
  • Pros and cons of this diamond cut?
  • Cushion cuts vs other popular diamond cuts (like the round)?
  • Where to buy the best cushion cut diamond?
  • And much more!
BEST CUSHION CUT DIAMOND RINGS Reviewed Guide

Cushion cut diamonds make a fine choice for someone who wants to save money, but still have a beautiful and appealing diamond.

Cushion cut diamonds are gorgeous and a staple in both diamond history and current events.

They remain one of the most popular choices for vintage and antique diamond jewelry. 

While most of the look of a cushion cut diamond is aesthetic, you need to pay attention to the length to width ratio. You should be able to find this information on the grading report.

You should only buy diamonds with grading reports from the GIA or AGS. You will also need to make sure it has high color grades as well as a very good or excellent cut grade. 

The bottom line is, a cushion cut diamond can be a wonderful center for an engagement ring, but you'll need to know what to look for. That's where we come in.

Let's get into it!

What Is A Cushion Cut Diamond?

Cushion cut diamond engagement rings have become a popular choice for brides to be in recent years, but they've been around for some time.

They were originally named the old mine cut, but modernly titled cushion due to the round edges resembling a fabric pillow. 

The old mine cut was named after the Brazilian mines back in the 19th century. When they discovered South Africa's diamond deposits, the Brazilian mines were referred to as the old mines.

The old mine cut had 33 facets within the crown and 25 pavilion facets. The modern cushion cut seen today has 64 facets. 

cushion cut diamonds

Pros And Cons of Cushion Cut Diamonds

There are plenty of reasons why a cushion cut diamond should make your engagement ring wish list, and a couple reasons why it might not be the best. 

Pros

  • Costs less than other cuts, despite a popular choice
  • Set into many different styles
  • Better protected with rounded edges
  • Options between old mine and modern
  • Options between crushed ice or chunky

Cons

  • No exact science to picking the perfect cushion 
  • Needs higher color grades
  • May need bigger carat weight

How To Choose A Cushion Cut Diamond?

The best way to dissect a diamond's quality is using the 4Cs: cut, clarity, color, and carat.

Cut

There are antique cushion diamonds and modern cushion cut diamonds. Antique cushions are going to be like the old mine cut. A modern cushion cut will be called a modified cushion.

Both can be either cut well or cut poorly, so the decision is pure aesthetic appeal. A modified cushion adds an extra row of faceting patterns beneath the diamond girdle. 

They also come in two different facet patterns, crushed ice, or chunky cushions. Chunky cushions give off broad flashes of light from the larger facets in the back.

Crushed ice cushions look like--wait for it--crushed ice (go figure) or even broken glass. This look makes the diamond glitter rather than flash. 

Crushed Ice Cushion cut 1.02 carat diamond vs2

Crushed Ice Cushion

Chunky Cushion cut 1.01 carat diamond vs2

Chunky Cushion

Other aspects of cut can impact your diamond as well. The length to width ratio is one of them. If you are leaning toward a square cushions, the L/W should be between 1-1.05. If you're looking for the less popular rectangular shape, you'll want to keep the L/W between 1.15-1.2. Anything beyond that starts to look weird.

Clarity

Obvious visible inclusions can affect the overall beauty of a cushion-cut engagement ring, so it's important to make sure you go with a good clarity grade.

The minimum clarity grade recommended for cushions is an SI2. While slightly included diamonds can be visible, choosing a cushion brilliant cut may hide any surface inclusions and save you money. 

If you do choose an SI1, make sure to study it for any large or dark areas near the center of the diamond. You want a diamond whose visible inclusions are on the edge of the diamond near the girdle, or even near where a prong would go. 

As far as maximum for your dollar, you shouldn't need a clarity grade higher than a VS2. You might see some speckled inclusions, but they won't be noticeable beyond that. Any clarity grade higher like a VVS2 would cost more without much difference.

Color

Cushion cut diamonds need to have a higher color grade because they are notorious at revealing diamond color. Generally after cut, I recommend choosing a better clarity.

But with a cushion, you should pick an excellent cut and then one with a nice color grade. The lowest color grade recommended for a cushion cut diamond is an H. 

If an H is too expensive for you, you can still find a whiter looking I or J. If none seems appealing to you, you can always choose to set a J cushion diamond in a yellow gold setting, which can make less white diamonds look white in contrast.

Carat

The carat weight of a cushion cut diamond is completely up to your personal preference and budget. They do tend to look smaller than other diamond shapes, so if size of the diamond is important, you may consider a larger carat weight.

But remember, the larger the carat weight, the more noticeable any inclusions might be as well. 

Cushion Cut Vs Other Diamond Cuts

Cushion cut diamonds have often been referred to as a cross between a round brilliant and a princess cut stone. But does a cushion cut truly take the best parts from these diamond cuts? Or are they better than a cushion cut? Let's see how the cushion matches up against each of its "parents":

Cushion Cut vs Round Cut

cushion cut 14k rose gold pave infinity diamond ring

Cushion Cut

round cut 14k rose gold pave infinity diamond ring

Round Cut

If you're having trouble deciding to pick between a cushion and a round cut diamond, we can make it simple for you to compare the two to make your decision. 

Which Sparkles More?

The round brilliant diamond has the best brilliance, also known as light return of all diamond shapes. But a cushion cut diamond ring will present more fire than a round diamond engagement ring.

Fire is also referred to as dispersion. Gemstone dispersion is essential the way the light spreads to create the rainbow-like colors when a diamond sparkles. 

Which Costs More?

The round brilliant is the most expensive diamond cut in the jewelry market. Not only is it in the most popular diamond shape, but round diamonds come at higher cost because gem cutters have to trash more of the rough stone than other diamond shapes.

It takes precise handiwork to cut a round diamond as well. Choosing a cushion cut diamond over a round cut could actually save you over 20%.

Cushion Cut Vs Princess Cut

Cushion Cut 14k diamond engagement ring

Cushion Cut

Princess Cut 14k diamond engagement ring

Princess Cut

Which is More Durable?

Any diamond shape that has pointed edges exposed is more vulnerable to damage and chipping. The square shape with pointed corners makes princess diamonds more likely to chip, especially in an unprotected solitaire setting.

A cushion cut diamond's rounded edges add extra protection, so it's more durable in solitaire form. 

Which is More Practical?

The princess cut diamond shape and cushion cut shape can either be set high or low. However, if you decided on a cathedral ring style with a princess cut diamond, it'd be more likely to snag, than a cushion cut. 

Which Costs More?

A princess cut diamond costs less than the round brilliant, but it still costs more than a cushion. Square shape diamonds tend to be more expensive out of the fancy shapes.

Where To Buy The Best Cushion Cut Diamond?

The best place to buy a cushion cut diamond is going to be from our good friends at James Allen. James Allen has many loose crushed ice and chunky cushions to choose from. They also offer ideal cut cushions from their True Hearts collection. 

James Allen has gemologists on staff to assist you with picking out the perfect cushion diamond according to your preference and budget. Their staff is available to answer questions 24/7.

You can also use their 360 degree diamond view that allows you to see the diamond at every angle to spot any inclusions or dark spots, especially if you've chosen a lower clarity grade. 

Once you've chosen a cushion diamond, you can see it virtually placed in the different engagement ring styles they carry as well as swapping out the metal, such as white gold for rose gold.

With James Allen, you can trust that you will get exactly what you see online, also while saving more money than you would buying in person. 

What Are The Best Settings For Cushion Cut Diamonds?

A cushion cut diamond can be set in virtually any settings, though some are more likely than others. Cushion cut center diamonds are usually set in vintage or antique settings.

You'll most commonly find cushion centers in the midst of halo settings with pave diamonds. They tend to be paired more often with prong set round stones rather than channel set princess cut side stones, but those can still be found. Here are some of our favorite cushion engagement rings.

  1. Infinity Twist Micropavé Diamond Engagement Ring
  2. 14K Yellow Gold Tear Drops Halo Diamond Engagement Ring
  3. Petite Micropavé Diamond Engagement Ring
  4. 14K White Gold Round and Marquise Shape Diamond Engagement Ring
  5. 14K White Gold Etched Profile Solitaire Engagement Ring

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