Cushion cut diamonds are the perfect combination of the old world and the new. It’s a traditional cut with modern appeal and a history that saw it almost become obsolete. One of the most famous diamonds in the world is a cushion cut, and this cutting style has made a triumphant return to prominence. Now considered a modern favorite for engagement rings, see why a cushion cut ring epitomizes romance and charm.
The Guide to Cushion Cut Diamonds
History of Cushion Cut Diamonds
The modern-day cushion cut owes its faceting design to an antique diamond cut known as the old mine cut. This cut dates back to the 1700s in Brazil where most of the world’s diamond mining was taking place after the original source of diamonds in India had begun to dry up. Brazilian stonecutters preferred the old mine cut since it maximized carat retention. Once diamonds were discovered in South Africa as well, the mines in Brazil became known as the “old mines,” hence the name of the cut originating there.
The old mine cut was essentially a square cut with rounded corners and 58 facets. The cut became so popular that most stones in the nineteenth century were cut in this shape. The cut was so universally loved that many of the world’s most famous diamonds are an early version of the cushion cut, including the Hope Diamond, weighing 45.52 carats, and the Regent Diamond, weighing 140.5 carats.
The modern-day cushion cut developed out of this old mine cut, as well as with some inspiration from other lesser-known cuts including the table, Peruzzi, and candlelight cuts. As diamond cutting technology, tools, and knowledge got better, so too did the quality and style of the resulting cuts. Out of these developments rose the modern cushion cut diamond that incorporates the old cushion cut patterns together with aspects of the round brilliant diamond to create a uniquely lovely gemstone.
When to Go Cushion: Pros & Cons
The cushion cut diamond is considered a “fancy shape” diamond, and has gained a lot of popularity over recent years for good reason:
- - The cushion cut diamond has a high level of brilliance and fire, meaning it reflects white and colored light well.
- - Due to the rounded edges of the cut, it’s a very durable gemstone.
- - It’s a popular cut, so you’re likely to find a larger variety of stones available for selection.
- - Less expensive per carat than brilliant round cut diamonds.
- - Similar to the emerald cut, its open table allows a clear view of imperfections in the stone.
- - It will retain color better than other shapes making it show a yellow tint at a higher level on the grading scale.
- - This single cut has a whole vocabulary associated with it, which can be confusing – i.e. pillow cut, modified cushion cut, classic cushion, chunky cushion, crushed ice, and more.
- - While square cushion cuts are widely available, you’ll need patience if you want to find a high quality, more rectangular cushion cut.
Evaluating an Cushion Cut Diamond: The 4Cs
Modern cushion-cut diamonds are distinguished by their square or squarish-rectangular shape. They’re known for their curved sides that are usually rounded or have ever so slightly pointed corners. Although most popular in their more square form where the length to width ratio is between 1.00 to 1.05, the more traditional appearance is closer to a 1.10 ratio with some more rare cushion cuts reaching ratios of 1.20 to 1.30, taking on an elongated rectangular shape.
Cushion cuts are known for their variations in cutting styles. Modern cushions are classified into two main categories – standard and modified – and have between 58-64 facets.
The standard cushion cut diamond is most similar to the old mine cut and brings an antique feel with a romantic and classic shape. It displays broader, chunky facets with a smaller table and sometimes more rounded sides. The standard cushion cut is very rare, and represents less than 1% of all cushion diamond supply.
The modified cushion cut diamond takes on features closely associated with the round brilliant cut. For this reason, it’s sometimes also called a modified cushion brilliant cut. This cut has an extra row of facets and portrays a more splintery looking appearance.
Here is an example of a standard cushion cut diamond and a modified cushion cut diamond.
Standard cushion cut diamond
Modified cushion cut diamond
Cushion cut diamonds will show more color than just about any other diamond shape. This is one of the main reasons why so many colored diamonds are cut into a cushion to maximize the appearance of color. For this reason, we recommend to stick with a color grade of G or better if you’re setting in platinum or white gold. If the setting is yellow or rose gold, the added warmth of the metal will work well going as far down as an I or J color.
Interestingly, some believe that the cushion cut ended up holding more color because the cut was designed before electricity, using candlelight. Since candlelight masks color, most of the antique cushion cut stones are warm-toned in color.
For cushion cut diamonds, the majority of VS2 and some SI1 will appear eye clean and have their inclusions masked by the sparkle and scintillation of the diamond.
Because modern cushion cut diamonds are faceted with the brilliant cutting style, they give off a lot of sparkle. Since almost all diamonds have some inclusions, this is very helpful for a clear looking diamond. Visually inspecting the diamond will be critical, and as always, the larger the stone, the more likely that inclusions will be noticeable.
Cushion cut diamonds are a very popular cut and are widely available in various carat weights. There’s also going to be quite a variety based on proportions and length to width ratio. The more elongated cushion cut diamonds are produced far less often than the square-shaped stones. For that reason, the elongated cushion cut will be harder to find in high quality.
The elongated cushion cut diamond will also appear larger in carat size than the square cushion versions. This is a result of the larger surface area of the stone due to its proportions. One important thing to remember about cushion cuts is that two stones of similar or even the same carat weight may look quite different in visual size.
Unlike other diamond cuts, the cushion cut has several variations. Depending on how the cutter decides proportions for each individual stone means each cushion cut diamond’s final appearance can vary greatly in dimension, shape, and size. So it’s always helpful to see these diamonds in person.
Choosing an Ideal Cushion Cut Diamond
While it’s important to have a familiarity with all the terms associated with cushion cuts, the most important things to have certainty about are your preferences concerning the look of your ideal cushion cut diamond. When it comes to what will have the biggest impact on the appearance of the diamond, there are two things to consider: length to width ratio and facet style.
By far, a square ratio is the most popular cushion cut diamond shape. The more equal the dimensions of length and width, the more the diamond will have a nice balancing effect for long and slender fingers. More elongated length to width ratios are going to be more rare but still possible to find. These will have a lengthening effect on fuller, wider hands.
For reference, see two cushion cut diamonds with a more square 1.02 length to width ratio, and an elongated 1.29 length to width ratio.
Cushion cut diamond with 1.02 length to width ratio
Cushion cut diamond with 1.29 length to width ratio
Cushion Cut Diamond Prices
Compared to the most popular round cut diamond, cushion cut diamonds are generally 20-30% less expensive. Depending on the level of quality you choose between the 4Cs, prices can vary between $3,000 to $7,000 for a 1 carat cushion cut. Those diamonds with better gradings in color and clarity are going to cost more, and price will increase exponentially with each full carat.
Diamond pricing can be confusing since the highest priced diamond doesn’t necessarily equate to the most beautiful diamond. Diamonds are priced according to their scarcity, and a D color IF clarity stone isn’t required for a lovely diamond. On the sample cost range above, a $4,000 diamond could be just as pretty as a $6,000 diamond.
Designing a Ring With a Cushion Cut Diamond
One of our favorite settings for a cushion cut is a halo. For our Laurette, we set a cushion cut diamond in a sparkling double halo and paired that with a split arch leading into more pavé diamonds on the band.
With an understated elegance, cushion cuts also do simple and subtle very, very well. In our Florina, an exquisite cushion cut diamond is the star in a minimalistic, solitaire, yellow-gold setting that makes it appear as though the diamond is simply floating in air.
Vintage and nature-inspired have never looked so good together as when they’re paired with a cushion cut diamond. We paired our signature rope band with a vintage-inspired split band laced with fine milgrain work in our Shia – like a flower forever blossoming on your finger.
Even with all that old world charm, the cushion cut diamond can be a surprising centerpiece to a modern take on a three-stone ring. In our Grace, we’ve flanked a cushion cut with dazzling diamonds and citrine clusters in a play on a three-stone engagement ring that is simply modern, but with a dash of historical flair.
In the case of cushion cut diamonds, you can be certain that whatever diamond you choose will have a unique appearance. The soft and supple shape is classic and versatile with whatever combination of features you choose. Wait to find the one that truly speaks to you, and you’ll be admiring it for decades to come!