Once the standard cut for diamonds, cushion cuts have a long history. Now regarded as a classic, this old favorite never goes out of style. However, it’s also one of the more confusing cuts, so it’s important to learn more about these diamonds before you purchase one.
Read about the pros and cons of cushion-cut diamonds and how they stack up against round and princess cuts. Then, learn how to judge the quality of a cushion-cut diamond and choose the perfect one for your engagement ring.
Pros and Cons of a Cushion-Cut Diamond Engagement Ring
Cushion-cut diamonds have a timeless and classic appeal, with soft, rounded edges that no other shape can rival. They’re also the cut with the most dispersion, or fire. If you love those colored flashes of light coming from a diamond, you’ll cherish a cushion-cut diamond engagement ring.
Still, cushions have a downside. Being one of the deeper cuts, they have a smaller face-up size than most shapes. That means you might want to look for a stone with a slightly larger carat weight.
Cushion-Cut Diamond vs Round-Cut Diamond
While round Brilliant diamonds have the most scintillation, or return of white light, cushion-cut diamonds can have more fire than rounds (though rounds still have plenty of fire).
Cushion-Cut Diamond vs Princess-Cut Diamond
The most important factor in choosing a diamond shape is style. Either you love it or you don’t. Cushions are great for soft halos and vintage settings, while the sharp edges of princess-cut diamonds give them a modern appearance. Princess-cut diamonds make for beautiful, geometric three-stone rings and edgy solitaires.
Judging the Cut in Cushion-Cut Diamonds
With a silhouette that resembles a pillow, the cushion’s unique shape is one of the most complicated for first-time diamond buyers. Keep in mind that judging cut quality in a cushion-cut diamond isn’t an exact science. What’s most important is that you like the stone’s look and performance.
Standard and Modified Brilliant Cushion Cuts
Unlike most other fancy shapes, cushions can be created from several different cut patterns. Although you’ll find the standard cut in older diamonds, it’s still used today. In the 1920s, a new modified cushion entered the market, with an extra row of facets below the girdle. So, when you’re searching, you may see the description “cushion modified.” This is still a cushion-cut diamond.
However, whether the diamond has a standard or modified cushion cut doesn’t have a direct impact on its beauty or performance. Either type can have great or poor performance. Furthermore, both cuts can display each of the two “looks” for a cushion-cut diamond.
Cushion-cut diamonds can range from nearly round to nearly square. You’ll want one that’s an attractive middle ground, with rounded corners and slightly curved sides. It’s essential to have a good image of the diamond to see its shape clearly. If the shape appears off, don’t buy it. A laboratory report won’t tell you anything about shape.
Best Color for Cushion-Cut Diamonds
While cut quality is the most important factor in a diamond’s beauty, you’ll also want to consider the diamond’s color grade. Cushion shapes show more color than a round brilliant, but their brilliance and dispersion helps to hide color.
For a cushion-cut diamond set in a white gold engagement ring, stick to a color grade of H or higher. If you have a tight budget, you can drop to an I or even some J color diamonds and still have a white look.
In rose gold and yellow gold rings, I and J color diamonds will give you a better price point and will still appear white. K color cushions will have a slight tint, which can work well for vintage styles.
Clarity in Cushion-Cut Diamonds
Eye-visible clarity imperfections can ruin the appearance of a cushion-cut diamond. However, the brilliance of a cushion will hide imperfections well. For the best price point, stick to VS2 and SI1 clarity grades. If you need to stretch your budget, plenty of cushion-cut diamonds with an SI2 clarity grade will appear clean to the eye. Even some I1 diamonds (like this beauty) will be eye-clean.
For SI1 and SI2 diamonds, look closely at the diamond and be sure that the imperfections aren’t large, dark, and in the center of the stone. These are the most noticeable. If you’re not sure whether your cushion will be eye-clean, review the diamond with an expert. They can help you determine whether clarity imperfections will be visible or impact the diamond’s durability.