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Pros and Cons of Cushion Cut Diamonds

Cushion shape diamond engagement ring

One of the oldest diamond cuts, the cushion cut dates back over 200 years. When it was first created, the cushion cut was designed to shimmer under candlelight. It’s since undergone several modifications to suit the aesthetics of modern times.  

The cushion cut went in and out of fashion over the years but has since become one of the most popular diamond cuts, ranking third after the round and the princess. It’s a versatile diamond cut and can suit both vintage and modern ring styles easily.

But are there any downsides to a cushion cut? Sure there are. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of the cushion cut diamond.

Pros of Cushion Cut Diamonds

The cushion cut has a lot to offer the diamond lover. Here are the advantages of buying a cushion cut diamond:

1- Gives You Several Variations

Unlike most other diamond cuts, the cushion cut varies quite a bit in shape and number of facets. It can be square or elongated and also comes in two main versions – antique and modern, also known as the standard and modified cushion cuts.

The standard cushion cut was initially designed to shimmer under candlelight. The original shape had large, broad facets that gave it a very specific look. The result is known as a chunky cushion look.

Cushion cut engagement ring on bride's finger

Modified cushion cut by James Allen.

See this ring here

However, with the advancements in technology and the shift towards more brilliant cuts, the cushion cut was modified to feature more facets. Modified cushion cuts today are highly brilliant and have a crushed ice appearance.

There’s not a huge difference between the two except for the extra row of facets on the modern cut. But if you’re after a vintage look, the standard cushion is your best option.

2- Relatively Cheaper than Round Cut

Compared to a round cut diamond (probably the most expensive cut) the cushion is typically around 25% less expensive. This is due to several factors:

  • The round cut is in high demand which naturally drives prices up whereas the cushion cut has comparatively lower demand
  • When cutting a round diamond, there’s a lot more wastage than there is when cutting a cushion. A diamond’s rough shape is cubic in nature, which makes it more suited for cutting into squarish shapes.

3- No Sharp Edges

The cushion is a cross between the two most popular cuts – princess and round. It features the squarish look of the princess with the rounded edges of the round brilliant. Because of this, the cushion lacks the sharp edges that the princess cut is known for.

What this means for you is that the cushion is less likely to chip or break as it doesn’t have pointed corners. It won’t snag on your clothes or hair, making it easier and more comfortable to wear as well.

4- Enhances Color

The facets of the cushion cut are great at retaining color which means that it’s an excellent cut for colored diamonds and gemstones. The cut’s larger facets emphasise the color of the stone. While this is excellent for colored gemstones, it’s bad news for colorless diamonds (more on this in the cons section).

5- Excellent Fire and Very Good Brilliance

While the sparkle of a cushion cut doesn’t match that of a round, it’s still an excellent option if you want a brilliant stone. It also has beautiful fire, often better than round diamonds, which is part of what makes them so attractive.

However, like all fancy shaped diamonds, the cushion cut isn’t given a cut grading on the lab report which can make it tricky to pick out the best cut when choosing it.

Some retailers, like James Allen, have graded their cushion diamonds according to the cut quality. This makes it easier for you to choose a brilliant cushion cut and takes the guesswork out of the process.

6- Classic and Timeless

If you’re looking for a cut that won’t go out of style, then the cushion should make the cut (no pun intended). The reason that the round and princess cuts are so beloved is because of their ability to remain in style regardless of the fashion environment they’re in.

The cushion, which is a combination of these two popular cuts, is equally timeless and even if it does go out of style, history has shown that it always cycles back in stronger than ever. 

7- Versatile

The cushion cut is extremely versatile and looks stunning in a variety of settings and designs. It looks amazing in vintage settings and styles but is equally stunning in modern styles. Because it doesn’t have any vulnerable sections to it, you wouldn’t have to worry about protecting its edges.

Cushion cut engagement ring in white gold close up

Channel set cushion cut diamond ring.

See this ring here

The best settings for the cushion cut include:

  • The classic solitaire with either 4 or 6 prongs
  • Halo setting for added brilliance and sparkle
  • Vintage designs for the perfect match
  • Channel setting for a stylish look

A setting to avoid is the bezel because it can hide the size of the cushion and make it appear less brilliant. However, if designed well, even the bezel setting can’t keep the cushion from capturing your heart.

Cons of Cushion Cut Diamonds

However, as with all things, there are two sides to the story. Here’s what we don’t like about the cushion cut:

1- Shows Color

Yes, we mentioned this as a pro but if you’re after a colorless diamond and want to drop down on the color scale to save on your diamond, then the cushion won’t be your friend. This is an issue because the higher the color grade, the more expensive the diamond. For the best look from your cushion cut, it’s best to opt for a colorless diamond from the D-E-F grades.

However, if your diamond is going to be set in a rose or yellow gold setting, this gives you the freedom to drop down a few grades on the color scale. The warm tints on the cushion cut won’t be visible next to the color of the metal. We recommend going down to G-H but probably not more.

2- Shows Flaws

Because of its broader faceting structure, the standard cushion cut is good at showing the flaws within it. This is not something you want from your diamond, as ideally, you’d want the diamond to hide its flaws.

Having said that, note that modified (crushed ice) cushion cuts can hide flaws better than the standard cut due to more intense faceting pattern. Because most people gravitate towards the modified cut, this won’t’ be a major issue.

With clarity, the most important thing is to consider whether your stone is eye clean or not. Don’t worry as much about the specific grade given to the diamond; rather examine the individual diamond carefully and look for visible flaws.

3- Can Appear Smaller

The cushion cut may appear smaller than other cuts of similar weight because it’s a deep-set cut. When viewed from the top, it can appear slightly smaller than a similar round or princess cut. Like an iceberg, a lot of the cushion’s weight is under the visible surface, hidden beneath the stone’ girdle.  If you want the largest visible surface area for your diamond, then opt for something like a radiant or emerald cut.

And there you have it, the pros and cons of the cushion cut. Clearly, the pros outweigh the cons, making the cushion a top choice for a gorgeously cut diamond. When buying a cushion diamond, make sure you examine images or videos of the exact diamond, to ensure that it doesn’t have visible flaws and has a beautiful cut.

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