ENGAGEMENT RING

Cushion Cut and Radiant Cut Diamonds – Main Differences Explained

Man putting a cushion cut diamond ring on his girlfriend's hand

When making a big decision like what diamond cut to choose for your engagement ring, it can be difficult to decide between two very similar cuts.

This applies to cushion and radiant cuts – which look alike but have some significant differences. Knowing what these differences are and how they affect the overall sparkle and beauty of the diamond will help you choose the right stone for you.

Let’s take a look.

What’s the Cushion Cut?

Loose cushion cut diamond

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The cushion cut is a square shape, that can also be elongated to appear more rectangular. It’s so called because its shape looks like a small pillow. However, unlike the princess cut, the cushion features slightly rounded edges. This gives it a curvier look, compared to the other square diamond cuts. Cushion cuts are among the oldest diamond cuts, making it perfect for vintage designs.

What’s the Radiant Cut?

Loose radiant cut diamond

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The radiant cut is so called because of its heightened sparkle and brilliance. This cut is typically rectangular in shape but can also be square. Here, the corners aren’t rounded but instead truncated, effectively creating an 8-sided shape with 4 long sides and 4 short ones. Its outline is similar to the emerald shape, but while the emerald cut is a step cut, the radiant is a brilliant cut.

The radiant is a new diamond cut, created in the 1970s. This makes it a modern cut with a clean, sleek look. It’s elegant like an emerald cut diamond but brilliant like a princess cut.

Cushion vs. Radiant Cut

So how do these two shapes stack up against each other? By now you would have picked up on the main differences between the two cuts, but let’s go over it in more detail:

Differences in Shape

Cushion vs radiant shape diamond

The most obvious difference between the cushion and the radiant lies in its shape. As we’ve already mentioned, the cushion is a rounded square, while the radiant features trimmed off corners.

The radiant is also typically rectangle while the cushion is typically square. However, the length to width ratios of both can be changed to alter their shapes.

Another difference between the two is that radiant cuts tend to be rather deep.

Faceting Structure

Cushion vs radiant cut diamond side by side

Both radiant and cushion cuts are “brilliant cut” diamonds, meaning that they’re cut to emphasize their sparkle. The radiant cut has 70 facets while the cushion has 58, each meticulously structured to enhance light performance.

A main difference lies in the number of variations these cuts have. The radiant typically comes in just one style, whereas the cushion cut comes in two main variations – chunky cushion (with larger facets and a vintage look) and crushed ice cushion (with more facets and enhanced sparkle).

Differences in Sparkle and Brilliance

Both these cuts are perfect for a brilliant diamond cut, but which of them has better sparkle? It comes down to the quality of the cut and the diamond rough. If you take two ideal cut cushion and radiant diamonds of similar diamond quality, chances are they’ll have equivalent sparkle.

The radiant may have a slight edge over the cushion cut in terms of sparkle as its facets are typically smaller. However, the cushion may have better fire. Comparing the two side by side would be the best way to evaluate which you feel sparkles more.

Grading Report Terms

cushion vs radiant shape lab report

GIA Grading Reports

The way cushion and radiant cuts are defined on a grading report is typically different, giving you an indication of exact shape of the stone.

Cushion cut diamonds are defined as Cushion Brilliant or Cushion Modified Brilliant, as per their faceting styles. Radiant cuts are not termed as such but are instead called Cut Cornered Rectangular Modified Brilliant. No mention of the word radiant anywhere!  This is because the word radiant is more a nickname used in the industry.

Pros and Cons of Cushion vs. Radiant

Radiant vs. Cushion Engagement Rings. See it here.

If you’re looking for a diamond for an engagement ring, both cushion and radiant make good choices. It comes down to your personal preference, as each has their pros and cons. Note that the cushion gives off a more vintage vibe, whereas the radiant is often seen as modern and glamorous.

But to help you decide, let’s recap by comparing the characteristics of these two cuts:

Cushion Cut Radiant Cut
An ancient cut dating back several centuries A new cut from the 1970s
58 facets 70 facets
Has an attractive vintage vibe. Perfect for vintage ring designs. Has a modern look, with a sophisticated, elegant style.
A square shape with curved edges Rectangular shape with corners cut off
Known for fire and dispersion. Known for exceptional brilliance and sparkle.
Tends to display color. Perfect for colored diamonds. Tends to display color. Perfect for colored diamonds.
Chunky cushion shows more flaws due to larger facets, while crushed ice cushion tends to mask flaws. Good at hiding inclusions due to heightened brilliance
For a square cushion, choose. a length to width ratio of 1 to 1.05. For rectangular cushion, choose a ratio greater than 1.15 For a square radiant, choose. a length to width ratio of 1 to 1.05. For rectangular radiant, choose a ratio greater than 1.15

Wrapping Up This Discussion…

Things can get confusing in the diamond world, with terms bandied about and minor differences enhanced and evaluated.

At the end of the day, both these cuts are equally beautiful and have excellent light performance.

What matters is how the individual stone looks, so take the time to evaluate cushion and radiant cuts to see which of the two you gravitate towards.

We suggest starting by browsing through rings bought by real customers to give you an idea about what’s possible with these shapes and the types of settings they look best in. Click here to browse customer rings for inspiration.

To learn more about these stones, read our articles on cushion cut diamond and radiant cut diamonds. These will help you to make an informed decision.