A Guide to Cushion Cut Diamonds

These days, cushion cut diamonds are all the rage. Kate Hudson recently made headlines for her massive cushion cut engagement ring, given to her by long time beau Danny Fujikawa, and other celebrities are sure to follow suit. How could they not? The cushion cut is an elegant, sophisticated style that embodies the vintage look popular in jewelry these days. 

With this elegant look comes a lot of time and consideration when hunting for your perfect diamond. As one of the most complicated cuts in the diamond industry, it is good to go into buying a cushion cut well informed.

The Cushion Cut

The cushion cut has origins dating back to the very start of the diamond industry. Similar to the round brilliant cut, the modern cushion owes its origins to what is referred to as the “Old Mine Cut”. This cut was popularized in the 1700s, when most diamond mining was done in Brazil, as a way to maximize carat retention from the rough stones found there. This led to the development of a squarish shape reminiscent of the modern cushion cut, with a noticeably high crown and deep pavilion. This cut wasn’t the pinnacle of brilliance, which led to the development of the brilliant and cushion cuts. 

Like the round brilliant cut, the Old Mine cut is made of 58 facets, while the modern cushion is made with 64. The cushion cut is sometimes referred to as the cushion brilliant cut, as it tends to incorporate aspects of the brilliant cut in its design. Modern cushions, however, are distinguishable from brilliant cuts by their shape; while a brilliant cut diamond will typically be round, a cushion cut will be distinctly square or rectangular, including curved sides and rounded, or slightly pointed, corners. 

Unlike most fancy shaped diamonds (i.e. any diamond shape that isn’t round), the cushion cut can be achieved in a variety of ways. There are multiple different patterns that the 64 facets can be arranged in, and each gives the diamond the trademark fire found the cushion cut is prized for. Two of the most notable patterns for these facets are what are referred to as “crushed ice” and “chunky”. Each style has different benefits, and the one you choose depends on your personal style. The artful arrangement of facet patterns in a cushion cut are also good for something else: due to the many streams of light bouncing around within the diamond, the cushion cut does wonders for obscuring tiny imperfections in the stone, called inclusions, along the edges of the diamond. The wide table, however, will show off inclusions closer to the center of the stone, making it hard to find an eye-clean cushion cut. To avoid this, it is best to stick to diamonds rating SI1 and above in terms of clarity. . 

While this cut creates beautiful light within a diamond, it is also an excellent choice for colored stones. Due to the intense reflective properties of the cushion cut’s facets, this cut works well to showcase a stone’s natural color. Colored diamonds will typically receive the cushion cut treatment, as a way to show off their brilliant color. For colorless diamonds, however, this can be to their detriment, as it will amplify any yellow within the stone. If your heart is set on a cushion cut colorless diamond, make sure you select a stone that is of “H” color or higher. 

Why Choose a Cushion Cut?

The popularity of the cushion cut boils down to one particular quality: the absolutely shameless sparkle. This is a cut that is known for its brilliance, and is highly considered to be one of the most sparkly stone shapes in the industry. While the deepness of the cut doesn’t lend itself to a very high carat weight, it more than makes up for it when the stone catches the light. This is a shape that is intended to be seen and practically begs for you to show it off. 

Cushions are also prized for the uniqueness of their shape. Most people prefer a round cut diamond for their engagement ring; to choose a cushion cut instead is to make a statement, even as this cut grows in popularity. As well, cushions are typically less expensive than the traditional round cut diamond, due in part to their relative lack of popularity, as well as the perceived size of the stone. Cushion cuts can often look small compared to their round counterparts, and thus are usually passed over for stones of higher carat weight. 

What is a Good Setting for a Cushion Cut Stone?

Anything vintage-inspired is the perfect choice for a cushion cut stone. The soft edges and timeless beauty of this cut make it the best fit for rings. This style is already considered “old made new” in terms of diamond shape, and there is no better way to show off its origins than with a classic setting. The cushion cut also tends to look fabulous when paired with a diamond halo setting; the halo makes the stone appear larger, while playing up the sparkle found within. This is a high bling option, perfect for showcasing that well-known cushion brilliance. 

Want to learn more? Check out these articles. 

An In-Depth Guide to the Cushion Cut

From the International Gem Society 

History of the Cushion Cut

The Old Mine Cut

The Crushed Ice Cushion Cut

 

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