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Cushion Cut Diamonds — The Six Types

The only thing most cushion cut diamonds have in common is their name. Unbeknownst to most, cushion cuts come in a wide range of ratios and faceting patterns, which can dramatically alter their sparkle and personality.

But, despite their popularity, cushion cut diamonds are largely misunderstood.

If you’re shopping online, finding a specific type of cushion can be tricky. The only way to really know what you’re looking at is to look at the faceting pattern on the certificate or to see it in person. Lucky for you, the cushion cut is an incredibly versatile shape. Whether you prefer an elongated, short, square or chunky shape — chances are there’s a cushion for you. You just have to find it.

So, you’ve decided a cushion is right for you.

Prepare to be confused. There’s little to no standardization in the vocabulary dedicated to this vintage cut. You’ll encounter descriptions like modified cushions, classic cushions, chunky cushions, broken glass, crushed ice, old miners, square cushions, and elongated cushions. Next, we’ll break down the traditional cuts and ratios, and some of their variations, so you can find the diamond of your dreams.


1. Antique Cushion Cut Diamonds

Cushion cut diamonds have history — lots of history. They were first developed in the 1800s. At the time, this pillowy pile of sparkles was called an old mine cut, or a mine brilliant. Old mine cushion cut diamonds started as squarish diamonds with round corners.

Cushion cut diamonds were predated by old mine diamonds. This is a photo of an old mine diamond being held by a pair of tweezers. It is brownish, roughly cut, and has a very large culet you can see through.
Fancy Y Brown Old Miner from Perpetuum Jewels

The old mine cut has 33 crown facets and 25 pavilion facets for a total of 58 facets. These chunky, rounded cuts tend to be a bit warmer in color and give off charming flashes of light. While old mine cuts aren’t as optimized as their modern counterparts, they’re very rare, and have a unique personality all their own. There’s a lot to love about the older faceting of these vintage stones.

If you’re shopping for an antique cushion, don’t be surprised to find terms like “good” and “fair” all over the grading report.  Symmetry and polish have improved dramatically with technology. Diamond cutters of old didn’t have the tools to optimize brilliance to the degree that modern diamond cutters do. Antique cushions often have misshapen facets, steep crown angles, too-shallow profiles, poor symmetry, and too-large culets. While all of these things can impact the optical performance and sparkle, the charm and beauty of these antique cuts is unique and appealing.

With time, the old mine cut evolved into the modern cushion cut.

2. Modern Cushion Cut Diamonds

With 64 precisely cut facets, the modern cushion is significantly more brilliant than its predecessor. Modern cushion cut diamonds combine the brilliance of a round diamond, with the squared silhouette of the princess, and resemble, as their name suggests, cushions!

While cushion cut diamonds are generally less brilliant than rounds; with their stunning fire, romantic pillowy form, and more affordable price tag — there’s a lot to love.

There are many types of modern cushion cut diamonds, but they vary in two primary ways: the faceting pattern, and the overall length to width ratio.

Because of this, they are generally bucketed into two categories — cushion brilliants, and modified cushions. Let’s look at the differences between the two.

3. The Cushion Brilliant

Cushion brilliants are very similar to round brilliants. If you flip a cushion brilliant over on its crown, the similarities become apparent. Like the round, the main pavilion facets extend from the center of the diamond to the outer edge (the girdle) and form a star. These larger facets form an x shape when they are viewed from above. Cushion brilliants are less common than modified cushions. They are are also more expensive.

There are a few different faceting patterns you’ll see with cushion brilliants including 4, 6, 8, or 10 mains. The most common is the “four main” — the number of “mains” corresponds to the number of large facets that intersect at the culet. Cushion brilliants with eight mains are very desirable. They’re also very difficult to find.

Brilliant cushion cut diamonds come in a variety of faceting patterns. This diagram depicts the main ones.

4. Modified Cushion Cut Diamonds

Modified cushion brilliants are a variation on the cushion brilliant. Diamond cutters like them because they waste less in cutting. This results in a heaver (read more expensive) cut diamond. Looking at the faceting pattern, you’ll notice an extra row of facets that break up the classic triangular pattern and form a flower shape. There are an endless number of modified cushion brilliants on the market, all of which have a slightly different look. Modified cushions are much more common than cushion brilliants. They’re also generally less expensive.

Modified cushion cut diamonds come in a variety of faceting patterns. This diagram depicts the main ones.

Confused yet?

Instead of getting bogged down in faceting patterns, it’s easier to focus on the overall look. If you’re shopping online, you’ll want to see an up-close video of any cushion you’re considering. If one isn’t available, just ask. Cushions tend to have one of two different personality types, sparkly crushed ice appearance, or a chunkier look. Let’s tale a look at the difference.

5. Crushed Ice Cushion Cut Diamonds

Certain cushions have a “crushed ice look.” It’s like looking into a pool of sparkling water in the bright sun. The flashes of light are chaotic, disorderly, and you can’t stop staring. Similar to ovals and pears, they don’t have an identifiable faceting pattern.

“Crushed ice” cushions lack the scintillation and contrast of a chunkier, but they are mesmerizing in their own right. There’s a lot of debate about whether the crushed is look is good or bad. The reality is that it’s just a personal preference.

Tips for shopping for a crushed ice cushion

Similar to on oval, these cushions hold their color more than chunkier cushions, and you’ll want to opt for an H color grade or better if you can. When it comes to clarity, the tiny broken up facets are endlessly forgiving and perfect for masking inclusions. SI1 is a good place to start your search, SI2 can be worth a look as well. Both cushion brilliants and modified cushions can display a crushed ice look. If you’re curious about the faceting pattern, you can look at the certification. To learn more ask an expert. Book a consultation with a Frank Darling concierge to guide you through specifics.

5. Chunky Cushion Cut Diamonds

Certain cushion cut diamonds have what we call a “chunky” look. These diamonds are more similar to a round brilliant. If you look closely, you’ll notice a clearly defined faceting pattern and sharp, contrasting areas of light and dark. These cushions are generally more brilliant and more desirable than their crushed ice counterparts, but considerably harder to find.

Tips for shopping for a chunky cushion

Chunky cushions mask inclusions and color well. You can comfortably search in the I-J SI range without worrying about the diamond being overly yellow or included.

6. Elongated Cushion Cut Diamonds

While cushion cut diamonds get their name from their pillowy form, they come in a variety of ratios. More recently, elongated cushions have become popular as an alternative to the slender look of the oval diamond. Elongated cushions typically have a 1.1 or 1.2 ratio and, like ovals, have the added benefit of lengthening the finger.

Cushion cut diamonds come in three main rations, square, rectangular and elongated. This diagram depicts all three.

If you’re thinking about buying a cushion cut diamond make sure to read our definitive guide to the cushion cut where we go over color and clarity in much greater detail.

Or, browse the diamond selector. We offer a constantly changing assortment of more than 10,000 certified diamonds, and one of the largest selections of lab grown diamonds online.

Or, text us at (646) 859-0718 to curate a selection of cushions that’s perfect for you.