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08.12.21

The Ultimate Guide to the Cushion Diamond

By Stephanie Dore

What’s more unique than you? Okay, well, at least as unique…a cushion diamond of course! No joke tho, while we in the industry like to say every diamond is totally unique, when it comes to cushion cut diamonds that’s like, way true. Not only is this stunning, super sparkler of a shape totally on trend (yes, still), each one is so itself that you really do have to see it with your own two eyes to know it’s right for you. But not to worry, we’re here to help guide you down the right path with everything you need to know about how to pick an ideal cushion diamond engagement ring without all the confusion.

Frank darling 5 carat cushion cut diamond solitaire ring
The sparkle that the right cushion cut gives off is unmatched.

Once Upon a Time

First things first, cushion cut diamonds are old. Like, really old. And we don’t mean it in that “diamonds were created millions of years ago deep inside the Earth” way. Though, that’s also totally true. See, modern cushion cut diamonds are the direct descendants of the old mine cut diamond, from like the 1800s. We did say old, didn’t we? Sure, modern cushions are now cut by fancy machines and lasers and things, so they’re super sparkly and refined. But the same general shape is still there. What makes a cushion unique? It’s soft and pillowy, all rounded corners and curved sides and a bit of elongation (or a lot if you like) — it’s a total contrast from the sharp edges of a radiant or the perfect circle of a round or the step cut Asscher…you get the picture. The softness of a cushion is ultra romantic and, quite frankly, super versatile when it comes to designs. You can set it in almost any style you’d set a round, for instance.

But One of These Things

Yeah, it’s not a round. So different, in fact, that it doesn’t even have a cut grade. Actually, no fancy shapes (which is any shape but a round) do. So, while the cut of a cushion is still totally important to how it sparkles, the grade you might see listed is pretty subjective. Can you use it as a starting point to help narrow your search? Sure thing. Just make sure to dig a little deeper to verify it’s actually well cut, you know, with your eyes.

Every cushion cut is like a snowflake. Elongated or square, crushed ice or brilliant? The customization is endless.

Math Mode

When it comes to cushions, we suggest starting with shape, which is to say — do you prefer a more square shape or something elongated? This is where length to width ratio comes into play. A 1:1 ratio, which might be listed as just 1.00 will give you that rounded square shape that’s closest to the look of, well, a round brilliant cut diamond. But a little more special. Go up, say to 1.15 or 1.30, and you’ll get that more elongated shape. It’s a great alternative to an oval and gives you lots of finger spread, especially if set horizontally across the finger. Elongated stones are, however, much more difficult to source, so reach out to our Diamond Concierge and we’ll get on that for you.

Frank Darling cushion diamond three stone with tapered baguettes
Finding the perfect cushion is one task, but pairing it with the perfect setting? An art form.

Thank You, Next

Beyond simply proportions, one of the major considerations for cushion cuts is their unique faceting patterns, which can vary from one stone to the next. Without getting too nerdy on you, the smaller the pavilion facets, the more bright white sparkle you’ll get, while larger facets tend to get you more rainbow flash.

There’s also what’s called a “crushed ice” cushion cut. Which is basically a modified facet pattern that breaks up some of those pavilion facets and results in, well, a crushed ice look. Imagine just that — a super glittery look that kind of bounces light everywhere. It won’t have the distinctive scintillation pattern of a standard cushion, but it’s beautiful in its own way. 

Over the Rainbow

Cushion cuts, and radiants too, tend to hold their body color a bit more visibly than other shapes. This is great if you’re going for a colored stone (and why you’ll see these shapes frequently for fancy colored diamonds or colorful gemstones), but if you’re going for coloress…well, not so much. If that’s the case, you’ll probably want to go, say, H color at the lowest, and then set it in platinum or white gold to really show off that bright white stone. If you like a little bit of warmth, though, you can play in the lower color grades. Set them in yellow or rose gold and you’ll have some extra sunshine on your finger for a rainy day.

Seeing Things

When selecting a clarity grade for cushion cuts, you’ll want to go back to that cut pattern thing. Whereas crushed ice cushions hide inclusions super super well behind all that sparkle, a cushion with a chunkier pattern — and thus, more wide open facets — won’t do the same. If you’re going with a chunkier style stone, try to avoid inclusions under the table, especially, and maybe pay out for a slightly higher grade. But if you have a stone with smaller, more broken up facets, you can easily find something eye clean in the SI range, no problem.

frank darling cushion diamond platinum bezel ring
Symmetry obsessed? Try a square cushion in a sleek bezel.
frank darling cushion diamond three stone with trapezoids
A major cushion downside is their bottom heavy weight, meaning you won’t see a big part of that cushion from the top view.

Cushion Diamond Weight Woes

While cushion cuts will always be more affordable than round diamonds, they are still pretty popular, so you’re not going to save as much cash as you would with other fancy shapes. They also won’t look much bigger, especially if you’re going with a more 1:1 ratio stone — which will face up pretty close in size with a comparable weight round. Go elongated and you’ll get a bit more finger coverage, though. If you’re into that kind of thing. If you want to look at real cost saving options, lab created cushion cut diamonds can be about 40-50% less than a comparable mined diamond and, yes, they’re still diamonds. Chemically, physically, optically the exact same. Not enough? Try moissanite! It’s a totally different stone that is nearly as durable, has the same look, and in fact has even more sparkle. What’s not to love?

It’s Exclusive

Once you’ve found the stone of your dreams, unless you’re going super simple with a four-prong setting and that’s all folks, your cushion cut engagement ring should be totally custom. Why? Because with so much variation from one cushion to the next, a setting can end up with weird gaps or prongs that don’t sit right on the corners. This is especially true if you’re going with a fuller-coverage design like a bezel or halo, which, obvi, you want to fit perfectly. Our team of jewelry craftsfolk makes super sure to fit your setting to your cushion cut diamond’s unique specifications, or any shape you choose for that matter.

frank darling cushion diamond signet ring
Like we said before, every cushion is a snowflake, and deserves a setting as unique as its’ facets.

Make it Yours

Get started by designing your own totally unique cushion cut engagement ring with our style quiz and you’ll even get a free sketch. Want to start with a stone? Check out our diamond search where you can view 360-degree images of more than 10,000 diamonds (including countless cushion cuts) and don’t forget to zoom out (because size can be deceiving), or book a virtual or offline appointment at our New York salon to view certified lab-grown and natural diamonds in person. Not finding what you’re looking for? Email us with what you’re looking for at hello@frankdarling.com. We’ll curate a list of 5-7 exclusive stones that are just right for you.

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