The Cushion Cut is a generic name for the Old Mine Cut developed before the turn of the century. The term cushion is often used for colored gemstones cut in this shape.
A cushion cut is a square or squarish-rectangular cut with rounded corners and 58 brilliant-style facets that resemble a pillow shape, hence the name. Cushion cuts are a little less brilliant than modern round brilliant diamonds, but are more dispersive (which refers to the separation of white light into spectral colors).
The cushion cut diamond was one of the most popular cuts of diamonds ever. For more than 70 years from 1830 to the turn of the century this was simply how diamonds were cut. Many of the older cushion cuts, often called Old Mine Cuts, have steep crown and pavilion facets, usually a culet and a small table.
When Tolkowsky pioneered the modern round brilliant around 1913, those angles were incorporated into the cushion cuts, giving them more fire. The old fashion cushion cut usually has a very thin girdle and bigger culet (the bottom of the diamond). Because of the thin girdles, older stones are often chipped.
Older cushion cuts return light in blocky patterns while newly cut stones return light in needlelike patterns. Newer cushion cuts usually have smaller culets because most shoppers today want the smaller culets associated with round brilliant cuts. Antique and modern cushion cuts are virtually the same, though newer technology means today’s cushion cuts have better symmetry, proportions and polish.
Cushion cut diamonds come in various shapes from those almost square (length to width ratio 1.05 or less) to very rectangular (ratio 1.3 or more) and everything in between. The classic pillow shape tends to have ratios in the 1.10 to 1.20 range. There is no right or wrong ratio for the cushion since it is a personal preference as to which looks best to you.
The recent popularity for cushion cuts began again about ten years ago, and the demand has increased as designers and antique dealers continue to use them. A big recent change in the demand for cushion cuts was triggered when reality show The Bachelor highlighted a 2.07 carat cushion cut ring from Harry Winston. This nationwide exposure to this cut of diamond has resulted in a dramatic increase in demand for this beautiful and classic diamond shape.
Today’s cushion cut diamonds tend to have one of three basic facet patterns as illustrated on the left. The top two patterns are classified by the GIA as Cushion Brilliants and the bottom pattern is classifed as a Modified Cushion Brilliant and has an extra row of facets just below the girdle.
The sparkle and brilliance of the cushion has more to do with the skill of the cutter in fashioning the facets than it does with the choice of facet patterns. However, the Modified Cushion Brilliants often have exceptional sparkle, appoaching the “sparkling water” or “crushed ice” look of well cut radiants.
Many cushion cut diamonds have a culet (small facet at the bottom of the pavilion) which can become a factor if it is visible to the eye. Where other pavilion facets reflect light back, the culet acts as a window through the diamond and thus shows the color of what ever is under the diamond. If there is white metal under the culet this window often appears as just another sparkle of light that is not be noticeable but the color of a finger might be seen, especially if the culet is big enough. A medium size culet is typically the point where a culet starts to be visible to the eye. Many medium culets are not visible to the eye but some are and most slightly large and bigger culets are visible.
Cushion cut diamonds look nice in every style of engagement ring from the antique settings to the contemporary pave settings so are a great choice for a diamond shape if you want something a little different but still like brilliance and sparkle.
Like most other oblong diamond shapes, if the cut of the diamond is not correct a bow tie shadow will be evident across the center of the diamond. Examine cushion cut diamonds in a variety of lights and from different angles to ensure you do not have a persistent dark bow tie pattern.
Advice: We recommend at least I color and SI1 clarity for cushion cut diamonds. Unless you are looking for a square shaped cushion, we suggest a classic pillow shape with the length-to-width ratio of 1.10 to 1.20.
The cushion cut is one of the most popular shapes for fancy colored diamonds because it displays the color evenly throughout the stone. The cushion shaped fancy yellow colored diamonds make beautiful center diamonds in three-stone rings with a variety of side diamond shapes like half moons, crescents, trapezoids, shields, kites, and hearts.
The following photos are only a sampling of cushion cut diamond ring styles. Hundreds of mounting styles look great with cushion cut diamonds so just email us a picture of the style you like and we can get you a price quote. You can also check out our Designer Gallery for pictures of mountings from some of our suppliers.