Round cut and cushion cut diamonds are both beautiful, classic options for your jewelry. But if you’re deciding between these two diamond shapes, which should you choose? In this post, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about round cut vs. cushion cut diamonds. We’ll talk about how these diamond shapes compare in five categories: style, sparkle, size, ease of selection, and price.
Round Cut vs. Cushion Cut Diamond: Style
First, let’s take a look at the style differences between round and cushion cut diamonds.
Style-wise, round diamonds are considered a highly classic, traditional diamond shape. Round diamonds are also the most popular diamond shape for engagement rings, diamond rings, and many other types of diamond jewelry. Around half of all diamonds sold today are round brilliant diamonds.
On the other hand, cushion cut diamonds are considered a unique, vintage-style shape. Today’s cushion cut diamonds are a modified version of an antique diamond shape: the old mine cut. Cushion cut diamonds are shaped like a square with cut corners (or a cushion), just like old mine cut diamonds, but they feature modern brilliant cut faceting. Because cushion cut diamonds evolved from this ancient diamond shape, they’re thought of as a vintage style.
As a side note, know that cushion cut diamonds offer a very different style than many other rectangular shaped or square shaped diamonds, such as princess cut, emerald cut, radiant cut, and asscher cut diamonds. Emerald cut diamonds and asscher cut diamonds, like cushion diamonds, do have a vintage style. But their style influences are quite decade specific. Emerald cut diamonds have a retro era vintage style (think: old Hollywood) and asscher cut diamonds have an Art Deco era vintage style (think: The Great Gatsby). Whereas cushion cut diamonds have a more generally romantic, antique vintage look. Then, cushion cut diamonds are stylistically very different from princess cut diamonds and radiant cut diamonds. Both princess diamonds and radiant cut diamonds are highly modern.
When you consider the style differences between round and cushion cut diamonds, remember that there’s no “best” style. Selecting the right style for you is a simple matter of personal preference. If you want an ultra classic diamond, go with a round diamond. If you love the romantic, vintage look of the cushion cut shape, go with a cushion cut diamond.
Round Cut vs. Cushion Cut Diamond: Sparkle
Round cut and cushion cut diamonds are both beautiful, brilliant diamond shapes. However, the way they’re cut makes them sparkle a bit differently.
When a diamond catches light, it reflects and refracts that light, then emits it. This is what makes a diamond look sparkly. Technically, the sparkle emitted from a diamond is called its scintillation. A diamond’s scintillation is actually made up of two types of light: white light (called brilliance) and rainbow light (called fire).
Round cut and cushion cut diamonds have different amounts and types of scintillation. Round diamonds have an overall higher amount of scintillation. They are by far the most brilliant diamond shape, which is one reason they are so popular. Then, cushion cut diamonds are still quite brilliant, but are less brilliant than round diamonds. However, due to their larger facets, they also tend to have more fire.
Many people love the high fire of a cushion cut diamond, while others prefer the high overall brilliance of round diamonds. Like style, which diamond’s sparkle you prefer comes down to personal preference.
Next up, let’s talk about the size of round and cushion cut diamonds. You may have heard that different diamond shapes can look like different sizes, even if they have the same carat weight. This is because some diamond shapes have a higher table surface area (the area on the top of the diamond), simply due to how they are shaped.
Because most fancy shaped diamonds look larger than round diamonds, we are often asked if cushion cut diamonds look larger than round diamonds. But in this case, it’s a bit of a draw. Per carat, cushion cut diamonds can have a very slightly larger table (top) than round brilliant diamonds. Additionally, they have larger facets, which can make them look bigger. However, round diamonds are more brilliant than cushion cut diamonds and our eyes tend to perceive higher brilliance as a larger size. So, all these factors tend to make cushion cut and round diamonds of the same carat weight look similar in size.
In general, if you want a cushion cut or round diamond that looks as large as possible without going up in carat size, we recommend prioritizing diamond cut grade. Select a diamond with a cut grade of Very Good or Excellent to ensure it sparkles brightly, which will maximize visual size. Another option is to select a halo setting, rather than a bezel solitaire setting or prong solitaire setting. A halo setting will give the illusion that your center stone is larger than it actually is, no matter whether your center diamond is round or cushion cut.
The Selection Process
When you shop for any diamond, whether it’s for your diamond engagement ring or any other diamond jewelry, you need to be mindful of the Four Cs. The 4Cs of diamonds (created by the GIA) are diamond cut, color, clarity and carat. Diamond cut is a measurement of how well a diamond was cut, diamond color is a measurement of how white a diamond is, diamond clarity grade is a measurement of how flawless a diamond is, and diamond carat is a simple weight measurement. These four elements of a diamond can tell you much about a diamond’s quality and appearance.
When you shop for a round diamond, you’ll only need to look at its 4Cs to understand its qualities. However, when you shop for a cushion cut diamond, there are some additional qualities you need to understand in order to select a high quality diamond you love. The four special considerations you need to keep in mind when selecting a cushion cut diamond are ratio, depth percentage, table percentage, and faceting.
First, let’s talk about cushion cut diamond length to width ratio. Unlike round diamonds, which are always perfectly round, cushion cut diamonds come in different length to width ratios. A perfectly square cushion cut diamond will have a ratio of 1.00 (though up to 1.05 will look square to the eye). Then, anything over 1.10 will look noticeably rectangular. Ratio is a personal preference but it is important to understand that not all cushion cut diamonds have the same ratio.
Then, there are the issues of depth percentage and table percentage, which are both quality concerns. If a cushion cut diamond has too high of a depth percentage or table percentage, it will sparkle poorly. To avoid this, we recommend choosing a cushion cut diamond with a depth percentage under 70% and a table percentage under 70%.
Third, there’s the facet pattern issue, which is another personal preference concern. While round brilliant diamonds have a standard number of facets (58 facets), cushion cut diamonds can have more variety. A cushion cut diamond with 58 facets will have the traditional “chunky” cushion cut look. Cushion cut diamonds with more facets, arranged as double rows of facets, will have what’s called the “crushed ice” look. (Note: Technically, the GIA puts this type of cushion cut diamond into a category of its own: the “modified cushion cut” diamond.) When you shop for a cushion cut diamond, you should consider which look you prefer and select your diamond accordingly.
On top of these three considerations, you should know that one of the 4Cs is more important for cushion cut diamonds. Cushion cut diamonds tend to show color well. This is great news if you’re looking for a colored cushion cut diamond or colorful cushion cut gemstone. However, it’s something to be wary of if you want a white cushion cut diamond. Cushion cut diamonds will look a bit more yellow than round diamonds of the same color grade. To avoid ending up with a cushion cut diamond that is noticeably yellow, we generally recommend selecting one with a color grade of H or higher. For an engagement ring with a white setting (like a white gold or platinum setting), you may want to go even higher and select a cushion cut diamond with a G color grade or higher.
As you can see, selecting a cushion cut diamond requires a bit more knowledge than selecting a round diamond. However, if you follow our tips above, you should have no trouble picking out a beautiful cushion cut diamond you will love.
Round Cut vs. Cushion Cut Diamond: Price
Lastly, let’s talk about the price difference between round and cushion diamonds. This is one area where cushion cut diamonds have round diamonds squarely beat. Round brilliant cut diamonds are the most expensive diamond shape. One reason for this that the creation of a round brilliant diamond leads to more raw diamond waste, so diamond cutters have to charge more. Another reason is that round brilliant diamonds are extremely popular and in high demand. Due to the popularity of round diamonds, diamond companies price them higher, which means jewelers must do the same.
So how much more affordable are cushion cut diamonds than round diamonds? Assuming two cushion cut and round diamonds have the same carat weight and qualities, you can expect the cushion cut diamond to cost anywhere from 25% to 50% less. Cushion cut diamonds have been rising in price a bit as they become a more popular choice. However, they’re still easily one of the most affordable diamond shapes.
Final Thoughts on Round Cut vs. Cushion Cut Diamonds
When it comes to choosing a cushion cut vs. a round cut diamond, your choice will mostly depend on personal preference. However, many are swayed by the affordability of cushion cut diamonds. If you love the look of both cushion cut and round diamonds, but want a more affordable diamond, cushion cut diamonds are a wonderful, beautiful option. Or if you already decided that you prefer cushion cut diamonds, their price point is just an excellent bonus.
However, if know you definitely prefer round diamonds, we would advise you to not be swayed by the cushion cut diamond’s lower price. At the end of the day, the most important thing about a diamond is that you love it. This is especially true if you’re picking a diamond for your diamond engagement ring— if you want a round diamond engagement ring, you will never be truly happy with a cushion cut engagement ring. A diamond is an investment piece that you’ll get to enjoy for a lifetime. So if your heart is telling you that a round diamond is the one for you, we would suggest you follow your heart and go with the diamond shape you know you’ll adore for years to come.