The cushion cut is perhaps one of the fancy shape diamonds which flies a little under the radar. Being of cushion form must mean it’s built for a soft landing though! This shape actually used to be the most popular cut: it was the go-to shape for diamonds up until the early 1900s, when other cuts became more sought after. In recent years however, the whole spectrum of vintage and antique styles and shapes of gemstones has been very much back in favour, including the cushion cut. It’s one of the most versatile cuts in terms of the variations on the theme: it can be rather elongated and rigid looking, or it can be cut to a more soft and pillowy-looking form. For many people, this is a very appealing characteristic. Let’s take a closer look at cushion cut diamond rings…
The cushion cut emerged in the 1700s or earlier. At that time, it was known as the Mine Cut or Old Mine Cut, after the Brazilian miners who used to cut the rough diamonds into cushion-like contours, more or less on site as they were unearthed. In the 1800s this cut was by far the most popular shape, not only for diamonds, but for all gemstones – the majority of which were cut into this form which would eventually become known as the cushion shape.
In the early 1900s the cushion cut was losing out in the popularity stakes, particularly to the round brilliant cut. Many considered that the cushion shape was old hat, and that many cushion cut stones were rather crudely finished (the name Old Mine Cut didn’t help that preconception). It was at this time that the brilliant impresario of diamond cutting, Marcel Tolkowsky, stepped in and modernised the form, by adding facets and bringing new technique, so that Old Mine became Cushion Cut and a star was born. Tolkowsky is also acknowledged as the grandaddy of the round brilliant cut.
The old world cushion cut diamonds had been rather chunky and potential brilliance – light shining out from the stone – was not optimised. In the 20th century the cut became much more refined with additional and more acutely formed facets and a larger table, and the cushion cut’s brilliance was greatly enhanced. Nowadays, it is often said that cushion cuts are appealing to people who like the antique look and feel but desire contemporary performance. And that is exactly what you will get with a quality cushion cut diamond.
Another way in which the cushion cut is often described these days is that this shape merges the magnificence of the Round Brilliant and Princess cuts. Cushion cut really is a classical beauty, so simple yet delightful, with those soft rounded corners to the square or rectangular form. Of course, the cushion cut gets its name from its resemblance to a small, elegant pillow or cushion.
The parameters for the crafting of cushion cut gemstones are far more fluid than with many other shapes, meaning that personal choice plays a major role when selecting a cushion cut diamond, as the various cushion cut specimens competing for your admiration may look quite different. Some will tend to have softer contours and vibes; others appear sharper and full of fire; some will have different sized pavilions (the undercarriage of the diamond – cushion cut stones have three versions); and there is even what is known by the GIA (Gemological Society of America) as a Modified Cushion Cut, which tends to emit extra sparkle.
Length to width ratio can vary significantly, as can colour. The clarity of a cushion cut diamond is more of a subjective matter rather than a question of quality. These cushion cut stones are very much individuals in their own right. They are enigmatic and quirky, yet striking and bold. Perhaps that is why this shape has always been so popular with Royalty. As industry expert, US jeweller, influencer and CEO of Ring Concierge, Nicole Wegman explains, “One of the most special features of the cushion cut diamond is how many different ways they can be cut, causing their appearance to range greatly…This is what makes each cushion truly unique.”
- What are the most famous examples of cushion cut diamond rings?
The ‘Tiffany Diamond’ and the ‘Hope Diamond’ are amongst the top five most famous diamonds of all time: both are cushion cuts.
- Can a cushion cut diamond work well in a modern looking setting?
Indeed it can. Contemporary style engagement rings featuring cushion cut diamonds in elaborate halo settings are simply stunning.
- Are cushion cut diamond engagement rings more expensive?
In general, an excellent quality cushion cut diamond will be more affordable than a round brilliant diamond of similar size.