Princess Cut vs. Cushion Cut Diamonds
When choosing a diamond engagement ring, the shape of the diamond often takes centre stage. The diamond shape is often where the design journey begins–the entire structure of the ring band is created to compliment the centre stone. Choosing the right diamond to reflect you or your partner’s tastes is important, and a very exciting part of the process of creating a diamond engagement ring!
Throughout history, the evolution of diamond cuts has given us an extraordinary array of shapes to choose from. From the simple single cut developed in the 15th century, to the modern round brilliant cut diamond of today, diamonds come in all shapes and sizes. To this day, the most popular diamond shape is still the round cut, due to its iconic status. However, more couples are now catching on to the beauty and elegance of fancy diamond shapes.
People are always looking for ways to express their individuality, opting for something unique when designing an engagement ring. The strong, yet soft nature of both the princess-cut diamond and the cushion-cut diamond offers a contemporary, chic look. We explore the nature of both the princess cut and the cushion cut, and see how both cuts compare. Both diamond cuts are incredibly beautiful, but carry unique characteristics that may better suit someone’s style or personality!
How a cushion cut diamond is shaped
The glamorous cushion diamond can be recognised by its distinct rounded square shape. The cushion cut dates back to the 1700s, but not in the form that we know today. The cushion cut’s predecessor was the old mine cut, a diamond shape invented by the Venetian polisher Vincent Peruzzi. Peruzzi increased the number of facets from 17 in a round rose cut to 33 in a rounded square old mine cut, leading the way for the diamond to show its full brilliance. Cutting a round diamond by hand took incredible skill, so many jewellers found the rounded square shape of a cushion cut easier to master. A modern cushion diamond now has 58 facets, which is what creates such intense sparkle and fire!
For about 200 years the cushion diamond was the most popular shape, just as the round brilliant cut is today. The shape experienced a dip in popularity during the 19th century, but in the past century or so has experienced a huge come back. This resurgence in popularity can be credited to the work of Marcel Tolkowsky in the 1920s, whose important work in refining cushion cut diamonds laid the groundwork for the optimal diamond cut. The old mine cut was characterised by a large culet, deep pavilion, and a high crown and small table. Tolkowsky developed a method that would shrink the culet almost entirely, and expand the table while reducing the height of the crown. Thanks to Tolkowsky’s research, cushion cuts now show incredible brilliance! Today, the cushion-cut diamond is one of our best selling shapes.
The old mine cut vs the modern cushion cut diamond
The cushion diamond is unique, as it is one of the only diamond cuts that carries elements of roundness as well as geometric lines. The cushion cut looks quite similar to the radiant cut, but less angular. Instead, it is more rounded, and doesn’t feature the beveled corners that the radiant cuts are known for. The cushion cut can be defined by its soft square shape, which is why it is called a ‘cushion’, as it often reminds one of a pillow!
Cushion facet patterns
Cushion cuts contain 58 facets, giving the diamond an intense, unique fire. A diamond’s fire refers to the rainbow colour effect produced when light is dispersed as it hits it’s facets.
The structure of the cushion cut usually shows one of three different types of pavilion patterns, with four or eight kite shaped facets on the bottom side of the diamond, between the girdle and the culet.
Classic cushion cuts have about four to eight shaped facets in the pavilion, creating a ‘hearts and arrows’ pattern similar to a round brilliant cut. However, you can also find cushion cuts with an extra row of facets-–these are called modified cushion cuts. This advanced cushion cut causes a beautiful “crushed ice” effect, which is used to describe the incredible scintillation that this technique is capable of. While the modified cushion cuts are known to have less brilliance than a round cut, the modified cushion cut has more fire! It is completely up to you to choose between both styles, each has its own distinctive beauty.
Cushion cut ratios
A cushion-cut diamond comes in a few ratio variations of its shape, it can be a shorter square or resemble a rectangle, in this case we would call the diamond an elongated cushion. The ratio is an important factor to think about when purchasing a cushion-cut diamond, as you would like to make sure your diamond has that distinct square shape if that’s what you desire. If the ratio is poor, your cushion-cut diamond will either closely resemble a round cut or a radiant cut.
The style preference of your cushion-cut diamond is subjective–as with all things style, it’s entirely up to you to decide if you prefer a classic cushion shape, or an elongated cushion cut. For a square cushion cut, the optimum, “excellent” ratio would be something between 1.00-1.03. A ratio of 1.03-1.05 would still create beautiful proportions. For a slightly rectangular shaped cushion cut, a ratio of 1.15-1.20 is optimum, or “excellent”. A ratio of 1.20-1.30 would also be very good, and give an elegant elongated affect.
What side stones best complement a cushion-cut diamond?
A cushion diamond is a popular, versatile gemstone, so there are many different ways you can design an engagement ring with a cushion cut diamond. We believe a cushion centre diamond would pair beautifully with two round brilliant cut side stones, just like Megan Markle’s engagement ring from Prince Harry. A cushion cut centre diamond would look equally beautiful when paired with two smaller cushion cuts, or pear shape diamonds. A cushion diamond would also look elegant with a few fancy cut diamonds, such as half-moon cut diamonds or trapeze shaped diamonds.
What to consider when buying a cushion-cut diamond
As with all diamonds, cut, clarity, carat and colour are all important factors to consider when purchasing a diamond. In the case of a cushion diamond, there are a few important things to think about when evaluating the cut. First, the choice between a classic cushion cut or a modified cushion cut is entirely personal, as well as deciding if you would like a square cushion cut or a elongated cushion-cut diamond. The choice depends on your style, design, and taste.
In terms of what to look out for, the symmetry of a cushion cut is very important. If the symmetry is excellent, then the stone will be perfectly balanced and not off-shape. The sides of the diamond and the corners must mirror each other, to create a balanced curve. One more aspect to take into consideration is the thickness of the girdle, it is important that the girdle is not too thin as this can leave the diamond vulnerable to chipping!
How a princess cut diamond is shaped
The princess-cut diamond is characterised by its geometric, sharp square shape. A contemporary cut, with angular, strong lines, it has a pyramidal shape, with four bevelled sides. The princess-cut diamond was invented by Betazel Ambar and Israel Itzkowitz in 1980. Its predecessors included the French cut and the quadrillion cut, earlier forms of the square shaped diamond. The princess cut is an extremely popular shape for a diamond, our most popular shape after the round cut, oval cut and cushion cut.
The princess cut is a unique diamond shape, because of the combination of geometry and brilliance. Often with angular diamond shapes such as the emerald or the asscher cut, they don’t contain a high level of scintillation, being step cut in a way that produces flashes of light instead of fire. The princess cut is unusual as it is a geometric square cut, yet it has a spectacular amount of fire similar to the round or cushion cut diamond. Of all the geometric square cuts, the princess cut has the most brilliance.
The old French cut vs the modern princess cut
Princess cut facet patterns
To acquire the princess cut’s iconic level of brilliance, the diamond contains many facets. The amount of facets the diamond has depends on the stone, but the princess cut can contain either 57 or 76.
To get a little more technical, the princess-cut diamond has a few variations on the way the pavilion and the crown facets are cut. The pavilion can have configurations of two, three or four chevron patterned facets–the brilliance of a gemstone increases with more sets of facets, and the light dispersion unfolds differently in each configuration.
A two chevron patterned facet in a princess cut tends to produce larger flashes of sparkle. The diamond appears very bright with a lot of sparkle, but the level of scintillation isn’t as high–perfect for those who want a less lively diamond.
Others would prefer a three chevron patterned facet structure in a princess-cut diamond. This is because the facets reflect larger flashes of light, while still maintaining a high level of brilliance–creating a desirable balance of brilliance and dispersion.
The four cut chevron pattern produces a very high level of scintillation, and therefore a lot of brilliance. Due to the smaller facets created in this cut, the fire is intense but the light dispersion isn’t as defined, creating more of a ‘crushed ice’ effect. This is a beautiful effect, also seen in radiant cut diamonds, and makes a wonderful choice for those who prefer a less-linear light dispersion.
The crown of the princess-cut diamond is usually cut between two styles. The first style is a bezel facet cut from the corner of the table to the corner of the girdle. The second style is called a French corner, where the facets on the table point towards the corners.
Princess-cut diamond ratios
To the eye, a princess cut diamond looks like a perfect square. However in reality, they’re usually slightly rectangular. The optimum ratio for a princess cut is usually somewhere between 1.00-1.05. This is where you would barely be able to tell if the diamond is a bit rectangular in shape. A ratio of 1.06-1.12 is also desired and at this ratio you would begin to be able to recognise the slightly more rectangular shape.
What side stones best complement a princess-cut diamond?
A princess-cut diamond is quite a contemporary, modern cut, and would work with angular cuts on the side of the gemstone. We would recommend either smaller princess cuts, or baguette diamond side stones. Another option that would be using tapered baguettes, which would allow for a narrower, more dainty band, as the diamond’s reduce in width towards their outer ends.
The balance of brilliance and geometry in a princess cut would pair perfectly with fancier shapes, such as a step cut bullet, or step cut trapezoids, to ensure that the sharp, angular lines are complimented throughout the entire engagement ring.
What to consider when buying a princess-cut diamond
When considering a princess-cut diamond, the classic criteria of cut, colour, clarity and carat should be considered, in conjunction with the engagement ring design. If you’re going for a warmer metal tone such as yellow or rose gold, the colour grades G-H would still appear incredibly ice white against the warm tones of the metal. If you’re after white gold or platinum, the yellow tints of a lower colour grade diamond may be noticeable. The clarity of the diamond should be no less than SI1 to ensure the brilliance and fire that makes a princess cut so enchanting.
With a princess-cut diamond, a table percentage that is greater than the depth percentage should be avoided. There is no right or wrong ratio for a princess cut, it depends all on personal preference.
Pros and cons of both cushion cut and princess cut diamonds
Cushion cut pros:
Cushion cuts contain incredible fire and sparkle, combined with a soft, unique shape–making them a wonderful alternative to the classic round cut.
Modified cushion cuts also offer an incredible amount of brilliance–this high level of scintillation means that the cut also hides imperfections very well, meaning it could be possible that even an SI2 clarity grade cushion diamond could appear clean to the eye.
Cushion cuts combine an antique feeling with a modern performance. The rounded square shape feels traditional, reminding us of its predecessor, the original old mine cut shape. Setting a cushion cut centre diamond with an Art Deco inspired design would pay homage to design eras gone by.
The traditional shape and facet structure of a cushion cut diamond would look equally beautiful juxtaposed in a geometric, contemporary design–the choice is yours. Cushion cuts are a versatile diamond shape–they come in many different ratios and facet structures. There’s no right or wrong ratio, it all depends on your personal preference.
Your price point stretches further with a cushion cut. On average, a one carat cushion cut diamond costs 15-20% less than a one carat round cut diamond. This is because the cushion cut has a lower demand and produces less waste while being cut, meaning you’d have more room to play around with size.
Cushion cut cons:
Does size matter?
Even though the price per carat is lower than a round diamond, a cushion cut diamond tends to look smaller per carat than a round or princess cut. This is due to the smaller table, and the depth of the diamond.
See it with your own eyes
If not cut correctly, cushion cut diamonds can resemble more of a round shape or a sharper square shape. What you should look for is a cushion cut that is in between these two shapes, as this is the classic cushion. We often say that when deciding between diamond options, the right diamond almost calls to you and you’ll instinctively know which to choose.
With cushion cut diamonds, it’s essential to view images and videos of your diamond to properly evaluate the shape, and scintillation appearance.
Princess cut pros:
Princess cuts are a wonderful diamond choice, and compared to other diamond shapes, they are more affordable, too! Due to the pyramidal shape, less material is wasted in the cutting process. A rough diamond is already an octahedral shape, so all that is needed to create the initial rough pyramid shape of a princess cut is simply a slice down the middle! A one carat princess-cut diamond can cost up to 30% less than a one carat round brilliant cut diamond.
Another advantage of the princess-cut diamond is that in terms of size when on the finger, the princess cut appears slightly larger, as it has a bigger face-up surface area due to the table’s diagonal measurements. This means that a one carat princess-cut diamond will create quite the impact!
The princess-cut diamond is a very modern cut, but feels classic at the same time. The geometric nature of the cut combined with the high level of brilliance means that this diamond can be set in various styles and settings. The princess cut is a very popular fancy shape, because it’s so versatile! Princess cuts show a high level of brilliance, the highest amongst all of the geometric, square cut diamonds. Princess-cut diamonds are a great option if you are looking for a diamond that combines a more linear, contemporary shape with exceptional light performance.
Princess cut cons
The princess-cut diamond can be prone to vulnerability, due to its sharp angular corners. If the corners aren’t protected, this can lead to the diamond exposed to chipping if the ring is snagged. Take this into account when deciding your ring design–the corners of the diamond should be protected with prongs, to reduce the risk of the gemstone chipping. Attention must be paid to the thickness of the girdle of the diamond, as a girdle that is too thin can also leave the diamond susceptible to chipping.
Princess-cut diamonds tend to display more colour than other diamond shapes, due to its large table. We always recommend seeing a video or photo of the diamond to evaluate its appearance. It’s important to remember that in most cases,the slight tint would be hardly noticeable and a nearly colourless princess diamond should still look beautifully icy white.
Why would you choose a princess cut diamond?
Princess-cut diamonds are a modern, contemporary choice for a centre diamond. The princess cut has become a very fashionable choice, as the sharp lines feel fresh and elegant. The diamond shape feels alternative, yet timeless with its incredible scintillation. Celebrities such as Emily Ratajkowski and Jaime Pressly’s engagement rings feature stunning princess cut diamonds.
The princess cut is also an economical choice, as it’s less expensive per carat weight than a round diamond, and looks larger face up than most fancy cut diamonds. With a princess cut diamond, your engagement ring will appear larger in size.
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Why would you choose a cushion cut diamond?
A cushion-cut diamond is a classic, traditional choice with a beauty that reminds us of a time gone by. The cushion cut has a vintage feel to it, and would suit an engagement ring with an art deco style. The cushion cut is also an extremely popular choice, with celebrities such as Meghan Markle and Kim Kardashian choosing the beautiful diamond shape to wear for the rest of their lives!
Cushion cuts are also a budget friendly choice, as demand for the shape is lower than others, making the cushion cut around 15-20% cheaper than the round brilliant cut per carat.
The cushion-cut diamond possesses excellent fire and light scintillation, so if you love the crushed ice effect of diamonds, this cut will maximise this look. The cushion cut is a very versatile design, so there are also many ways to pick a diamond that is distinctive to you or your partner!
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