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The John Atencio Jewelry Glossary The John Atencio Jewelry Glossary
Glossary › Cushion Cut Diamonds

Glossary: Cushion Cut Diamonds

Among discerning jewelry lovers, cushion-cut diamonds have become one of the most sought-after diamond shapes. With their gently rounded corners and pillow-like appearance, these gemstones have an inherently dreamy aesthetic that feels both modern and vintage. Read on to learn why cushion-cut diamonds have remained so popular over the decades.

What Is a Cushion-Cut Diamond?

Cushion cuts get their name from their square outline with rounded corners resembling a pillow or cushion when viewed from above. Unlike more standardized shapes, cushion cuts allow for some variability in faceting. There are two main types–standard cushions with a classic look and modified cushions with extra rows of facets. 

Cushion cuts reflect light well for impressive brilliance and fire. Their unique shape allows for personalization while combining timeless appeal with contemporary style. The rounded corners also mean good durability. 

Cushion cuts can offer value compared to round diamonds, although the open table can make inclusions more visible. Color may also be more apparent, motivating buyers to invest in high-quality cushion-cut diamonds.

Cushion Cut History

The modern cushion cut diamond has its origins in an older diamond cut known as the old mine cut, which was popular in the 1700s. This faceting style emerged in Brazil, which was the hub of diamond mining after India's diamond supplies declined. Brazilian cutters favored the old mine cut because it maximized the retention of carat weight from rough diamonds. As diamond mining shifted from Brazil to South Africa, the Brazilian mines became known as the "old mines," hence the name old mine cut.

The old mine cut had a square shape with 58 facets and rounded corners. It became tremendously popular, and most diamonds in the 19th century were fashioned into this style. Many iconic diamonds, like the 140.5-carat Regent Diamond and the 45-carat Hope Diamond, are early versions of what we now know as the cushion cut. 

The modern cushion cut took inspiration from the popularity of the old mine cut as well as some less common styles like the Peruzzi, table, and candlelight cuts. Improved tools and gem-cutting expertise also advanced diamond cuts over time. This cut blends facet patterns from the old mine cut with qualities of the round brilliant cut to create a unique and beautiful diamond shape.

Prized for Over a Century

Appearing in everyday accessories and glamorous statement pieces, cushion-cut diamonds have an enduring, romantic appeal that has captured the imagination for over two centuries. As far back as the early 1800s, jewelers embraced these soft-edged, pillow-shaped diamonds for their uniqueness and beauty. 

An enduring favorite, the cushion cut has seen many eras of immense popularity over the past 200 years. After falling out of favor for a few decades in the mid-1900s, the diamonds made an impressive comeback in the late 1900s. Since then, their popularity has continued to rise. 

Now, in 2024, cushion-cut diamonds are poised to ascend to new heights as one of the hottest diamond trends, gracing runways, movie premiers, and everyday settings.

An All-Time Classic Cut

So, what explains the unwavering allure of the cushion cut? This diamond shape has a number of special traits that set it apart in the world of diamonds. Some examples?

Soft, Rounded Corners

The gently rounded corners and sides of cushion-cut diamonds give them a smooth, pillow-like shape. These soft edges create a sweet, romantic mood.

Warm, Welcoming Sparkle

While still classified as a modified brilliant cut, cushion shapes do not have the sharp, structured faceting found in round brilliant and princess cut stones. Instead, the faceting includes softened, rounded edges, resulting in a warmer, more welcoming sparkle.

Vintage Appeal

Partly due to their long history, cushion-cut diamonds have an heirloom aesthetic with old-world charm. The style conjures images of jewelry from decades or centuries past. This vintage vibe never seems to go out of fashion and blends beautifully with contemporary styles.

More Facets for More Fire

In recent years, there has been a move from the traditional 58-facet cushion cut toward more complex cuts with additional facets. The most cutting-edge cushion cut diamonds now feature 64 precisely placed facets. This design advancement allows light to pass through and reflect off the diamond’s interior and exterior with expanded brilliance and fire.

Much like round brilliant cuts, these additional facets introduce new dimensions of light return, resulting in show-stopping sparkle. Yet cushion cuts retain their characteristic pillow shape and rounded edges for the perfect marriage of brilliance and beauty.

Trendsetting Brilliance

One of the reasons cushion cut diamonds continue to trend year after year lies in ongoing innovations by master jewelers like John Atencio. His designs highlight cushion cuts in modern styles with contemporary settings to create jewelry that feels fresh and current.

Cushion Cuts for Casual Elegance

Beyond important jewelry like engagement rings, we are seeing cushion-cut diamonds show up more frequently in casual everyday pieces. The warmed-hued sparkle and alluring shape of cushion cut stones make them an elevated yet approachable option for daily wear accessories.

Pieces featuring lines of cushion-cut diamonds are surging in popularity–this includes stackable diamond bands, tennis bracelets, and necklaces. To many, cushion shapes impart texture and visual interest to accessory stacks while retaining an airy, delicate feel. Pieces like these also add a little luxury and some eye-catching sparkle for everyday wear.

Cushion Cut Engagement Rings

Of course, cushion cuts also make show stopping center stones for engagement rings and other fine jewelry occasions. The most common cushion-cut diamond engagement ring settings include:

Four-Prong Settings

The classic four-prong setting allows the most light to enter a cushion-cut diamond, highlighting its brilliance. Prongs can be rounded or pointed depending on the setting style.

Halo Settings

This popular engagement ring setting encircles the center diamond with a frame of smaller diamonds to create a dazzling, starburst effect.

Split-Shank Setting

With this setting, two bands split down the sides beneath the center stone to resemble an infinity symbol. This elegant setting works well with cushion-cut center stones.

Three-Stone Setting

With this setting, a cushion cut is flanked on either side by a round or princess-cut diamond for a sweet, balanced arrangement.

Bezel Setting

A full rim of precious metal encircles the diamond for a smooth, sleek profile that protects the center stone.

Choosing Your Cushion

Not all cushion-cut diamonds offer the same level of beauty and quality. As you shop for the perfect cushion-cut diamond ring, pendant, or accessory, it’s important to keep the following in mind:

Focus on Cut

Well-cut stones exhibit exceptional brilliance, so cut quality is key. Prioritize GIA excellent and very good cut grades.

Consider Color Range

Cushion cuts within the G to J color range on the GIA grading scale tend to appear colorless to near-colorless, ideal for white metals.

Mind the Clarity

Eye-clean stones free from inclusions visible to the naked eye deliver the most brilliance and beauty. Target GIA clarity grades of VS2 or higher.

Shape Preferences

While all cushion cuts share a pillow-like outline, shapes can vary from square to rectangular. Decide which ratio you prefer.

Informed by the Past, Still Trending Today

With so many factors that set them apart—from their romantic shape to vintage charm to innovative cuts—cushion diamonds are undoubtedly having a major fashion moment. Yet they maintain the same classic romance that’s made them popular for over a century.

For anyone desiring pieces that straddle past and future, cushion-cut diamonds are the obvious choice. Shop online or visit one of John Atencio’s convenient locations to find uniquely beautiful jewelry featuring top-quality cushion-cut diamonds and other popular gemstone shapes.