Cushion Cut vs Round Brilliant Cut Diamond

cushion cut vs round cut diamond comparison differences

Which is better? The cushion cut or round cut diamond?

Perhaps you are getting ready to make one of the most significant purchases of your life – the diamond engagement ring. With so many different diamond shapes to choose from, how do you decide on which to buy?

In this article, we will review 2 of the most popular diamond shapes – the cushion cut and round cut. But what exactly are their differences and what are their pros & cons? Is the cushion cut or round cut diamond more brilliant and sparkly? Which should you buy if you are on a budget?

We will answer all these questions and more in our guide below. Let’s dive right in…

What is a Round Brilliant Cut Diamond?

what is a round cut diamond comparison

The 57 facets round diamond is the most popular shape because of their superior light performance and timeless appearance. Due to their better sparkle and brilliance, round diamonds can hide color and clarity flaws better than any other shapes.

The rounded and symmetrical outline also makes them very versatile for jewelry design and that’s why you regularly see them being used in engagement rings, necklaces, earrings and other fine jewelry pieces.

What is a Cushion Brilliant Cut Diamond?

differences in a squarish cut cushion diamond

Squarish cushion diamond.

comparison of an elongated cushion shape diamond

Elongated cushion diamond.


The cushion cut diamond gets its name from their pillow-shape outline and the soft-rounded edges give it an elegant appearance. The modern day cushion cut evolved from one of the world’s earliest diamond cuts: the old miner cut.

Unlike the old miner cut which had larger facets designed to reflect light in dim candlelight environments, the modern day cushion brilliant cut has more facets and a splintery scintillation patterning.

In a nutshell, the cushion cut diamond is a romantic blend between retro and contemporary styles which makes them suitable for people looking for something unique.

Cushion Cut vs Round Cut: Brilliance and Sparkle

When selecting a diamond for its cut quality, consumers shopping for round diamonds would have an easier time as there are more selections and an availability of cut information in the GIA/AGS grading reports.

In contrast, cushion shape diamonds are often poorly cut and their limited selections will make shopping even tougher.

In terms of light performance, both round and cushion-shaped diamonds can be stunning when they are cut well. However, due to their facet structure and the way they are cut, they interact with light differently.

If we were to compare the best cut round diamond against the best cut cushion diamond, the round cut would always come up tops because of their superior light return properties.

Due to the round cut diamond’s better light return, one of the key benefits is that you can go lower in color or clarity ratings and still end up with an identical-looking diamond ring. This is because the brilliance and sparkle of a diamond can help hide flaws and body color.

As a benchmark to help you see the visual differences, I’ve made a video comparison of a super ideal cut round diamond against a top of the line cushion cut diamond. Watch the full-length video below to see how they look like in different real life environments.

 

 

Do you notice the distinct contrast patterning (black arrows) in the round brilliant cut diamond? This draws the attention of the eye and affects scintillation when light hits the diamond. In contrast, most cushion cut diamonds do not display such strong patterning.

It is notoriously hard to choose truly well cut diamonds as there are few and far between. You will need to rely on tangible data like videos and ASET images to help you make analytical decisions. That’s why vendors like James Allen and White Flash are the best places to shop for a diamond.

Price Differences Between Round And Cushion Shape Diamonds

Round shaped diamonds are relatively the most expensive (cost per carat weight) amongst the different shapes because of their low yield during the rough polishing process. In order to polish a rough diamond into a round brilliant cut, it requires significant wastage of raw material and this raises the cost of production.

For the same reason, cushion shaped diamonds are generally 25-50% cheaper than their round counterparts because of better rough utilization. Here’s a price comparison chart to give you an idea of how much they cost.

price comparison chart of round vs cushion cut diamonds

As you can see above, the price differences can be substantial especially when carat sizes increase. So, if you are shopping with a tight budget and want to maximize the carat weight for your purchase, choosing a cushion cut diamond may be something you want to consider.

Best Setting Designs For Round vs Cushion Diamonds

Round cut diamonds are really universal when it comes to pairing them with a setting. Seriously, they look great in almost any type of designs and when a well cut diamond is used, it can elevate the entire appearance of the ring.

Personally, I like simple and elegant ring designs and here are some of my favorite ring settings for a round cut diamond.

ritani 4 prong solitaire diamond engagement ring

Classic 4 prong solitaire round diamond ring.

whiteflash pave setting ring with round melee diamonds

Sleek 4 prong pave diamond ring.


My brother recently seeked my help to buy a diamond engagement ring and I gladly obliged. He chose a 0.622ct round brilliant cut diamond and a beautiful Vatche pave setting for his ring. Here’s a full length video of the ring in real-life.

 

 

This is the designer round diamond engagement ring purchased from White Flash.


While cushion cut diamonds are pretty versatile for many design styles, I think cushions are the best for soft halos and vintage settings. Prong based settings can also enhance the visibility and light performance of the cushion diamond by allowing more light to enter the diamond.

4 prong solitaire diamond ring design cathedral cushion

Simple comfort fit 4 prong cushion diamond ring.

vintage style pave setting ring with cushion diamond

Lovely embossed designer ring with pave stones.


For a brilliant and flashy look, the halo setting is a cost-effective method to accentuate the size of the center stone and to provide another dimension of sparkle. With halo settings, they also provide an extra layer of security as the halo acts as a buffer for the center stone against impact.

 

 

This is a beautifully crafted halo cushion cut diamond ring I bought recently from James Allen.

There are hundreds of beautifully crafted ring designs at James Allen and White Flash for you to browse. If you need more ideas or want to find your dream setting, make sure you check them out!

Summary: Which is Better? The Round Cut or The Cushion Cut?

proposing with a halo cushion diamond ring

We’ve looked at what round and cushion-shaped diamonds are and how they differ in their appearances. We’ve also looked at how they are priced and some of the ring designs that go really well with the different shapes.

Hopefully, this guide has offered useful insights and gave you enough info to make an informed choice. So, here’s the million dollar question: which shape is better?

Well, I’ve personally bought diamond rings with both types of shapes. If you asked me, I would personally gravitate towards the round diamond as it offers better sparkle and complements almost any kind of setting designs in the market.

It’s relatively easier to shop for them due to their established grading standards and availability. It is a safe choice that you can’t go wrong with even if you are completely clueless about your recipient’s preferences.

That said, if you are choosing between a round and cushion cut diamond, remember that your personal taste is what really matters. If you love the romantic, vintage look of a pillow shaped diamond, then go for the cushion cut!

Now I want to hear from you. Which of these shapes is your favorite and which would you buy? Leave a comment below to let me know! Good luck with your shopping and if you need help, feel free to get in touch!

There are hundreds of beautifully crafted ring designs at James Allen and White Flash for you to browse. If you need more ideas or want to find your dream setting, make sure you check them out!

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2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Casey-
    January 28, 2020 at 2:32 am

    What’s the difference between round shape and cushion shape diamonds when they term it this way?

  2. Avatar
    Paul Gian-
    January 31, 2020 at 9:57 am

    Sometimes they are called “cuts”, but this is a little misleading. They are actually shapes. A round is just what you think it would be, circular in appearance, and extremely popular. A cushion is a slightly less well-known shape, and it is quite creative. It has a square silhouette, but with softened angles so that it isn’t as geometric. Both shapes are used often for engagement rings, though the round is used most.

    In my opinion, the round cut diamond is classy and clean. On top of that, no other shapes can really beat it for the sparkle effect. If you love the way the light reflects off of a diamond, you can’t go wrong with this one.

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