Radiant vs Cushion Cut Diamond – What Are the Differences?

This is a question that I frequently get asked by consumers shopping for fancy shape diamond engagement rings – “What are the differences between radiant and cushion cut diamonds?”

Due to the similarities in outline they share, it can be confusing when making comparisons of radiant vs cushion cut diamonds. In this article, we will look at 2 key differences between them and also perform side by side comparisons for better visualization.

Finally, we will also reveal tips to help you select the best diamond for your ring and how you can get better value for money by shopping smart. Let’s dive in…

Key Difference #1 – Cut Corners vs Rounded Corners

While both the radiant cut and cushion cut can display similar outlines and table facet size, one easy way of telling them apart is to look at the corners of the stone. Radiant cut diamonds have distinct cut corners (usually at a slant of 45°) while cushion cut diamonds can be identified with curved edges.

squarish radiant cut diamond identity
squarish cushion cut diamond curved edgings

Squarish radiant cut vs squarish cushion cut

elongated radiant cut diamond comparison
elongated cushion cut diamond appearance

Rectangular radiant cut vs rectangular cushion cut

Key Difference #2 – Technical Nomenclature Found in Grading Reports

If you are unsure about the type of diamond shape you are looking at, you can always find the corresponding information in the lab grading report. Look under the section of “Shape and Cutting Style” to get your answers.

Typically, cushion cuts are listed as “Cushion Brilliant” or “Cushion Modified Brilliant” depending on their facet structures. On the other hand, radiant cut diamonds are usually denoted as “Cut-Cornered Rectangular Modified Brilliant”.

cushion modified brilliant name gia report

A typical description for cushion cut diamonds by GIA

cut corner rectangular modified brilliant gia naming

Note: The term radiant cut is coined by people in the trade. GIA labels these diamonds differently.

As you can see, the identity of a diamond will become obvious once you locate the corresponding information from the report. Here, I also want to highlight that there are other forms of cushion cut diamonds.

For example, modern branded cuts like the hearts and arrows Brellia and the vintage Old Miner cut can be listed under different cutting styles even though they are a sub-set of the cushion cut family.

Which One Sparkles More? The Radiant Cut or Cushion Cut?

The fundamental criteria which affects a diamond’s sparkle (light performance) is cut quality and not whether it is a radiant cut or a cushion cut. And like all other shapes of diamonds, cut quality is a variable which differs from one stone to another.

Here’s the thing, if you compare a well cut cushion diamond against a poorly cut radiant diamond, the cushion diamond is going to be brighter and more brilliant. On the other hand, if you were to compare a mediocre radiant vs an ideally cut cushion, the opposite holds true.

d if internally flawless cushion gia diamond
ideal cut cushion diamond ags000 truehearts

Cut quality matters. Cut makes all the difference between one diamond and can either make it look like frozen spit or one that sparkles like a disco ball.

The diamond on the left is poorly cut while the one on the right has ideal optics. I want you to click on the images above and interact with the 360 degrees video to look at the diamond’s scintillation patterning.

Should You Buy a Radiant or Cushion Cut Diamond Engagement Ring?

At the end of the day, your personal tastes will be the most important factor to consider when deciding between these two shapes. You may also want to consider the type of ring settings or style that you want to convey with the engagement ring.

For example, if you are aiming for a vintage style engagement ring, a cushion cut diamond would be a better fit compared to a radiant cut diamond. You may also want to read this article on the meanings that different cutting styles convey.

How to Save Money on Your Engagement Ring Purchase?

Most beginners don’t understand that high color and clarity ratings have little bearing on a diamond’s sparkle. One of the most common mistakes made is to assume that a D color, internally flawless diamond will yield the best looking stone.

The truth is far from that. If you shop with a misconception like this, you will only end up paying a huge premium for your engagement ring compared to someone else who shops smart.

Here are some practical tips to help you get the most out of your money when buying a radiant or cushion cut diamond ring. I recommend buying a G color diamond with SI1 or VS2 clarity that is eyeclean.

Doing so will easily save you 30-40% compared to buying a D/IF diamond and the point is, a well cut G/VS2 diamond will look identical to a D/IF diamond in the face up view. There’s absolutely no need to overpay for features your eyes can’t see.

price of cushion cut diamond d-if
value of g si1 cushion cut gia comparison

The G SI1 diamond has better brilliance, better sparkle and patterning compared to the D IF diamond above. And the irony here is that, it actually costs less than half the price of the “perfect-on-paper” diamond.

Let’s Wrap Things Up

In summary, you can tell a cushion cut apart from a radiant cut by looking at the corners of the diamond. A cushion has rounded edges while a radiant cut diamond has straight slanted corners.

appearance of radiant cut vs cushion cut

It is also important to note that fancy shape diamonds can exist in many variations and it is important to evaluate each stone based on their individual merits.

I hope this article has helped you in identifying the two different cutting styles correctly and offered insights into buying your dream diamond ring. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or get in touch via email directly.

When it comes to buying a cushion cut or a radiant cut, basing a decision based on grading reports isn’t enough. James Allen is my most highly recommended vendor as they provide competitive prices and high resolution videos to show you exactly how the diamond looks like!

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2 Comments

  1. Janice-
    March 14, 2013 at 6:23 am

    How important is the length to width ratio of the radiant cut diamond? I see some recommendations for 1:1.2 while some other people say that a 1:1 is the best.

  2. Paul Gian-
    March 15, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    The length to width ratio only determines the outline of the diamond. Are you looking for a more elongated radiant cut or a more squarish radiant diamond? That is entirely up to your personal tastes. In the grand scheme of things, the length to width ratios doesn’t determine sparkle or how the diamond actually looks like. You will need to assess diamonds with tangible info to do that.

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