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…
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 vs squarish cushion cut
Rectangular radiant cut vs rectangular cushion cut
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”.
A typical description for cushion cut diamonds by GIA
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.