broad flashes of scintillation

Bigger Facets (Broad flashes)

broad flash or pinfire cushion diamond

Smaller Facets (Pin flashes)

Cushion cut diamonds resemble the shape of those typical pillows found in every living room – and no, they are not soft and fluffy. Since the 19th century, the cushion (candlelight) cut had seen major developments to improve its light dispersion and brilliance properties.

This was primarily due to a better understanding of cut mechanics and the invention of better cleaving processes. Speaking a little more technically, we could say that the modern cushion cut is a transition and hybrid between the Old Miner and the round brilliant cut.

However, you must pay attention to what you understand by “transition”. You should not imagine them as an exact accurate average between them as there is a wide range of cushion cuts with different flavors.

In this write up, we will take a closer look at the different types of cushion cut diamonds to help you understand what’s available in the market. I’m also going to show you real life examples of well cut and poorly cut diamonds so that you get a better idea of what to look out for.

What Are The 2 Types of Modern Cushion Cut Diamonds?

While the modern cushion cut may not be as fiery or brilliant as the 57 facets round diamond, the curved corners bring about a romantic and classical appeal.

In the present day, there are many variations of the cutting style and the placement of additional pavilion facets can alter the diamond’s appearance significantly.

Broadly speaking, cushion cut diamonds can be classified into 2 types of appearances: broad flash and pinfire. As the name suggests, these 2 categories of diamonds have very different scintillation profiles.

To the left is a diamond that displays a broader flash scintillation pattern and to the right, is a video of a crushed ice (pinfire) cushion cut shown on a 360 degrees turntable.

The main difference between these two types lies mainly in the size of the facets they have. When a cushion cut diamond is cut with larger facets, it yields a broader flash of fire. On the other hand, tinier facets will break up light more and produce smaller bursts of fire.

Cushion Modified Brilliant DOES NOT Equal Crushed Ice Look

People often assume broad flash diamonds are labeled as “cushion brilliants” in a diamond grading report whereas the crushed ice appearance falls under the “cushion modified brilliant” categorization.

This isn’t true.

The difference between a modified brilliant cut and a normal brilliant cut is based on technical faceting criteria. Typically, a modified cushion cut has more facets on the pavilion and the diamond is cut to a different facet arrangement.

cushion brilliant facet structure

Cushion brilliant facet plot retrieved from GIA reports

gia cushion modified brilliants

Notice how the pavilion contains more facets for the modified cushions?

It is important to note that both modified and “non-modified” cushion cutting styles can yield crushed ice and broad flash appearances. You would need to view the diamond (at least with a picture or video) to determine its characteristics.

You can make use of 360° videos at James Allen and Blue Nile to help you visualize and see exactly what kind of appearance a cushion cut diamond has. Start browsing through thousands of GIA certified cushion cuts to find your perfect engagement ring today!

Video: Visual Differences Between Well Cut And Poorly Cut Cushions

The following video will offer visual insights and help you understand the differences between cushion cut diamonds with strong light performance and poorly cut diamonds.


Real Life Examples of Cushion Cut Diamonds

To help you get a better understanding of nicely cut cushion against poorly cut ones, I’ve compiled some diamonds to show you what to look out for. I strongly encourage you to click on the images and interact with the video listings for yourself.

1 carat cushion modified brilliant cut superb facet sparkle
broad fire cushion brilliant cut gia strong light return

Examples of well cut broad-fire cushion cut diamonds.

cushion cut with poor contrast patterning
dark black looking pillow cut curved diamond

Examples of poorly cut broad fire cushion cut diamonds.

crushed ice diamond great looking
3 carat cushion pinfire broken glass effect

Pin fire cushion diamonds with strong light performance.

mushy diamond appearance cushion cut diamond cross black areas
crushed ice poor patterning sparkle brilliance

Pin fire cushion diamonds with poor light performance.

When assessing the cut quality of a diamond, the proportions and symmetry/polish ratings do not matter as much as the visual data. Diamonds that are well cut have appealing contrast patterning and display strong scintillation.

On the other hand, you want to avoid overly dark looking diamonds as they aren’t appealing to look at. With pin fire diamonds, poorly cut stones look glassy and resemble frozen spit. So, make sure you avoid buying such diamonds!

How to Make the Choice Between the Two Types?

My personal opinion is that broader flash diamonds have a much more elegant, laid back feeling to them. In contrast, pinfire diamonds are much closer to the common stereotype of the ever-sparkling diamond. Both of them can convey elegance and power in a different way.

In my experience, well cut broad flash cushions tend to have better fire and dispersion than the crushed ice types. On the other hand, well cut crushed ice cushions tend to exhibit better brilliance when compared to chunky cushions.

At the end of the day, there aren’t any right or wrong choices as it is up to your individual preference on which kind of look you prefer.

The best places to buy cushion cut diamonds are James Allen and Blue Nile. Both vendors offer magnified videos and have a fantastic selection of well-cut diamonds you can cherry pick from. Check them out for yourself today!

On the next page, we have placed together a table of recommended proportions that can help you narrow down and shortlist potential diamonds. I had also included insider tips that will help you select beautiful cushion cut diamonds.

Next Page >>

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  1. Daniel-
    May 25, 2018 at 12:42 am

    My name is Daniel. I stumbled across your website some months back when starting to research what I need to know about purchasing a diamond. I am looking to get engaged to the love of my life. We have been together for a few years, and over the years we’ve had quite a few conversations about her likes in terms of an engagement ring. I’m at the point where I’m seriously shopping for a ring, and therefore, a diamond.

    I have thoroughly read your website, and have taken its guidance to research all about the 4 Cs and beyond to polish, symmetry, fire, brilliance, etc. I am also really appreciative of the Blue Nile review. Came through very honest and I have found it to be accurate from my own research. Anyway, I was writing to ask for your professional assistance. I am currently in nursing school, and so is my girlfriend.

    We are both living on loans and savings, so obviously, every dollar counts right now. After browsing diamonds for a couple months, I could use some focused guidance from you. My girlfriend is a more classic lady. She wants a yellow gold ring with a Halo Cushion cut diamond. Simple band on the sides with just the pavé diamonds from the midline up to the top, and then a simple split band just under the halo. She likes the halo to be on a higher setting though. Now, I’d ideally like to get her a Cushion cut diamond as close to 2 carats as possible.

    This is where I need your magic! I am looking for a few suggestions of diamonds, from Blue Nile or elsewhere if you feel there is a better deal. I would like it to be VS1 or better, and as “low” as G or better color. Now, this is all being set on yellow gold, so I know there are things that you must know the human eye can or cannot notice. My most important criteria is that it is fiery and brilliant, I want to wow her with the light and sparkle. I want it to be an Ideal or Excellent cut (am I to understand the GIA doesn’t have an “ideal” rating, that is just AGS?

    I am a little confused about this based on the search parameters of Blue Nile since it seems like GIA certified diamonds can be Ideal cut on their site). Even though I am a struggling nursing student, I do have some savings, and I am selling my motorcycle to invest in the ring instead. From my research, it seems very difficult to build this sort of ring anywhere south of $10,000. I’d like to get her the best diamond possible. I’m still thinking between a round or a cushion shape diamond but would be leaning towards the latter. It seems like an elongated cushion cut diamond would look larger compared to a squarish one. She is traditional, and the type to cherish and keep it forever, so I’d like it to be as high-quality as possible now, even though we’ll be more well-off later in life to afford better luxuries.

    She is worth the money though. Blue Nile has the closest setting to what I described to you. I might use their custom design route since their designs do not fit all the criteria of my girlfriend’s entirely, but it’s close. Please sir, can you show me examples of rings that I can get the best bang for my buck, with the right dimensions and facets and girdle to have all the fire and brilliance, to look smashing on a size 6 yellow gold ring, and get me in that 2 carat area? If I could get that Cushion diamond in the 7-8,000 dollar range, that would be incredible!

    If you could do better, every little bit counts! If not, please teach me what to be looking for and what to realistically expect price-wise. I have been researching for months, and I finally realized to do the best I can, I need experienced help. Thank you for your time Paul, and all the knowledge you’ve already afforded me on your website!

    Please contact me here anytime, and I so look forward to what examples you can find. This girl has been waiting for me to do the right thing. It’s about time I get up and do the best I can for her. Your help will not be forgotten.

  2. Paul Gian-
    May 28, 2018 at 12:50 pm

    Blue Nile and James Allen are great for cushion shape diamonds. They hold a superb inventory of well cut diamonds. For a yellow gold setting, you can afford to go lower in color and that will save you some money as well. You can read this to get more information about the differences between a round shape and a cushion shape diamond.

    And to be clear, your budget is unrealistic if you expect to get a well cut and eyeclean diamond in the 2ct size. Going in the 1.7ct to 1.9ct range would be workable. I’ve replied you via an email with some selections.

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