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 several major developments to improve its light dispersion and brilliance. This was largely due to 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 the accurate average between them as there exists a wide range of cushions with different flavors.

Let us take a closer look at how the light reflecting properties can yield entirely different looking diamonds.

2 Types of Modern Cushion Cut Diamonds

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


broad flashes of scintillation

Bigger Facets (Broad flashes)

broad flash or pinfire cushion diamond

Smaller Facets (Pin flashes)


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.

Broader Flash Or Pinfire Scintillation Characteristics?

The main difference between these two types can be originated from the differing size of the facets. A number of large facets yield a broader flash of fire – on the other hand, tinier facets yield smaller bursts of fire. To illustrate the idea between these two basic types, let us fantasize a little and apply imaginary alternatives to these cut types.

Let us create our analogies using the semantic field of fire. A broader flash diamond can be associated with the huge smooth flames of camp fires. On the other hand, pinfire stones could be associated with a number of sparklers put close together. Both sources of light emit light, the difference lies mainly in the size of the chunks – or quanta, if we want to use scientific lingo.

Cushion Modified Brilliant DOES NOT Equal Crushed Ice Look

People often assume broad flash diamonds are labelled 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 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.

Make use of James Allen’s 360° videos to help you visualize and see exactly what kind of appearance a cushion cut diamond has. Click here to browse through 3,500+ GIA graded cushion cuts now…

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. On the other hand, 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 the chunky cushions. There isn’t any right or wrong choices as it is up to your individual preference on which kind of look you prefer.

The following videos will offer more insights and help you understand what to look out for when selecting a nice cushion.





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 some tips on the things to look out for when buying cushions.

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