Bigger Facets (Broad flashes)
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.
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.
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 plot retrieved from GIA reports
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.
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.
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.
Examples of well cut broad-fire cushion cut diamonds.
Examples of poorly cut broad fire cushion cut diamonds.
Pin fire cushion diamonds with strong light performance.
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!
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.
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.