Engagement Rings

The Cushion-Cut Diamond Engagement Ring Buyer’s Guide

Pros/Cons of Cushion-Cut Diamonds: This shape is very popular right now, but it’s difficult to cut well and so may be more expensive than a similar round or princess-cut diamond.

Tip 1: Consider a setting that uses side stones and/or vintage style.

Tip 2: Slightly less scintillation (sparkle) than other cuts.

Think of cushion cuts as a combination of geometric lines and curves. This popular shape comes in a variety of sizes and shapes, from square to rectangle. What they have in common are rounded corners and a gentle curve to the sides, like the pillow they were named for.

Cushion cuts in three-stone settings have been in high demand since Meghan Markle revealed her engagement ring from Prince Harry. Hers sports a 5-carat cushion cut flanked by two smaller diamonds from Princess Diana’s collection. But you don’t have to spend anywhere near the $350,000 value of her ring to get some of the charm and symbolism, especially if you do what Harry did and incorporate heirloom gems. Reusing inherited stones is a lovely way to signify new family ties (even if yours are not royal), while being eco-friendly — and saving some cash. 

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What Setting Is Best for Cushion-Cut Engagement Rings?

The trilogy or three stone setting works with other cuts too, but the cushion makes a perfect center stone, with flatter sides than the conventional round center stone. And it’s easy to put your own custom twist on this setting by mixing up the combination of stone shapes and colors.

Not only do side stones add sparkle and girth, they also add rich symbolism. Traditionally, three stones in a ring represent friendship, love, and fidelity. In an engagement ring, they can also represent a couple’s past, present, and future — or really, anything you say they do. You could also wear a cushion cut diamond as a solitaire or in a vintage design.

History of the Cushion-Cut Diamond Ring

This pillow shape dates to the 18th century when old mine-cut diamonds became popular, and remained so until about 1930. They’re a precursor to today’s round brilliants, the most popular cut of all and one that makes up 75% of all diamonds sold. But old mine-cut diamonds were a bit darker and less flashy. You’ll find them in royal tiaras and jewels that sell for tens of thousands at auction now, but in newer jewelry, a cut like this — deep pavilion, small table, fewer facets — would bring the cost way down. 

One of the most legendary diamonds of all time, the Hope Diamond is what’s known as an antique brilliant cushion; it was cut in 1791 and slightly reshaped by Harry Winston in the 1950s to increase scintillation without sacrificing historical significance.

Photo of the Hope Diamond by Verifex
(Photo of the Hope Diamond courtesy of Verifex)

Today’s cushion-cut diamonds are sparklier than old mine cuts but with a similar profile, less severe then square or rectangle cuts. Cushion-cut diamonds figure prominently on the left-hand ring fingers of the glitterati.

So she wants a cushion-cut diamond? Go to James Allen or White Flash to see what kinds of ring designs work best with that shape (and others). Their selection spans from vintage to modern — and across all budgets

Famous Cushion-Cut Diamond Rings

Jessica Biel’s ring from Justin Timberlake plays into the historical significance of this diamond style. Her 9-carat cushion cut was set in an elaborately layered ring of blackened metal with a wave motif and what looks like cabochon moonstone accents.

Kim Kardashian wears one of the most expensive cushion-cut diamond rings on record: a 15-carat D flawless, type 2A diamond (in other words, huge and perfect) set on a thread-thin pavé diamond band by Lorraine Schwartz. It reportedly cost Kanye West $8 million (see below from her Instagram account).

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💎💎💎

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Priyanka Chopra wears a more modest cushion cut flanked by tapered baguette diamonds from Nick Jonas, her husband as of 2018. He got it at Tiffany & Co. (shown on her Instagram account below).

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Taken.. With all my heart and soul..

A post shared by Priyanka Chopra Jonas (@priyankachopra) on

How Much Does a Cushion-Cut Diamond Ring Cost?

Tip: James Allen’s is shaking-up the diamond industry by offering mega selections at competitive prices — along with 360-degree video views for full transparency and detailed listing info your local jeweler just doesn’t have.

If you and your bride take to the softer geometry of the cushion cut, you’re in luck. While it looks great with bigger stones, it’s equally fetching on smaller ones. If you want to save some dollars and still get the cushion shape, another option is to put the more common round brilliant in a cushion-shape diamond halo, which hides the prongs at the four corners of the round diamond.

At Blue Nile, a 1-carat cushion with good cut and clarity costs about $3,260 in a slender platinum band with micro-pavé. 

Photo courtesy of Blue Nile
A 1-carat cusion cut ring from Blue Nile. $3,260. (Photo courtesy of Blue Nile)

Cushion-cut diamonds of this size start at around $7,000 at Kwiat; add another $5,000 for a platinum pavé band. At Costco, you can get a 1-carat with good cut and clarity in a diamond halo for $4,300 with a pavé platinum band.

Photo courtesy of Costco
Cushion cut 1.45 ctw VS2 clarity, I color diamond platinum ring. (Photo courtesy of Costco)

James Allen, last we checked (see below), had more than 1,800 cushion-shape diamond rings, including dozens of 1-carat diamond starting at around $2,420. You can adjust the criteria on their site and see how color, clarity, cut, and carat weight affect price.

What’s more, you can select a few rings at a time on the site (click on the side-by-side hearts at the bottom left corner) and then compare them across categories: carat, color, clarity, as well as polish, symmetry, measurement size, price and more. All come with GIA certificates.

What to Watch Out for in a Cushion Cut Diamond

As with any diamond, symmetry is crucial in both shape and faceting. Look for a smooth, even curve to the corners. Make sure the edges or girdle of the stone is thick enough to avoid chipping and fit neatly into its setting. Faceting of a cushion cut will look similar to a round brilliant but may not be quite as scintillating as a round or princess cut, given the challenge of its shape.

Pros and Cons of the Cushion-Cut Diamond

Pros: This diamond shape invokes some of history’s most famous and coveted diamonds and some of Hollywood’s most expensive engagement ring gifts. It looks fabulous with side stones, whether tapered baguettes like Priyanka’s or round diamonds like Meghan’s. It also looks just right in a vintage setting that harkens back to its regal past.

Cons: This is one of sparklier fancy cuts. But if you’re looking for maximum bling, you may want to compare it to round or princess brilliants. The cushion is a bit rarer and more challenging to cut than those, so you may have to pay a bit more and look a bit longer for your perfect cushion.

Bottom Line

Whether oblong or square, this is a luscious and luxurious shape with its softly curved corners. It’s a way to get something close to the profile of an Asscher or emerald cut with the more intricate sparkle of a brilliant cut. It takes beautifully to a simple solitaire, a three-stone setting, or a more elaborate vintage design.

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