Cushion Brilliant vs. Modified Cushion Brilliant? What's the Difference?

Purchasing diamond jewelry? Make sure you’re prepared. Whether you’re choosing between pre-made pieces or loose diamonds, it’s important to know the difference between the various diamond cuts available to you. Diamond cut refers to the number of facets on a finished stone and how those facets are proportioned. It usually determines how much brilliance or sparkle the gem can emit. Today we’ll talk about two different diamond cuts that seem very similar on the surface – literally – but are very different once weight and cost are taken into consideration.

The cushion cut is a generic name for the Old Mine cut developed before the turn of the century. It is a square or squarish-rectangular cut with rounded corners and 58 brilliant-style facets that resemble a pillow, hence “cushion”.  It is one of the most popular diamond cuts ever, remaining fashionable from its development in the 1830s until the turn of the century.

In 1913, Marcel Tolkowsky pioneered the modern round brilliant, cutting facets perpendicularly instead of horizontally, and finding that this produced more brilliance and fire from the stone. These angles were incorporated into the cushion cut and resulted in what is now known as the cushion brilliant.

The modified cushion brilliant is exactly that – a modified version of the original shape. In both shapes the top of the diamond or crown is almost always identical as far as the facet arrangements. The major difference is in the number and shape of the facets that are on the bottom of the diamond, also known as the pavilion. Modified cushion brilliants are defined by their extra row of facets just below the girdle.

So why the difference? There are two reasons. The first and most common reason for modification to a traditional cut is to save weight. The second reason is to try and increase sparkle or brilliance. Modified cushion brilliants often have exceptional sparkle, approaching the "sparkling water" or "crushed ice" look of well-cut radiants. Furthermore, they are less expensive than traditional cushion cut diamonds, because the demand for this particular cut is not very high, and cutters save more weight when cutting them from the rough crystal.

Cushion cut diamonds come in various shapes, from the almost-square (length to width ratio 1.05 or less) to very rectangular (ratio 1.3 or more) and everything in between. The classic pillow shape tends to have ratios in the 1.10 to 1.20 range. There is no traditionally “correct” ratio – people tend to purchase whatever looks best to them.

How do you choose between the two? The only way to really know if a particular diamond is right for you is to see it up close and personal. Take one of each and hold them up side by side to see which one appeals to you more. A 1 ct. D colored Ideal cut, Cushion diamond with VVS1 clarity is currently around $6,959 at

George Shaw

George Shaw has been an advertising consultant for small and medium US-based businesses, such as Brilliance Loose Diamonds and Fine Jewelry, for over 2 years. He's also an entrepreneur who is heavily into buy-and-sell. Cooking and exotic food, music and art are his main passions in life. ...(Read More)

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