Deciding Between Round vs. Cushion Engagement Rings? Read This

Two of the most popular diamond shapes on the market today are round and cushion. 

While both options are timeless and breathtaking, they each have their own unique qualities that can make one a better fit for your partner than the other.

In this article, we'll explore the differences between round and cushion engagement rings, from their design to their visual impact and practical considerations. By the end, you'll have a better understanding of which shape might be the better choice.

Deciding Between Round vs. Cushion Engagement Rings

Recapping the Basics: Round and Cushion Cut Diamonds

First off, let's talk about round cut diamonds. These little dazzlers are like a ray of sunshine, with a classic and timeless look that never goes out of style. They derive from the Old European cut which was prevalent during the Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco. Today most round diamonds adopt brilliant cut style and bring in 57-58 facets that create a dazzling display of brilliance, fire and scintillation.

While the pillow-shaped cushion cut diamonds were born of the old mine cut, which can be traced back to the 1700s. These beauties have a unique shape that's a cross between a square and a rectangle, with rounded corners and typically 58 facets. They have a softer, more romantic look than round cut diamonds, and they often have a slightly larger surface area, which can make them appear bigger on the finger.🤚🏻

Round vs. Cushion Diamonds: Style

👉🏻The style of a diamond we are talking here refers to the silhouette and cutting technique.

Beautiful round diamonds should exhibit a uniform face-up silhouette without any variations, regardless of how the stone is rotated horizontally. The presence of irregularities could give rise to a destructive symmetry deviation, out-of-round (OR), which contradicts our pursuit of achieving ‘perfect roundness’ in these diamonds. Beyond this, morden round diamonds all utilize the classic brilliant cut style. Other deviations in symmetry and discrepancies in proportions result in varying visual looks and lightplay.

In contrast, cushion diamonds have many more style options:

  • Square Cushion Cut and Rectangular Cushion Cut: Depending on their length-to-width (L/W) ratio, cushion cut diamonds can appear more square or more rectangular.
  • Standard Cushion Cut and Modified Cushion Cut: Unlike round diamonds, cushion diamonds can have varied faceting patterns. Some modified versions add an extra row of facets below the girdle for unique appeal.
  • Chunky Cushion Cut and Crushed Ice Cushion Cut: Different faceting patterns lead to distinct visual looks. The chunky cushion has clearly defined facet patterns while the crushed ice cushion presents a look similar to that of broken glass with a more subtle, twinkly effect.

Round vs. Cushion Diamonds: Lightplay

Round diamonds are cut to maximize brilliance🙌🏻, with 57-58 facets that work together to create a kaleidoscope of light and fire. This meticulous craftsmanship ensures that round diamonds stand out as radiant symbols of elegance and sophistication, making them the perfect choice for those seeking timeless beauty and undeniable sparkle.

In addition, the exceptional light performance of round diamonds also help to ‘hide’ yellowish hue and some clarity issues, as your attention is drawn away.

Another tidbit fact for you: some round cut diamonds achieve the super ideal cut standard can even show off their hearts and arrows patterning when observed face-up. This adds another layer of emotional value to the stone.

While cushion cut diamonds may not boast the same level of brilliance, fire and scintillation as round diamonds, they offer a distinctive visual appeal that could align with your personal preferences. Combined with the soft, romantic curves, cushion cut diamonds give off a nostalgic and vintage allure, making for a piece of jewelry that commands attention and elegance.

It should be pointed out that most cushion diamonds would have ‘bow-tie’ effect, which is a dark, shadow-like area that forms in the center of the diamond. While some degree of a 'bow-tie' effect is normal in cushion cut diamonds, the severity of the effect can vary depending on the cut and quality of the diamond. Therefore, it's essential to examine the diamond carefully before purchasing.

Round vs. Cushion Diamonds: Price

When it comes to diamonds, one of the biggest factors to consider is the price.

Well, round cut diamonds are generally more expensive than cushion cut diamonds. These diamonds discard more raw material during the cutting process and require more precision and expertise to cut, which add to the overall cost. Additionally, their popularity also drives up the price. 

Cushion cut diamonds, on the other hand, are typically less expensive than round diamonds. You can expect cushion diamonds to cost anywhere from 25% to 35% less.

Of course, the final price of a round or cushion cut diamond will depend on a variety of factors, encompassing the 4Cs and whether it is a standard or modified cut.

What Setting Styles Are Ideal for Round Diamonds?

Round diamonds stand out as the epitome of versatility, seamlessly complementing virtually any ring setting with their timeless allure. Here are some popular settings that can pair well with round diamonds:

Solitaire Settings: The classic solitaire, particularly the 4 prong setting, is highly recommended for round diamonds. This setting allows the maximum amount of light to enter the diamond, enhancing its sparkle. The simplicity of the solitaire setting also ensures that the round diamond remains the focal point of the ring.🎯

Halo Settings: A halo of smaller diamonds encircling the round diamond can make it appear larger and more brilliant. This setting adds character and size to the round diamond, making it an attractive option for those looking to maximize the visual impact of their ring.

Pavé Settings: Incorporating a pavé setting, where the band is lined with small diamonds, brings additional elegance and sparkle to the engagement ring. This setting complements the round diamond well, adding to its brilliance without overshadowing it.

Vintage Settings: For those who appreciate antique styles, vintage settings can enhance the charm of a round diamond. The intricate designs, such as filigree and milgrain, typical of vintage settings can make a round diamond engagement ring truly unique and eye-catching.

Recommended Setting Styles for Cushion Diamonds...

While not as versatile and adaptable as round diamonds, cushion diamonds look striking in many ring settings for their own distinct charm and aesthetics.

Prong Settings: An all-purpose option, where metal prongs curve over the diamond to hold it in place. A four-prong setting can show off more of the diamond, while a six-prong setting offers a bit more security.

Halo Settings: Emphasizes the size and soft pillow shape of the cushion cut. Similar to the case of round diamond settings, a halo of smaller diamonds surrounds the central stone, adding brilliance and making the cushion diamond appear even larger.

Pavé Settings: Similarly, this setting can make the center stone appear more prominent due to the contrast between the paved diamonds and the larger center stone.

Bezel Settings: Offer a modern look and excellent protection for the diamond. The cushion cut stone is completely encircled by a thin metal rim, which holds it securely in place. While this setting can make the diamond appear a little smaller, it's a great choice for active lifestyles due to its durability.

Vintage or Antique Settings: Cushion cuts have a nostalgic appeal that pairs well with vintage-inspired settings. Designs that feature filigree work, milgrain detailing, or other antique motifs can complement the timeless elegance of a cushion cut diamond.

Split-Shank Settings: The band splits into two, diverging paths as it approaches the central stone, giving the ring a more intricate and engaging appearance. This style can balance larger cushion cut diamonds (yes, they look larger than their round counterparts) and offers additional space for more diamonds or intricate metalwork.

What 4Cs Grades Are Recommended for Round and Cushion Diamonds?

Because each individual diamond and each combination between diamond and ring setting is unique, it is not feasible and reasonable to confirm exact ideal grades for diamonds.

Overall, we regard cut as the most crucial quality factor, and it can significantly influence our ‘visual’ perception of color and clarity. For both round and cushion diamonds, look for a cut grade of at least Very Good, though Excellent or Ideal cut grades are preferred to ensure maximum brilliance.

In terms of other quality factors, for average-sized round diamonds, a color grade of I or higher is advised for a balance between quality and value. A clarity grade of SI1, VS2 or higher is recommended; however, one can opt for a minimum of SI2 if the inclusions are not visible to the naked eye.

Cushion cut diamonds can retain more color. Therefore, to ensure the diamond appears white, especially in white gold or platinum settings, consider a color grade of H or higher. For clarity, starting at SI1 for a nice balance of clarity and value is a good guideline.

Always remember that the ring setting style you opt for can impact your decision on the ideal 4Cs grades for the diamond.

If the clarity issues, i.e., imperfections, are closer to the girdle, a bezel and some kind of prong or halo setting can aid in ‘hiding’ them. In this case, going for a diamond with a slightly lower clarity grade is fine and will save you money.

If you prefer a warmer metal like yellow gold or rose gold, opting for a diamond with a slightly lower color grade can enhance its appearance and reduce expenses.

Select the Perfect Ring for Your Partner's Style While Saving Money

Understanding the differences between round and cushion diamonds can ensure that the chosen shape aligns with your partner’s taste while saving you money.

By prioritizing the cut as the most crucial factor, you will select a diamond with exceptional brilliance and fire that catches the beholder's eye. Don't be swayed by lower clarity grades if inclusions are not visible to the naked eye, and keep in mind that color is often less noticeable with warmer metal settings like yellow gold or rose gold.

The engagement ring setting style also contributes to the overall beauty of both the diamond and the ring. It not only resonates with your partner's personal taste, but also influences how people perceive the color and clarity of the stone.🤗

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