Every single diamond is unique, but did you know there are more than a dozen varieties of diamond cut? Many are familiar with the most popular, the round brilliant cut diamond, and other favorites, including the princess cut, emerald cut, and oval cut, but there are even more stunning diamond shapes, including the lesser-known radiant cut and marquise cut. You can compare how all of these cuts look at different carat sizes in our diamond carat size chart.
The list doesn’t end there, even. Today we’re comparing two diamond cuts that have an almost square shape: Asscher cut vs cushion cut.
The Asscher diamond and the cushion diamond are distinct diamond shapes, but they do have some similarities as well as some key differences. When it comes to selecting the right diamond for you, knowing the differences between similar shapes can be extremely helpful and assist you in making the right choice. Read on to discover the differences between the Asscher cut diamond and the cushion cut diamond and uncover which one is the perfect fit for your engagement ring.
What is Diamond Cut?
Diamond cut is one of the critical components of diamond quality. Diamond quality is traditionally evaluated in four parts, commonly referred to as the 4Cs. The 4Cs are Clarity, Carat, Color, and Cut, each of which is graded on a scale. The cut is graded using a range from Excellent (or Ideal) to Poor.
Arguably, diamond cut is the most important of the 4Cs. Without a quality cut, the diamond won’t have optimal symmetry or sparkle—it is the basis of the diamond’s beauty.
Many people confuse diamond cut with diamond shape, and while the two are related, they are not the same. For instance, there may be 10 diamonds that are oval in shape with 4 or 5 different cuts. Every distinct diamond shape, though, has an ideal cut, that is, the cut that maximizes the sparkle and symmetry of that shape.
When a diamond has an “excellent” or “ideal” cut, its brilliance and beauty are unmatched. For the sake of this comparison, we will use “Asscher cut” and “cushion cut” to describe the unique shapes in their ideal cut. These stone shapes also come in the form of diamond simulants like the Nexus Diamond™ alternative.
What is an Asscher Cut Diamond?
Discover the beautiful Asscher cut diamond… a diamond cut so well it has multiple names. But what is an Asscher cut diamond?
The Asscher cut dates back to 1902 when the Asscher Brothers of Holland first produced the diamond shape. Since then, two separate Asscher cuts have developed; the original, which has 58 facets, and the Royal Asscher Cut, which has 74 facets.
What it Looks Like
The Asscher cut diamond is an octagon, that is, it has eight sides, four of which are elongated, and four of which are truncated corners, giving it a square-like shape.
It features straight facets, or “step cuts”, similar to an emerald cut diamond, which give it a clean and classic appearance that can look somewhat vintage or more modern depending on the setting. Given its similarly shaped facets and truncated corners, some even refer to this shape as the “square emerald”. Given its square shape, it is also commonly compared to the princess cut diamond.
Its Unique Features
The Asscher diamond may be less popular than its sister shapes, emerald, and princess, but this distinct cut has unique features of its own. The deep pavilion of an Asscher cut diamond allows it to emit brilliance in subdued flashes. Its step cuts and table also allow you to see well into the diamond. While this means it is important to pick an Asscher cut with little to no visible inclusions, it also means the diamond will show off incredible clarity. The clarity and sharp lines also give this diamond cut an art deco feel that can be accentuated in a vintage setting.
What is a Cushion Cut Diamond?
Uncover the beauty that is a cushion cut diamond. It’s fiery, pillowy soft (in appearance), and universally flattering.
This cut was once called the “old mine cut” because it dates back to the 1700s, making it one of the oldest diamond cuts, when it was predominantly discovered in the old mines in Brazil where it was cut with the intention of preserving much of the raw diamond. The original cut has changed along with diamond cutting technology, but the modern cushion cut still preserves much of the raw diamond, making it much more affordable than a round brilliant cut.
What it Looks Like
True to its name, a cushion cut diamond looks a bit like a pillow cushion. It’s square or rectangular in shape with rounded corners that almost make it seem to puff up in the middle. When square, its rounded corners are the main thing that separates it from a princess cut ring.
There are two types of cushion cut diamonds: the crushed ice cushion cut and the chunky cushion cut. Their appearance differs mainly in their faceting pattern. A crushed ice cut cushion will have many tiny facets in the center of the diamond that gives it that crushed ice look, while a chunky cushion cut will have a wider faceting pattern that is more similar to that of a round brilliant cut.
Its Unique Features
Cushion cut diamonds were created to sparkle, and that’s exactly what you can expect from this brilliant shape. They hide inclusions and color well and flatter any wearer’s hand. Their long history also means they can fit right into a vintage engagement ring setting, but they can also appear modern and fresh.
Asscher vs Cushion Cut Diamonds: The Key Differences
While both Asscher and cushion cut diamonds can be square in shape, cushion cut diamonds can also be rectangular. This isn’t the only variation, though. Cushion cut diamonds have rounded corners, while Asscher cut diamonds have truncated corners that appear more like flat edges. When the corners of the diamond are covered with prongs, as they often are in an engagement ring setting, this difference is less noticeable.
The difference in shape does give each cut a unique essence, though. Cushion cut diamonds will appear more soft and romantic, while Asscher cut diamonds will appear more vintage and elegant.
Step cut diamond shapes including the Asscher, aren’t known for their sparkle. Instead, they emit flashes of brilliant white light for a more subdued overall sparkle. Meanwhile, cushion cut diamond shapes, like other brilliant cut shapes, catch much more light and reflect it in a fiery colored fashion, making them appear much sparklier. Keep in mind, a crushed ice cushion cut will sparkle more than the chunky cushion cut.
The difference in sparkle also makes a difference when it comes to clarity. While the sparkle of cushion cut diamonds enables them to hide imperfections quite easily, this isn’t the case for Asscher cuts. The arrangement of facets is like a window into the diamond, which not only creates a different type of sparkle but makes any imperfections quite visible.
Compared to cushion cut diamonds, Asscher cut diamonds are the rarer of the two, and, as rarity increases, so does cost. However, the difference in cost isn’t substantial, and you may very well be able to find similarly priced cushion and Asscher cut diamonds, especially if you shop lab grown diamonds or diamond simulants.
Which Cut is Best?
Whether you are looking for a diamond with an Asscher shape or a cushion shape, you should look for the highest quality cut to get the most beautiful diamond. Between the two distinct shapes, though, the choice is entirely up to you—and there’s no wrong choice.
When Shopping for an Asscher Cut Diamond…
To get the most visually pleasing Asscher cut engagement ring, there are a few things to keep in mind. Look for a stone with a higher grade when it comes to both clarity and color since the cut of this diamond will reveal any inclusions or color the diamond has.
When Shopping for a Cushion Cut Diamond…
Pictured: The Timeless Cushion Cut Engagement Ring
It’s important to keep in mind that not all cushion diamonds are created equal. There are a few essential qualities to look for when shopping for a cushion cut diamond for an engagement ring.
The chunky cushion will have less fire (that colorful reflection of light) than the crushed ice version, and it will likely be more expensive because it is typically cut from a higher quality diamond. However, the chunky version will be more brilliant and show colorless. It’s also important to shop for a cushion cut diamond with the length-to-width ratio you prefer in mind since this cut can come in both square and rectangle shapes.
Both Asscher and cushion cut diamonds are beautiful on their own and beautiful choices for an array of diamond jewelry. For engagement rings, whether you want a halo setting, accent diamonds, or all of the above, both of these options are versatile enough to pair with the setting that suits your style. Once you have decided which shape speaks to you the most, you can browse our selection of engagement rings to find the perfect setting to match.
*Here at Diamond Nexus, we strive to provide valuable information while being clear and honest about our products. The Nexus Diamond™ alternative is a patented lab created diamond simulate that, among all simulants, most closely imitates the look, weight and wear of a diamond, with two exceptions – it is absolutely perfect in every way, and it costs significantly less. Price points and environmental facts expressed in this blog were taken from popular online retailers and may vary. Learn more about the environmental impact of mining by visiting our blog.