Ring shopping is so exciting. There are so many beautiful diamond options to choose from! However, when shopping for diamond rings, it can be hard to decide what cut to select. There are several options and, of course, pros and cons for each.

Two highly popular cuts that are prized today are the princess cut and cushion cut, especially for engagement and wedding rings.

Both offer something a little different, and one of those differences could be the deal breaker when deciding which you like best. Keep reading as we explore them both!

What is a Diamond Cut?

First, a little background. Diamond cutting is the artistry of cutting a diamond in the rough into a beautiful, multi-faceted gemstone so that its brilliance can be revealed. It’s not an easy job and requires both skill and the right tools to do successfully.

It’s truly an art form and a good cut can make or break the value and brilliance of a diamond. You can take two gems of similar size and weight, of equal color, clarity and carats and if the cut is poor, the diamond will become worthless. That’s why a cut is probably the most important of the four C’s when evaluating a diamond and its worth.


How are Diamond Cuts Graded?

Diamond cuts are graded using a range from Excellent (or Ideal) to Poor. A diamond with a cut grade of poor has little to no value and does not make a beautiful ring!


What are Types of Diamond Cuts?

The first step is choosing the type of diamond. For example; moissanite vs. lab diamond. The next step is to decide on a diamond cut. There are several types of diamond cuts. Sometimes people confuse “shapes” with “cuts” or use the two terms interchangeably but they aren’t the same thing. A diamond’s shape is referring to its form and contributes to the style of ring chosen. Examples include a square shape or a pear shape.

Meanwhile, a diamond’s cut relates to balanced and proportionately cut facets that reflect and refract the light. The cut works with the diamond shape to determine how brilliant and dazzling it is. That’s why a poorly cut diamond can look dull and lifeless, but a well-cut diamond can be stunning.

However, there’s no getting a diamond’s shape without cutting it, which is why the two terms are often used to mean the same thing. With that said, here are several of the most popular cuts and shapes for diamonds today.

Which diamond shape you ultimately choose depends on the style of diamond ring you want. Some cuts and shapes lend themselves better to certain styles and designs than others.


What is a Princess Cut?

Traditionally, princess cut engagement rings are typically a square shape, although some are rectangular. They are cut for maximum brilliance and fire and feature an inverted pyramid on the bottom half of the gemstone. They have four pointed corners and can boast up to 76 tiny facets to reflect and refract light.

Princess cuts are referred to as a “square modified brilliant” by the Gemologist Institute of America and are loved not just for their sparkle, but also for their ability to hide inclusions and flaws.

Princess cuts are estimated to be the second most popular cut and shape for a diamond engagement ring, beat only by the long-standing winner, the round brilliant cut diamond. Princess cut diamonds are also beautiful options for other types of jewelry, such as earrings, necklaces, and bracelets.

They offer a look that’s classic and timeless, which may be why the princess cut is so popular! They also tend to be less expensive than some other cuts, because the craftsman is able to use more of the rough diamond when cutting it, with less waste.

Looking for more information on a round vs princess cut diamond? Visit our blog on the difference between round and princess cut diamonds to get all the details you need before your ring purchase!

What is a Cushion Cut?

A cushion cut is a modernized version of what was once known as the “old mine cut.” It’s a blend of old and new that compliments a vintage, antique style nicely, yet still offers the modern brilliance that everyone today loves.

The shape of a cushion cut engagement ring is a square or rectangle, but the corners are rounded instead of pointed. This is why it’s called a “cushion” cut, because the shape resembles a pillow cushion. Once upon a time, the cushion cut was number one in popularity, but 200 years is a long time to hold a winning title.

Eventually more modern cuts besides the cushion cut diamond began to gain ground in the popularity department, which is why princess cuts and round brilliant cuts are so highly regarded today.

Cushion cuts work really well with halo settings, but can be subpar when it comes to color retention and doesn’t hide flaws as well as other cuts. Like the princess cut, a cushion cut tends to be less expensive than cuts like the round brilliant, which likely contributes to their ongoing popularity when buying a diamond ring.

Which is Better: Princess or Cushion Cut?

Neither is really better than the other; it is a personal preference. If you prefer a more modern look, then a princess cut diamond will deliver that. However, if you like more of a vintage feel, the cushion cut works beautifully in a variety of settings. 

Cushion cuts tend to look a bit like crushed ice when on their own, with a more subtle gleam that differs from the sparkle of a princess cut. However, if you surround it with smaller diamonds, it creates a dazzling effect that many couples love.

They are wonderful at reflecting color and the soft, round edges offer a definite air of romanticism, especially when placed in a halo setting. However, they can sometimes make a diamond look smaller than it is, so you might want to opt for a larger gemstone if you go with a cushion cut, to offset that. 

Princess cuts are very geometrical in shape, giving them a clean, modern, royal vibe that is very different from a cushion cut. They offer a ton of brilliant sparkle, second only to a round cut, which makes them a prime choice for engagement rings.

If you love designs and styles that make a statement, princess cuts offer all that and more, at an affordable price. They also tend to make a gemstone look larger than it is because of the sharp edges, which makes them a popular choice for those who want the look of a larger diamond without the price tag of one.

You should also consider the style and settings that work best with each cut. Halo settings and solitaires work well with both, but other settings may not be as suited for both. Rings with three stones can work well with princess cuts because of the straight edges, while split shank styles can complement nicely the antique feel of cushion cuts.

Do Cushion Cut Diamonds Have a Cut Grade?

Cushion cuts are graded like other cuts, although standards can vary more than with other cuts. Cushion cuts don’t have as much brilliance as a princess cut, but they have a lot of fire.

Cushion cuts follow three different pavilion patterns, with the third classified as a modified cushion cut that more closely resembles a radiant cut. With that said, cushion cuts are ranked like other cuts—Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor.


Which is the Most Expensive Cut of Diamond?

It’s definitely not the cushion cut or the princess cut! The round brilliant cut is actually considered the most expensive diamond cut available.

This is due to demand and also because there is a good portion of the diamond that is wasted when it’s being cut and shaped, with a lot more time and skill invested to get it right.

You can expect to pay roughly 20-25% more for a round diamond cut than you would for other diamond cuts, like the princess or cushion.


Why is a Cushion Cut Cheaper?

Like a princess cut, there is less waste when shaping a cushion cut. It’s the biggest reason both cuts are so much more affordable than a round brilliant cut. However, as demand increases, so does pricing. 

Currently princess cuts are second in demand next to round brilliant cuts, which theoretically should make them more expensive than a cushion cut because stores run out of stock faster.

However, that’s not always the case, and sometimes cushion cuts are more expensive than princess cuts. However, both always beat the price of round brilliant cuts, hands down.

Therefore, a princess vs cushion cut is a battle that continues to rage, with no clear winner. Both cuts are beautiful, brilliant and stylish, depending on the eye of the beholder. At Diamond Nexus, we offer both styles and love helping people discover the right cut for them!



*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.