Oval vs. Cushion Cut: What’s the Difference?

Before we dive into diamonds, let’s talk about your hair—when you go into a salon, do you simply ask for any cut the hairstylist fancies? Probably not! A pixie cut makes for a very different statement than if you allow your hair to grow past your shoulders and into wavy locks. 

When it comes to your hair, cut matters. The same is true when we talk about diamonds. 

A diamond’s cut can affect its price, size, color, light interactions, and the visibility of its imperfections. As such, the difference between the two most popular cuts—oval vs cushion cut—can be glaring. In this guide, we’ll explain each cut in detail and explore what distinguishes them from each other.

oval and cushion cut engagement rings compared side by side

What are Oval Cut Diamonds?

Before looking at cushion vs oval cut or even pear vs oval diamond in a side-by-side fashion, it’s worth knowing what each cut is on its own. That being said, what are some of the key elements of an oval-cut diamond? Let’s explore:

  • Shape – As the name suggests, oval cut diamonds are distinguishable by their elongated diamond shape, in which the center is the widest point and the ends taper in. While the best oval cut diamonds will be symmetrical and have rounded edges, some oval cuts may have squared or more pointed edges. Unlike marquise cut diamonds, the ends taper to a rounded edge rather than a hard point.
  • Orientation – The classic style for an oval cut diamond is vertically oriented, where the diamond is aligned with your finger and has a lengthening effect. However, more recently, the East-West style has become popular, where the diamond’s length is set up perpendicularly to your finger.
  • Light – The reflection of light in oval shape diamonds can be quite impressive, but it will never reach the perfect reflection that a round diamond is capable of. Because of this, there’s more contrast of light, which can create a darker area within the diamond that resembles a bow tie.

A Note About the Bowtie Effect

Before choosing this diamond cut, be sure to check the oval cut diamonds pros and cons. One common con for many is the bowtie effect of oval cut diamonds. This is seen as one of its major flaws. However, not all bowties appear the same. By selecting an oval engagement ring with a greater depth, the bowtie effect can be minimized (though not eliminated). 

Of course, more depth may also equate to a higher carat weight and price.

Another way to mitigate the oval cut’s bowtie effect is by opting for a Nexus Diamond™ alternative. These diamond alternatives ensure better light dispersion that may minimize the bowtie effect without the added costs.

What are Cushion Cut Diamonds?

If you’re deciding between an oval vs cushion engagement ring, you may notice that cushion is the slightly more popular cut (though it depends on who you ask). One reason for this is that the cushion cut is a classic cut that has been around since the 18th century. 

You can identify a cushion cut through the following:

  • Shape – The cushion cut is a rectangular cut. While these cuts are square, cushion cuts can come in different length-to-width ratios. At the extreme end, they can even start to look more rounded than rectangular.
  • Edges – What separates a cushion cut from a princess cut is the rounded edges. A princess cut is more angular, while the cushion cut engagement ring shows a softer, less dramatic edge. This also provides some protection against chipping.
  • Appearance – Cushion cuts may also appear different depending on how they reflect light. Chunky cushion cuts refer to a diamond that shows broad light reflection. It can even appear dark in spots. Crushed Ice refers to a cushion cut that hides the back facets. As such, each facet looks more like tiny, glistening reflections.

Oval Vs. Cushion Cuts

With a basic understanding of each cut, you can now start comparing the two to see which will suit your style best. However, certain factors may push you toward one over the other.

#1 Price

While it’s tempting to compare these two diamond cuts in a vacuum, it would be silly not to acknowledge that we all have budgets to consider. Especially when dealing with two cuts that deliver so many advantages to the consumer, the price may end up being the deciding factor for many. 

There are four factors—also known as the 4Cs—that determine a diamond’s price:

  • Cut – This refers to how the diamond is cut. If it’s cut with more precision, it’ll be more brilliant and have a higher price tag.
  • Color – Diamonds can range from colorless to light brown hues. Oftentimes, the less color a diamond has, the more expensive it’ll be.
  • Clarity – If a diamond has more imperfections or blemishes, it’ll be less expensive than a diamond that has fewer inclusions.
  • Carat – Carat refers to the physical weight of the diamond. The bigger the diamond, the heftier the price. 

That said, considering each of the 4Cs are equal between oval vs cushion cut diamonds, a cushion cut will generally be less expensive than oval cut. 

On the lower end (0.50 ct) of carat weight, these differences will be minimal and you may even be able to find a less expensive oval diamond engagement ring. However, there are also different types of oval cut diamonds. Plus, as the carats go up, so will the price difference. 

That being said, it’s important to note that both an oval and cushion cut diamond will be significantly less expensive than round cut diamonds.

#2 Size

Identifying the size of a diamond can be a bit tricky. Size is technically measured in carats. So, regardless of the cut, two 1.00 ct diamonds are the same size.

But that’s not always how it looks.

When we look at a diamond, we don’t see its carats. Rather, we see its face-up size.

Put simply, this is what you see when the diamond is mounted in its setting. While face-up size should be reflective of carat weight, different cuts will present with different face-up sizes.

Taking this into account, oval cut diamonds will likely have a larger face-up size than cushion cuts, meaning that an oval cut with similar carat size to a cushion cut will take up more space. 

#3 Color

When we talk about color in a diamond, we’re talking about the yellow or brown coloration of some stones. All diamonds are rated on an alphabetical color scale, with D showing the least color (which makes it more desirable) and Z showing the most.

Certain cuts are better at hiding color than others, which means you may be able to purchase a diamond that looks clear but is actually graded lower on the color scale. 

To that end, oval cuts are slightly more effective than cushion cuts at hiding color. However, the differences are minimal

#4 Light

Another important element of diamonds is how they interact with light. While understanding this interaction can be complex, there are easy ways to talk about how light interacts with a diamond. To that end, there are two main terms to keep in your back pocket:

  • Brilliance – This is the amount of white light (colorless) that is reflected back to the eye.
  • Fire – This is the light that is reflected back with color to the eye. It may appear like a rainbow.

Brilliance is generally the more sought-after trait in diamonds, which is why round cuts are so valued. Both oval and cushion will reflect light nicely. However, oval cuts will likely show more brilliance, and you may see more fire in cushion cuts. 

#5 Hiding Imperfections

Diamonds can be a lot like people—none are truly perfect (though some are quite close). 

That being said, many diamonds include small imperfections called inclusions. When diamonds are formed, they essentially form carbon birthmarks, which can affect the diamond’s overall appearance and how it interacts with light. Essentially, the more inclusions a diamond has, the less brilliance it’ll show. 

For this reason, diamonds are given a clarity grade that will signal how many imperfections are in the stone to determine the diamond’s value. 

Much like with color, different cuts are better at hiding these imperfections—oval cuts outperform cushion cuts in this area.

#6 Popularity/Trendiness

While you certainly shouldn’t be making style choices based on other people’s tastes, it sometimes helps to know what’s popular or on-trend. While popularity is always a little hard to pin down there are certain trends when it comes to oval and cushion cuts:

  • Both cuts are amongst the most popular.
  • Cushion cuts have been around for hundreds of years and have the reputation of being a classic. This makes many view them as an elegant style.
  • Oval cuts are gaining in popularity and are currently one of the most trendy cuts.
  • Both stones offer some flexibility in style. The cushion provides different length-to-width and rounding options. Oval also provides different length, width, and depth options and you can orient it either vertically or East-West in the setting.

Compare Cuts With Diamond Nexus 

The differences between oval vs cushion cut diamonds come down to the details—while cushion cuts may be the less expensive option, oval cuts allow for more brilliance and clarity.

At Diamond Nexus, we use the Nexus Diamond™ alternative which allows you to value style, affordability, and eco-friendly (because our patented diamond simulants are created in a lab and aren’t mined) design above all else. 

Find your forever diamond alternative with Diamond Nexus. 

Sources: 

International Gem Society. Oval-Cut Diamond Buying Guide: Beyond the Bowtie. https://www.gemsociety.org/article/oval-cut-diamond-guide/ 

Nice Ice. Oval Diamond Buying Guide 2021 Breathtaking Sparkle. https://niceice.com/oval-diamond-buying-guide-ideal-proportions/ 

Who What Wear. The Pros and Cons of Every Type of Engagement Ring Cut. https://www.whowhatwear.com/types-of-engagement-ring-cuts/slide17  

Brides.com. The 12 Most Popular Diamond Shapes for Engagement Rings. https://www.brides.com/engagement-ring-cuts-5079122 

International Gem Society. Cushion-Cut Diamonds: the Complete Buying Guide. https://www.gemsociety.org/article/cushion-cut-diamonds/ 

International Gem Society. Different Diamond Shapes: Ultimate Guide with Size & Price Chart. https://www.gemsociety.org/article/diamond-shapes-price-size/ 

Diamond Database. Evaluating Diamond Size. https://www.diamdb.com/size-evaluation/

Jewelry Notes. Diamond Fire: What It Is and Why You Should Care About It. https://www.jewelrynotes.com/diamond-fire-what-it-is-and-why-you-should-care-about-it/ 
Teach Jewelry. Oval vs Cushion Cut Diamond (8 Differences). https://teachjewelry.com/diamonds/oval-vs-cushion-cut/

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