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Ask a Diamond Pro: A Squarish Cushion Cut for $5,000

By Mike Fried,

The cushion cut is one of the most requested diamond shapes. Many people like them for their square/rectangular, yet soft shape and good price. However, finding a good cushion cut diamond can be tricky, especially, since the GIA doesn’t give them a cut grade. 

A little while back, we received an email from one of our readers asking for help finding the best 1 carat square-ish cushion cut diamond. 

Engagement ring photo

Here’s the reader’s email:

So the time has come for me to find the right stone for an engagement ring. Your website has been a great help. Truly clearing up some of my misconceptions and keeping me away from salesmen. Thank you!

I have found one stone I am interested in and am curious if you might be able to suggest a better stone. I am looking for an ideal cushion cut 1 carat or greater stone that is spotless to the eye.

Budget $4000-$5500. Color F or greater with no fluorescence. Very good polish and symmetry.

This is the stone I am currently milling over.


I had previously read that with the cushion cut I would want to stay with a greater color and quality due to the large faucets. I prefer a ratio below 1.13.

I may set it into this band:


or a band resembling the second ring on the top row from the left with the two black side stones.

Thank you for your time and assistance. Your articles on cushion cut stones are great!

Later in our conversation, the reader had questions about the standard (brilliant) vs. modified (crushed ice) cut and clarity. He also sent out more options for us to look at where he was going back and forth between styles.

These are all very common questions about cushion cut diamonds. In short, if you’re struggling to choose between the brilliant and crushed-ice look, you can relax. It doesn’t really matter which pattern you choose as long as you like the look of it. 

And since cushions hide inclusions pretty well, you might be able to find a beautiful and eye-clean diamond within the VS-SI clarity grades.

Let’s get into more details.

Cushion Cut Patterns

Cushion cut diamonds are either square or rectangularly shaped with soft, rounded corners. They can be cut into two patterns – standard “brilliant” and modified, otherwise known as the “crushed-ice”. The difference can be big when looking at the enlarged pictures online, but it’s much less noticeable in real life. 

Let’s take a look at these two examples:

Cushion brilliant: 1.00 carat cushion cut diamond
Crushed-ice: 1.01 carat cushion cut diamond

Cushion cut types compared with each other
Cushion cut types – standard (brilliant) on the left and modified on the right

In the pictures/videos, there is a visible difference in appearance. The first diamond has the classic brilliant pattern that looks very neat and clean. These types are also overall brighter. 

The second one has the crushed-ice look which looks much more “sparkly” but it has a sort of messy appearance to it. 

The reader initially wanted a brilliant cut cushion, but after seeing more options, they started liking the “shine” of the modified ones. And that’s exactly what matters – choose diamonds based on what they look like, not based on what you think should look better. 

Cushion Cut Clarity

Diamond clarity is an important topic no matter the diamond shape. You always want your diamond to be clean to the naked eye, meaning there are no visible inclusions you can easily spot.

diamond clarity chart

As shown in the clarity graphic above, there are diamonds with flawless or near-flawless clarity out there. And even though those might seem like an obvious choice (after all, it’s guaranteed there won’t be any visible inclusions), they, in fact, aren’t. If you can’t spot any inclusion with your naked eye, then it doesn’t matter if there are some hidden or not. But what matters is the huge price difference between them. 

A flawless diamond will cost significantly more than an SI or VS diamond that’s eye-clean. And if they look the same to the eye, why would you pay double or more? 
In the end, the reader went with a gorgeous F VS2 diamond for a really good price. This beautiful 1.20 carat F VS2 cushion cut diamond from James Allen is an example of a similar diamond he purchased (the original link is no longer available).

Our Recommendation

Cushion cut diamonds are a great choice for people who enjoy the square/rectangular shape, but don’t want to deal with sharp corners and potentially risk chipping the diamond. Since inclusions hide pretty well in this shape, start looking at the SI2 or SI1 clarity level and look for an eye-clean diamond. It can save you a lot of money and it won’t affect the overall brilliance. 

As for the cut, we suggest looking at multiple options before you pull the trigger. It will give you a chance to truly know what you like. A lot of people change their minds throughout the process when they see what certain things actually look like.

And the very last tip is: Enjoy the process! Picking out an engagement ring should be fun and something you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Don’t rush your decisions and relax. It’ll all come together. 
If you have questions or need help with choosing a diamond for your ring, feel free to get in touch with us. Our experts will walk you through the process and help you find the right diamond and setting that match your taste and budget.

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What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. Blue Nile will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisal
  • One free resizing within the first year of purchase
  • High quality images of about half of their diamonds
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