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Emerald Cut vs. Radiant Cut vs. Cushion Cut Diamonds

Understanding the difference between the rectangular shaped diamonds: Emerald, Radiant and Cushion cuts

By Mike Fried,

If you are considering a rectangular shaped diamond for your engagement ring, you have three options: Cushion cut, Emerald cut, and radiant cut. While all three of these diamonds can be rectangular, there are several key differences between them that can often make one shape a better choice than the other.

For example, can you tell the difference between this beautiful radiant cut from Blue Nile or this cushion cut stunner? Do you notice a difference in sparkle? Do you have a preference between the two?

We’ve listed these differences, as well as key features the emerald, radiant, and cushion cuts have in common, below.

To help you with the diamond buying process we lean on our expertise and experience. The author of this article, our CEO, Mike Fried has over 20 years of experience in the diamond industry. Mike started from the bottom, sorting and evaluating hundreds of thousands of diamonds to learn every facet (pun intended) of diamond quality and value. Mike followed that up by spending years buying and selling diamonds on the wholesale market as well as selling tens of millions of dollars worth of diamonds to diamond retailers.

What we cover in this article:

Emerald cut vs. Radiant cut
Are emerald cut or radiant cut diamonds more expensive?
Radiant cut vs. cushion cut
Are radiant or cushion cuts more expensive?

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Emerald Cut vs. Radiant Cut Diamonds

Emerald cuts have a glassier, more reserved look to them due to only having 57 facets, while radiant cuts are more vibrant with 70 facets. The extra facets on a radiant cut create more fire and brilliance (read: more sparkle). The understated emerald cut has less sparkle, which also makes it easier to notice inclusions.

Emerald cuts are a much more traditional shape and quite popular for larger diamond rings. Radiant cuts are more contemporary and are often paired with trendy setting styles.

Is an Emerald Cut or Radiant Cut More Expensive?

Radiant cuts are a bit more expensive than emerald cuts. You can find a lovely one carat emerald (H color, VS2 clarity) for $2,800 while a comparable radiant cut will cost you a bit over $3,000. However, as we mentioned that inclusions are more visible on emerald cuts, it’s easier to drop down a bit in clarity and find a lovely radiant cut for cheaper.

Take a look at this Si1 clarity radiant cut from James Allen for example. It is eye-clean and ends up being cheaper than the VS2 clarity emerald cut we recommend.

Radiant Cut vs. Cushion Cut

radiant diamond vs. cushion cut diamond

Radiant vs. Cushion Cut Design

Like many other diamond shapes, radiant cut and cushion cut diamonds can look quite similar when they’re first viewed. They both have similarly large tables, rectangle-like outlines and a facet pattern that produces a high degree of brilliance.

However, there’s one key difference in design and cut that becomes apparent when you look at the radiant and cushion cuts more closely.

This is the difference in corner between these two different diamond shapes.

Radiant cut diamonds have beveled corners that are typically cut at a 45° angle. This gives the radiant cut a more geometric, angular shape. You can see these corners in this radiant cut diamond from James Allen, which is pictured below with a diagram showing its shape and dimensions:

radiant cut diagram

Meanwhile, cushion cut diamonds have rounded, curved corners, giving it a shape that’s part rectangle and part circle. You can see these curved, smooth corners in the image below of this cushion cut diamond from James Allen:

cushion cut diagram

By looking at the shape of a diamond’s corners, you’ll be able to tell if it’s a cushion cut or radiant cut diamond.

Although this doesn’t apply to every diamond, there’s often some difference in the length to width ratio of radiant cut and cushion cut diamonds.

Radiant cut diamonds come in a large variety of different length to width ratios, ranging from square to quite strongly rectangular. The cushion cut, on the other hand, usually has a length to width ratio in the 1.0-1.09 range, leading to a more square-like diamond shape. There are some elongated cushions out there, but it’s not a wide selection.

Which Cut Has the Most Brilliance?

“A radiant cut engagement ring is an irresistible combination: It has the fire of a round brilliant diamond and the aristocratic elegance of an emerald cut. Created in 1977, the radiant cut has been charming brides-to-be for decades.” Gemological Institute of America (GIA)

As we’ve covered in our guide to the 4Cs, a variety of factors contribute to a diamond’s brilliance and fire.

Of these, the biggest is the quality of a diamond’s cut. Simply put, a diamond with a high cut quality will look more brilliant than a diamond with a fair or poor cut quality.

However, some diamond shapes are known for offering more brilliance than others.

In general, the radiant cut is known for offering better brilliance than the cushion cut. This is because the radiant cut has a large table and numerous facets, allowing it to take in and reflect a large amount of light to create a bright, beautiful sparkle. As the GIA mentions above, the brilliance of the radiant cut is comparable to that of the round brilliant cut.

The cushion cut is also very good at reflecting light and creating a bright, impressive brilliance. However, the cushion cut is better known for its fire (the ability to produce colored light reflections) than it is for its brilliance.

Are Radiant Cut or Cushion Cuts More Expensive?

Radiant cut and cushion cut diamonds both offer excellent value for money. This is because both cuts retain a large amount of the rough diamond that’s mined, cut and polished into the final product.

In our guide to the most affordable diamond shapes, we found that prices for radiant cut and cushion cut diamonds were very similar, with a 1 carat, J color, excellent cut diamond in either shape available for between $2,050 and $2,479.

Conclusion

The radiant cut and cushion cut are both excellent diamond shapes that offer a good combination of beauty, brilliance and timeless style. Because both cuts retain a large amount of the original rough diamond, they also both offer fantastic value for money, particularly when compared to the round brilliant cut.

If you need help deciding between a radiant or cushion cut, or just want to talk to our experts about buying a diamond, feel free to contact us. We can help you find the best diamond and engagement ring setting for your tastes and budget.

James Allen James Allen is the leader in online diamond sales. Their imaging technology is the same as inspecting a diamond with a jeweler's loupe. They have the largest exclusive loose diamond inventory online and fantastic prices. They also have the nicest collection of lab created diamonds online.Save 25% on settings at James Allen
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. James Allen will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
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  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisals
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Blue Nile Blue Nile is the largest and most well known internet jewelry seller. They have a very large exclusive online inventory. Their high quality images are catching up to James Allens' and their prices are amazing.Save 25% on settings at Blue Nile!

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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
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • 100% credit towards future upgrades (must be at least double in value)
  • Best in class fulfillment
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About the author

Mike Fried Mike Fried Mike Fried has over 25 years experience in the diamond industry working with Leo Schachter Diamonds, Moshe Namdar Diamonds, and joining The Diamond Pro in 2007. He is recognized as an industry expert and has been quoted in publications such as Us, People, Page Six, The Next Web and more.

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