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Cushion Cut Rings - History and Buying Guide to Cushion Cut Rings

antique stone color shapes

In selecting an engagement ring, some fingers prefer the old-fashioned design of cushion cut rings. Their rounded, open-faceted shape highlights color while limiting sparkle, and they stand out as a rarity among other fiancés who tend toward more popular round, oval, heart, and other shapes. First popularized in the 19th century, cushion cut rings were for a time unavailable until a recent resurgence in popularity has put them in the hands of some major ringmakers.

The cushion cut itself is an antique but not antiquated style of diamond. Its shape is akin to a rounded rectangle or square, almost an oval but with the vague semblance of corners. The facets are large and open, with fewer facets than most modern diamond cuts. Larger facets result in less sparkle and more color, making the cushion cut an excellent way to show off the brilliant yellows of grade K+ diamonds but a poor choice for imperfect diamonds visible by the naked eye.

The 19th century saw the height of cushion cut popularity. Such famed gemstones as the Hope, Regent, and Tiffany diamonds were all cut in this fashion. It is alternatively called a pillow cut or candlelight cut. Today, cushion cuts are unusual but not extinct, and they continue to be crafted to appeal to those seeking an old-fashioned style that stands out in a crowd.

Cushion cut rings require at least four prongs to hold them in place, with more needed for larger shapes. This is a disadvantage compared to round or the triangular “trilliant” designs which only require three. These stones are rarely used as accents, more commonly appearing as a central stone or solitaire. They also appear in earrings and pendants with some frequency.

Cushion cuts are not as difficult to craft as heart diamonds and other novelty shapes. As a result, their prices are comparable to round and oval shapes, starting at $300 for tiny, .20+ carats, $4000 for a 1 carat stone, and so on. As with any diamond, the qualities (carat, color, etc.) will determine the final pricing far more than the shape.

Cushion cut rings can be purchased from a handful of suppliers or purchased used. Blue Nile remains one of the best sites around for ring design, sporting sliding settings for the specifics of any given stone and a variety of platinum, gold, and white gold rings in which to set a stone. A sliding price scale also allows for targeted browsing within Blue Nile’s collection, and clicking on any quality will reorganize their well-programmed menu to facilitate shopping.

Though designing online is the fastest way to secure cushion cut rings, they can also be found secondhand. Pawn shops, antique stores, auctions, and e-commerce merchants on Amazon, E-Bay, and other sites can all be looked to for cushion cut rings. If purchasing a ring secondhand, be sure to demand a full write-up of the piece, including the five Cs of condition, color, carat, clarity, and cut. Ideally, the report will have been written by a certified gemologist, but less expensive antique rings are unlikely to have such credentials behind them.

Online antique ring merchants include Fay Cullen, Antique Engagement Rings dot Com, and Fred Leighton Collectibles in New York.

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