When it comes to selecting the perfect diamond, there is more to decide than just the quality of the stone. Even if you already have a design in mind, choosing the right cut can drastically change the look and feel of an engagement ring. Shoppers are certainly spoiled for choice, and two of the most popular diamond shapes couldn’t be more different regarding light, balance and overall aesthetic. However, there are a few key factors to consider when deciding between a cushion or a princess-cut stone.
Both cushion and princess stones are square or rectangular, but the difference is in the edges. Cushion-cut, otherwise known as pillow-cut, stones have softer, more rounded corners and wider facets that give off a gentle shine. On the other hand, princess-cut stones are sharp and angular, which helps them to produce a more brilliant sparkle. Of course, this also depends on the number of facets and the clarity of the stone. Cushion-cut diamonds often feature step facets that create a shinier effect reminiscent of traditional Art-Deco style. Modern cushions typically have more tightly grouped facets and, subsequently, more brilliance; but princesses are still the leading option if sparkle is your main concern. Princesses also hide imperfections well and tend to appear larger than they actually are, so they can be a more budget-friendly choice if you have a specific carat weight in mind.
While you can find these stones in many different types of jewelry, both are standard options for engagement rings. They look striking on their own as solitaires, but they can also be complimented in completely different ways. If you’re looking for the symmetry of a three-stone setting, a princess-cut center stone would be a more fitting option due to the angular facet structure and sharpened corners. However, a cushion would be the perfect focus for an accent-stone band or halo. The color also plays a significant role when considering the style of any piece. Cushions tend to collect color, whereas princesses dispel color for a more glittery, brilliant look. Additionally, the setting can highlight or alter the typical qualities of either stone. A prong setting can greatly increase the light performance of a standard cushion, just as a channel setting can give a princess a smoother, more mirror-like appearance.
Introduced in the 1800s, cushions are often used today in vintage-inspired jewelry. Until the round brilliant took over, they were the gold standard for engagement rings. Whether featured in a bezel or four-prong setting, a cushion-cut stone is sure to emanate a classic, antique vibe. For a more modern approach, the princess is a solid choice. This type of cut is nearly as popular as the round brilliant and its use has continued to grow since its debut in the 1980s. Princess stones are a staple for solitaires and side-accent rings due to their firey and luxurious feel, but cushions are commonly used in sleek tension and pavé settings.
Regardless of your budget, size expectations or preferred metal, the biggest thing to consider when choosing the cut of your diamond is your own personal style. In many ways, the core of both stones represents the clash between classic and modern. Depending on the traits you want to highlight or minimize in your stone, these cuts span the spectrum of light return, facet orientation, and overall tone. Whether you want the mirror-like shine and vibrant color of a cushion or the lavish and bright ambiance of a princess, both stones have their unique personalities and individual strengths that make them the perfect ingredient for a show-stopping ring. Make it a ring she’ll be proud to pass down to future generations.