Deciding Between Oval vs. Cushion Cut Diamonds: A Guide

In the world of diamonds, two popular cuts that often catch the attention of buyers are the oval cut and the cushion cut. These elegant shapes offer their own unique characteristics, making the decision between them a matter of personal preference. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the basics of diamond cuts, delve into the features of both oval and cushion cuts, and compare them in terms of aesthetics, price, and popularity. By the end of this article, you will be equipped with the knowledge to make an informed decision when choosing between oval and cushion cut diamonds.

Understanding Diamond Cuts

Diamond cuts play a crucial role in determining a stone's brilliance and fire. It refers to the way a diamond is shaped and the arrangement of its facets. The better a diamond is cut, the more light it can reflect, resulting in a visually stunning gemstone. When considering diamond cuts, it is essential to understand the basics.

The Basics of Diamond Cuts

A diamond's cut is divided into three main components: the crown, the girdle, and the pavilion. The crown is the topmost part of the diamond, while the pavilion is the bottom. The girdle, on the other hand, serves as a transition between the crown and the pavilion. By carefully adjusting these aspects, diamond cutters can optimize a diamond's brilliance and sparkle.

The crown of a diamond is responsible for capturing and reflecting light. It consists of a flat table, which is the largest facet on the diamond's surface, and a series of smaller facets known as the bezel facets. The bezel facets help to direct light towards the center of the diamond, enhancing its overall brilliance.

The girdle of a diamond is the narrow band that encircles the stone's circumference. It acts as a protective barrier and provides stability to the diamond. The width of the girdle can vary, with some diamonds having a thin girdle and others having a thicker one. The girdle also affects the overall appearance of the diamond, as a well-proportioned girdle can contribute to a balanced and visually appealing stone.

The pavilion of a diamond is located below the girdle and is responsible for reflecting light back through the crown. It consists of a series of facets that come to a point at the bottom, known as the culet. The pavilion facets are strategically angled to maximize the diamond's brilliance and fire.

Importance of Diamond Cuts

Diamond cuts affect more than just a stone's appearance. A well-cut diamond will maximize the amount of light that enters and exits the stone, resulting in superior brilliance and scintillation. Conversely, a poorly cut diamond may appear lifeless and lackluster, despite having good color and clarity. Therefore, it's crucial to consider the cut when selecting a diamond.

When a diamond is cut to ideal proportions, it allows for the maximum amount of light to be reflected back to the viewer's eye. This creates a dazzling display of brilliance, with the diamond appearing bright and sparkling. The precise angles and facets of a well-cut diamond work together to optimize the reflection and refraction of light, enhancing its overall beauty.

On the other hand, a diamond that is poorly cut can result in light leakage, where light escapes through the sides or bottom of the stone instead of being reflected back. This can make the diamond appear dull and less vibrant. Additionally, a poorly cut diamond may have uneven facets or proportions, leading to an unbalanced appearance and diminished visual appeal.

It's important to note that diamond cuts are not solely determined by the shape of the stone, such as round, princess, or emerald. While the shape does play a role, it is the quality of the cut that truly determines a diamond's brilliance. A well-cut diamond can make even a lower-grade stone appear more beautiful, while a poorly cut diamond can diminish the overall quality of a higher-grade stone.

When shopping for a diamond, it's essential to consider the cut grade, which is a standardized measure of a diamond's cut quality. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) grades diamond cuts on a scale ranging from Excellent to Poor, taking into account factors such as symmetry, polish, and proportions. By selecting a diamond with an excellent or very good cut grade, you can ensure that you're getting a stone with exceptional brilliance and fire.

An In-depth Look at Oval Cut Diamonds

One of the most sought-after diamond cuts, the oval cut, offers a modern twist on traditional round brilliant diamonds. Oval cut diamonds feature an elongated shape with soft curves, creating a sense of elegance and sophistication.

History of Oval Cut Diamonds

The oval cut diamond was first introduced in the late 1950s and quickly gained popularity due to its ability to enhance the appearance of the wearer's finger. Its elongated shape gives the illusion of longer, slender fingers, making it a favorite choice for many.

Characteristics of Oval Cut Diamonds

Oval cut diamonds possess several unique characteristics. Firstly, they exhibit excellent brilliance, similar to round cut diamonds, and are known for their fire and sparkle. Secondly, their elongated shape creates the illusion of a larger size, making them an ideal choice for those seeking a visually impactful diamond. Lastly, the oval cut is versatile and suits various settings, such as solitaires or halo designs.

Pros and Cons of Oval Cut Diamonds

Like any diamond cut, oval cut diamonds have their advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, ovals offer a timeless and elegant look, and their elongated shape can make fingers appear longer and more slender. Additionally, due to their increased surface area, oval cut diamonds can appear larger than other cuts of the same carat weight. However, one possible downside is the presence of the "bow-tie" effect, which can occur if the diamond is not cut optimally and results in a dark shadow in the center of the stone. Therefore, it is crucial to choose an oval cut diamond carefully, preferably with the guidance of a reputable jeweler.

Exploring Cushion Cut Diamonds

The cushion cut diamond is a classic and romantic choice that combines the brilliance of a round cut with a unique square or rectangular shape. It is known for its soft edges and vintage appeal.

History of Cushion Cut Diamonds

The cushion cut diamond, also known as the "pillow cut," dates back to the 19th century when it was the most popular diamond shape. Its rounded corners and larger facets were highly admired during the Edwardian and Art Deco periods, and the cut continues to be sought after for its timeless charm.

Characteristics of Cushion Cut Diamonds

Cushion cut diamonds are celebrated for their romantic allure and vintage aesthetic. The shape features large facets that allow for exceptional light dispersion, resulting in excellent brilliance. Cushion cut diamonds come in a range of proportions, from square to rectangular, allowing buyers to choose the shape that best suits their preferences. This versatility makes cushion cut diamonds a popular choice for various jewelry designs.

Pros and Cons of Cushion Cut Diamonds

Cushion cut diamonds possess several advantages that make them appealing to buyers. Their vintage appeal and distinctive shape offer a unique alternative to more traditional cuts. The larger facets of cushion cut diamonds further enhance their brilliance, resulting in a charming play of light. However, it's worth noting that the cushion cut can vary significantly in appearance depending on the level of faceting and the overall shape. It is crucial to view different cushion cut diamonds in person to find the one that best captures your desired characteristics.

Comparing Oval and Cushion Cut Diamonds

Now that we have explored the individual characteristics of oval and cushion cut diamonds, let's compare them based on aesthetics, price, and popularity.

Aesthetic Differences

Oval cut diamonds and cushion cut diamonds offer distinct visual appearances. The oval cut's elongated shape creates an elegant and modern look, while the cushion cut's rounded corners evoke a sense of vintage charm. The choice ultimately comes down to personal style and the aesthetic you desire in your diamond.

Price Comparison

In terms of price, oval and cushion cut diamonds can vary depending on factors such as carat weight, color, clarity, and overall quality. However, as both cuts are popular and in demand, they tend to have similar price ranges. It's essential to work with a reputable jeweler who can guide you in finding the best value for your budget.

Popularity and Trends

Both oval and cushion cut diamonds have gained popularity in recent years, with celebrities and influencers opting for these stylish and unique shapes. Oval cut diamonds have seen a surge in popularity due to their ability to create the illusion of longer fingers and their versatility in various jewelry designs. On the other hand, cushion cut diamonds continue to appeal to those seeking a vintage-inspired look with a touch of romance. Ultimately, the popularity of these cuts ensures that you will have a wide range of options to choose from.


Choosing between oval and cushion cut diamonds is a personal decision that depends on your style, preferences, and budget. Understanding the basics of diamond cuts, as well as the unique characteristics of oval and cushion cuts, is essential in making an informed choice. By considering the aesthetics, price, and popularity of each cut, you can confidently select the diamond that best suits your individual taste. Whether you lean towards the elongated elegance of an oval or the vintage allure of a cushion, both cuts offer timeless beauty that will sparkle for a lifetime.