Radiant vs Cushion vs Princess Cut Diamonds: What is the difference?

Radiant vs Cushion vs Princess Cut Diamonds: What is the difference?

Radiant vs Cushion vs Princess Cut Diamonds: What is the difference?

Posted by Sharif Khan on 29th Jun 2019

Radiant Vs. Princess Vs. Cushion Cut Diamonds

The radiant, princess, and cushion cut diamonds are some of the most popular stones in the market. However, if you don't know what to look for, choosing between them can seem like a daunting task. The shape, color, clarity, and cut will all appear alike, making your decision even harder. To start you off in this diamond enlightenment journey, we must cover the basics.

James Allen


The radiant cut diamond has a unique hybrid cut that uses both the brilliant and step cut features. It was designed by Henry Grossbard in 1970, and at that time, it was the first diamond to have a complete brilliant faceting pattern on not only its crown but also the pavilion. The extra facets significantly contribute to the stone's stunning brilliance, sparkle, and fire.

Blue Nile

The fairytale named princess cut diamond is renowned for its gorgeous, classy, and timeless design. GIA grading reports describe the stone as having a square, rectangle, or tapered shape, and when observed from the top, a distinct inverted pyramid is visible. Unlike its counterparts, the princess cut has a comparably smaller crown. But, on the upside, the stone gives an optical illusion of being bigger and continues to win the hearts of women from all over the world.

Examples of Square and Rectangular Princess Cut Diamonds.

JA Rectangular JA Square

The most noticeable feature of the cushion cut diamond is its rounded corners and beveled edges. This cut comes in 3 variations- cushion brilliant, cushion modified, and hybrid cushion brilliant. However, don’t let the market terminologies confuse you. The naming distinction results from the difference in faceting patterns and the need for certification labs to perform independent assessments. So, when you hear the terms crushed ice or chunky look being tossed around- don’t let it influence your decision. Focus on the 4Cs and your personal preference.

With that out of the way, here are some questions to help you choose a stone that not only gives you value for your money but also fits your style.

Cushion Brilliant vs Modified

How are they cut?...

Whether you are buying a diamond as a gift or adding it to your jewelry collection, the one thing you should not skimp on is  cut quality. Yes, taste and style matter but cut is always king. A premium cut enhances other vital features such as brilliance, clarity, and minimizes hidden carat weight.

Among the three cuts, the princess diamond is relatively the youngest cut. Its newness does not negatively reflect on the cut quality. In fact, 60 percent of the weight is retained after cutting and can be used to make TWO princess diamonds! Maximizing the on quality and minimizing on the cost to the manufacturer as well as the buyers. An excellent princess cut has symmetrical facets, great scintillation, gently sloping pavilion, and no culet.

The vintage classic cushion cut gets the name from its rounded edges and pillow-like shape. Given its numerous variations, the faceting pattern can be crisp clear or blurry. Even so, a cushion diamond with the premium cut will have superb brilliance, sparkle, and fire. Since GIA does not provide certification on cut grade, it advisable you don’t purchase this cut without a physical inspection or an examination of magnified photos. That way, you'll be in a position to judge whether you’re a crushed ice or chunky kind of guy.

The brilliance and sparkle found in the radiant cut can only be outdone by that of the round cut. The outstanding brilliance is mostly because the numerous facets have an exceptional light dispersion, making the stone radiant- hence the name. When viewed from the top, the facets create a uniquely distinctive cracked ice pattern. In contrast, poorly cut stones will have a dark band across the center of the stone. Take a close look at the stone to ensure the sparkle radiates throughout the stone.

How is the clarity?...

The cushion cut variation with the best clarity is the cushion brilliant. It is the variation with the best brilliance, which helps detract the eye from noticing imperfections. Additionally, its numerous facets provide ample surface for light dispersion, which adds to its sparkle and fire. The superb clarity grades allow one to go down a peg on clarity grade and still get a high-quality cushion that is eye clean.

When evaluating clarity, it is essential to determine the exact place the inclusion occurs. Princess cut diamonds are prone to chipping at the corners, a trait that only magnifies if an imperfection also occurs at that same place. Yes, diamonds may not be for eternity after all. Nonetheless, choosing a protective setting may just extend its life span to the great-grandchildren- if not the great great grandchildren.

The great thing about radiant cuts, other than their radiance, of course, is their ability to forgive imperfections. A great cut will hide inclusions very well and boast brilliance to a remarkable degree. Ideally, choose a  VVS2 clarity for stones with 2 carats or more and drop down to VS2 for diamonds with less than 1 carat for eye clean clarity. You can even pick a lower clarity grade if the diamond has no imperfections visible to the naked eye. This is just another reason why you should not purchase a diamond blind. Certifications only indicate the degree of inclusions and not whether the imperfections are noticeable to the naked eye.

How colorless should it be?...

A common misconception is that colorless diamonds are more expensive because of their lack of color. When in fact, the disparity in prices has more to do with the rarity of naturally occurring colorless stones than it does with the absence of yellowish tints. Diamonds in other rare colors such as red, blue, pink, and orange may cost even more than the colorless alternative. Nevertheless, colorless diamonds set the standard for pricing and color grading.

The radiant cut stones retain color easily, and of the three cuts, they are the best at showing color. Make use of this quality by opting for a G or H  color grade stone mounted on a clear metal or surrounded by colorless gems. To the untrained eye, the diamond will appear colorless without having to spend thousands more on a D-F color grade diamond. You can mix it up a bit and go for some color, lower color grades look beautiful in rose gold or yellow settings.

The cushion may not retain color as well as the radiant cut, but it’s a close second. Its unique cut has been the inspiration behind the beautiful colored gems that are currently all the rage. The brilliant cushion variation offers the most flexibility in color grades because of its superior brilliance. You can go as low as I and still get that sought after colorless appearance. For a similar look in cushion modified, you have to up your budget and pick a color grade G or higher. Ensure that your setting and surrounding stones match your desired color.

Unlike the radiant cut, the princesses cut diamonds tend to hide color. What does this imply? Ideally, for a near-colorless appearance, you can go as low as I color grade set in silver colored metals such as platinum or white gold. Switching to a yellow or rose gold setting lets you lower the color grade to K. The difference in color grades is often so subtle that discrepancies are barely visible to the naked. Even so, color is subjective. If you find a Z colored superbly cut flawless stone that makes your heart skip a beat. Don’t pander to society’s idea of beauty. Go for it.

What is the value?...

Diamonds are measured in carats the way liquids are measured in liters and solids in kilograms. And just like in everything else, there is a direct relationship between weight and price- the heavier the object, the higher the cost. Diamonds are measured with nearly perfect precision because a difference in carat can equal hundreds or even thousands of dollars in the case of quality cuts. And since one carat is approximately the weight of a paperclip, there is little room for error.

Both the radiant and princess cut have a moderately lower price. Even more so for the princess cut because a single rough stone can make two diamonds with only 40 percent of the stone going to waste. Since the manufacturers are maximizing on carat and cutting down on cost, the resulting price for the customer will be lower.

The cushion modified variation has relatively lower prices than the cushion brilliant. The cut in the former focuses on maximizing carat weight rather than cut quality. Cutters end up using a larger percentage of the stone. The added weight is hidden in the pavilion and affects the overall appearance of the stone by dulling its brilliance, sparkle, and fire. In contrast, the cut in the cushion brilliant aims at maximizing cut quality- particularly light performance. Huge portions of the rough stone that don’t meet the set standards are often discarded. Which means cutters will be saving less and using more rough stone for less carat weight. These factors trickle down to increased prices to buyers. The hidden pavilion weight in this cut has little impact on brilliance and fire due to the numerous pavilion facets.

Which setting is suitable?...

The princess cuts with French corners are more susceptible to chipping and snagging than the bezel style crown. Such stones are unsuitable for persons with active lifestyles. To protect the diamond, mount it on a bezel or halo  setting that protects all the corners of the stone. Additionally, a 4-prong v-shaped setting will enhance brilliance because it allows more light to pass through the diamond while providing the necessary protection to vulnerable parts.

The truncated edges of the radiant cut are not as vulnerable to chipping as the princess cut. Nevertheless, it’s always better to protect the corners to preserve appearance as well as prolong the durability. A radiant cut will be more practical for individuals with active lifestyles. It will look great when mounted on designs made of platinum metal because of its ability to easily retain color. The brightness of platinum will enhance its brilliance and announce its superb fire and sparkle to the world.

The cushion cut has no need for such restrictions on settings because its edges are not prone to chipping. Nonetheless, the pillow-like shape goes well with solitaire settings where the stone is right in the middle to draw maximum attention to its unique shape. You can also use trilliant or oval accent stones to complement the cushion cut. The accent stones should be subdued or set in channels so as not to distract the eye from the leading role- the cushion cut.

Do the cuts need certification?


The grading report or certification is an unbiased assessment of the quality of a diamond by a neutral third party to eliminate conflict of interests. The market is full of fake and synthetic diamonds that closely resemble the real deal. Certification labs such as GIA and AGS have state of the art tools to check the authenticity and quality of the stone. Leaving you to worry about how good it looks on your finger and how deep you’ll need to stretch those pockets.

Radiant, Princess, or Cushion Cut?

Have you ever heard of a wrong diamond? No, because there is no such thing. A diamond is for life, and like the other lengthy lifespan components in your life, the choice should be made only after careful consideration, sufficient research, and guided by personal preferences. Think of shopping for a diamond like buying a house. You are asked to choose from a mansionette, penthouse, or bungalow. If the penthouse is the only one with indoor plumbing and electricity- wouldn’t it be your best choice?

The same case applies to diamonds; your idea of a perfect (finishing) diamond is the perfect stone. Whether you want a modern or more vintage look? Do colors appeal to you? Big or small? Have you any preference for shape? You can compromise on clarity, color, and carat but never on cut.

Good luck!