So, you’re stuck between two of the most popular and luxurious diamond shapes there are. Would it surprise you to know that countless other soon-to-be-fiancé(e)s have been in exactly the same position as you, and countless more will find themselves on this exact guide in the months and years to come? Probably not, but it certainly helps to be told, in plain English, that this isn’t the impossible choice it feels like.
The Oval cut is having ‘a moment’ in the world of diamond jewelry and engagement rings. It’s worth pointing out that the Oval’s popularity isn’t a passing trend, but that it really started to gain momentum around the turn of the 2020s. It’s a classic – a crowd pleaser – a true favorite, second only to the Round Brilliant.
The Cushion is consistently outperforming many other diamond shapes. While it’s not quite as ‘up there’ as the Oval, its unique characteristics make it an ideal alternative to the Round if you just can’t justify the premium price tag, but want to retain that look as much as possible. It’s an O.G. of the diamond world, a showstopper, and an excellent choice for those with a taste for luxury. The elongated cushion bears less of a resemblance to the Round Brilliant
So, how do you choose? As lovers of all things bright and brilliant, we don’t envy you in having to make that choice – but, as diamond aficionados, we have a few pointers for you to start off with…
Both the Oval and the Cushion are what we call ‘modified brilliants’, which means that their facets follow a very similar structure to the facets of the Round Brilliant diamond cut. So, while they will never sparkle as much as a top quality Round diamond, they will echo that same light performance – flashes of brilliance and fire that scintillate across the many triangular facets on the crown.
Ovals create a great balance of brilliance and fire, while Cushions tend to produce more fire than brilliance – something that definitely contributes to their popularity.
When we’re talking about light performance in elongated shapes like the Oval or rectangular Cushion, it’s always worth mentioning the risk of ‘bow ties’ – areas of reduced light that run through the center of some elongated shapes, and appear like a shadow visible through the table.
Bow ties can be severe, or they can be minor and add a sense of depth to the stone. Whenever you’re shopping for an elongated shape, make sure you take the time to check for a bow tie, as this won’t be mentioned in the diamonds’ GIA reports.
The Oval and Cushion offer a lot of versatility to jewelers. While both are relatively old cuts, they can be used in ways that bring out a more contemporary edge – or, of course, set within vintage ring designs that play to their history.
The Cushion is a great choice if you like the look of a halo setting, since it can easily be paired with a round or square halo. While the Oval looks incredible in a halo of its own, you’re more or less tied to following the shape’s silhouette, so there’s a little less versatility there.
Since both shapes are very durable and not made vulnerable by any sharp corners, you’ve got plenty of options in terms of prong placement and setting styles. The Elongated Cushion is perhaps a little more open to novel placement (for instance, East-West or off-center) than the Oval, but there are no rules, and Ariana Grande herself recently set hearts fluttering with an off-center Oval cut diamond of her own.
Keep in mind, however, that the Elongated Cushion is a lot more difficult to track down than the square Cushion – so, in terms of versatility, it’s a way behind.
When you’re comparing the Oval with the majority of well-proportioned Cushion cuts out there today, then it’s the Oval that will snag the win in terms of face-up size. You could be looking at two diamonds with the exact same carat weight and, simply because the Oval’s elongated crown and table require more of that carat weight to be distributed across the upper surface of the cut, it will appear to be larger.
The Cushion is infamous for its depth, primarily because this depth allows it to generate the incredibly amount of fire it’s known for. This depth does have a downside when it comes to Color, but we’ll get into that just a little further down.
But what about elongated Cushions? Like the Oval, doesn’t their longer shape mean that more of the weight is concentrated above the pavilion and, as a result, that they look a lot bigger?
Yes, but a lot is dependent on the individual stone. Some elongated cushions are cut to a length-to-width ratio of 1:10 while others are cut to a ratio of 1:1.3 – or, alternatively, a happy middle ground of 1:1.20. This means some will look more elongated than others.
For an Oval cut diamond, the ideal length-to-width ratio will fall between 1.35-1.42 – much greater than the ideal ratio for the elongated Cushion. As a result, it’s likely that an Oval will look larger than an elongated Cushion of the same carat weight.
We mentioned above that Color is one of the Cushion cut’s downsides – although, interestingly, it can also be a positive.
The Cushion is cut to deeper proportions than many other shapes, with more of the stone’s weight focused below the girdle than it is for, say, the Oval or Round. This means that any color the diamond naturally has appears more concentrated within the Cushion than it would in another diamond shape. For the majority of shoppers (i.e., those who want a white diamond) this is a setback, since slight traces of color may be more obvious in the Cushion and, as a result, they’ll need to go one or two color grades higher than they would otherwise need to. For shoppers who want a fancy color diamond, the Cushion is a great choice, since the hue will appear more vivid.
The Oval is the better option is you’re panicking about color, but don’t want to overpay on a higher color grade. The difference between the Oval and the Cushion will be relatively minor, but knowing this could help you figure out what you want conclusively.
Both the Oval and the Cushion are two winning shapes, and the Elongated Cushion is a great midpoint between the two. In terms of versatility, beauty, sparkle, durability, and their ability to flatter the finger, there’s not a lot between them.
The Oval is best if you’re going for a plain style like a solitaire, since its elongated shape will flatter the finger and its sparkle will really get a chance to shine. The Cushion, however, is perfect if you’re looking for something similar to the Round, but more affordable and, in some ways, even more versatile.