Professional Jeweler Archive: Pushin' Cushions

February 2000


Pushin' Cushions

The venerable Goldberg Diamond Corp. sees a bright future in subtle diamonds

’Twas a time, not so long ago, when antique cushion-cut diamonds (also known as old-mine cuts) were destined for the recut pile. These cuts from the mid-18th century were transformed for the modern eye, ending up smaller but with a lot more panache.

They arrived at the cutter’s bench with large culets, a relative lack of brilliance and only an occasional flash of fire. They exited more slender, round, brilliant and scintillating. This new “brilliant” gem was destined for a jewel that announced its diamond intensity with glittering fanfare.

Recently, there’s been a renaissance in the not-so-showy loveliness of antique cushion-cut diamonds. Call it a vague rejection of ostentation or a return to less-complicated times. “Most people don’t have cushion cuts yet but are intrigued by them,” says Eve Goldberg, vice president of William Goldberg Diamond Corp., New York City. “They are perceived as subtle and sophisticated.” Goldberg first remarked on the trend during a panel discussion at the Gemological Institute of America’s International Gemological Symposium last year in San Diego, CA.

Cushion’s Characteristics

Given that GIA has embarked on a multiyear study of what role brilliance and other characteristics play in a diamond’s beauty, it’s fair to ask whether antique cushion cuts have a place in today’s jewelry world.

Cushion cuts are less brilliant than modern round brilliant diamonds, but are more dispersive (which refers to the separation of white light into spectral colors). Antique and modern cushion cuts are virtually the same, though newer technology means today’s cushion cuts have better symmetry, proportions and polish.

Goldberg recently started to sell cushion cuts from 2 to 20 carats. “Large companies such as Harry Winston also have promoted fancy cuts – including cushion cuts – in the The New York Times,” says Goldberg. Winston and other jewelers and designers most often use cushions in necklaces, solitaire rings and stud earrings.

Going for the Glow

Cushion cuts have an understated look, an inner glow as opposed to the fiery brilliance of more modern cuts. This understated look is their biggest selling point. “They appeal to a more sophisticated buyer who wants something unique,” says Joe De Bella, an upscale jeweler in Santa Fe, NM. They also help him to remain in top competitive form. “When customers or retailers comparison-shop, they find I have something no one else carries. Besides that, I just love antique cushions.”

He’s not alone. One jewelry designer points out consumers have grown more interested in antique-cut diamonds (and other gems) after seeing them in period movies such as Titanic, Elizabeth and Shakespeare in Love. “There’s nothing like the big screen to display the intriguing beauty and glow of gemstones,” says the designer.

This all suggests antique cushion-cut diamonds will be less likely to be sent to the recutter for slimming and more likely to be considered zaftig but elegant gems to be appreciated for generations to come.

– by Robert Weldon, G.G

One view of the understated inner glow of an antique cushion diamond ring. Courtesy of William Goldberg Diamond Corp., New York, NY.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications