“Can you shed some light on the differences between the Blue Nile Signature Cushion vs the Brian Gavin Signature Cushion cut diamonds? Both seem to exhibit hearts and arrows patterns, which I’ve read is a sign of superior optical precision in round ideal cut diamonds. Is hearts and arrows more of a gimmick in a cushion cut diamond, or does it bring something to the table in terms of visual performance? I’m also considering the X-factor cushion cut diamond from Enchanted Diamonds, but they aren’t cut to exhibit hearts and arrows — what do you think of those? Looking for recommendations in the range of 1.90 – 2.25 carats, G-color, VS-1 or VS-2 in clarity, GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal Cut.”
Notice: this article was written before Enchanted Diamonds declared bankruptcy on June 20, 2019.
This 2.04 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Blue Nile Signature Cushion cut diamond is the only option that I could find within tolerance of your desired specifications when I conducted a Search for Blue Nile Signature Cushion Cut Diamonds today, it falls a bit short because of the Very Good rating for Symmetry. Before we go much further, I want to draw your attention to the four kite shaped sections featured in the lower / pavilion section of facets as indicated on the plotting diagram provided on the GIA diamond grading report.
What I want you to notice about the four kite shaped facets featured on the lower half of this 2.04 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Blue Nile Signature Cushion cut diamond, is that the kite shape sections located in the twelve and six o’clock positions are larger than the kite-shaped facet sections located in the three and nine o’clock positions, thus the facet structure of the pavilion is not symmetrical, and this will affect how light travels through the diamond.
Now take a close look at how the facet structure is designed in the same quadrants on the upper plotting diagram featured on the GIA diamond grading report, and notice how the facet structure is once again different in the North / South and East / West sections of the diamond, and then imagine what effect these type of differences might have upon the patterns of light return and static contrast that this diamond will exhibit… or you could simply look at the “Optical Symmetry Image” provided on the GCAL diamond grading report, and notice how the kite-shaped sections are smaller in size in the North / South and East / West positions, as indicated by the red arrows in this picture.
Of course, the difference in the size of the arrowheads and kite shaped bezel facets are more noticeable in the multi-colored optical symmetry image than it will be in real life, or is it? How distinctly can you see the difference in the length of the arrowheads and the kite-shaped facet sections of this 2.04 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Blue Nile Signature Cushion cut diamond as you let your eyes wander from the 12 o’clock position, around the diamond in a clockwise direction? And while you’re at it, notice the difference in the pattern of light being reflected along the edge of the diamond in the four quadrants, North / South and East / West, and consider the impact of the facet structure.
It’s pretty easy to see the impact that the facet design of Blue Nile Signature Cushion cut diamonds is having upon the manner that light is traveling through this 2.04 carat, G-color ,VS-2 clarity, Blue Nile Signature Cushion cut diamond when we’re seeing it the size of a tennis ball on a computer monitor in a high definition clarity photograph, and a multi-colored optical symmetry photograph, but in real life the diamond has an average outside diameter of 7.315 millimeters, and from that perspective I’m not so certain it’s a difference we’re going to be able to see clearly; but it’s a concern that I don’t even have to think about with Brian Gavin Signature Cushion cut diamonds, because they are cut with a completely symmetrical facet structure!
Notice the symmetrical facet structure of the 2.184 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature Cushion cut diamond pictured to the left; and while you’re at it, notice that the design of the Brian Gavin Signature Cushion cut diamond is nothing like the facet pattern of the Blue Nile Signature Cushion cut diamond; thus the only similarity between these two diamonds is the cushion-like outline and the vendors use of the word “Signature” in their marketing terminology. Thinking in terms of a puzzle is pieced together, it’s easy for me to overlay the facet design of the top half of the Brian Gavin Signature Cushion cut diamond over the bottom half and see how the two halves fit together.[separator]
One of the biggest benefits that Brian Gavin Signature Cushion cut diamonds offer is the consistent pattern of light return and visual performance that is created by a symmetrical facet structure, and this is no accident because Brian Gavin is a fifth generation diamond cutter, who takes pride in designing every diamond to exhibit the highest volume of light return and sparkle factor.
When I look at this 2.184 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature Cushion cut diamond, I don’t actually see a square modified cushion cut diamond, which is what I do see when I look at the Blue Nile Signature Cushion cut diamond, instead I see a new diamond shape that is a crossbreed between a round brilliant ideal cut diamond, and a traditional cushion cut diamond, and I think that’s what Brian Gavin had in mind when he created this new diamond design, which happens to be so unique that it is actually patented.
While it’s true that both the Brian Gavin Signature Cushion cut diamond and the Blue Nile Signature Cushion cut diamond exhibit a hearts and arrows pattern when viewed while unmounted through a hearts and arrows scope, it seems to me that the hearts pattern of this 2.184 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature Cushion cut diamond is more uniform in size and shape, which no doubt is another benefit of the symmetrical facet design.
Brian Gavin claims to set the standard for hearts and arrows diamonds and clearly, he does set the standard when it comes to designing the best cushion hearts and arrows cut diamonds, and everyone has an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal-0 cut!
Another major benefit of the BGD Signature Cushion Cut diamond is that it features a more consistent girdle edge, which is thinner than what you’ll find on most cushion cut diamonds, including the Blue Nile Signature Cushion cut diamond design as presented here in the side profile sketch that they provided in the listing for this 2.04 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Blue Nile Signature Cushion cut diamond.
My “educated guess” is that the reason for the irregular shaped girdle edge featured on the Blue Nile Signature Cushion cut diamond has something to do with the desire to produce a hearts and arrows cushion cut diamond. However, this is likely to have a few side effects.
Not the least of which is how difficult it can be for a jeweler to properly set a diamond that features an inconsistent girdle edge that is wavy and irregular like the one pictured above.
Another thing that I’ve noticed about several of the newer square shaped cushion modified brilliant cut diamonds is that the thicker girdle edge creates a kind of unsightly window into the side of the diamond. This is not something that is an issue with the girdle edge of the Brian Gavin Signature Cushion cut diamond.
Take a look at how even and consistent the girdle edge of the diamond appears in the high-resolution video provided for this 2.184 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond; be sure to click on the four white arrows located in the right hand corner of the video window to bring it up to full size, and then drag the diamond with your mouse to see the side profile.
All right, so clearly I’m a fan of the Brian Gavin Signature Cushion cut diamond, because it features a facet design which is truly one-of-a-kind, and which is symmetrical, and thus the light will be evenly reflected and distributed throughout the diamond, as is evident in how evenly the red and green colors are distributed throughout this 2.184 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature Cushion cut diamond pictured to the left.
You can learn more about what the different colors of an ASET image mean by reading that article, but all that red means that the diamond is going to be incredibly bright! Green represents the second brightest light, and blue is the static contrast that makes it pop!
I’ve had the privilege of sifting through the entire inventory of Brian Gavin Signature Cushion cut diamonds on two separate occasions while visiting their office in Houston, Texas and I have to say that everyone that I set my eyes on was an absolute feast of broad-spectrum sparkle that set my eyes on fire!
Enchanted Diamonds recently introduced the X-factor diamond, which is a modern style of cushion cut diamond that they claim is cut to maximize brilliance and light performance. The X-factor diamond from Enchanted Diamonds gets its name from the ‘X’ shape created by the pavilion main facet that is located in the center of the pavilion section (lower half) of the diamond, the ‘X’ pattern extends from corner to corner and creates a clear division between the four quadrants of the diamond design.
However not everybody buying a cushion cut diamond is concerned about whether or not it exhibits a hearts and arrows pattern, nor do they want to pay the extra expense necessary to cut a diamond to the precision required to produce a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows, and the X-factor cushion cut diamond from Enchanted Diamonds seems like an excellent option for that sector of the market.
For instance, you could pick up this 2.30 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, X-factor Cushion cut diamond from Enchanted Diamonds for less than you can buy either the 2.04 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Blue Nile Signature Cushion cut diamond, or the 2.184 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature Cushion cut diamond for, but it is important to realize that a larger carat weight does not automatically mean that the diamond will look larger, especially when we’re talking about fancy shape diamonds! Take note of the outside diameter measurements:
The 2.04 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Blue Nile Signature Cushion cut diamond measures 7.30 x 7.33 x 5.17 millimeters, while the 2.184 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature Cushion cut diamond measures 8.53 x 7.27 x 5.31 millimeters, and the 2.30 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, X-factor Cushion cut diamond from Enchanted Diamonds measures 7.47 x 7.89 x 5.20 mm.
Have you noticed anything interesting about the plotting diagram featured on the diamond grading report issued by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) Gem Trade Laboratory (GIA-GTL) for this 2.30 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, X-factor cushion cut from Enchanted Diamonds?
I’ll give you a hint… This is the diamond grading report for the 2.04 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Blue Nile Signature Cushion cut diamond reviewed above, take a real good look at the facet design of the upper and lower plotting diagrams provided on the diamond grading report, and then look at the plotting diagram provided for the X-factor cushion cut diamonds from Enchanted Diamonds. Does it seem like the plotting diagrams for the Blue Nile Signature Cushion and X-factor cushion cut from Enchanted Diamonds look the same?
“Well Golly Gee Wally, that just doesn’t make any sense to me…” because it doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to look at the clarity photograph for this 2.01 carat, G-color, VVS-2 clarity, X-factor cushion cut from Enchanted Diamonds, and see that it looks completely different than the 2.04 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Blue Nile Signature Cushion cut diamond reviewed above. Starting with the fact that this diamond features four pavilion mains, hence the X-factor, and the Blue Nile Signature Cushion cut diamond has eight, hence the eight-pointed star pattern. I can only assume that the GIA Gem Trade Laboratory is using the same plotting diagram for both variations of cushion cut diamonds.
To be perfectly honest, this kind of thing pisses me off, because it only adds to the confusion that consumers experience when trying to shop for diamonds online and compare features, prices, and value. It seems to me that the GIA Gem Trade Laboratory is doing consumers a disservice by failing to provide a plotting diagram for these two distinctly different variations of cushion modified brilliant cut diamond, which is clearly different given the fact that they look completely different in the diamond clarity photographs. Notice that the American Gem Society Laboratory (AGSL) provides a plotting diagram for the Brian Gavin Signature Cushion cut diamonds that is an accurate portrayal of the unique facet design that Brian created, and it’s even to scale!
All right, as amusing and interesting as I find This Type of Idiocracy, it’s just one more reason why I prefer diamonds graded by the AGS Laboratory over those graded by the GIA-GTL; especially when it comes to fancy shape diamonds because the AGS Laboratory provides the crown and pavilion angle and depth measurements, while the GIA does not, thus I consider GIA diamond grading reports for fancy shape diamonds to be incomplete.
GIA diamond grading reports for fancy shape diamonds do not provide all the details necessary to accurately assess the proportions of the diamond, they only provide the total depth and table diameter measurement, but you’ll have no idea as to how the depth of the diamond has been divided into sections. Another reason I prefer diamonds graded by the AGS Laboratory on the Light Performance grading platform is that it provides us with an ASET scope image of the diamond.
But wait you say? There is an ASET image provided on the diamond details page for this 2.30 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, X-factor cushion cut from Enchanted Diamonds… Why yes, there is… However, this is a photograph of the diamond as seen through an ASET scope, which is not the same as the ASET scan that is provided on the Light Performance Diamond Quality Document for Brian Gavin Signature Cushion cut diamonds.
For one thing, an actual ASET scan of a diamond is conducted using a supercomputer, which analyzes the diamond from several hundred different vantage points, and then creates a composite showing how the diamond makes use of the light which enters it.
Whereas this photograph of the 2.30 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, X-factor cushion cut from Enchanted Diamonds was taken while the diamond was being viewed from ninety degrees, while the diamond was standing still, which happens to be the best possible vantage point to view a diamond through an ASET Scope; and while this diamond looks pretty good compared to ASET images that I’ve seen for other square shaped cushion modified brilliant cut diamonds, I’ve got to tell you that this diamond is failing to reflect back a lot of the light that is entering it, as is evident by all of the clear areas that are visible in the ASET Scope image provided above; and those pavilion mains should be dark blue and clearly defined as arrows, not half red and half black with green tips.
Now drift back up to the ASET Scope image provided for the 2.184 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature Cushion cut diamond reviewed above, and you’ll see what I mean; the majority of the diamond is covered in red, which indicates that the diamond is reflecting back the brightest light which is available to it from with the room; and the little bit of green which represents the second brightest light available to the diamond from within the room, is evenly distributed throughout the diamond; and the arrows pattern is covered evenly in blue, indicating that the diamond exhibits a high amount of static contrast, which is going to make it sizzle! And perhaps this answers the question “Why do Brian Gavin Signature Cushion cut diamonds cost more than other square shape cushion cut diamonds?”
The obvious answer is Brian Gavin Signature Cushion cut diamonds cost more because they are cut better, cut more precisely, designed to return the highest volume of light return, and exhibit a virtual balance of brilliance (white sparkle) and dispersion (colored sparkle) and create broad-spectrum sparkle that is larger in size, bolder, brighter, and more vivid than what you can expect to see from most cushion cut diamonds, which actually tend to not look as good when viewed through an ASET Scope or an Ideal Scope.
The intent of this article is to provide you with in-depth reviews of three popular styles of modern square cushion cut diamonds:
In hopes of helping you better understand the primary differences between each style of square cushion cut diamond, and provide you with the type of details necessary to make a more informed decision, the intent of the article is not necessarily to suggest that you purchase one brand of cushion cut diamond over another, because deciding which diamond to buy is very much a personal decision, which will undoubtedly be determined by your personal preference and budget.
I personally think that it is worth it to spend the extra money to buy a Brian Gavin Signature Cushion cut diamond, because it is the very best in my opinion; and if you’re going to drop thousands and thousands of dollars on a bright, shiny rock, it makes sense to buy one that offers the highest volume of light return, and the brightest, most vivid sparkle possible!
Brian Gavin Signature Cushion cut diamonds offer advantages that other brands of cushion cut diamonds fail to provide, such as:
However there is also the consideration that size matters, and the fact of the matter is that you get more diamond for your money in terms of carat weight, when you buy a diamond that is cut less precisely, but you do so at the expense of light return and sparkle factor, as indicated by the volume of light that is failing to reflect properly through the diamonds evidenced by the ASET images provided. Of course I do feel that these X-factor cushion cut diamonds from Enchanted Diamonds are better than 99% of the generic cushion cut diamonds that you’re likely to find floating around out there, so again it comes down to what degree of perfection do you need, and what degree of perfection are you willing to pay for?
Unfortunately, every one of the X-factor cushion cuts from Enchanted Diamonds that I looked at for this article has GIA Excellent polish and only very good symmetry:
Which means that the facet junctions are not meeting up as precisely as they could be, but I do occasionally see an X-factor cushion cut diamond that features both excellent polish and symmetry; which simply reinforces my belief that every diamond must be considered on its own merits individually, on a stone-by-stone basis. For instance, the ASET Scope image for the 2.51 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, X-factor cushion cut from Enchanted Diamonds actually looks better to me than the ASET provided for the 2.30 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, X-factor cushion cut from Enchanted Diamonds referenced above, and thus I’d choose this diamond over that one.
Be sure to take advantage of my free Diamond Concierge Service if you would like the benefit of my insight on your diamond quest, I’ve worked as a professional diamond buyer for the trade for almost 30 years! And the use of my services cost you nothing, my fees are paid by the various vendors who are featured on this web site when you purchase a diamond using the links provided and doing so does not change your purchase price! My fees are paid out of the annual budget that each vendor sets aside for advertising and promotion, thus working together creates a Win / Win scenario for everybody involved.
Todd Gray is a professional diamond buyer with 30+ years of trade experience. He loves to teach people how to buy diamonds that exhibit incredible light performance! In addition to writing for Nice Ice, Todd "ghost writes" blogs and educational content for other diamond sites. When Todd isn't chained to a desk, or consulting for the trade, he enjoys Freediving! (that's like scuba diving, but without air tanks)
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