Jewelry Guide

The radiant cut: all you need to know

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The radiant cut is among the most popular fancy cuts available. Unique, modern and chic, the radiant cut exudes class and brilliance. It is one of only two square diamond shapes (along with the princess cut) that displays a high level of brilliance and sparkle.

In this article, we point out all the reasons why a radiant cut diamond might be the perfect choice for you.

What is the radiant cut?Radiant shape diamond

A relatively young cut, the radiant shape was created and patented in 1977 by Henry Grossbard, a master gem cutter. He had wanted to create a cut that combined the fiery sparkle of a round brilliant with the elegant shape of an emerald.

If you have seen an emerald shaped diamond, you will notice that it is cut in long steps that can dull the brilliance of the stone and make it appear glassy. The round cut, on the other hand, has a specific and intense faceting pattern that brings out brilliance and sparkle. Cross the emerald and round cuts and you have the basis of the radiant cut.

The radiant cut generally has about 70 facets.  Compare this to the famous round brilliant which only has 58 facets and you start to gain a sense of appreciation for the work and precision that goes into creating the radiant cut.

Because of its faceting pattern, radiant cuts have exceptional light return, making it highly brilliant. This explains the name ‘radiant’. In fact, this brilliance is only outdone by that of the round cut.

Radiant Cut Clarity Grade

The radiant cut is a very forgiving shape. Due to its many facets, the radiant cut tends to hide inclusions in a diamond very well. The brilliance of the stone and the way the light is dispersed can make it difficult to see inclusions with the naked eye. You can use this to your advantage when buying a radiant diamond by dropping a few grades down on the clarity scale.

Before purchasing, ensure that you have seen the stone in person or viewed high quality photos and/or videos to be certain that it is eye clean (meaning no visible inclusions).The diamond clarity scale ranges from Flawless to Included. The less included the stone, the more expensive it becomes. If your radiant diamond is less than 1 carat, you can drop down to VS2 while if it is over 2 carats, go down as far as VVS2 for excellent clarity. Because inclusions will be more visible on larger stones, it’s best not to compromise on quality in this aspect.

GIA diamond clarity chart

For the best value, look for a diamond with a lower clarity grade but that appears eye clean. If you’re shopping online, ensure that you purchase from a retailer that gives you access to photos and/or videos of the actual diamond, and not simply of a stock photo.  Buying a diamond blind (that is, without seeing the actual stone) can result in a lot of trouble down the line. You may think that relying on the lab report should be good enough, but while lab reports state the clarity grade, they don’t point out where the inclusions are located.

To make this point, take a look at this selection of random radiant cuts that are all Slightly Included 2. As you will notice, some have more noticeable inclusions than others but if you were going simply by their lab reports, you would not be able to cherry pick the best of the lot. With high quality images (like the Diamond Display TechnologyTM of James Allen) it becomes much easier.

Radiant Cut Color Grade

There is no right or wrong color grade, as this is a matter of preference and budget. By color, we are referring to the tint of a diamond, and not to fancy colored diamonds, which is a different category altogether. Radiant cuts tend to show color easily. You may wish to choose a higher color grade.

Diamond color chart from perfect colorless to noticeable color

In general, all else being equal, the lower you go down on the diamond color scale, the more you can save on your diamond. The D-E-F (colorless) diamonds are the most popular choice when it comes to diamonds, and therefore the priciest. Customers are willing to pay a premium for these grades. However, the difference in color between these grades are very minimal and can hardly be noticed by the naked eye, although the price difference can be considerable. 

Compare the D grade and H grade diamonds below with otherwise similar specifications. While there is hardly a big difference in their appearance, they differ in price by 500 dollars!

H color grade radiant shape diamond

See this diamond here

D color grade radiant diamond

See this diamond here.

Another thing to consider when choosing the color of the diamond is the metal of your jewelry or engagement ring. For example, if you are opting for yellow or rose gold metals, you can drop down the color grade of your diamond to the near colorless grades or even the faint yellow grades, depending on your preferences and the appearance of the ring. The reason is that set against the metal, the tints in the stone will be less noticeable.

However, if your setting is white gold, platinum or silver then it is wise to choose from one of the colorless D-F grades as these metals tend to show any hint of color in the diamond.

What About Fancy Colored Diamonds?

You might have heard that when it comes to colored diamonds, fancy shapes are best. This is especially true of the radiant cut which is a very popular shape for colored diamonds. The shape, faceting and proportions of the cut maximizes and intensifies the color of the diamond. It exhibits the diamond color evenly throughout the stone, whereas some other shapes may have lighter areas due to the facet patterns.

Here are examples of stunning colored diamonds in the radiant shape.

Yellow colored diamond radiant shapeSee this diamond here.

Pink colored diamond radiant shape

See this diamond here.

Brown colored diamond in radiant shape

See this diamond here.

Radiant Cut – Length-to-Width Ratio

You might have noticed by now that a radiant cut can be either square or rectangular. The cut will be the same, with only the length to width ratio slightly different.

For the perfect rectangular shape, choose a length to width ratio of about 1.25 – 1.35. For a square shape, choose a length to width ratio of 1.

If you are shopping online for an engagement ring, keep the length-to-width ratios in mind. While in the past rectangular radiant cuts were more popular, today, an increasing number of shoppers opt for the square shape. The shape you decide to choose depends on your personal preferences.

radiant shape diamond Length to widt ratio

The Radiant Cut – Durability

Some gemstone cuts, such as pear and marquise, can be quite fragile due to their pointed corners. These can chip and catch on things.

The radiant cut, however, is quite durable. The cut has trimmed corners and beveled edges which keep it from easily chipping or breaking. This is another reason the radiant cut is an excellent choice for an engagement ring as it can be worn daily without needing extra setting protection.

Radiant Cut – Possible Bow-Ties

Most diamond grading labs, including the GIA, do not grade the quality of the Cut of fancy shaped diamonds (a fancy shaped cut refers to all cuts other than the round brilliant). These labs only grade the Cut of the round brilliant.

What does this mean for you?

You will not have a clear idea of the quality of your radiant shape diamond without actually seeing the stone. Poor cut quality can give rise to issues such as bow-ties.

A bow tie refers to the darkened area, in the shape of a man’s bow-tie, which may lie across the middle of the diamond. Bow-ties are mostly prevalent in elongated diamond shapes, such as pear, oval and marquise and can range from invisible to severe. You can see that two of the radiant diamonds below taken from James Allen show some degree of bow-tie.

Bow tie in radiant shape diamonds

Radiant diamonds from James Allen 

This occurs when misaligned facets on the diamond’s surface prevents light from reflecting off the stone. Instead of reflecting back at the observer, light travels through and out of the diamond. If the diamond has been expertly cut, with the facets perfectly aligned, then this will not be an issue.

Unfortunately, because the grading report does not grade Cut, the only way to be sure there is no unsightly bow-tie on the diamond is to actually see the stone for yourself. As mentioned above, this is why buying blind (just going by a grading report and not seeing images of the actual stone) is not recommended.

Choose the Right Setting for the Radiant Cut

Because the radiant cut is a durable shape, you have a lot of setting options that will work with it, especially when it comes to engagement rings. The prong setting is generally the most popular choice for radiant cuts, allowing the stone to be viewed and admired in all its glory with minimum metal to block the diamond.

Radiant shape diamond in prong setting engagement ring

This clever setting appears to have only 4 prongs but in fact has 8 that hold the diamond very securely. See this engagement ring here.

The best prong setting in terms of diamond visibility is the 4-prong option, while 6 and 8 provide more security but less visibility. If security is your highest priority, then a bezel setting may suit you best.

Radiant shape diamond in halo setting engagement ring

Simple but stylish halo set radiant cut engagement ring. See this engagement ring here.

A halo setting also provides very good protection for any diamond shape, as it consists of a number of tiny diamonds surrounding the center stone. Not only does the halo act as a buffer for the stone but it also adds extra brilliance.

Because it is such a versatile shape, the radiant cut fits a number of ring styles. As a solitaire, the radiant cut is able to shine (literally and figuratively) as it shows off its special cut. You can opt to have a three stone setting, of a radiant set with trilliants, ovals or rectangular radiant stones as accents.

For detailed information about ring settings, see: Ring styles and settings

Is the Radiant Cut Expensive?

When most people hear the term ‘fancy cuts’ they assume that this means the diamond is more expensive.

Quite the opposite.

From all the diamond shapes, the round brilliant cut is the most expensive. Round diamonds use only about half of its rough, with the rest going to waste. So essentially you’re paying more for less. The radiant cut, on the other hand, retains most of its rough.

So how does this impact?

You have a bigger stone at a lower price compared to a round cut diamond.

Having said that, also note that the radiant cut is quite a deep cut, so it will not look as large as a diamond with a shallower cut, such as an emerald.

Where to Buy Radiant Cut Diamonds Online

While most retailers offer diamonds with the radiant cut, it can sometimes be difficult to find what you are looking for due to the low availability of this shape.

There are many online vendors that offer high quality princess diamonds. Ensure that the retailer you choose is reputable and are specialized in what they do. Ask for certification and make sure that the certifying lab is recognized – such as GIA, AGS and EGL.

Prior to buying, ensure that your diamond is eye-clean and passes all your checks.  It is best to choose a professional retailer like James Allen, who have high quality photos and special Diamond Display Technology, that will allow you to inspect your diamond closely and make an informed choice.  Also check the after-sales policies, especially the returns policy.

Check out our quick comparison of the Top Online Engagement Ring Retailers for more information.

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