Radiant Cut Diamonds: The Ultimate Buying Guide (2021)

Ravishing radiant cut diamonds...

Are you having a hard time finding the right diamond shape for your engagement ring? Do you love the elongated silhouette of an emerald-cut diamond but long for the fire and scintillation of a round brilliant stone?🤔 Well, you’re in luck: you can actually get the best features of both shapes with a radiant cut diamond!

Radiant cut diamonds have a unique blend of characteristics that produces the excellent brilliance of a round diamond in the silhouette of an emerald cut. The radiant style isn’t the most popular cut, but it’s certainly a great option for anyone seeking a middle ground between round and square shapes.

Let’s go over:

  • Radiant cut basics
  • How the radiant cut differs from similar silhouettes
  • Things to consider when shopping for a radiant cut stone
  • Pricing for radiant cut gems
  • Top setting styles for radiant cut diamond rings
  • Radiant diamond pros and cons
Radiant Cut Diamond Loose Stone

Basics: What is a radiant cut diamond?

The radiant cut style is relatively new, as it’s only about 40 years old! Henry Grossbard, a New York diamond cutter, crafted the first example of a radiant cut in the 1970s. To do so, he used the work of Basil Watermeyer—father of the Barion cut—to produce an octagonal cut style that optimized the brilliance of a square diamond.

As a result, Grossbard created a diamond cut that offered a modern take on the "Old World" charm of the emerald, round brilliant, and even Asscher cuts. Combining the clean lines and slim silhouette of emerald-cut diamonds and the brilliance of round gems, Grossbard invented a diamond shape that can withstand most wear and tear and keep on sparkling.🌟

A radiant cut features 70 facets crafted with the utmost precision for optimal light play. This increase in light performance leads to a significant boost in fire, brilliance, and scintillation, producing a square diamond that rivals a round brilliant!

Unlike the mirrored facets of other elongated shapes, the “crushed ice” facets of the radiant cut can mask imperfections just like other diamond shapes with brilliant cuts.

Speaking of shape, a radiant cut diamond may sport a square or rectangular silhouette depending on the style. Regardless, each radiant cut diamond has “beveled” or cut corners that are reminiscent of an Asscher cut stone. These beveled corners reduce chipping and create a more contemporary look that’s excellent for active lifestyles.

How does the radiant cut differ from other similar cuts?

As mentioned above, the radiant cut is eerily similar to other diamond cuts. While it’s clear how a squared radiant cut diamond differs from a round brilliant, the differences between the radiant style and other square or rectangular cuts are less obvious.

Here’s how a radiant cut diamond differs from other familiar squared shapes:

Radiant cut vs. Emerald-cut diamonds

Radiant and emerald-cut diamonds can both have a rectangular shape, namely when a radiant cut stone has an elongated silhouette. Similarly, both cuts feature beveled corners to defend against chipping and cracks. Both cuts are also fairly rare, with emerald cuts making up only 3% of the diamond population!

That’s about all these two diamond cuts have in common, though. Unlike the fairly modern radiant cut, the emerald cut itself is incredibly old: the first recorded emerald-cut stones are from the 1500s!

Furthermore, when it comes to faceting, these two cuts couldn’t be more different. A radiant cut sports 70 small facets crafted to maximize brilliance and imitate the sparkle of a round diamond. In contrast, an emerald-cut diamond has just 58 facets, which are much larger and form a “step cut”.⚖️

Radiant Cut vs. Emerald Cut Faceting

A step cut means the diamond’s semi-rectangular facets run in long, parallel lines around the shape of the stone. They gradually step downward from the girdle much like a staircase, meeting at the base of the diamond.

While a radiant cut focuses on ideal lightplay and sparkle, an emerald cut doesn’t have the necessary pattern for such performance. Instead, these diamonds act as mirrors, reflecting light outward in long, structured lines that produce a warm glow.

Overall, radiant cut diamonds can hide inclusions much better than emerald cuts. But, the emerald’s elongated facets have a lengthening effect on one’s finger that a radiant cut cannot reliably reproduce.

Radiant cut vs. Princess cut diamonds

A popular choice among shoppers, the princess cut is a well-loved diamond shape for engagement rings. The basic silhouette of the princess cut is very similar to that of a traditional radiant cut stone, as it’s always square in shape.

Radiant Cut vs. Princess Cut Faceting

However, princess cut diamonds have sharp, prominent corners that create a much more angular appeal when compared to the beveled edges of a radiant cut diamond. These pointed edges are less durable than the beveled radiant cut, meaning they need to be protected with prongs that either cover the points or wrap 90° around each corner.

Regarding light play, both diamond cuts are rather brilliant depending on the quality of their overall cut. Radiant cut diamonds tend to be a bit more sparkly, but a well-cut princess can outshine a radiant-cut gem for sure!

Furthermore, elongated radiant cut diamonds can also appear larger than princess cut diamonds of similar carat weight. Longer radiant cut stones also may provide a slight slimming effect that a square princess cut diamond cannot.

When it comes to masking inclusions, both shapes do a wonderful job. Inclusions are sometimes easier to spot in princess cut stones due to their larger table, but a grading report can easily direct you to a diamond with brilliance that can hide such imperfections.

Finally, both cuts are typically a great deal and can save you money on carat, as they produce very little waste in the cutting process. As such, they’re both great budget buys and look amazing in pretty much any setting.

Radiant cut vs. Asscher cut diamonds

Arguably the closest thing to the radiant cut diamond’s silhouette, the Asscher cut features a squarish shape with beveled edges. However, a radiant cut diamond is considered 4-sided, while an Asscher cut gem is 8-sided with a more octagonal design.

Radiant Cut vs. Asscher Cut Faceting

Similar to the emerald cut, an Asscher cut diamond also boasts a step cut that creates a stair-like effect down to the diamond’s base. Consequently, it doesn’t sparkle as brilliantly as the “crushed ice” patterning of a radiant cut stone.

Plus, a step-cut means Asscher cut stones will show inclusions and discoloration more readily when compared to radiant cut diamonds, so be on the lookout for any visible imperfections!

However, with fewer facets comes a smaller price tag: Asscher cut diamonds are typically less expensive per carat than their radiant cut counterparts. Despite this, both cuts can be purchased for a good price, so it really just depends on whether you prefer the glow of a step cut or the sparkle of a brilliant cut.😊

Things to consider when buying a radiant cut diamond

As with any other diamond cut, the 4Cs are the key to finding a high-quality radiant cut diamond. Use these tips when perusing diamond grading reports to ensure you get a great diamond worth every penny:

Radiant Cut Diamond: Cut Quality

A radiant cut is classified as a “fancy cut”, which means it generally does not receive a traditional cut grade.🔔 However, there are certain qualities to watch for regarding length, symmetry, and dimensions that can help you choose a more desirable radiant cut stone.

Length-To-Width Ratio

The first measurement to be wary of is length-to-width ratio, which indicates how proportionate a particular diamond is relative to its intended shape and outline. For radiant cut diamonds, you should search for a length-to-width ratio that highlights the diamond’s exquisite facet pattern for optimal sparkle.

But, as previously discussed, radiant cut diamonds can be square OR rectangular depending on your preferences. So, there are two different ranges for the ideal length-to-width ratio based on which shape you’re seeking.

  • If you’d prefer a classic, square radiant cut diamond, try to find diamonds with a 1.0 to 1.05 length-to-width ratio. This will ensure all sides are nearly identical for the most precise square silhouette possible.
  • For those who prefer an elongated radiant cut diamond, seek length-to-width ratios in the range of 1.15 to 1.35. Play around with different numbers in this range to find the right shape for you, as diamond silhouettes can vary greatly!

Symmetry and Polish

The 70 facets of a radiant cut diamond make it a much more complicated cut than other styles. As a result, mathematical symmetry is a crucial factor in optical symmetry, which generates a balanced beauty and sparkle.

Polish is also important, as it denotes the refinement of the cut and finish of each facet. For example, asymmetrical facets, rough girdles, and other polish imperfections can impact overall sparkle by affecting how light enters and exits the diamond.

For both Symmetry and Polish, try to find stones with Very Good to Excellent grades. Doing so ensures the diamond’s facets were cut with the utmost care and precision, and your stone’s brilliance—or lack thereof—won’t disappoint.

Radiant Diamond Stone

Table and Depth

It’s important to research different table and depth percentages as well when buying a radiant cut diamond. These measurements dictate how visible features like color or inclusions will be, and they also impact brilliance, fire, and scintillation.

The ideal table percentage range for a radiant cut diamond is 61% to 69%, and the best range for depth percentage is 61% to 67%.

Despite this, diamonds outside these ranges can also perform perfectly well and save you a little cash! Extend your ranges to 58% to 72% for table and 59% to 70% for the depth to broaden your diamond search.

We’ve also rounded up all of our suggested parameters for a radiant cut diamond below:

 ExcellentVery GoodGood
Table %61%-69%58%-60% or 70%-72%54%-57% or 73%-74%
Depth %61%-67%59%-60.9% or 70%-74%54%-58.9% or 74.1%-79%
GirdleVery Thin - Slightly ThickVery Thin - ThickVery Thin - Very Thick
CuletNoneVery SmallSmall
Polish/SymmetryExcellent - Very GoodGood

Shape Appeal

Although not an official cut category, be mindful of shape appeal as you shop for radiant cut diamonds. Avoid corners that are too narrow or wide, as they can negatively impact symmetry and compromise the strength and integrity of the shape.

Also, be on the lookout for the bow-tie effect, which is sometimes visible in diamonds with elongated silhouettes. You can identify a bow tie by examining the center of the stone for a horizontal patch of darkness.

Poorly cut diamonds will have a bow-tie-shaped dark spot across their center, so if you don’t find the feature charming—and some do, which is totally fine!—be sure to look for diamonds free from bow-ties.

Color

While radiant cut diamonds are excellent at hiding inclusions and blemishes, they’re not the best at masking unwanted color. That’s because their fancy shape features a deep pavilion and shallow corners, making color peek through more easily.

To prevent any discoloration from showing, we recommend a radiant cut diamond with a color grade of H or higher. This will prevent any yellowish hues from poking through, and the diamond will look just as fabulous on white metals as it does on yellow and rose gold settings.

Speaking of yellow and rose gold, choosing a setting in these colors means you may be able to choose a color that’s a few grades lower. These metals will mask any yellow in your diamond, so you can save money and your stone will still look icy white!

Clarity

The crushed ice faceting pattern of radiant cut diamonds helps them hide inclusions well, so you can save a bit of money on clarity by inspecting each diamond carefully.  We recommend finding a radiant-cut gem with a clarity grade of VS2 or higher for a nearly guaranteed eye-clean appeal.

However, feel free to shop around and look at diamonds with lower clarity grades! It’s possible to find radiant cut diamonds with SI1 or SI2 clarity that are entirely eye clean thanks to the optical effects produced by a combo of cut quality, length-to-width ratio, and carat weight.

Carat Weight

The carat weight of your future radiant cut diamond really depends on what you’re looking for. Luckily, radiant cut stones boast long, diagonal lines that make their tables appear larger than those of round brilliant cut diamonds of equal size.

As such, you can get a seemingly larger diamond for less if you choose a radiant cut diamond over the traditional, expensive round brilliant!😃

Overall, a 1-carat radiant cut diamond is always a safe bet and looks lovely on any finger, but this will also depend on your budget. Elongated radiant cuts appear larger than square stones, so you can opt for a longer silhouette to get a seemingly larger diamond for less.

How about the pricing of radiant cut diamonds?

Radiant cut diamonds are cost-friendly when compared to other silhouettes. In short, the diamond shape produces very little waste during the cutting process, and less waste means more diamond per carat!

Overall, radiant cut diamonds cost about 25-30% less per carat than round brilliant stones. Expect to pay roughly $2,000-$8,500 for a radiant cut diamond, with mid to top-quality gems sitting at the very high end of that range.

However, radiant cut stones only make up about 2% of diamond sales, which means retailers often carry fewer of them. This can be quite an issue when searching for a high-quality stone, as the low demand means fewer gems with high grades are cut.

Get inspired by these 5 popular setting styles for radiant cuts

So what setting will you choose for your radiant cut stone? Here are our top 5 absolute favorite radiant cut diamond engagement ring settings:

Solitaire Prong Settings

Four-Prong Radiant Cut Diamond Ring
Brilliant Earth (Style: BE150-18KW)

A solitaire setting with an open prong layout is ideal for maximizing lightplay in a radiant cut diamond. Four prong designs offer just enough protection for the stone’s beveled edges, and this style looks lovely in white, yellow, or rose-colored metals.

However, one fun way to personalize a solitaire setting is by selecting different prongs rather than the standard bead style. You can opt for flat tab prongs for a more secure hold, or try claw or even double prongs for a chic, modern take on the solitaire style.😎

An antique or vintage-inspired solitaire setting can also make your radiant diamond glow rather than sparkle, providing an Old Hollywood appeal for this modern shape. You can even accent your ring with radiant cut diamond earrings for special occasions.

Three-Stone Styles

Three-Stone Radiant Cut Diamond Engagement Ring in Yellow Gold

For a decadent engagement ring, you can’t beat a three-stone setting with radiant cut diamonds. Due to its brilliant design, a radiant cut center stone can match nearly any side stone shape you wish. But, round, pear, marquise, and princess cut stones are excellent for amping up the sparkle!

For a more modern touch, side stones with mirror-like facets compliment the sleek look of a radiant cut center diamond. Look for settings with trapezoid or tapered baguette side stones to bring an airy brightness to your ring.

Halo Rings

Shared-Prong Halo Radiant Engagement Ring (18K White Gold)
Brilliant Earth (Style: BE1D1816-18KW)

Nothing sparkles quite like a radiant cut diamond with a halo setting! Radiant diamonds were made to be surrounded by shimmering accent stones, and a halo can make your center stone appear larger.

Due to its unique shape, the halo on a radiant cut diamond can actually come in several silhouettes. The halo may have rounded edges for a softer look, or it may have corners that make your radiant cut stone look more square. There are even octagonal halos that create angular appeal and bubble diamond halos for a playful aesthetic. Whatever your style may be, a custom halo design can suit your needs when it comes to radiant diamonds!

The best way to switch up a halo ring is by adding design elements that suit your personality. For instance, you can create a vintage ring with a modern radiant cut diamond by selecting a halo setting with milgrain, filigree, and other metalwork. Furthermore, a touch of color from vibrant gemstones in your halo can produce an eye-catching appeal that is sure to garner plenty of attention.

Pavé Settings

Pavé diamonds can be added to any style of engagement ring to bring additional sparkle to your radiant cut center stone. These small accent diamonds are inexpensive and copious, and they pack quite a punch on an elongated radiant cut diamond ring.

Most designers add matching white diamonds directly to the metal band of an engagement ring, but there are many ways to customize your look for even more sparkle. One popular band style, the knife edge, allows you to include two rows of pave diamonds around your stone—sometimes with milgrain and metalwork for added allure!

Radiant Ring With Accent Diamond and Sapphire Band

Another fun way to switch up a pavé look is with colored gemstones, such as sapphires. This hidden row of sapphires on a pavé band is a gorgeous surprise element that will knock people’s socks off when they finally see it!🤪

Bezel Styles

East-West Semi-bezel Setting Radiant Diamond Ring
Brilliant Earth

For wearers who need extra protection, a bezel setting may be the best option. A bezel setting embraces your radiant cut center stone in a band of metal, providing additional security from chipping or cracks.

If you have a radiant cut diamond with a longer silhouette, you may even want to try an east-west bezel setting for a modern take on the style. Bezel settings are also notorious for blocking light, creating less than optimal lightplay. As such, a semi-bezel setting can help to bring more light to your radiant cut diamond for ideal sparkle.

Summing up: The pros and cons of radiant cut diamonds

So is a radiant cut diamond worth it? Let’s summarize the good and not-so-good aspects of this unique cut by rounding up the pros and cons:📝

Pros

  • Radiant cut diamonds are less expensive than most diamond cuts, so you can stay in budget fairly easily.
  • This unique cut offers the best features of multiple cuts: a square or rectangular-shaped stone with the fire, brilliance, and scintillation of a round brilliant diamond.
  • The diagonal corners of a radiant cut stone can make it appear larger than a round brilliant diamond of equal weight.
  • Beveled edges make a radiant cut diamond more durable than most square diamond shapes, such as princess cut stones.
  • The crushed ice patterning of a radiant cut’s facets can mask inclusions masterfully, so even a stone with a lower clarity grade may be eye clean.

Cons

  • Radiant cut diamonds do not mask color very well as a result of their increased depth and shallow corners. Consider stones with at least an H color grade to avoid discoloration.
  • Because radiant cut diamonds only make up roughly 2% of diamond sales, there is a small inventory of diamonds with this particular shape. As such, you may have to search for a while if you’re looking for a radiant cut that meets your specific criteria.
  • Due to its fancy shape, the GIA does not grade a radiant cut diamond’s overall cut. As such, it can be difficult to determine whether you’re buying a quality gem without consulting a gemologist or jeweler.
  • Because of their crushed ice faceting, radiant cut diamonds can look asymmetrical and require strict measurements to achieve their square or rectangular shape.

Researching radiant cut diamonds

A radiant cut diamond can be an excellent choice for someone who wants the best of both worlds.💯 Although this diamond shape has a squarish silhouette, it has the gorgeous fire of a round brilliant stone as well. Radiant cut diamonds are also budget-friendly and easy enough to find at most reputable retailers.

However, think long and hard about whether this hybrid diamond cut is right for you!

For a classic, easy-to-find shape that defends against chipping and looks great in any setting, opt for a round brilliant stone. Or, if you’d prefer the elongating effects and subtle glow of a longer stone, try an emerald-cut diamond instead. You can learn more about round brilliant diamonds here, and we also have plenty of info on emerald-cut diamonds here.

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