Among the square diamond cuts, the princess and radiant cuts are two excellent options that give you sparkle, beauty and a contemporary look. Both cuts are popular for engagement rings and have a contemporary look.
However, while they might look alike at first glance, the princess and radiant cuts are very different.
Here’s how they differ and which to choose for you.
- What is the Princess Cut?
- What is the Radiant Cut?
- Best Settings for Princess and Radiant Diamonds
- Princess or Radiant: Which is More Brilliant?
- Princess or Radiant: Is the Price the Same?
- Princess or Radiant: Which is More Durable?
- Princess or Radiant: Which Should I Choose?
What is the Princess Cut?
The princess cut is the second most popular cut for engagement rings, following the round brilliant cut. It’s a relatively new cut and was introduced in the 1960s as an alternative to the round brilliant. The aim was to create a square cut with the sparkle and light performance similar to round shape.
The princess cut has four sharp corners and is typically square although elongated princess shapes can sometimes be found. It has 58 facets, but new modified princess cuts have 76, adding more brilliance.
What is the Radiant Cut?
The radiant cut has been around since the 1980s and provides a cross between the modern look of the princess cut and the vintage vibe of the cushion cut.
Radiant cuts are either elongated into a rectangular shape or cut into a square shape. Choose your length to width ratio carefully with radiant cuts as this can affect the overall outcome of your stone. The length to width ratio will determine whether your diamond is skinny and long or square and squat.
The radiant cut is square or rectangular in appearance but has 8 sides, with the sharp corners truncated into short edges. The shape has 70 facets, designed to enhance light performance – hence the name radiant. It has bevelled edges which gives it more angles and depth than a princess.
Radiant cuts are often cut quite deep, meaning that a lot of the diamond is beneath the surface. This is partly why the shape is so brilliant as deeper diamonds tend to have better light performance.
Best Settings for Princess and Radiant Diamonds
Because both these diamond cuts are square and look somewhat alike, the same settings can work equally well for both. However, pay attention to the sharp edges of the princess cut which requires a more protective setting than the radiant cut.
A well-chosen ring setting can highlight the angles and brilliance of either the radiant or the princess cut. Here are some of our favorites from James Allen:
Solitaire Engagement Ring Setting
The solitaire ring setting has a minimalist, clean look with a classic style. This setting allows the beauty of the diamond to be visible from the front and sides, enhancing light reflection. For princess cuts, ensure that the four prongs protect each corner of the shape.
Princess cut solitaire setting. Check it here.
Halo Engagement Ring Setting
Halo ring settings add extra sparkle and detail to a princess or radiant cut diamond. It also provides more security as the halo acts as a buffer from impact.
Radiant cut diamond in halo setting. Check it here.
Pave Engagement Ring Setting
Pave settings are beautiful and very versatile, as they can be designed in endless ways. Pave adds detail and sparkle to a diamond ring, emphasising the center stone.
Pave rope engagement ring with princess cut. See it here.
Tension Setting Engagement Ring
Tension settings are very modern, futuristic almost. They require precision and careful designing which is why not many retailers offer this setting. Tension set princess or radiant cuts are exceptionally brilliant because there’s no metal obstructing light performance – the diamond can be seen in all its glory from all sides. While these settings might appear fragile, they’re quite durable.
Tension setting with princess cut diamond. Check it here.
Bezel Set Engagement Ring
The bezel setting is where a strip of metal surrounds the edges of the diamond from all corners. This keeps the diamond safe and secure within the setting, but reduces the light play of the stone, as the only visible section of the diamond is the top surface. For radiant cuts, the additional planes from the bevelled edges adds more sparkle and depth than a princess cut which can look quite flat in a bezel setting.
Princess cut in bezel setting with pave band. Check it here.
These are just some of the most popular settings but there are many more to choose from, like split shank, vintage and three stone settings.
Princess or Radiant: Which is More Brilliant?
Both these cuts have been faceted to maximize their light performance and so both are very good options for a brilliant diamond. It’s not easy to say which is more brilliant because they work with light in different ways.
The princess cut refracts light in a neat, methodical way as the facets are arranged meticulously. The radiant cut, on the other hand, is somewhat haphazard in how it reflects light because of the more complicated faceting arrangement and the higher number of facets. When put side by side, the radiant cut can often appear more brilliant than the princess because of how it reflects light from all angles.
However, it’s hard to say which of the two has better sparkle, as it depends on several factors. If all else is equal, the radiant can appear more brilliant. The best way to tell is to lay the diamonds next to each other and check.
Princess or Radiant: Is the Price the Same?
If you compare these cuts to the round diamond, you’ll find that they’re both more affordable. This is because the round is the most expensive of all diamond cuts and also the most in demand.
Square cuts typically result in less wastage from the diamond rough because of their shape usually means that two square cuts can be fashioned from a single diamond rough. This translates to lower prices. The princess cut, however, can be more expensive than the radiant cut, due to its higher demand. The radiant cut is not as popular and because the demand for radiant cuts is low, prices can be low as well.
Princess or Radiant: Which is More Durable?
The four sharp edges of the princess cut make it more vulnerable to chipping and fracturing than the radiant. The princess cut can get snagged on everyday objects and clothes, which can damage the stone. The radiant cut doesn’t have any sharp points and is more durable in this regard. This means that the radiant cut is better for people with active and busy lifestyles, where they use their hands a lot.
Princess or Radiant: Which Should I Choose?
Deciding on which diamond cut to choose is difficult because each cut has its pros and cons. Princess cuts are associated with modernity, risk-taking, glamor and creativity. Radiant cuts also have similar associations with a trendy, glamorous and confident look to them.
Which you choose depends on your personal preferences. If you would like to try before you buy, we recommend checking out With Clarity’s Home Preview Service which allows you to create and try on up to 2 replica rings for a few days. If you end up liking one, you can then have a designer create it for you in precious metals and with diamonds. The best part is that the entire process is free with no commitment to buy.
If you have decided which to go for, we suggest searching on James Allen or Blue Nile for your dream diamond engagement ring.
James Allen has high quality video and images that’s the next best thing to seeing the ring in person. Their range of settings and styles are quite unique and full of class.
Blue Nile is known for their competitive pricing and excellent customer service. They have one of the largest online diamond inventories and a wide range of settings and styles. While we don’t love the quality of their videos/images you can’t deny the prices and quality of products are impeccable.