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What is the Radiant Cut Diamond? (Pros, Cons and Buying Tips)

Girl showing off her radiant shape engagement ring

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Radiant cut diamonds are fairly new to the jewelry scene but they have quickly become the favorite of many people. They may not be near the top of most popularity charts – round and princess cuts are still the most popular diamond cuts – but radiant cuts do have a rather fervent fan base and there are a lot of good reasons for that.

So, what do you need to know about the radiant cut? Its name may be less descriptive and more flattering than most other cuts (which are typically named after their shapes) so let’s start by explaining what this cut actually is.

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Radiant Cut Diamond Pros and Cons

First let’s go over the pros and cons of this relatively new, stylishly modern cut.

Radiant cut pros:

  • Excellent brilliance, equaling that of the round cut and surpassing that of other rectangular cuts.
  • Unique design with sharp edges but truncated corners which give it an almost octagonal look.
  • Very efficient manufacturing process as there’s very little diamond rough wastage in the production of radiant cuts.
  • The radiant cut has a very nice contemporary look that goes very well with most settings and designs.
  • The depth and brilliance of the radiant cut mean that it hides inclusions and blemishes well, allowing you to purchase a slightly lower quality and cheaper stone without affecting the visible quality.

Radiant cut cons:

  • The extra depth of the radiant cut means that it will look smaller when viewed from above compared to other cuts of the same carat weight.
  • The radiant cut is still rather rare, even though it has a growing fan base. This means that it will be harder to find with certain vendors. However, most reputable on-location and online vendors do offer radiant cuts.
  • Extra-protective settings like the bezel setting don’t work well with radiant cuts as they diminish its brilliance.
  • The radiant cut enhances the color of the diamond, which means you can’t go down far on the color scale.
  • May feature a bowtie.

What Is a Radiant Cut?

radiant cut diamond closeup

The radiant cut is a rather unique diamond cut in that it combines the rectangular shape of princess and cushion cuts with the brilliance of the round cut. It’s a symmetrical and non-traditional cut with trimmed corners and faceting similar to that of round cut diamonds.

In short, the radiant cut combines some of the most prized qualities of several different types of cuts –

  • the brilliant and fiery look of round cut diamonds
  • the clarity and purity of emerald cuts
  • the contemporary and non-traditional rectangular shape.

This makes the radiant cut a very versatile and imaginative cut that goes very well with a myriad of different settings, designs, metals, and colors.

If you want a more modern and non-traditional rectangular cut for your engagement ring diamond but you don’t want to compromise with its brilliance – the radiant cut is for you.

History of the Radiant Cut

The history of the radiant cut is quite short so this section won’t be long either – the radiant cut was created in the late 1970s by Henry Grossbard who was a part of the Radiant Cut Diamond Company at the time, hence the cut’s name.

The first radiant cut diamond was released to the market in 1977. It was very unique at the time with its cut corners and untraditionally intricate faceting for a rectangular diamond. Before the radiant cut, all other rectangular cuts were made with fewer and simpler facets compared to round cuts and offered much less brilliance in favor of clarity and simplicity.

Best Cut Specifications for Radiant Cut Diamonds

As a rectangular cut, the radiant cut can vary quite a bit in its proportions and specifications. Here’s how to choose the best cut:

Radiant Cut Length to Width Ratio

Its length-to-width ratio can vary from 1.10 (almost a square) to 1.35 (more elongated rectangle), however, the popular middle ground is 1.25.

All ratios are fine, of course, as this is mostly a matter of personal preferences. Square radiant cuts tend to look smaller because the radiant is also quite a deep cut, however, squarer cuts tend to offer even more brilliance. Rectangular radiant diamonds, on the other hand, can look bigger than they are.

Radiant Cut Depth

Another important specification of the radiant cut is its depth. The ideal depth percentage is 75%-64% but anything up to 84%-56% is still decent. The deeper the cut, the smaller the diamond will look viewed from above compared to a princess or a cushion cut of the same carat weight. This depth, however, is what adds that extra brilliance that the radiant cut provides.

Radiant Cut Table

As far as the table is concerned, the ideal table proportions for a radiant cut are 76%-62% and anything up to 82%-55% is acceptable.

Choosing Your Color Grade

GIA Diamond Color Scale

GIA diamond color scale

Radiant cut tends to show more color than most other cuts, including round cuts. What this means is that if you choose a diamond lower down on the diamond color scale, the warm tints of the stone will be emphasized by the radiant cut. If you want a colorless diamond, you’d have to opt for a higher color grade (D-E-F grades) but for a diamond with warm tints, you can drop down as far as you wish.

Also note that the metal color of the setting greatly influences the overall look of the diamond. Any warm tints will be visible in a white metal setting, while yellow and rose gold settings offer contrast to the diamond and make it appear whiter than it is.

g color radiant cut diamond engagement ring

G Color Diamond in White Gold. Check Price Here

g-color princess shape engagement ring in yellow gold

G Color Diamond in Yellow Gold. Check Price Here

In the two settings above, notice how the diamond in the white gold setting appears a touch more yellow than the yellow gold ring. The yellow metal tricks our eyes into seeing the diamond as whiter than it is.

Radiant Bowtie

A bowtie might sound like a glamorous feature, but it’s something you’d want to avoid with diamonds. It refers to a darkened area that lies horizontally across the radiant diamonds surface. It’s the result of misaligned facets.

Radiant diamond bow tie

See more radiant diamonds here

Which of the 4 randomly selected diamonds featured above feature a bowtie? If you said the second and the fourth from the left, you’re correct.

Bowties can add a bit more interest to a diamond and emphasize its facets and sparkle, but if it’s the only thing you notice when you look at your diamond, then it’s too severe. In this case, it’s best to opt for a different stone.

Choosing Your Clarity Grade

GIA Clarity scale explained

GIA Clarity Grade

When it comes to clarity, the grade isn’t important. Rather, what matters is how eye-clean the diamond is, which depends on where the inclusions are located and what color these inclusions are.

You can find eye clean diamonds in even very low clarity grades, like the Slightly Included category. Unfortunately, the diamond grading report doesn’t note where any inclusions might be located in a diamond. This is why it’s important to carefully inspect your diamond, either in person or better still, via HD videos and magnification tools to observe its clarity. 

Ideal Settings for Radiant Cut Diamonds

The radiant cut can be used with almost any setting but look best in more open settings. This is because a lot of the weight of the radiant cut is in its depth so a setting that shows how deep this cut is can make it look as impressive as possible when viewed from the sides. Alternatively, a more conservative and protective setting would take that away from the radiant cut and just leave its smaller table as the main visible part of the stone.

Prong settings are an excellent option for radiant cuts as these tend to maximize the brilliance of the diamond. 4-prong settings also look perfectly symmetrical with a radiant cut and emphasizes its square shape.

Radiant cut prong setting engagement ring in white gold

Radiant Cut in solitaire prong setting. See it here.

For even more brilliance consider a pave prong setting like this twisted rope pave ring, which adds exceptional brilliance to the shank of the ring, drawing the eye to the center stone.

A side stone setting, like this shared prong side stone set ring, is similar to the pave but adds extra depth and texture with the larger diamond melees. This is perfect for a more blingy look.

Halo settings, like this octagon knife edge radiant halo ring, frames the radiant cut, emphasizing its shape and brilliance, and accentuating its size. This is an excellent choice for the radiant as it makes the diamond look bigger and brings out the beauty of its higher table.

Vintage radiant settings together with a radiant cut, like this milgrain pave leaf diamond ring, bring the perfect mix of traditional and contemporary looks, for a very stylish look.

A bezel setting, which provides better security for a radiant cut, is a good option if security is your highest priority. However, note that bezels tend to minimize the diamond’s brilliance and apparent size, as it covers the edges of the diamond completely with a metal strip. In general, we would recommend against choosing a radiant bezel setting.

Radiant Cuts Compared to Other Popular Cuts

All diamond shapes

To truly see whether you’d want a radiant cut stone or not, let’s see how it compares to the other popular diamond cuts.

Radiant Cut vs. Round Cut

The round cut is the most popular diamond cut out there thanks to its classic shape and excellent brilliance. The radiant is the only square-shaped cut that comes close to the brilliance of the round cut. As we’ve already mentioned, the radiant cut is somewhat deeper which actually makes it smaller than a round diamond of equivalent size, but its long straight lines gives the illusion that it’s bigger. The radiant cut is much less expensive than a round cut partly because of the lower demand for it. It’s also less wasteful to produce as more diamond rough is used when cutting the radiant as opposed to when cutting the round.

Radiant Cut vs. Cushion Cut

The main difference here is that cushion cuts have rounded sides, so they don’t look as rectangular as the radiant cut. Both cuts are “brilliant cut” meaning that they are cut for maximum brilliance but the radiant cut does exhibit more brilliance overall.

Radiant Cut vs. Emerald Cut

The emerald cut has shape as the radiant cut, with slightly more elongated look. However, the biggest difference between the two is the faceting – while the radiant cut is a brilliant cut diamond, the emerald cut is a step cut. This means that the emerald cut has fewer and larger facets that produce less brilliance but offer more clarity.

Radiant Cut vs. Princess Cut

The princess cut, the second most popular cut after the round shape, is also a brilliant cut diamond, however, the radiant cut outclasses it in terms of brilliance as well. As far as the shape is concerned, both have sharp edges but, like the emerald cut, the princess cut’s corners aren’t truncated. It’s the perfect square shape with a larger table and less depth.

Shopping Tips for Radiant Cut Diamonds

The key tip for buying a radiant cut is to work with a reputable and experienced vendor. For one, not all vendors offer radiant cuts but even when you find such cuts you’d want a vendor you can trust who will offer you the best stones and the ideal settings and designs for them.

The radiant cut has a lot of things going for it – its brilliance, how well it hides inclusions, its unique shape and so on, but to take advantage of all these things you’ll need to pick your diamond and setting very carefully.

Compromising a little with the clarity of a radiant cut is acceptable, but it’s best not to sacrifice color unless you’re after a diamond with warm tints.  As already mentioned, choose the metal color of your ring setting accordingly – white metals tend to enhance a colorless diamond while yellow and rose gold colors make the diamond appear whiter by contrast.  

Most importantly, however, it’s best to choose a setting that enhances the brilliance of the radiant cut, emphasizes its unique shape, and showcases its depth from the sides.