The Ultimate Guide to the Radiant Cut
By Stephanie Dore
Like gin without tonic, peanut butter without jelly, John without Chrissy, some things are just better together. And darling, this has never been more true than with the birth of the radiant cut diamond. Like the ultimate mashup that you just have to dance to, radiant cut diamonds give you a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and a whole lot of brilliant on your pretty little finger. But what exactly is a radiant cut diamond, anyway? And how can you find the best one for your buck? Fear not, fair friends, we’ve got you covered with the full rundown on the 4Cs and everything in between. Let’s dig in.
Mix and Match
Like we said, radiant cut diamonds are a bit of everything. They have the sophisticated outline — the straight sides and cropped corners — and step cut facets of an emerald cut on top with the small, sharp facets of a brilliant cut on the bottom. 70 facets in all, in fact. That’s way more than your usual 57 or 58. Radiants are what we refer to in the industry as a “mixed cut” and you may see that term on the diamond’s grading report to classify the cutting style. It basically means any combination of different cutting styles, and that’s one of the most unique things about radiants. Depending on the cutter, facet patterns can vary quite a bit, so it’s important to look at different options to find one that you like.
Radiants and cushions are often considered quite similar, as they both tend to have that semi-elongated shape with mixed-cut patterns. But, darling, they really are quite different. Where radiants are all about straight lines, crisp corners, and mega brilliance, cushions are all about soft sides, curved corners, and rainbow flash. Put two side by side and you’ll see it for yourself.
A Cut Above
When it comes to purchasing a radiant cut diamond, cut is the most important of the 4Cs. Wait, that’s really with any diamond. But still, radiants don’t have a cut grade, as they’re considered a fancy cut. So, how’s one to know if you’re getting a well cut radiant diamond or not? Well, this is where that grade school arithmetic comes in handy. Really tho, while various retailers will often list a cut grade for fancy shapes, these are all somewhat subjective. Use the listings as a general guide, but make sure to reference a diamond’s proportions and measurements to narrow your search.
Speaking of proportions, radiant cut diamonds’ can vary wildly. It’s important to look for a stone with nice parallel sides, even corners, and excellent overall symmetry. You don’t want the corners to be too wide (this will make the stone look oddly octagonal), or to start looking like some type of parallelogram…use your eyes for this. If something looks off, it probably is. Table percentage and depth percentage can also help you narrow the search, as they’re going to be pretty reliable indicators of a well-cut stone.
The Long and Short of It
One of the major things you’re going to want to consider about the radiant is its length to width ratio. This is basically a measure of how elongated or how square the stone is. And it’s really all personal preference. The closer you are to 1:1, the more square your stone. Most of the market will fall in the 1.15-1.35 range, but you can go higher, even up to 2:1 for a super elongated look. This may also affect the setting style you choose, or vice versa, so consider the two hand in hand. For instance, if you’re wanting a super trendy east-west style engagement ring, you’ll want a more elongated stone, to really give you that horizontal spread. Squattier shapes, however, can look amazing when set in, say, a five-stone ring.
Color Me Bad
Radiant cuts are cut a bit deeper than other shapes, which can make their body color a bit more apparent. This is often why you’ll find a lot of fancy color radiant cut diamonds (which, obvi, you want to accentuate the color of). But if you’re going for a super-colorless stone, that means you’ll want to stick to the colorless to near-colorless range…perhaps no lower than an H. If this is a bit of you, we suggest also setting your diamond in white gold or platinum to really keep everything bright white. If you love yellow gold, though, then you can go a bit lower in color and it will sort of even everything out, making the diamond color less apparent. We also love playing up the color with a champagne-hued stone set in warm yellow gold. After all, who doesn’t like a little bubbly?
One of the major upsides of a radiant cut diamond is that all those brilliant little facets are super good at hiding clarity characteristics. Yep, those facets are a great disguise for inclusions, besides being distractingly sparkly. That means you can definitely go a bit lower on the color grade, including the SI range, and still find yourself with an eye-clean diamond. That means that even though there are inclusions, you won’t be able to notice them from the face up view with your naked eye. And that’s really all we’re after. We hate to see you spending a bunch of money on something you’ll never see.
When you compare a radiant cut diamond to, say, a round diamond of the same carat weight, don’t be surprised if you start thinking your eyes are playing tricks on you. In fact, they are. Radiant cut diamonds’ face up measurements actually tend to be a bit small for their weight, but their elongated shape and big diagonal length means they can look bigger. All this is to say that when shopping for a radiant cut diamond, you really can’t rely on carat weight to determine the stone’s visual size. Use those measurements and your eyeballs to find something you love. You’ll also want to strike a balance in price, as radiants can be quite affordable but do hide some of their carat weight in depth.
The Hunt is On
Now that you know everything you need to know about radiant cut diamonds, it’s time to shop. But we hate to break it to you, it’s not quite that easy. Radiant cuts only make up, like, 2% of diamonds on the market, which means finding one to your perfect specifications can be a bit tricky. This is where your friends (ahem, us) come in handy. Our Diamond Concierge service was created for just this task. Looking for a stunning 3 carat radiant that’s nearly square? A super skinny stone in a subtle shade of champers? Let us know what you need, a little bit about your budget, and, of course, your timeline, and our experts will gladly help hunt down your dream radiant cut diamond.
Consider Your Options
Another route to finding your perfect radiant stone? Try the lab! We love lab created diamonds (yes, they’re real diamonds) and can often source unique stones through our partners, making this an ideal option if you’re looking for something that stands out. Not to mention that lab grown diamonds can save you serious dough. Like, nearly half the cost of a comparable mined diamond, even.
Ready to Pop The Question?
Check out our diamond search where you can view 360-degree images of more than 10,000 diamonds and don’t forget to zoom out (because size can be deceiving), or book a virtual or offline appointment at our New York salon to view certified lab-grown and natural diamonds in person.
If you find one you like, make sure to scoop it up, because in all likelihood, you won’t find one similar again. Not finding what you want? Email us with what you’re looking for at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll curate a list of 5-7 exclusive stones that are just right for you.