Engagement Rings

The Radiant-Cut Diamond Engagement Ring Buyer’s Guide

Pros/Cons of Radiant-Cut Diamonds: Combines the general lines of an emerald with the sparkle of a brilliant cut and hides imperfections better than some other cuts; the geometry may seem “off” if it’s not cut well.

Tip 1: Don’t confuse this with an emerald-cut diamond (they look similar).

Tip 2: Look for symmetry and straight parallel lines.

Tip 3: You can skimp on color and clarity grades, a bit, with radiant-cut diamonds.

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The newest diamond style you’re likely to encounter is the radiant cut. Unlike many diamond shapes — see our explanations of Princess and Pear cuts, for instance — this one has no storied history. 

The History of the Radiant-Cut Diamond

Introduced in 1976, the radiant-cut marries aspects of the round brilliant to the classic emerald cut resulting in a diamond cut that, some say, tops both.

Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Lopez, and Megan Fox have all rocked radiant-cut engagement rings. You will often see radiant-cut rings like these beauties identified as emerald cuts because you have to be up close and personal to see the difference.

So she wants a radiant-cut diamond? Go to James Allen or White Flash to see what kinds of ring designs work best with that shape (and others). Their selection spans from vintage to modern — and across all budgets

Famous Radiant-Cut Diamonds

One of the most photographed radiant cuts ever was the 6.1-carat fancy pink sparkler Ben Affleck put on J. Lo’s finger in 2002 — back when they were known as “Bennifer.” Said to have cost $2.5 million, her ring featured colorless baguette side stones and a slender band.

Drew Barrymore wore a slightly less showy 4-carat radiant before her 2016 divorce from Will Kopelman; it was a prong-set as a solitaire in platinum on a slender pavé band. Actresses Lea Michele and Randy Zeich also opted for radiants but with diamond halos that made the stones look bigger.

Photo courtesy of @leamichele
This is Lea Michele’s engagement ring. (Photo courtesy of @leamichele)

Michele has a 4-carat pale pink radiant from husband Zandy Reich and Megan Fox wears a 3-ct radiant cut with pale pink side stones in a vintage setting. (Unfortunately, the ring that husband Brian Cox proposed with on a Hawaiian beach was lost in the sand, but that’s another story.)

Technical Details of Radiant-Cut Diamonds

One of a few “mixed cuts” invented in the sixties and seventies, the radiant-cut diamond adopted (mixed) the shape of an emerald cut and a bit of its faceting. The radiant has a few of the emerald’s straight stepped cuts, but only on the crown. Its pavilion, where most of a diamond’s scintillation originates, is faceted in the more intricate modern brilliant style. 

Color and Clarity Issues in Radiant-Cut Diamonds

Not only does the radiant cut sparkle more than an emerald cut, it provides crucial cover for minor inclusions, something the emerald cut lacks. Compared to the classic emerald cut with its open mirror-like stepped cuts, the radiant hides a multitude of sins, which means you may be able to invest less in clarity and end up with a diamond that appears just as clean. Its unique faceting allows more light into the stone, improving both color and reflection, which is why stones are sometimes recut to radiant to improve their appearance.

Even with the more intricate central faceting, however, color shows up more clearly than in conventional brilliants. Many jewelers recommend a minimum of H color for the radiant, which should appear colorless at a glance.

4_Cs_Decoded_Clarity

What to Look For in Radiant-Cut Diamonds

As far as shape goes, the radiant cut should have the same profile as an emerald cut. Length to width ratio can vary, but corners are beveled to accommodate a prong setting. Look for straight, parallel borders, evenly cut corners, and symmetry in both silhouette and faceting.

How Much Does a 1-Carat Radiant-Cut Diamond Ring Cost?

A radiant with good cut, H color, and SI1 clarity set as a solitaire on a platinum pavé band will cost about $5,400 at Ritani (below, right) or $4,490 in 18k white gold at Brilliant Earth (below, left).

Go from zero to hero in five minutes: At James Allen’s or Blue Nile, you can adjust price ranges and other characteristics to see how many carats your budget buys. Their search tool is great. Their highly competitive pricing is too.

A similar style with a slightly higher quality diamond in a 14K gold setting costs $4,430 at James Allen. (Photo courtesy of James Allen)

(Photo courtesy of James Allen)

A radiant cut of twice the size with a beautiful 18K pavé split shank costs $13,100 at Ascot Diamonds. Given the radiant is a fancy mixed cut, you won’t find a huge stock at most jewelers, especially in smaller size stones. (Photo courtesy of Ascot Diamonds)

(Photo courtesy of Ascot Diamonds)

Choosing the Best Settings for Radiant Cut Diamonds

Radiant-cut diamonds are traditionally set as solitaires or geometric-shaped side stones. But recently we’ve been seeing more radiants in halo settings, like the rings Lea Michele and Randy Zeich opted for. If you like this look, it only adds a couple hundred dollars to add a diamond halo to that Brilliant Earth 1-carat radiant.

Here’s an example of what a radiant-cut stone in a bezel setting looks like (photo courtesy of Brilliant Earth).

Here’s an example of what a radiant-cut stone in a pavé setting looks like.

Pros & Cons of Radiant-Cut Diamonds

Pros:

If you’re leaning toward the geometric profile of an emerald but want the sparkle of a brilliant cut, the radiant cut may fit the bill. It can allow you a bit more room on clarity because its complicated faceting will hide minor inclusions better then stepped cuts. This may help you afford a larger stone than you might have been able to get with the classic emerald cut. Because of its straight, clean lines and sparkly faceting, the radiant looks good with geometric side stones such as baguettes, trilliants or trapezoids. It also looks great as a simple solitaire.

Cons:

If you’re attracted to the classic emerald cut with its concentric stepped cuts and hall of mirrors effect, this won’t look quite right to you. It will seem too busy, and not as clean and architectural. It all comes down to personal preference. I’ve noticed when jewelers present radiant cuts next to emerald cut diamond rings on Instagram, the response is often split down the middle. Some love one, some the other. Emerald cuts look better in still photos but in real life, don’t deliver the flash, which may be fine with you and your bride. Ask your jeweler to show you similar rings set with both and compare. Check out our gallery of radiant cut diamond rings.

Bottom Line

If you seek a diamond that delivers the flash of a brilliant cut but prefer the geometric form of the emerald cut over curvier shapes, the radiant cut is a great way to have it all. A radiant-cut diamond with good cut and color makes a beautiful center stone, whether you keep it unadorned or let it stand on its own.

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