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The radiant cut is an appealing diamond shape that, in many ways, offers the very best of both worlds when it comes to value and brilliance. Not only does it have excellent brilliance and fire; it’s also significantly more affordable per carat than the popular round brilliant cut.
As the GIA states, “for those who appreciate the outline of an emerald cut diamond, but prefer the sparkle of a brilliant cut diamond, the mixed cutting style of the radiant cut may be a great option.”
Add excellent durability (a common issue for square diamonds) into the equation and a radiant cut diamond can be an attractive proposition, especially if you’re looking for something special and a little different for your wife-to-be.
However, buying a radiant cut diamond can be something of a challenge, as like with the other fancy shapes, there’s no GIA cut quality grade provided for diamonds of this type.
We were contacted by a reader asking for help picking a radiant cut diamond. They wanted an exceptional stone with lots of presence which could be paired with a simple white gold solitaire setting.
They had a budget of $20,000 to $25,000 and one one only firm requirement: that the diamond was above 2 carats.
Here’s the reader’s email:
“Hi! First, let me thank you all for the tremendous service that you are offering. I think it’s incredibly generous that you are providing this service for free. I am currently on the hunt for a radiant cut diamond that will be set in a white gold solitaire setting.
Our budget is about $20K-$25K, but if it’s under that amount, then great! I’m looking for as large a diamond as possible. I understand that carat is not everything, so I’m willing to sacrifice on size if it’s a quality diamond. I’d like the diamond to be above 2 carats. That is my only hard line requirement.
I’ve primarily been using James Allen to research, but I’ll admit that I’m a little out of my depth. I really would appreciate any suggestions. Thanks in advance!”
This reader also sent us a quick follow-up question in a later email:
“Here’s a question for you, with radiant cut diamonds, do you typically recommend staying in the H and above color range? Do this diamonds show color easily? I only ask because I saw a J color diamond, but that may be too warm to the eye.”
The good news is that this reader’s budget is more than enough to find an exceptional radiant cut diamond in the 2+ carat range, provided they’re able to shop strategically and spend their budget where it matters most.
With the radiant cut, there are numerous things to pay attention to. The first is cut quality, which you’ll need to carefully monitor yourself, as the GIA doesn’t grade the cut quality of diamonds in this shape.
This means paying close attention to every prospective diamond’s table size, depth, girdle, culet and length-to-width ratio.
Beyond cut quality, it’s essential to choose a radiant cut diamond that looks eye-clean and free of visible color. Most of the time, this can be accomplished by picking diamonds in the SI to VS clarity range and H or better color range, then carefully checking them for inclusions.
We’ve discussed all of this in more detail below and shared a few diamonds we recommended for this reader based on their tastes and budget.
As we mentioned above, the radiant cut offers numerous advantages as a diamond shape, from its high level of brilliance and fire to its durability and comparative affordability (particularly when it’s compared to the round brilliant cut).
Because radiant cut diamonds don’t receive a cut grade from the GIA, it’s important to pay close attention to their cut quality parameters when you’re comparing diamonds in this shape.
Generally, you’ll want to look for a radiant cut diamond with a table of 61 to 69 percent, a depth below 72 percent, a girdle that’s between very thin and slightly thick and no culet.
It’s okay to go slightly out of this range if you find a diamond that otherwise has good clarity, cut quality and color.
It’s also important to look carefully at the corners of radiant cut diamond, as these give it stability and play a major role in its appearance. We recommend picking a diamond with corners that are symmetrical and neither too wide nor too narrow.
The radiant cut can either be square or rectangular. We suggest searching for a length-to-width ratio of 1.00 to 1.03 for a square radiant cut diamond, or 1.20 to 1.30 for a diamond with a more rectangular shape.
Now, let’s get to this reader’s question about diamond color. Radiant cut isn’t as good as hiding its color as, let’s say a roud cut diamond. Because of this, we recommend picking a radiant cut diamond with a color grade of H or greater — not the J color grade this reader briefly mentioned. You’ll usually be able to find the best value for money in the G to H color range, as beyond this, improvements are often marginal at best.
Due to its facet pattern, the radiant cut is generally good at concealing small inclusions that can affect a diamond’s clarity. As such, we suggest choosing a diamond in the SI or VS clarity grade range, then checking it using the photos on James Allen or Blue Nile to ensure it’s eye-clean.
Based on this reader’s requirements, we picked out two radiant cut diamonds. The first is a 2.21 carat, H color, VS2 clarity diamond from James Allen. This diamond looks fantastic and provides excellent value for money, especially considering its large carat weight.
The second is this 2.00 carat, H color, VVS1 clarity radiant cut diamond. This diamond has exceptional clarity and cut, with a more square shape that might be more appealing to this reader.
Both of these diamonds are available for less than the reader’s budget of $25,000 and will look stunning in a white gold solitaire setting.
In the end, this reader emailed us back after receiving our recommendations with a list of other diamonds to review. One of the diamonds on their list was this 2.05 carat, G color, VVS2 clarity radiant cut stone.
We let them know that we love it, and they decided to put it on hold and, a few days later, made the purchase. It’s a gorgeous diamond that will showcase its beauty well in a white gold solitaire setting.
As a fancy shape, picking a radiant cut diamond can be a challenging process that requires you to be closely involved in checking many aspects of diamond cut. It’s important to get the process right, as seemingly small details can have a big impact on a radiant cut diamond’s beauty.
If you’d like help with this process, or with any other aspect of buying a diamond, feel free to get in touch with us. We help hundreds of our readers find, compare and purchase diamonds every month, and we’re happy to help you with any aspect of the process.
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