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Ask a Diamond Pro: Choosing a Radiant Cut With a Gemstone Setting

By Mike Fried,

The radiant cut is one of our favorite diamond shapes, with its outstanding brilliance, durability and large perceived size all major benefits that set it apart from many of the other fancy shape diamonds.

We’re always happy to receive emails from readers requesting help buying engagement rings that feature unique diamonds. One such reader contacted us seeking our opinion on a radiant cut diamond they planned to pair with a setting featuring gemstone accents. 

Here’s an abridged version of the reader’s first few emails:

“Hi there! 

I love your website and have learned more from you guys than I even knew existed. Anyways, I’m not sure of the setting as yet, but I wanted your opinion on a radiant cut diamond I found on JA – SKU #2232097

I want to go with something different versus the popular round and princess cuts. Also, I am thinking about going with accent stones of either pink diamonds or sapphires, pink or blue, still to be determined. I was thinking of possible halo settings with just pink accent diamonds to set apart the center stone. I’m not looking for a pink center diamond stone.

As for budget, I guess in my mind I’m thinking the 7-8k range overall for everything.

What setting would you recommend for this stone and just your general overall opinion of the stone and idea. 


This reader already did an excellent job picking out an attractive diamond, although there are a few things that can be done to improve its value for money. 

Diamond Shapes - Radiant Cut

When purchasing a radiant cut diamond, there are several things you should keep in mind. The first is how vital cut quality is. Since the GIA and AGS don’t provide a cut grade for radiant cuts, it’s essential to closely check the diamond’s parameters and use your own eyes to assess it.

Because of its facet pattern, the radiant cut does an excellent job of concealing inclusions and a fairly good job of hiding color. We generally recommend a clarity grade of SI1 or SI2 and a color grade of H or better (for a yellow or rose gold ring, it’s okay to drop down slightly lower). 

We’ve discussed all of this below and provided more information on choosing a beautiful radiant cut diamond and matching side-stone ring in the $7,000 to $8,000 price range.

Choosing a Radiant Cut Diamond

The radiant cut diamond is an interesting diamond shape. Originally designed in 1977 by Henry Grossbard, it features 70 facets positioned specifically to maximize the diamond’s brilliance and fire. This facet pattern gives the radiant cut a truly unique look, as well as brilliance that’s secondary only to the round brilliant cut

In a way, the radiant cut combines the biggest asset of the round brilliant — namely, its brilliance — with the best features of other fancy shape diamonds. It has a square/rectangular shape like a princess cut, but with carefully beveled corners, reducing its risk of chipping or breaking. 

It also combines sharp lines with softer angles, allowing it to sit elegantly next to both round and square diamonds. Because of its long diagonal measurement, it appears larger than it really is — a feature that gives it more presence on the wearer’s finger.

Finally, as a non-aesthetic benefit, the radiant cut offers very good value for money. In our guide to most affordable diamond shapes, we found that a 1.00 carat radiant cut diamond costs about 34 percent less than a round cut diamond of comparable size and quality. 

It’s not just us that like the radiant cut diamond, as this shape has been a popular choice since it first came onto the market in the 1970s. As the GIA states, the radiant cut is a great choice for those who “appreciate the outline of an emerald cut diamond, but prefer the sparkle of a brilliant cut diamond.”

A 1ct and 5ct Radiant Cut Diamond comparison
A 1ct and 5ct Radiant Cut Diamond Comparison

Before we get into the accent stones, let’s go over the basics of what to look for in a radiant cut diamond, as well as how this reader can get the best deal on a diamond of this shape.

Like with all diamond shapes, cut is critical for an attractive radiant cut diamond. No matter how colorless or internally flawless a diamond might be, if it’s cut poorly, it will reflect only a fraction of the light a well-cut diamond would, giving it a dull appearance in comparison. 

Because of the importance of cut for a diamond’s appearance, we always emphasize prioritizing cut quality over the rest of the diamond 4 Cs when shopping, and the radiant cut isn’t an exception. 

As we mentioned above, the GIA and AGS only grade cut quality for round diamonds, meaning you’ll need to pay close attention to certain parameters when you’re comparing several radiant cut diamonds for cut quality. 

In general, we recommend choosing a radiant cut diamond with cut parameters in the following ranges:

  • A table of between 61 and 69%
  • A depth of between 61 and 72%
  • A very thin to slightly thick girdle
  • No culet

These aren’t absolutely firm requirements. For example, it’s okay to select a radiant cut diamond with a slightly higher or lower table or depth percentage, or a very small culet. Our more detailed guide to the radiant cut provides more information about what to look for, and what to avoid. 

Radiant cut diamonds can be square or rectangular. For a square diamond, it’s best to look for a length to width ratio of 1.00 to 1.03. If you prefer a rectangular diamond, you’ll generally find the most attractive and proportionate diamonds in the 1.20 to 1.30 range. 

Radiant Cut Diamond Basic Info

You can find this information in the “Diamond Details” section on Blue Nile, or in the description provided by James Allen under the diamond’s photos. If you need any help with this part of the process, feel free to contact us and we’ll select the best diamond for your tastes and budget.

Because of its unique and complex facet pattern, the radiant cut often has a “crushed ice” look that’s good at concealing inclusions. This means that you can often find an eye-clean diamond (meaning a diamond with no visible inclusions) in the SI1 to SI2 clarity range. 

There’s no reason to overpay for a diamond with better clarity than this, as it’s a feature that will go entirely unnoticed in a real-life setting. 

As for color, the radiant cut’s larger table makes any yellow tint easier to detect than it would be on an equivalent round brilliant cut diamond. In a yellow gold or rose gold setting, a color grade of I/J is fine; with a white gold or platinum setting, H color or better is recommended. 

Assuming a setting cost of approximately $2,000 and a total budget of up to $8,000, we have a budget of $6,000 for the diamond, which is enough to find a stunning radiant cut diamond in the 1.10 to 1.30 carat range.

For example, this impressive 1.20 carat, J color, VS1 clarity radiant cut diamond is available for $5,850 from James Allen, leaving $2,150 for a beautiful setting. 

There’s also this 1.20 carat, H color, VS2 clarity square radiant cut diamond from James Allen, as well as this gorgeous 1.50 carat, J color, SI2 radiant cut stone from Blue Nile, which is slightly out of our target price range at $6,415.  

Creating a Custom Setting With Pink Accents

As this reader mentions in their email, they’d prefer a setting that features pink accent stones — either pink diamonds or pink sapphires.

James Allen offer a large selection of side-stone settings, although only a few have fancy color accents. The good news is that both James Allen and Blue Nile offer custom settings based on your preferences, allowing for an essentially limitless range of options.

James Allen provide this through their custom ring design service, while Blue Nile offer special orders based on your specifications. Both services require several weeks, meaning you’ll need to plan ahead of time if you’d like to go ahead with a custom setting. 

A graphic showing a side stone setting from James Allen set with pink sapphires
A graphic showing how a side stone setting from James Allen could look set with pink sapphires

Our Recommendation

Radiant cut diamonds can look highly elegant when paired with the right ring, and their unique combination of sharp lines and carefully beveled corners gives them the aesthetic versatility to look natural next to both round and square diamonds.

If you’re like this reader and would like a radiant cut diamond for your engagement ring, make sure to pay close attention to the cut parameters provided above.

Thanks to its great value for money and large perceived size, the radiant cut is a shape worth considering if you’re looking for a unique alternative to the round or princess cuts. 

If you need help with choosing a radiant cut diamond, an engagement ring or any other type of diamond or gemstone jewelry, feel free to contact us. We’re happy to help you understand your options and choose the best diamond and setting for your preferences and budget.

James Allen James Allen is the leader in online diamond sales. Their imaging technology is the same as inspecting a diamond with a jeweler's loupe. They have the largest exclusive loose diamond inventory online and fantastic prices. They also have the nicest collection of lab-created diamonds online.
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. James Allen will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free International Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisals
  • One free resizing within 60 days of purchase
  • Free ring inscriptions
  • Best-in-class high quality imagery of all diamonds in stock
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • Best-in-class packaging
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Blue Nile Blue Nile is the largest and most well-known internet jewelry seller. They have a very large exclusive online inventory. Their high-quality images are catching up to James Allens' and their prices are amazing. 
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. Blue Nile will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisal
  • One free resizing within the first year of purchase
  • High quality images of about half of their diamonds
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • 100% credit towards future upgrades (must be at least double in value)
  • Best in class fulfillment
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