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One of the easiest ways to make your engagement ring stand out from the crowd is to choose a fancy-shaped diamond, meaning a diamond in a shape other than the round brilliant cut.
In addition to providing a unique and eye-catching appearance, choosing a non-round diamond can also offer other benefits, from a larger perceived size to a diamond that’s more competitively priced on a per-carat basis.
However, choosing a fancy-shaped diamond can also create additional challenges, including the need to carefully compare diamonds for cut quality, clarity and color.
Because of this, we often get emails from readers in need of help finding a fancy-shaped stone that meets their standards and fits within their budget.
Recently, we received an email from a reader interested in buying a radiant cut diamond with a pavé setting. They had a budget of $13,000 and wanted a diamond of approximately two carats in weight. They also had specific requirements for its proportions and color.
The radiant cut is one of our favorite diamond shapes. It has an eight-sided outline, with a mix of step cut facets and brilliant cut facets. As the GIA states here, the angular shape and brilliant cut facets of the radiant cut make it a great alternative to either the round brilliant cut, with which it shares its exceptional brilliance, and the emerald cut, with which it shapes part of its shape.
Here’s the reader’s original email:
I came across your site while trying to gain some clarification on what to look for in terms of an SI1 radiant cut diamond in terms of what types of inclusions would be a red flag for durability or eye clean.
Most advice seems to be that SI1 would be ok for a radiant cut. I am looking at various 2.01-2.03 radiant cuts with:
1.23-1.30 L/W ratio for a more rectangular appearance.
Cut grade based on table depth and table % to be excellent.
Most are priced slightly below or above $13000.
I’m looking to set it in a pavé style ring.
Thanks for your assistance!”
These are mostly sensible requirements, but one thing that stood out to us was the carat weight limit. Why 2.01 to 2.03?
In a follow-up email, this reader explained that they were interested in a diamond near the 2.00 carat range, but mostly found slightly larger diamonds when they searched.
They also mentioned that they were having difficulty determining if radiant cut diamonds in this size range were eye-clean, and that they needed some more hands-on help assessing radiant cut diamonds for cut quality.
These are all common and normal questions and concerns, especially for people interested in radiant cut diamonds.
Before going into more detail, let’s briefly address this reader’s questions. First, because of the unique crushed ice look of many radiant cut diamonds, SI1 clarity (or even SI2, for a diamond that still appears eye-clean) is usually fine.
Paying more for this often provides few or no aesthetic benefits, all while spending money that could be better used on other features (such as a larger diamond).
As for cut quality, this reader’s parameters are already close to perfect. We usually recommend a length to width ratio of 1.20 to 1.30 for a rectangular radiant cut diamond, along with depth below 72 percent.
If you’ve read any of our diamond education resources, you’ll be aware that buying a diamond is all about striking the optimal balance between the 4 Cs of diamonds — cut, color, clarity and carat weight — that determine a diamond’s appearance and quality.
Of the four Cs, cut quality is arguably the most important, as it has the largest impact on the way a diamond will look. A beautifully cut diamond will have proportionate, symmetrical facets, giving it exceptional light performance and brilliance.
On the other hand, a poorly cut diamond will look dull in even the best lighting, giving it a bland, unimpressive appearance even if it has perfect clarity, color and a large carat weight.
Assessing cut quality is relatively easy with round brilliant cut diamonds, as the GIA provides all of the vital information on the diamond’s certificate.
However, the GIA doesn’t provide cut quality information for radiant cut diamonds, meaning you are on your own when it comes to assessing cut quality.
Because of this, it’s important to pay careful attention to a radiant cut diamond’s proportions and overall cut to ensure you get a diamond that looks stunning once it’s in its setting.
When it comes to proportions, you can do part of this by using the cut parameters we mentioned above: a length to width ratio of 1.20 to 1.30 (1.00 to 1.04, for a square radiant cut diamond), as well as depth below 72 percent.
It’s also important to pay close attention to the diamond’s polish and symmetry. These should be either good, very good or excellent. Avoid radiant cut diamonds with “poor” or “fair” grades here, as they’re likely to appear dull and lifeless even with optimal lighting conditions.
If you need some help comparing radiant cut diamonds for cut quality, feel free to contact us for personalized assistance from our experts.
Clarity is also essential for an aesthetically pleasing diamond, as a diamond with poor clarity will have obvious, visible inclusions and blemishes.
One of the strengths of the radiant cut is that its facet pattern, which often creates a crushed ice appearance, is very good at concealing inclusions. This means that a diamond with a moderate clarity grade (for example, SI1 or even SI2 clarity) can appear free of inclusions to the naked eye.
As we often mention, the key to getting optimal value from a diamond is to allocate your budget to the features you will see, then minimize the amount you spend on things you won’t see, such as the best diamond clarity.
Aiming for this clarity range (or, in some cases, a VS or VVS clarity diamond) allows you to buy an eye-clean diamond without overpaying for clarity you won’t ever notice without bright studio lighting and a jeweler’s loupe.
Although the radiant cut is better at hiding color than some diamond shapes, its large table size means that internal color is still often visible.
While there’s no need to pay extra for a perfectly “colorless” diamond, we generally recommend choosing a radiant cut diamond with an H color grade or better. This ensures that the diamond will appear white and colorless, even next to a metal such as white gold or platinum.
By prioritizing cut quality and focusing on eye-clean clarity and acceptable color, you can find an impressive radiant cut diamond in the 1.90 to 2.00 carat range for around $13,000 to $14,000.
Like with other fancy-shaped diamonds, it’s important to pay close attention to cut quality when choosing a radiant cut diamond. This means manually checking diamonds for features such as length to width ratio, depth, table size, polish and symmetry.
By doing this, you can narrow your search to diamonds that will appear beautiful once set in an engagement ring, then choose a diamond with the right mix of eye-clean clarity, good color and optimal value for money.
In the end, we recommended that the reader choose this 2.00 carat, H color, VS2 clarity radiant cut diamond from James Allen. It has an absolutely perfect cut, with eye-clean clarity and a high enough color grade to appear white in any pavé setting.
This reader ended up going with our recommendation and paired the diamond with a gorgeous pavé engagement ring. It looks stunning in person, with exceptional brilliance that’s made even more special by the pavé-set diamonds.
Buying a radiant cut diamond can appear challenging at first, but it’s far easier when you take it step by step.
If you need help finding the right radiant cut diamond, or selecting a diamond in any shape, feel free to contact us. We help hundreds of readers find their dream diamond every month, and our team of experts is always available to help you with any aspect of your diamond purchase.
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