Ask a Diamond Pro: Radiant Diamond for a Yellow Gold Setting

Michael Fried
Michael Fried

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We often answer questions about fancy shape diamonds — diamonds in shapes other than the round brilliant cut.

Fancy shape diamonds can look truly gorgeous, and many offer excellent value for money. One of the most appealing fancy diamond shapes is the radiant cut — a modern diamond shape with a design that produces optimal brilliance and fire. 

Recently, a reader contacted us asking for advice finding a radiant cut diamond in the 1.80 to 2.20 carat range. They had a budget of $20,000 and wanted to find an eye-clean radiant cut diamond with a color grade in the J to K range and a square length-to-width ratio.

Here’s the reader’s original email:

“Thank you very much for helping so many on the web with the topic of diamonds and e-rings. I have probably spent around 30 hours online and 5 hours in stores researching different diamonds and settings for my fiance to be. 

I have narrowed it down to Radiant cuts, in the 1.8 to 2.2 ct range, JK color minimum (will be set in yellow gold), SI2 clarity minimum as long as eye clean, and square cut with a L/D ratio of 0.95 to 1.04 or so, which it seems is the point at which it starts “appearing” to be rectangular to the naked eye. I have also been targeting table and depth of ~65%.

Budget is $20k but includes setting, which may be up to $4k depending upon vendor (looking for channel set with 3 stone rounds). 

My problem is, I can’t translate the magnified photos on James Allen etc. sites into actual eye clarity. All the inclusions have started looking bad. 

This is the closest I have found, but it seems to have extra carats in exchange for some cloudiness: https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/radiant-cut/2.32-carat-i-color-si2-clarity-sku-196466

What are your thoughts on the eye cleanliness there? Will the facets properly hide it? If not, any other ideas?

Thanks for any help.”

A yellow radiant cut diamond
An example of a yellow radiant cut diamond in a mixed-metal setting – a gorgeous piece by Abe Mor

The reader also sent a follow-up email informing us that they planned to pair the diamond with a yellow gold channel setting, ideally with two round side-stone diamonds.

There are several things to look for when choosing a radiant cut diamond. The first is cut quality, which — as the radiant cut is a fancy shape diamond — is something you’ll need to carefully look for by reviewing the diamond, not just looking at its GIA or AGS certificate.

The second is clarity. Although the radiant cut is generally good at hiding inclusions, it’s still vital to choose an eye-clean stone. The diamond this reader mentioned is okay, but it doesn’t appear to be eye-clean. 

We’ve gone into more detail about these factors, and other things to consider when purchasing a radiant cut diamond around the $20,000 mark, below.

What to Look for in a Radiant Cut Diamond

The radiant cut was designed by Henry Grossbard in 1977 by combining certain elements of the round brilliant cut and the emerald cut. The radiant cut’s unique facet pattern, which consists of 70 facets in total, gives it significant brilliance and fire.

In addition to its significant brilliance, which is second only to the round brilliant cut, the radiant cut has several other advantages.

Radiant Cut Diamond Basic Info

Because of its large face-up area and long diagonal measurement, the radiant cut looks larger than other diamonds of its carat weight. The process of cutting a radiant cut diamond is highly efficient, meaning it also offers better value for money per carat than most diamond shapes.

Finally, compared to other square and rectangular diamonds, the radiant cut offers significantly better durability, with its beveled corners unlikely to chip. 

However, like with other fancy shapes, getting these advantages isn’t quite as easy as looking at a diamond’s GIA certificate, then making a decision. 

Instead, the radiant cut requires a careful eye and a high level of attention to detail, especially when it comes to cut quality.

Let’s start with length to width ratio, which this reader mentions in their email. To show a clear square shape, a radiant cut diamond should ideally have a length to width ratio in the 1.00 to 1.04 range. As the reader states, beyond this range, diamonds start to appear rectangular.

It’s also important to pay close attention to other cut parameters, including the diamond’s table percentage, depth percentage, girdle and culet. We generally recommend looking for a radiant cut diamond with cut parameters in the following range:

  • Table: 61 to 69%
  • Depth: 61 to 67%
  • Girdle: Very thin to slightly thick
  • Culet: None

This reader’s approach of looking for diamonds with a table and depth of about 65 percent is a good way to keep things simple. 

When it comes to clarity, we generally recommend looking for a radiant cut diamond in the SI1 to SI2 range. This range often provides eye-clean diamonds, as the facet pattern and “crushed ice” appearance of many radiant cut diamonds both help to conceal most inclusions.

As always, it’s far more important for a diamond to look eye-clean (meaning it has no inclusions that are visible to human eyes without magnification) than to have a “perfect” clarity grade. After all, the clarity grade only exists on paper, whereas the diamond is something you’ll see often.

By reviewing diamonds carefully for inclusions, you can often find gorgeous diamonds in the SI1 to SI2 clarity range without visible blemishes.

Radiant Cut Color for a Yellow Gold Setting

One minor weakness of the radiant cut is that differences in color are slightly easier to perceive than with other diamond shapes, largely as a result of the radiant cut’s face-up area. 

Because of this, we generally recommend selecting a radiant cut diamond with a color grade of H or better. 

Square radiant cut diamond in  yellow gold setting

However, this reader mentioned in a later email that they were planning to choose a yellow gold channel setting. This gives us some more flexibility when it comes to color, as the yellow tone of the setting will conceal any slight yellow coloration within the diamond.

In this case, it’s likely that a radiant cut diamond with a slightly lower color grade (for example, a I color diamond) will still appear colorless in relation to its setting. 

Within this range, we can find some gorgeous radiant cut diamonds, including this 2.00 carat, G color, VS2 clarity diamond from James Allen for $15,070. 

Our Recommendation

The radiant cut offers several advantages over other diamond shapes, but it’s important to pick carefully to make the most of these. This means understanding cut quality and taking more of a hands-on approach than simply looking at a diamond’s cut grade. 

In the end, this reader chose a phenomenally well cut 2.01 carat, H color, SI1 clarity radiant cut diamond from James Allen. It looks stunning paired with a yellow gold channel setting, complete with smaller side diamonds. 

If you’re considering a radiant cut diamond and need help choosing one with the right cut quality or clarity, feel free to contact us. We help hundreds of readers every month, and we’re happy to help you compare diamonds and settings to find the right engagement ring for you.

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