(Trends)

Radiant Engagement Rings Are The Unique Fancy-Cut On The Rise In 2022

Three jewelry designers break down the stone’s cut, color, clarity, and cost.

Grace Lee
a custom radiant cut diamond engagement ring by Grace Lee

Diamond-cut trends ebb and flow to a certain extent, like any other realm of fashion. But as one of the most substantial investments one will ever make, timeless designs remain a constant — like the round brilliant, emerald, and oval cut being some of the most sought after. Radiant-cut stones, however, are worth considering if you’re seeking significant sparkle with a timeless and unique feel at once. The cut, which originated and became patented by Henry Grossbard in the early ’70s, has flown somewhat under the radar compared to other fancy-cut diamonds (any non-round cut) and rare-cut stones. But with uniqueness being one of the biggest 2022 engagement ring trends, it’s unsurprising to see a rise in radiant-cut stones.

Michelle Bar, a New York City-based fine jewelry designer and owner of Barbela, hadn’t considered a radiant-cut ring for herself. But after designing a custom engagement ring for a client (this writer), she realized an eternity band featuring the fancy cut was perfect for her wedding ring. “I love its clean, linear style,” she tells TZR of the radiant cut, which is growing in popularity among her clients. “I’ve gotten a lot more requests for fancy-cut stones,” she says of the radiant’s rise. Adding, “I think many women are looking to explore other shapes and want to have something different than what their girlfriends have.”

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Grace Lee
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Pairing her radiant band with a pear-shaped solitaire engagement ring, Bar says the combination of cuts offers the unique yet timeless look Bar was after. “To some, these two shapes may not necessarily blend perfectly compared to a round stone engagement ring and band, which has been the dominant bridal style for the last decade or so,” the designer explains. “However, I love the pairing,” she continues, deeming it flattering on the finger with an elegant look. “It’s unexpected but still possesses that classic design. Since getting married, I’ve only worn my radiant-cut diamond band as my pear-shaped engagement ring is stored away.”

Jenny Klatt of the fine jewelry line Jemma Wynne notices a similar interest in radiant cuts of late. The brand uses them often in its signature two-stone rings, the most requested bespoke bridal style regularly featuring white and colored diamonds. “We see that customers are leaning toward jewelry pieces that feel more unique, but will still withstand the test of time. Radiants possess that feel,” Klatt says. Adding, “We love the shape and brilliance of radiant cuts. There’s no other stone where you can get that more angular shape and also have the brilliance and sparkle.”

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Grace Lee
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Keep reading for everything you need to know about radiant-cut diamonds, from the facets and varying shapes to the best settings for a range of tastes. Then, shop or get inspired by the glimmering edit, including classic, dainty, and minimal ring designs. Plus popular chunky settings and vintage engagement rings featuring radiant-cut stones.

We only include products that have been independently selected by TZR’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

The Radiant Cut

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At first glance, radiant-cut stones can look like emerald cuts or cushion cuts but lie somewhere in between the two. “The radiant cut combines the external angular, eight-side perimeter of the emerald cut but internally has a brilliant sparkle like the round brilliant or cushion cut,” says fine jewelry designer Grace Lee.

The stone’s defining factor is its unique 70 facets in the pavilion and crown (referring to its depth and angle), making it one of the most faceted stones available with tremendous brilliance. “A radiant cut is an ideal alternative if you’re in the market for a non-round diamond with a beautiful sparkle,” says Bar.

IGI senior director of education John Pollard, who notes more and more fancy-shaped center diamonds, including radiant cuts, come through the lab for appraisals, tells TZR of grading reports, “Due to the original patent, look for the words ‘cut-cornered rectangular or square modified brilliant,’ not ‘radiant-cut.’”

Rectangular & Square-Shaped Radiants

Radiant cuts come in rectangular and square shapes, which is why they’re often confused with emerald and cushion cuts. But, according to Bar and Stephanie Wynne Lalin, Jemma Wynne’s co-founder, elongated shapes are the most popular due to their similarity to an emerald-cut diamond.

“Emerald cuts have long rectangular facets called ‘step cuts,’ which have a more deco, understated feel and don’t always accentuate the inherent sparkle of the stone,” Wynne Lalin explains. Similarly, while modern cushion cuts can appear to have a similar feel to radiants, they’re distinctively their own. “The main difference is the shape of a cushion-cut diamond is more of a pillow with slightly rounded corners, whereas the radiant has angular cut corners,” Wynne Lalin says.

While radiant stones have the same shape as emerald and cushion cuts, triangular facets make up the cut like those you would find in a gem with rounded edges. “This, along with the high number of facets, can give the stone a lot more sparkle and reflects more light than any other diamond shape,” Wynne Lalin adds.

A Radiant’s Ratio

Radiant-cut diamonds come in a wide range of length-to-width ratios, calculated by dividing the diamond length by diamond width in millimeters. This can sometimes lead to an “imperfect” shape. However, such irregularities are generally imperceptible to the naked eye. “While it’s based on one’s personal preference, a preferred rule of thumb is a length-to-width ratio of 1.15 to 1.35 for elongated radiant or under 1.05 for square radiants,” explains Bar.

“These ratios are averages,” she continues, noting how stones that may not fall around these desired measurements can be more affordable. “There’s less of a demand for them,” she says, though not because they’re poor quality but due to a customer’s desire for symmetry. “If you’re working within a certain budget, I recommend widening your search parameters as these ratios are a potential area to adjust for a stone that could cost a bit less but still have a near-perfect symmetrical look.”

How Cut Affects Color & Clarity

Color and clarity are two of the most considered factors when selecting a diamond, especially radiants, as the 70-facet-cut can be deeper, sometimes resulting in lower brilliance (aka sparkle). “It can be difficult to find a well-cut radiant,” says Bar. Since deeper cuts aren’t uncommon with radiants, close attention to depth helps assess color as deeper-cut stones reflect more color. “The Gemological Institute of America does not grade radiant cut quality; you’ll have to judge it yourself or trust the jeweler you are working with,” the Barbela designer advises.

“Color typically ranks higher in importance than clarity for a radiant cut diamond,” says Wynne Lalin. “If someone is purchasing a radiant diamond, we recommend staying in the near-colorless to colorless range to ensure the diamond is as white and sparkly looking as can be,” Klatt adds.

Clarity, on the other hand, is of less importance for a radiant cut. “The radiant cut has both step-cut facets and brilliant-cut facets, so it can be more forgiving of clarity as compared to an emerald cut,” says Lee. This means the high number of facets in a radiant tends to mask natural inclusions (or flaws) better than any other cut, most often with stones under two carats. “Larger diamonds in the two-carats-plus range tend to show inclusions more, so you may have to opt for a better clarity grade to guarantee its eye-clean,” says Bar. Adding, “If you do have a stone that has inclusions try to have them on the side.”

Of course, clarity isn’t a factor at all when going the colored-stone route. “Radiants are the perfect cut to choose if you want to explore yellow diamonds or emerald options,” says Klatt. “We typically set these colors in yellow gold, which is warmer toned and enhances the hue of these stones.”

The “Bow-Tie” Effect

The bow-tie effect is another point to consider with a radiant cut. “[It’s] a phenomenon that affects several fancy diamond shapes by casting a shadow that resembles a bow tie over the middle section of the stone,” Klatt tells TZR. Lee notes, “A well-cut radiant will minimize this dark section and have a more consistent sparkle throughout the diamond.”

Radiant Cost

As Wynne Lalin explains, a lower price-per-carat is one of the biggest benefits of radiants because less of the stone is lost in the cutting process.

Compared to an equally sized, well-made round brilliant cut, however, a radiant cut will appear smaller. “Radiants have a somewhat smaller face-up size, given the cuts that go into it,” Bar says. So, if you’re seeking a large-looking stone, they can be plenty costly.

Radiant Settings

Both bespoke designers, Lee and Wynne Lalin often suggest radiant stones after realizing a customer’s unique desires. “I like to recommend the radiant cut to clients torn between a brilliant-cut diamond, like a round or cushion cut, and an emerald cut,” says Lee.

Settings, however, always run the gamut depending on the customer’s taste. “For single-stone radiant cut diamond settings, we often set them horizontally,” Lee tells TZR — an ideal look for those seeking a minimal and classic ring, either in a prong, bezel, or flush setting.

Pollard says radiants pair well with other shapes to create a Toi et Moi setting — a trendy but vintage-inspired look worn by Emily Ratajkowski. Modern versions of the time-honored setting are one of Jemma Wynne’s signatures, most notably in yellow gold.

“The size and shape of the stone will usually dictate the orientation in the setting,” says Klatt. “We typically pair a radiant with a pear-shaped diamond to complement the cut and balance the radiant.” The label’s three-stone open ring is the second-most requested style featuring a radiant set vertically on one side with two pears stacked on the other. Lee also frequently sets radiant stones vertically in a multi-stone ring, sometimes at an off-kilter angle to accommodate more than one shape.

We only include products that have been independently selected by TZR’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

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