Choosing a perfect diamond for an engagement ring can be pretty overwhelming with all the different shapes available on the market.
So, if you’re looking for a more angular shape for your diamond, you would probably be looking at radiant cuts and princess cuts. But when it comes to the radiant cut vs. princess cut, which diamond shape is better?
Both of these diamond shapes look stunning. Highly brilliant, both cuts are popular alternatives to the round brilliant cut. With their angular shape, it’s common for people to confuse these two as similar to one another.
However, there are differences you should be aware of before making your purchase – and in this article, we’ve covered just that.
What Is Radiant-Cut Diamond?
The radiant cut can be defined as a hybrid diamond shape – a cross between a round and emerald diamond. Radiant cut shares an outline with the emerald cut, which showcases a rectangular or square overall shape, with clipped straight edges.
However, whereas the emerald cut diamond features a facet arrangement of horizontal facets, the radiant has a combination of vertical and horizontal elements that give it an entirely different visual appearance.
The radiant cut was initially patented, but the patent has since expired – and the term is used generically for this type of diamond shape. GIA certificates describe a radiant cut as a “cut-cornered rectangular modified brilliant.”
Radiant Cut: Length-To-Width Ratio And Corner Size
The overall outline of radiant cut diamonds can vary from square to elongated, more rectangular shapes. The length-to-width ratio will drastically affect the visual appearance of the radiant cut stone.
To a large degree, this factor is in the realm of personal preference. However, a radiant cut diamond that’s too elongated can suffer a light performance problem known as the “bow-tie” effect.
The length-to-width ratio measures how close a diamond resembles a square shape. As long as light performance isn’t negatively impacted, the length-to-width ratio of the radiant cut diamond is primarily a matter of personal taste.
Corners should be beveled to a balanced size, not too small that the angularity they give to the shape will be lost to the ring’s prongs and not too big that they begin to look similar to the sides.
Radiant Cut: Color Grade
The radiant cut diamonds generally accentuate body color.
The longer ray paths passing through the stone by virtue of the arrangement of facets tend to capture more of the body color. Because of this, a great number of fancy-colored diamonds are cut into a radiant shape.
Therefore, it’s recommended to target a slightly higher color range for radiant cuts.
Well-cut round brilliant diamonds tend to directly return a high volume of light to the viewer’s eyes, concealing some of the stone’s color – and looking whiter than their actual color grade.
Radiants and some other fancy-shaped diamonds tend to do the opposite.
To find a radiant-cut gem that looks white, we recommend staying in the upper near-colorless range between G and H color grades. Colors in the lower range will begin to exhibit a bit of yellow tinting.
Radiant Cut: Clarity Grade
One of the value factors that radiants offer over some other cuts, such as emerald cuts, is that they tend to hide inclusions better. Emerald cut stones generally reveal clarity features more compared to other cuts.
Related Read: Radiant Cut Vs. Emerald Cut
The tiny scintillation patterns of radiant cuts tend to make inclusions much harder to notice. Therefore, it’s possible to find lower clarity graded radiant cut diamonds that are eye-clean and save some money.
There are many beautiful radiants available in the SI clarity range – just make sure that the inclusions aren’t negatively affecting the stone’s transparency, as can sometimes be the case.
The resulting brilliance loss can occur even in a top-quality cut. That can be a subtle effect on the stone that requires a professional to diagnose, so working with a skilled diamond expert is your best assurance of finding an excellent radiant cut diamond.
Radiant Cut: Light Performance
As with any diamond shape, the light performance created by the cut is the vital part of what produces its brilliance, fire, and sparkle. With that said, the challenging thing about radiant cut diamonds for the non-expert is evaluating light performance.
A grading report will state many things about the radiant cut diamond, but it won’t tell you much about its light performance.
Diamond images and videos are certainly helpful, but advanced imaging, such as ASET, adds even more information. This type of program is a lightmap that offers brightness, light leakage, and contrast details.
Programs like these aren’t straightforward – it takes a little bit of experience to interpret. So, we recommend having a professional who can provide in-depth analysis of the gem and give you the diagnostics to understand these critical factors.
Does A Radiant Cut Look Bigger?
In some instances, the elongated shape of a radiant cut diamond may appear larger than some other diamond shapes of equal carat weight. However, this may be more of an optical illusion.
If a radiant diamond is cut too deep, it’s going to hide carat weight and not appear as large as one of the same carat weights that’s well-cut.
On top of that, even if a radiant diamond is appropriately proportioned to have a good surface area, if it suffers light performance deficits, it’s going to look smaller than one that has better brilliance.
Ideal cut diamonds appear bigger than diamonds of average cut quality of the same proportions since they return much more light to the viewer’s eyes.
Related Read: What Diamond Shape Looks The Biggest?
What Is A Princess Cut Diamond?
A princess-cut diamond is a square diamond that provides excellent brilliance and fire.
This fancy diamond shape is designed from the inverted pyramid of the rough diamond. Princess cut diamonds are among the most brilliant diamond shapes and one of the most popular engagement rings.
The highest quality princess cut gems have distinct square shapes, featuring a length-to-width ratio of 1.0-1.05. While there are rectangle princess cut diamonds, they aren’t as desirable as square ones since they can lack brilliance.
Princess cut diamonds with an Ideal or Excellent cut quality make for gorgeous engagement rings.
A princess-cut diamond commonly has between 50 and 58 facets, based on how the stone is cut. Most of the facets are on the crown and pavilion, with a few on the stone’s girdle.
Princess cut diamonds also usually feature two or four chevron patterns – cross patterns that can be seen when looking at the stone from above.
Princess Cut: Color Grade
When it comes to the color of a princess cut diamond, you need to be a bit more careful than with a round brilliant cut diamond.
The light return of the round brilliant cut is superior to the princess cut, so it’s better at keeping the real color of your stone a secret. Because of this, we recommend that you go for an H or I color grade for the best value when purchasing a princess cut gem.
You could go for a higher color grade, but the incremental whiteness you’ll gain just isn’t worth the incremental cost you’ll have to pay.
One thing to remember, though, is if you’re purchasing a diamond to have it set in a ring, then you need to ensure the color of the centerpiece gem matches the color of the accent stones.
Unless you’re going for a yellow or rose gold setting, we don’t recommend J color with princess cut diamonds since they retain color slightly more than round brilliant cut diamonds.
Princess Cut: Clarity
Regarding clarity, a princess cut is similar to the round brilliant cut diamond in the sense that it decently hides inclusions. You have to keep in mind that there are serious durability issues with princess cut diamonds, though.
Since princess cut diamonds have four corners, they’re prone to chipping. If the inclusion is positioned in one of the corners, that’ll significantly increase the risk of the diamond chipping.
If you’re purchasing the stone already set in a ring, this is less of a problem – unless you think you’d want to have your diamond reset in a new ring somewhere down the road.
We generally recommend going for SI2 clarity grade for round brilliant cut gems. With princess cut diamonds, though, it’s a bit trickier since they’re so few and far between. So, we recommend going for VS2 or SI1 clarity grades with princess cut stones that confirm that the diamonds are eye-clean.
Princess cut diamonds with these clarity grades are in short supply because of the high quality of rough stones that princess cuts are created from – but if you could find an eye-clean princess cut diamond, it would offer you incredible value.
Princess Cut: Proportions
For princess cut diamonds, overall cut parameter recommendations are:
- Depth percentage: between 68% and 75%
- Table percentage: below 75%
- Polish & symmetry: Good, Very Good, or Excellent
- Length-to-width ratio: 1.00 to 1.05
What Are Chevrons?
The princess cut doesn’t have a set number of facets. Instead, their number of facets can vary based on the particular facet design. The most variable aspect is the number of chevron facets located on the stone’s pavilion. These are sets of facets that have a boomerang-like appearance.
Princess cuts usually have two, three, or even four chevron patterns. The more facets you put on a surface of a specific size, the smaller those facets are going to be.
Therefore, the visual appearance of a two-chevron princess cut is different from a four-chevron princess cut diamond of similar size. The bigger the facets, the bolder the sparkles these facets can produce. On the other hand, tiny facets will create a more subtle sparkling effect.
As the diamond’s size gets bigger, the number of chevrons grows – while still producing some bold flashes. However, remember that the smaller the size of the stone, the fewer chevrons it can tolerate without sacrificing the more prominent sparkles.
Radiant Cut Vs. Princess Cut: Design
From an aesthetic perspective, radiant cut and princess cut share a few standard features.
First, they’re both angular diamonds with a square or rectangular shape. Also, they both have large tables. However, this is where the differences in design start. For example, while the radiant cut has beveled corners that give it a less geometric look, the princess cut diamonds have square corners.
From a durability standpoint, this is favorable for the radiant cut. The sharp corners of the princess-cut diamond are prone to chipping, especially if the stone has inclusions near its corners.
While the princess cut diamonds are square and generally look their size when set in rings, the radiant cut diamonds are typically rectangular. They have a longer diagonal measurement that makes them appear bigger than their actual carat weight.
With that said, some radiants have proportions closer to a square shape than a rectangle, even though this only accounts for a smaller portion of radiants sold.
Finally, the princess cut diamonds have a larger table than the radiant cut diamonds. That gives the princess cut a unique, impressive appearance – but it can make it easier to notice inclusions in some princess-cut stones, though.
Nevertheless, the facet pattern of the princess cut gems usually does an excellent job of hiding internal imperfections.
Radiant Cut Vs. Princess Cut: Brilliance
No two diamonds are the same – meaning that other aspects like cut quality could impact the stone’s brilliance just as much as its shape.
With that said, a radiant cut will usually reflect more light than an equally well-cut princess cut diamond, making it a bit better choice if you’re looking for optimal brilliance.
However, a well-cut princess-cut diamond can also exhibit extraordinary brilliance, meaning that either shape is a fantastic choice if you’re looking for a gorgeous stone that’s designed to reflect light.
So, when comparing radiant cut vs. princess cut, neither is the “better” diamond shape for everyone.
The princess cut offers a classic, gorgeous look, with a design developed to provide you with an excellent level of brilliance.
Then, there’s the radiant cut – with a more modern shape, slightly bigger appearance, improved durability, and a little bit more brilliance and sparkle.
Remember, if you have any concerns, be sure to ask a professional for help – they’ll be able to tell you all you need to know and aid you in your purchase. Let us know which cut you choose!