Helzberg’s Radiant Star line of diamonds are cut with 145 facets. That’s 87 more facets than the classic Round Brilliant Cut of diamond. But do more facets mean more brilliance in a diamond? Are Helzberg Radiant Star diamonds worth it?
Do more facets mean more brilliance?
What is brilliance?
Brilliance is the amount of light that enters into the top of the diamond, bounces around, and then exits back through the top of the diamond. It’s the bright flashing quality. It’s not increased by increasing the number of facets.
What is “fire”?
Fire is light that enters through the sides of the diamond, is refracted and reflected inside, then exits through the top of the diamond. It’s the flashes of rainbow colors. It’s not increased by increasing the number of facets.
What is “sparkle”?
Sparkle is the light that is reflected from the top facets of a diamond. It’s not increased by increasing the number of facets doing the reflecting. In fact, because the angled edges of facets take up some surface area, maximizing the number of facets could at least theoretically even reduce the amount of light being reflected, thus reducing sparkle.
The usual 58 facets of a Round Brilliant are plenty. They were created as part of an overall design by the great Marcel Tolkowsky. It maximizes light performance of a diamond. Increasing the number of facets does not increase the amount of sparkle.
What causes brilliance… a high number of facets as in the Helzberg Radiant Star? Or a well-proportioned, symmetrical cut quality, as in a GIA-certified Excellent Cut?
We’ve already seen that increasing the number of facets does not increase the brilliance. A 145-facet shape doesn’t guarantee any more brilliance than a classic 58-facet Round Brilliant shape.
So what does increase brilliance?
The answer is both simple and complex.
The simple version of the answer is: perfectly proportioned cuts create a lot of brilliance.
That’s another way of saying: Excellent “Cut Quality” creates a lot of brilliance.
Cut Quality is the physical quality of a given cutting job on a diamond. Read this about Diamond Cut Quality Scoring.
When a diamond cutter cuts a diamond, they must get the angles right. Tolkowsky theoretically and practically created a maximally performing diamond with the 58-facet Round Brilliant over 100 years ago.
Diamond cutters know this design. (Do they know the 145-facet Helzberg “Radiant Star” cut as well? I feel sure the answer is no.)
They must not only know the design. They must be able to skillfully recreate it. They must get the proportions right. They must cut the diamond according to angles and proportions well-known to maximize brilliance in Round Brilliant shapes. (Can diamond cutters cut 145 facets as accurately as they can cut the classic 58 facets? I feel sure the answer is no. There are that many more cuts in which to make mistakes. And with a design which is less familiar than the classic Round Brilliant.)
If they don’t know the right angles and proportions, they can’t shape the diamond for maximum brilliance. If they’re not skillful (and lucky), they can know what to do but not quite be able to do it. That’s like a quarterback who knows what to do, but physically fails to do it.
If the diamond cutter has the knowledge, the skill, and the luck, then the diamond is cut well. The flow of light from the sides through the top of the diamond will be maximized.
The more complex version of the answer? Only trained gemologists can say in detail. And only one shape is graded for Cut Quality by the GIA. That shape is the classic Round Brilliant Cut.
Why aren’t there GIA, IGI, or AGS Scores for the Cut Quality (“Brilliance Score”) of Helzberg Brilliant Star diamonds?
It’s because, as we just saw, only one shape is graded for Cut Quality by the GIA. That’s the classic Round Brilliant shape. It’s the only well-studied shape of diamond, for brilliance. It’s the only shape of diamond for which there is widespread scientific knowledge of what proportions cause high brilliance.
I know: sounds crazy. Everyone thinks so when they first learn of this fact.
But look around and you’ll see: the GIA offers Cut Quality grades only for classic Round Brilliant shapes. Oh yes, the GIA issues Clarity grades and Color grades for all kinds of shapes (Round Brilliant, Asscher Cut, Princess Cut, etc.) But the GIA issues Cut Quality (= “brilliance”) for only one shape: the classic Round Brilliant.
That’s why you won’t find any GIA Cut Quality grades for any Helzberg Radiant Star diamond.
The GIA doesn’t grade those. Nor do the IGI or the AGS, so far as I can find. They don’t grade Helzberg Radiant Star diamonds.
This is also true of any other cut except the classic Round Brilliant.
You won’t find GIA Cut Quality scores for a Heart shaped diamond, for example. Or a Pear shaped diamond. Only the classic Round Brilliant cut is graded by the GIA for Cut Quality.
That means we can’t know whether any given Helzberg Radiant Star diamond will have excellent brilliance, mediocre brilliance, or poor brilliance. No 3rd-party, unbiased, expert gemologist is grading them.
But we CAN know the Cut Quality score (“brillliance score”) of any given GIA-, IGI-, or AGS-graded diamond. Such as those at James Allen or Blue Nile.
Why it’s a red flag if we don’t see a GIA, IGI, or AGS diamond certificate for a Helzberg Radiant Star diamond.
First, there are no standard, 3rd-party, unbiased, widely accepted criteria for the Helzberg Radiant Star. Maybe Helzberg says it’s the best. But anyone could be forgiven for not accepting Helzberg’s own word for it. It’s just a patented cut that Helzberg has. Obviously they would say it’s the best.
Second, Helzberg doesn’t seem to get the GIA, IGI, or AGS to grade their Radiant Star diamonds. I’m not finding any mention of any such expected diamond grading lab on their Radiant Star product pages. And that’s a red flag, for me personally. That’s a dealbreaker, for me personally. And it should be for you, too.
Does it make sense to trust Clarity or Color specifications which aren’t issued by the GIA, IGI, or AGS? (“No!” in my opinion. Too many risks.) Do we even know who graded the Helzberg Radiant Star diamonds for Color or Clarity? We don’t, so far as I can tell. Could it be just someone on the Helzberg staff? Were they a trained gemologist? Were they competent? Were they unbiased?
Although the topic of this review is the Radiant Star line, I don’t single them out overall. Any diamond without a certificate / grading report from the GIA, IGI, or AGS should be off your list, in my opinion. You just can’t know for sure what you’re getting. And any retailer selling you a diamond without a GIA, IGI, or AGS certificate / grading report likely doesn’t even know what they’re selling. The definition of “knowing what a diamond is” … is having a 3rd-party, expert, unbiased diamond certificate / grading report.
What about the GSI certification for Helzberg’s Radiant Star diamonds? Is it good? Or is it questionable?
The diamond grading business includes the two best-trusted labs of the GIA (#1 for sure by reputation), then the AGS. Then the IGI. These are the three I would trust. The GSI is, by reputation, less than these three, according to some. See this well-regarded site, for example, on all the reasons they do not prefer the GSI, which grades Helzberg’s Radiant Star line of diamonds:
What is reflected light in diamonds?
Helzberg seems to claim their Radiant Star diamonds reflect more light than other round diamonds, because they have 145 facets, compared to the usual 58.
That’s plausible, at first glance.
Reflected light, in terms of diamonds, is, of course, light that is reflected from above the diamond. (Not light that is gathered from the sides and channeled out through the top, which is the definition of diamond brilliance.)
So claims of better or more reflection of light don’t seem so impressive to me.
I think Helzberg’s claims of probably overstated, anyway. Here’s why:
- The labs run by the GIA, IGI, or AGS do not grade Radiant Stars. (The GSI does. But see above for why I, and others, do not prefer to accept the grades of the GSI.)
- No 3rd party diamond grading labs grade any diamond for the quality of “reflected light“. (It’s simply not seen as an important quality of diamonds. Rightly so in my opinion.)
- A disco ball with 145 facets wouldn’t reflect more light than one with 58 facets. It would just reflect light in smaller chunks. That could be attractive, if you like small specks of reflected light. But that’s not what diamonds are for. Diamonds are not for reflecting light, as if they are disco balls. Diamonds are for gathering light from the sides and bottom, and channeling that light out through the top. The number of facets has nothing to do with a diamond’s ability to do that, as we’ve seen.
Should you buy a Helzberg Radiant Star diamond ring?
Some people have been very happy with their Radiant Stars, as some customer reviews show at the Helzberg site.
But … imho, those customers could have purchased a better diamond. For less money. I show how almost daily here.
Skim through my reviews of Helzberg diamond jewelry, in which I found certified, better diamond rings for LESS MONEY.
If you love a setting at Helzberg, and can’t find one you like better, then possibly that’s a reason to buy a Helzberg Radiant Star. Or possibly you love the brand name. There’s nothing wrong with that. Radiant Star is an attractive brand name.
In the coming days and weeks, I’ll add to my articles showing GIA-, AGS-, or IGI-certified, objectively better, yet less expensive, alternatives to Helzberg Radiant Star diamonds.
Even now, there are a few such articles already posted. To find them, simply search my site for “Helzberg XXXXXXXX” where XXXXXXXX is the item number at Helzberg.
Or just search for “Helzberg” and then visually scan the results. If I’ve already written the comparison and alternative, better recommendation, you’ll find it.
If you don’t find it, contact me with a link to the Helzberg diamond you want me to find an alternative to. Keep in mind that some Helzberg designs of settings are of course exclusive to them. But that doesn’t mean I can’t find comparable settings together with GIA- AGS-, or IGI-certified, better diamonds … for less money.
I generally find the best deals at James Allen.
It’s not just because I’m an affiliate or a fanboy. (I am both.) It’s because James Allen, along with Blue Nile, is simply the best of the online diamond retailers. That means James Allen is the best diamond retailer on earth. Truly. They have the biggest inventory. The lowest prices. The best customer service. They’re not perfect by any means. But especially in price and quality of diamonds, so far they can’t be beat very often in my searches. And in yours too I’m confident.