I am wondering where the best place is to buy a 1 carat round diamond. My preference is a GIA Excellent cut, hearts and arrows diamond. I also prefer a clarity grade of VS-1 or higher with D-G color. I’m working with a maximum budget of $7,500.00 USD. In the mean time, please provide your opinion about these two diamonds:
GIA 7248560014 does not score very well on the HCA. I do like that it has a rather clean table (very few inclusions) and it’s only $6,060.00
GIA 6183217841 is selling for $7,015.00 and seems to have a better cut, but the inclusions worry me.
Thank you in advance for all your help, I really appreciate you doing this.
(a Diamond Concierge Service Inquiry)
Thank you for your inquiry. I noticed that you signed up to receive our newsletter. I suggest that you also download our ultimate diamond buying cheat sheet. It will provide you with all the details you need to find a diamond with great light performance.
Print it out and keep it out on your desk for easy reference! It is especially helpful for people shopping for hearts and arrows diamonds. Following the guidelines on the cheat sheet will help you buy a 1 carat round diamond with the right proportions. It is highly doubtful that these diamonds exhibit hearts and arrows by my standards.
Although this may be true, we’re still going to evaluate them in great detail. This way, you’ll develop an understanding of what to look for in a diamond. This will enable you to recognize an exceptional diamond when you see one. On the same note, it will teach you about some critical things you’ll want to avoid.
I’m going to rely upon the cut score calculator by Enchanted Diamonds to provide a 3rd party evaluation. While I don’t use the cut score calculator myself, I think you’ll find it useful. Their algorithm scores the diamond by the proportions you’ll find on the GIA diamond grading report.
It is SUPER IMPORTANT to realize that the rounds off many of these measurements! Sometimes as far as the nearest half a percent or half a degree! Think about that concept for a moment. The GIA Laboratory rounds off the measurements of critical reflective surfaces! As you can imagine, this might affect our ability to accurately predict light performance by the numbers.
Whereas the AGS Laboratory does not round off those proportions. They report the actual average of the eight measurements taken per section. How does this work? It’s quite simple actually. If the crown angle is 34.8 degrees, then that is what the AGS Laboratory is going to report. Whereas the GIA will round a crown angle of 34.8° off to 35.0 degrees.
All right, so that’s not so much of a problem, because it’s still within my preferred range. However, the GIA is also going to round off a crown angle of 35.2° down to 35.0 degrees. That’s enough of a difference to actually alter your perception of sparkle factor. You can read more about this in the article GIA vs AGS.
Moving forward. The Enchanted Diamonds cut score gives GIA #7248560014 a score of 93.7% out of one hundred. That’s actually not so good in my book. This is because the pavilion depth of 43.5% happens to be “the critical tipping point” where light begins not to strike fully off of the pavilion facets. That means that the pavilion is not at an angle conducive to great light return. It’s too steep.
In addition, the 36 degree crown angle is also WAY too steep! In my experience, diamonds with this crown angle tend to look amazing under jewelry store lighting. But of course, there is a downside.
Notice: this article was written before Enchanted Diamonds declared bankruptcy on June 20, 2019.
This diamond is what we commonly refer to within the industry as a steep / deep. Both the crown and pavilion sections of the diamond are steep and deep. Interestingly enough, the steep / deep combination tends to look amazing under jewelry store lighting. However, when you’re not standing under 300-watt halogen lighting, they tend to look dark and dead.
To make matters worse, the steeper crown and pavilion sections are driving up the total depth. At 62.5% you’re paying a premium for diamond carat weight, which is hidden in total depth. Remember: the deeper the total depth, the smaller the visible outside diameter is going to be.
With this in mind, you might be wondering how this 1 carat round diamond can be GIA Excellent cut. It is important to realize that each cut grade represents a range or spectrum of possibility. The proportions of this diamond are at the lower end of the spectrum for what constitutes GIA Excellent cut.
And the diamond is not likely to exhibit a crisp and complete “hearts and arrows” pattern by my standards. I’ll show you why I believe this:
Take a look at the asymmetrical black triangles indicated by with the red arrows. Those are areas of obstruction which result from the steeper crown and pavilion angles. Most of the time when I see something like this, there will also be irregular spacing around the hearts pattern. This tells me that “the hearts” are not likely to be even in size and shape.
Also notice how only the pavilion main facet (arrow shaft) in the relative 11 o’clock position is firing properly. From this vantage point, the pavilion main facets should be reflecting back the dark color of the camera lens. However only one of them is doing so, the other seven appear to be off kilter. Consequently, I have my doubts about this 1 carat round diamond. But there is one more thing to check…
Since the pavilion facets appear to be translucent in this photograph, we want to test whether they are firing properly. Because the arrows pattern should be dark as seen from this vantage point. Once again, this is because they should be reflecting back the dark color of the camera lens.
To determine whether this is simply a matter of positioning, we’re going to observe the diamond in motion. In order to do that, we’re going to use our mouse to move the diamond left and right. Simply left click your mouse and hold it over the diamond in the video below. Then you’ll be able to move the diamond from side to side. Pay close attention to the extent that the pavilion mains are firing (reflecting back the dark camera lens).
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As you move the diamond back and forth, you’ll see that the pavilion mains aren’t kicking in. Only one of the pavilion main facets is reflecting back the dark color of the camera lens. This means that only one of the eight pavilion mains is firing. The other seven arrows remain translucent as the diamond moves back and forth.
Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that this is not the result of the camera angle or positioning. In other words, it’s not because we’re looking at the diamond straight on at 90 degrees. This 1 carat round diamond is showing signs of azimuth shift and facet yaw.
This means that there may be some variances in the angle of the facets as they were polished onto the diamond. That might be why this 1 carat round diamond is not exhibiting good contrast brilliance.
Unfortunately, we don’t have an ASET Scope image for this 1 carat round diamond. Because that would enable us to determine how effectively this diamond reflecting light. An ASET Scope image will show where the diamond is gathering light from within the room. In addition, it will show us how evenly light is reflecting throughout the diamond.
This is the ASET Scope image for this 1.304 carat, I-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature Hearts & Arrows diamond. As you can see, it demonstrates how evenly light is reflecting throughout this diamond. There is a lot of red, which indicates light reflecting from the brightest light source in the room. The green represents light from the second brightest light source. While the blue color indicates that the diamond has a high degree of contrast.
This is what the ASET image of an ideal hearts and arrows diamond looks like. However, it is important to understand that this is a static image. The ASET image you’ll find on an AGS lab report is a compilation of data acquired by scanning the diamond at several different vantage points.
To illustrate the importance of ASET Scope images, I direct your attention to the green arrows on the photograph. Do you see those darker areas along the edge of the diamond? My guess is that those areas would show up as green under an ASET Scope. This would mean that the diamond is reflecting light from the second brightest light source in those areas.
However, those areas should be red in an ideal scenario. Notice how those areas are red on the ASET for the Brian Gavin Signature diamond from above. That means that they’re reflecting light from the brightest light source in the room. You’ll see additional references to this type of effect within the article on obstruction. Now, I want you to realize that I’m not suggesting that this is a bad diamond.
It is, after all, a GIA Excellent 1 carat round diamond. I’m merely pointing out that the Brian Gavin Signature diamond is cut better. The fact is that it is cut to better proportions and exhibits a higher degree of optical precision. That is going to produce a higher volume of light return and better sparkle factor.
Now, before we get too far along, I want to dole out a small dose of reality. There is no such thing as a perfectly cut 1 carat round diamond. Never mind the mad ramblings which stem from my 30 years of diamond buying experience. The thing to realize is that perfection is a reflection which we measure in degrees. Why yes, that is a bit of a pun!
However, the point is no less valid. The trick is to begin to see what creates the different visual effects within each diamond. Then use those traits to eliminate diamonds with a less desirable visual performance. So that you narrow down the field of possibilities to a few exceptional looking diamonds. And then, simply choose the best option from that array of choices.
Truth be told, my selection process is more of an elimination process. I eliminate diamonds for specific visual anomalies. Then I select the best diamond from the remaining options.
This Mad Hatter type approach tends to drive the diamond cutters crazy. Which is why they have nicknames for me like Diamond Nazi, Diamond Snob, and Golden Child. That last one is from Brian Gavin by the way! Can you imagine? I’m the Golden Child?!?! Have you read my review of the new Black by Brian Gavin collection? Talk about the Pot Calling the Kettle Black!
Given these points, I’m sure you can appreciate why I would not buy that other one carat round diamond. By the same token, I’m not likely to recommend this 1.20 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, GIA Excellent cut diamond either. Even though the proportions of this diamond are a little better. Enchanted Diamonds gives it a cut score of 96.9%.
However, a cut score of 96.9% is still not good by my standards. While it might be a step in the right direction, the reality is that very few diamonds with a cut score of 100% meet my selection criteria. Unfortunately, a lot of diamonds with a 100% cut score still leak a lot of light! Which is why reflector scope images are so important!
The 41.0 degree crown angle on this 1-carat round diamond is still a little steep for my preferences. However, it is combined with a pavilion depth of 43% which might still produce good light return. However, there is no way to tell for sure without ASET and Ideal Scope images.
The crown angle of 33.5 degrees is shallower than I prefer. While this is likely to create a higher degree of brilliance, it will be at the expense of dispersion. In other words, this diamond might exhibit a lot of white sparkle, however, it will probably be at the expense of fire.
It is also worth noting that I would automatically reject this diamond because it contains a knot. A knot is an included diamond crystal, which breaks through the surface of the diamond. They are prone to catching on things and have been known to loosen and fall out with time. When this happens, it will leave a cavity where the knot appears. With this in mind, I consider them to be a durability risk and reject them without a second thought.
It goes without saying, that the purpose of this diamond clarity photograph is so that you can identify the inclusions. At the same time, you can use it to eliminate diamonds for heavy obstruction and contrast brilliance.
In this case, the diamond exhibits less obstruction (red arrows) and pretty good contrast brilliance. As you can plainly see, only a few of the arrow shafts are failing to reflect the camera lens. However, the green arrows show that there still might be some issues along the edge of the diamond. In addition, there appears to be a separation of the arrowheads from the arrow shafts (yellow arrows):
Given what we’re seeing here, it seems unlikely that this diamond will exhibit hearts and arrows. At least, not to the precise extent that I’m looking for in a hearts and arrows diamond. However, it is definitely the better option of the two diamonds which you were considering. I would insist upon reflector scope images before buying a diamond like this.
Send me the ASET, Ideal Scope, and Hearts & Arrows Scope images for this diamond if the seller is willing to provide them. Understand that my insight here is kind of a best guess, based upon experience type of thing. However, we really need actual reflector scope images to verify my suspicions.
All right, now you know why I would not buy either of these 1-carat round diamonds. Let’s talk about the benefits of an actual hearts and arrows 1 carat round diamond. The proportions and a higher degree of optical precision will produce better light performance. However, the downside to the equation is that it results in a greater loss of diamond rough. It also takes about 4 times longer to polish a diamond to a higher degree of perfection.
That means that a legitimate one carat round H&A diamond will cost more than a standard 1 carat round diamond. The difference in production quality will be evident in the precision of the hearts pattern. Keep in mind that all round brilliant cut diamonds are likely to exhibit some sort of hearts pattern. That is because the hearts pattern is created by how light reflects off the facet structure of a round diamond. However, the hearts of most round diamonds, look more like lawn darts or rabbit ears on acid.
For instance, take a look at the hearts pattern for this diamond. It’s a 1.07 carat, E-color, VVS-2 clarity, GIA Excellent cut round from Enchanted Diamonds. They’re giving it a cut score of 100% but that doesn’t mean it’s hearts and arrows. Far from it actually, but they’re also not selling it as a hearts and arrows diamond.
Enchanted Diamonds is simply showing you how the diamond looks through a hearts and arrows scope. To that end, the diamond actually exhibits a better hearts pattern than a lot of ideal cut diamonds. The 40.8 degree pavilion angle should produce a high volume of light return. At the same time, the 34.5 degree crown angle should produce a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion. This is a pretty good option for a GIA Excellent 1 carat round diamond.
Enchanted Diamonds is also providing hearts images for this 1 carat round diamond. As you can see, my lawn darts and rabbit ears analogy is pretty accurate. This is a 1.00 carat, F-color, VS-1 clarity, GIA Excellent cut round from Enchanted Diamonds. The 97.2% cut score is the result of the 59% table diameter. The 40.6 degree pavilion angle should produce a high volume of light return. While the 35.0 degree crown angle produces a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion.
The Enchanted Diamonds cut score does not take optical precision into account. The cut score is based upon the proportions and overall cut grade. While the light performance of this diamond probably isn’t bad, the reality is that it could be better. Simply fine-tuning the indexing of the facets and optical precision would dramatically improve the sparkle factor of this diamond.
Here again, we are simply using the characteristics and visual properties of the diamonds to fine tune our selection process. I’m not suggesting that either of these GIA Excellent cut diamonds are bad. But clearly, one of them is cut better than the other, right? You can use this insight to ensure that you select the right 1 carat round diamond for your preferences.
Spend some time on the internet and you’ll discover lots of sites claiming to sell hearts and arrows diamonds. In spite of this claim, most of these sites fail to provide actual hearts and arrows photographs. Most of them simply designate that their 1 carat round diamond is hearts and arrows. Then they expect you to take their word for it, without any sort of proof. If you’re willing to spend thousands of dollars on that assumption, I’ve got some swamp land in Florida for sale.
Those of us who specialize in the niche market of hearts and arrows diamonds, use special scopes to evaluate the patterns. These reflector scope images enable us to judge the degree of optical precision.
Exceptional hearts and arrows patterns are the results of incredibly precise optical precision. The indexing of every facet has to be spot-on from the perspective of 360-degree alignment. The angle of the facets as they are polished on to the diamond has to be just right. The slightest deviation in angle or indexing will affect the consistency of size and shape.
It takes approximately 4 times longer to polish a hearts and arrows diamond. Which is going to be reflected in both the price and the light performance. The overall cut quality can affect the price of a diamond by as much as sixty percent. Needless to say, the cut quality grade on the lab reports fails to account for optical precision.
I think that this 1.068 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round hearts and arrows diamond is exactly what you’re looking for. It exhibits incredible optical precision, However, I’m guessing that the price tag is higher than you have in mind. At the same time, it does represent realistic pricing for arrows diamonds of this cut quality.
As you can plainly see, the degree of optical precision exhibited by this diamond is exceptional. It’s actually up in the realm of the Top 0.001% for the annual production of round brilliant cut diamonds!
The 40.7 degree pavilion angle is going to produce a high level of light return. While the 34.5 degree crown angle produces a virtual balance of brilliance (white sparkle) and dispersion (colored sparkle).
The combination of the 76% lower girdle facet length and a higher degree of optical precision will produce broad-spectrum sparkle. That is sparkle which tends to be larger in size and more intense. That means that it should be bolder, brighter and more vivid than what the average ideal cut diamond produces.
This is what you’re going to see when you open the diamond details for this Black by Brian Gavin Diamond. This image might seem a bit anti-climactic in comparison to the other images. The intent of the images is to demonstrate the degree to which the diamond is eye clean. However, that really isn’t a concern with a VS-1 clarity diamond. There is no doubt that it’s going to face-up eye clean.
The other images of the diamond demonstrate the brilliance and the sparkle. There is also a larger face-up view of the diamond, which shows the clarity characteristics. Click on the icons for Brilliance, Sparkle and Full Size to see how the diamond looks under various types of lighting. The quality of these images is so high, that you’ll actually be able to see the virtual facets! Those are the internal reflections of light, created by the overlapping of facets.
It’s a really cool looking kaleidoscope effect, which occurs to a higher degree in hearts and arrows diamonds. The higher degree of virtual facets, intensifies the sparkle factor. In other words, hearts and arrows diamonds look more spectacular, because they exhibit a higher number of virtual facets.
From time to time, I like to visit the vendors who I work with. Doing so gives me the opportunity to see their operations and their diamonds! At this moment in time, I’m actually at Brian Gavin Diamonds. I’m going to be here all week! [Editors note: this refers to the first week of April 2017].
So, I took a look at the 1.068 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Black by Brian Gavin Diamond. It certainly is spectacular looking! Naturally, I’ll be happy to pull any Brian Gavin diamonds from the vault and check them out for you. I don’t actually have direct access to the vault. However, I have taken over a corner of Brian’s desk! So, well, you know, that kind of gives me direct access!
In the meantime, read my review of Black by Brian Gavin diamonds. It will explain what makes these diamonds so amazing! I consider them to be the next generation of Hearts and Arrows diamonds!
In any event, now you know what a real hearts and arrows, 1 carat round diamond is going to cost. There is also the next tier down into the realm of standard GIA Excellent and AGS Ideal cut diamonds. Those would be the GIA & AGS graded diamonds, with proportions within my preferred range. However, as you can see, they’re not likely to exhibit a higher degree of optical precision.
First of all, thank you very much for the in depth analysis. I was not expecting that at all and I am truly grateful. From the bottom of my heart, thank you very much. It was great to have your expert eyes and opinion potentially saving me from buying a 1 carat round diamond of lesser quality.
About this Brian Gavin diamond that you have suggested, I have one question. You’ve mentioned before that your clients have on many occasions been approached by strangers asking where they got their diamonds from, due to their sparkle. Does the one you recommend to me fall into the same category?
Thanks to you and your write ups I’ve started to realize just how worthwhile it is to spend on cut, so it looks like I will take this into account and adjust my budget up to 10k USD. If you have any recommendations for me do let me know.
Also, would you able to compare the following diamonds and let me know what you think? Is the extra premium for Brian Gavin justified?
- 1.068 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Black by Brian Gavin Diamond
- 1.082 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Black by Brian Gavin Diamond
- 1.304 carat, I-color, VS-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature Diamond
Also, when I eventually make this purchase, how do I ensure that I am using your affiliate link?
Thank you once again.
Since Brian Gavin used to produce diamonds for our private label, it goes without saying that his diamonds are Nice Ice. Obviously I love the sparkle factor of his diamonds! We built a strong brand and amazing reputation upon the sparkle factor of his diamonds. Which is why it is so much fun for me to be at his office this week! Thanks for giving me an excuse to pull these puppies out of the vault and take them for a walk!
I believe that the 1.304 carat, BGD Signature round is cut to the same precise standards as the two Blacks. This is because I was privy to the research and development process behind the BBGD production. Brian and I go way, way, way back. He is actually one of my original mentors in the diamond business.
As you can see, the proportions of the 1.304 carat, I-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature diamond are spot-on. Another key point is that the ASET Scope image looks incredible.
You’ll notice that there are no little green triangles visible under the table facet. I’m specifically referring to the region between the arrows pattern. With this in mind, I believe that this diamond could be a Black by Brian Gavin if it were G+ in color. The selection criteria for BBGD is G-color and higher, VS-2 clarity and higher with negligible fluorescence. But just to be safe, you should check with Brian to be sure that my assessment is correct. After all, it’s his brand and I don’t want to speak out of turn.
The diamonds appear in order of carat weight from left to right in the photograph above. It’s important to realize that these photographs are not professional quality. I took this photo with my iPhone, under fluorescent lighting. So, the quality of the images is not that great. But I’m hoping that they’re good enough to demonstrate how similar these diamonds look!
As I’m sure you can imagine, these diamonds are so bright and sparkly in real life! They seem to shimmer, even under fluorescent lighting! That’s important because fluorescent lighting doesn’t contain the UV light necessary to fire them off. It’s actually the higher degree of contrast brilliance which makes it seem like they’re sparkling. That is another benefit of superior diamond cutting and higher than average optical precision. It makes diamonds appear to be sparkling more, even when the lighting conditions are not good.
This is actually her first time in the office. It’s also the first time that she’s ever seen one of Brian’s diamonds (she’s joining us for lunch). I set the 1.304 carat diamond on her hand and photographed it. So, that’s the diamond in this hand shot.
The next thing I asked her to do was pick out the sparkliest diamond of the group. The first time, she picked the 1.304 carat, which was positioned on the right, closest to the window. The next time, I turned the tray around, so that the 1.304 carat was on the left. This means that the 1.068 carat diamond was now on the right. Once again, she chose the diamond on the right, and then she started to laugh. She quickly realized that whichever diamond was located closest to the light source seemed to sparkle more.
Needless to say, these Brian Gavin Diamonds all face-up the same to the naked eye. However, my girlfriend was able to pick-up just a hint of warmth in the I-color diamond. Of course, that is only when it is set right next to the G-color diamonds. Upon separating the diamonds by two inches, her only observation was “this one is bigger” indicating the 1.304 carat. As you’ll discover from reading my tutorial on diamond color, it is largely a matter of perception.
With this in mind, it’s safe to say these Brian Gavin Signature diamonds look the same to the naked eye. in terms of sparkle factor. However my girlfriend was able to pick up just a hint of warmth in the I-color diamond. But that’s only when it was set right next to the G-color diamonds. When I moved them apart by two inches, her only observation was “this one is bigger” (pointing to the 1.304 carat).
This is one of the benefits of the Brian Gavin brand. His production standards are extremely consistent, which ensures that every Brian Gavin Diamond looks amazing. Obviously, this is why I recommend them so highly. It’s also why Brian Gavin used to oversee the production of diamonds for our in-store private label 😉
To answer your other question pertaining to ensuring that I receive credit for my assistance, that part is easy. Simply click on the links provided within this email to order the diamond. Those links are encoded with my affiliate code for tracking purposes. Thank you very much for caring about that, I appreciate that very much.
Thank you once again for the wonderful info.
You have truly convinced me. Hence I will be purchasing the 1.304 carat, I-color, VS-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature diamond.
Jamie has already written up an invoice for me, so I will wire the money over soon. I hope this will track as an affiliate sale for you, because you truly deserve it.
Once again, thank you so much for all your help, much appreciated!
Congratulations! It’s an absolutely gorgeous diamond! I can’t wait for you to see it! Please tag me @NiceIceDiamonds if you post pictures on social media or anything like that.
Jamie is really good about tracking my referrals, we’ve known each other for about 10 years. As it turns out, she actually stuck her head into the office a few minutes ago. She wanted to let me know that you were all taken care of. I think I told you that I’m visiting BGD this week. We’re flying home on Saturday 🙂
Would it be all right if I used some of the content from our conversation as a blog post? Obviously, I’ll delete out your name and stuff. There’s just a lot of good tips in here that I think people would benefit from.
Thank you, I can’t wait to see the look on my girl’s face when I give it to her!
Sure feel free to post on your blog. I’ve learnt so much from your blog posts. I hope others will be able to get the same experience as me.
So the Brian Gavin diamond arrived today, and it is gorgeous. I tried to take a few photos but my lousy photography skills could not do the diamond an justice. Thank you once again for everything, this was definitely worth spending the money on! Here’s a picture of the ring for your Instagram account.
I’m so happy to hear that you love your new Brian Gavin Diamond! It really can be a challenge to photograph those puppies! First of all because you really need a macro lens. Secondly, because they give off so much light that it messes with the aperture.
But just in case you want to try it, permit me to share a few diamond photography tips. My favorite place to photograph diamonds is under the diffused light of a shady tree. Preferably on a sunny day that has just a bit of a breeze, so that the leaves move around a bit. This will allow just the right amount of sunlight through. Then your 1 carat round diamond will dance beautifully in the sunlight. And the shade will enable you to take a great shot!
Download Camera+ if you have an iPhone, it seems to have pretty good macro capability. Thanks so much for the update! It’s been a pleasure working with you.
Todd Gray is a professional diamond buyer with 30+ years of trade experience. He loves to teach people how to buy diamonds that exhibit incredible light performance! In addition to writing for Nice Ice, Todd "ghost writes" blogs and educational content for other diamond sites. When Todd isn't chained to a desk, or consulting for the trade, he enjoys Freediving! (that's like scuba diving, but without air tanks)
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