Ben Bridge Forevermark Modified Round Brilliant Cut Diamond Review:
Politely, I just want to point out that the review of the Signature Forevermark diamond by Ben Bridge does not take into account the proprietary cut that Ben Bridge partnered with Forevermark to manufacture. It has 8 extra facets, precisely and strategically placed on the pavilion of the diamond. What it does, is it subtly enhances the brilliance, fire and scintillation while maintaining the classic look that has made the round brilliant so timeless. Also, all of the 1 carat SF diamonds for $10999 are within a range of clarity and color range. There will be no visible inclusions visible to the naked eye, nothing below an SI-2 and nothing below an “I” color. However some are colorless, and some are VS in clarity. The most important thing is the cut and light performance which outshines anything on the market while maintaining that classic look. Finally, one last thing to point out is that the AGS IDEAL 0 guidelines have been adjusted and the exact proportion percentages are not as crucial as their light performance grade, symmetry and polish (The three cut characteristics graded on new AGS certs).
Continued: I sold an AGS IDEAL round with a 59% table percentage. This speaks to the all important and so often forgotten romance and unique nature of each stone. DeBeers’ experience in the trade makes it the most qualified to determine what is the best overall rough to manufacture, and then they are the most equipped to maximize that light performance in any gem quality rough that they manufacture. At the same time you know where your diamonds are coming from and that they are beautiful, rare and responsibly sourced. DeBeers is the leader in ethical diamond sourcing and manufacturing. I hope that you’ll stop in to see a Signature Forevermark by Ben Bridge diamond because I really think you’d appreciate the sparkle that it offers. When put into the beautiful mountings that Forevermark offers, it makes the ring that much more desirable. — Zach
Ladies and Gentlemen, based upon the technical nature of this inquiry and the presence of the statement “I sold an AGS IDEAL round with a 59% table percentage” it would appear that we have a representative of Ben Bridge Jewelers on the premises, and that’s COOL because I believe that the perspective which Zach presents about how he feels about the Signature Forevermark diamond by Ben Bridge provides you with the opportunity to learn:
- The effect that proportions have upon light return
- The importance of reflector scope images
- The effect of virtual facets upon sparkle factor
While I respect Zach’s personal opinion about the Signature Forevermark diamond by Ben Bridge, it’s my personal opinion that I don’t like the look of the stone… I appreciate the offer to drop by and check out the stone in-person, but I’ve already done that, and I truly prefer the overall look of a traditional 57 facet round brilliant super ideal cut diamond for reasons which I’ll explain; but before I do so I want to point out that all of this truly is a matter of personal preference…
What appeals to Zach, might very well appeal to you; and what appeals to me, might not appeal to you or Zack; but this is my blog, and therefore I tend to write about the characteristics of diamonds which I find appealing… it’s up to you as the person buying the diamond, to learn all that you can about diamonds, check them out in-person, and decide which characteristics of the Diamond 4C’s and Diamond Cut Quality appeal to your personal preferences; I’m just the tour guide and as such, I tend to point out the characteristics of diamonds which I find to be applicable based upon my 25+ years experience as a diamond buyer, which tends to be a different perspective than that of the sales people who work the front counter of a jewelry store… everything in life is about perspective.
The effect of adding extra facets to a round brilliant cut diamond:
The American Gem Society Laboratory (AGSL) released a study in 2007 titled “the Evaluation of brilliance, fire, and scintillation in round brilliant gemstones” within which they explain how the overlapping of geometric shapes in the form of facets polished onto the surface of a diamond, result in the production of “virtual facets” which are facet-like geometric shapes which are created on the fly as the diamond is in motion.
The easiest way that I can think of to explain the concept of virtual facets is that the facet design of a round brilliant cut diamond is a lot like a kaleidoscope, in that each facet of a diamond is like a tiny mirror, which is polished onto the surface of the diamond, at precise angles that dictate the volume of light return, as well as determine how many pieces of light each beam of light that travels through the diamond will be split apart. Basic geometry tells us that a round brilliant cut diamond is a circle, which has been divided up into sections of facets, which are positioned in a uniform pattern around the surface of the diamond in a manner that dictates the volume of light return and sparkle.
What do virtual facets of a diamond look like?
This diagram which is featured within the report published by the American Gem Society Laboratory Cut shows the top down view of a traditional 57 facet round brilliant cut diamond from three vantage points. The first diagram simply shows the facets that appear on the crown section of the diamond; the second diagram shows a typical pattern of virtual facets, which result from the primary refraction as projected on the crown section when the diamond is viewed in the face-up position; the bottom diagram shows the virtual facets of the diamond as created by primary and secondary refraction in the face-up position.
If you look closely at the second image, you will be able to see the arrows pattern which is created by the pavilion main facets which are located on the lower half of the diamond, and you can see how the facet pattern of the diamond is creating a multitude of tiny geometric shapes which you now recognize as the virtual facets of a diamond.
Each of these virtual facets produce flashes of light which we interpret as sparkle; if the flashes of light are large enough, then our eyes will disperse the white light into spectral hues of colors like red, green, blue, yellow, and so forth, which is the process of dispersion that is commonly referred to as the “fire” produced by a diamond.
By increasing the number of facets on a round brilliant cut diamond, the number of virtual facets is increased, however the size of those virtual facets will be smaller, and as such the resulting sparkle may be interpreted by our eyes as brilliance instead of dispersion, thus you’re likely to see the diamond as being more brilliant, or brighter, because of all the white sparkle, but it will appear to exhibit less fire.
The effect of proportions upon light return of a diamond:
I want to take a moment to address a statement that Zach made: “the AGS IDEAL 0 guidelines have been adjusted and the exact proportion percentages are not as crucial as their light performance grade, symmetry and polish (The three cut characteristics graded on new AGS certs)” because it is the type of statement that appears to make sense on the surface, and might lead you to incorrectly assume that the Light Performance grading platform of the AGSL does not take proportions into account, when in fact it is one of the first factors of the cut grade that the AGSL takes into consideration.
Let’s dissect the statement and address it in pieces…
It is true that “the AGS IDEAL 0 guidelines have been adjusted” however those adjustments are based upon using computerized mathematical ray tracing to determine the range of crown angle and pavilion angle combinations work best with specific table diameter measurements… and the basic foundation of simple geometry dictates that specific combinations of crown and pavilion angle offset will produce higher volumes of light return than other combinations.
In addition, the combination of crown and pavilion angle will have a direct impact upon the appearance and shape of the virtual facets by changing how the light off of each facet, reflects off of other facets within the diamond, and the overall volume of light return. Regardless of the facet pattern that is polished onto the surface of a diamond, the manner in which light travels through the diamond will always be affected by the proportions; therefore implying that “…the exact proportion percentages are not as crucial as their light performance grade” seems patently false and misleading.
And finally I want to address the last part of this statement: “the AGS IDEAL 0 guidelines have been adjusted and the exact proportion percentages are not as crucial as their light performance grade, symmetry and polish (The three cut characteristics graded on new AGS certs)” which seems to imply that the Overall Cut Grade of a Diamond as stated on the AGSL Light Performance grading report is based upon the:
- Light Performance grade
- Polish grade
- Symmetry grade
The fact of the matter is that in the explanation of Light Performance cut grade provided by the AGSL on their web site, they not only provide the proportions guideline charts for all of the common table diameter measurements which are subdivided into specific measurements of outside diameter; they also indicate which specific combinations of crown and pavilion angle measurements qualify for the ideal cut rating, so obviously the proportions of a diamond are a contributing factor of the overall cut grade.
While it might seem innocuous to imply that the exact proportions of a diamond are not as crucial as the light performance grade, the reality is that the Light Performance grading platform relied upon by the AGS Laboratory is based upon a broad range of light return and visual performance; and as such, there is a high and low end of the range, and it is a simple fact that tighter proportions such as those referred to within my article 15 Seconds to Diamond Buying Success have been proven, time and time again, to result in a higher volume of light return.
In addition, all one has to do is look at the variance exhibited on the ASET images for diamonds graded by the AGSL on their Light Performance grading platform to see how different proportions and degrees of optical symmetry affects the brightness of each diamond, and how the distribution of light throughout each diamond is different… pay attention to those ASET images, because there are different levels of AGS Ideal-0 cut diamond!
Are SI-2 clarity diamonds eye clean?
Another statement made by Zach that sounds reasonable enough on the surface level, pertains to the clarity of the Ben Bridge Signature Forevermark diamonds where he states “There will be no visible inclusions visible to the naked eye, nothing below an SI-2 and nothing below an “I” color”.
The problem that I have with blanket statements such as this is that the degree to which a diamond is “eye clean” varies upon the individual vision of each person viewing the diamond…
The fact of the matter is that in the 25+ years that I worked as a diamond buyer, I’ve never actually seen an SI-2 clarity diamond that I could not locate the inclusions in with just my eyes when the diamond was subjected to close scrutiny… and within that statement is another concept which needs to be addressed for the sake of clarity (pun intended).
The industry standard for determining whether a diamond is “eye clean” or not, is based upon viewing the diamond from a distance of 9 – 12 inches, but not closely scrutinizing the diamond from a distance of 2 – 3 inches, or even carefully looking at the diamond facet-by-facet… it’s simply picking up the diamond and looking at it to see if the you’re able to quickly and easily locate the inclusions without magnification, so it could very well be that Zach is unable to see the inclusions within all of the SI-2 clarity diamonds that are part of the Ben Bridge Signature Forevermark diamond collection, but I tend not to adhere to the industry standard for what constitutes an eye clean diamond because the odds are that you don’t either…
Suffice to say that if you want a diamond which is truly eye clean, you’re probably better off buying a VS-2 clarity diamond, because some SI-1 clarity diamonds are eye clean and some are not, but I’ve never been comfortable referring to an SI-2 clarity diamond as eye clean because I’ve always been able to find the inclusions with just my eyes within a few seconds of picking up the stone.
However I also want to point out that there is nothing wrong with a diamond which is not 100% eye clean, the diamond which I selected for my personal wedding ring was a 2.25 carat, I-color, SI-2 clarity, hearts and arrows round ideal cut diamond, because I was willing to give up a little bit of clarity to pick up a little more size… Needless to say that the SI-2 was a really nice specimen of the SI-2 clarity grade, which represents a range of clarity characteristics with a high and low end of the spectrum, you might be beginning to see a pattern with regards to how each characteristic of the 4C’s of Diamond grading represents a range.
Are De Beers Diamonds better than the rest?
The last paragraph of Zach’s email focuses on the provenance of Forevermark Diamonds, and seems to imply that they are better because of the experience that De Beers has with mining diamonds and sorting diamond rough… that by buying a Forevermark Diamond, you can rest assured that the diamond you are buying has been responsibly mined and legitimately sourced.
Well I’ve got news for you… there’s this thing called the Kimberley Diamond Act of 2003, which requires that all import and export of diamond rough be accompanied by a certificate of origin, so this is nothing more than sales hype which is designed to make you feel all warm and fuzzy about buying a De Beers Forevermark diamond.
The reality is that the De Beers Diamond Trading Company (DTC) sells diamond rough to specific companies known as Sightholders every five to six weeks, and the majority of those diamonds will not be marketed under the Forevermark brand, but will be branded under a myriad of other brands which were developed as part of the De Beers Supplier of Choice program… the common denominator being:
- De Beers
- De Beers
- De Beers
However the diamond rough would be no less legitimate if it was provided by Alrosa, BHP Billiton, Leviev, Rio Tinto, or any other legitimate diamond mining operation, all of which must provide certificates of origin for the diamond rough which they produce and sell.
At the end of the day, diamond rough is diamond rough; and how good the diamond looks is dependent upon the facet structure of the diamond, the proportions, the sparkle factor as dictated by all of that and the number and size of the virtual facets, which is all further influenced by the degree of skill which each diamond cutter possesses.
Should you buy a Ben Bridge Signature Forevermark Diamond?
Now I think that it is apparent that as a representative of Ben Bridge Jewelers in one form or another, Zach is passionate about the Ben Bridge Signature Forevermark diamond, and that he truly likes the way it looks… And I think that you owe it to yourself to take a look at one and decide whether the look appeals to your personal sense of how a diamond should look in terms of the overall volume of light return and sparkle factor, but highly recommend doing so beyond the influence of jewelry store lighting which tends to create a Disneyland type of effect which is unrealistic.
It is also apparent from reading the articles contained in my blog, that I clearly prefer the look of a traditional 57 facet round brilliant cut diamond which is cut to the center “sweet spot” of the zero ideal cut proportions range, with the degree of optical symmetry required to produce a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows like those featured in the Brian Gavin Signature collection, Crafted by Infinity, James Allen True Hearts, and Hearts on Fire; and you should know by now that I’m not going to recommend buying a diamond from any one of those companies without considering all of the relative factors of diamond grading as it pertains to the Light Performance of the diamond:
- Proportions grade
- Polish grade
- Symmetry grade
- Light Performance grade
- ASET Scope image
- Ideal Scope image
- Hearts & Arrows scope image
It goes without saying that every diamond must be considered on its own merits regardless of the brand name associated with the diamond, because each diamond is individual in nature as a result of the unique nature of the crystal structure, as well as the effect created by subtle variances in the facet structure, and the effect created by all of the various combinations of crown angle / pavilion angle offset, as well as the crown height / pavilion depth offsets, and so on… Thankfully you don’t need to become a junior gemologist or expert diamond buyer to buy an exceptional diamond, simply ask for my assistance and I’ll be happy to help you evaluate all the different options which are available.
Interpreting Ideal Scope image of Ben Bridge Forevermark diamond:
When I look at the Chrysanthemum flower-like effect exhibited by Ben Bridge Signature Forevermark diamonds when viewed through an Ideal Scope, like this image which is featured on their web site, all I see are inconsistencies in the pattern which I interpret as a lack of optical symmetry, because the pattern is inconsistent as evaluated section by section. Do you see how the tips of the flower tilt in different directions? And how the red diamond shaped sections that appear in the middle of the petals differ in size and shape? And how the length and width and overall shape of each flower petal is slightly different? It is all a reflection of the precision and consistency of facet shape and alignment.
Keep in mind that this is the Ideal Scope image which Ben Bridge jewelers chose to use on their web site to demonstrate how the Ben Bridge Signature Forevermark diamond looks through an Ideal Scope, therefore I assume that it represents the best example possible of the optical symmetry exhibited by their diamonds… that only makes sense from a marketing perspective.
But you have to keep in mind that every diamond is unique and therefore each Ben Bridge Signature Forevermark diamond is going to exhibit a pattern which is slightly different, some will be more precise than others, just as every hearts and arrows pattern exhibited by Brian Gavin Signature collection, Crafted by Infinity, James Allen True Hearts, and Hearts on Fire will be slightly different, depending on the proportions and the degree of optical symmetry that each diamond has been cut to… so ASK for images of the diamond as seen through an ASET Scope, an Ideal Scope, a Hearts and Arrows viewer, and get a copy of the Light Performance diamond grading report issued by the AGS Laboratory, and email them to me for evaluation… I’ll help you pick the best option available regardless of whether your preference is for a Ben Bridge Signature Forevermark diamond, or a traditional round brilliant ideal cut diamond; because at the end of the day it’s Zach’s and my job to try and help our clients find the best possible diamond for their personal preference and budget.
Ben Bridge Signature Forevermark diamond review:
Since Zach was kind enough to write to me and share what he likes about the Ben Bridge Signature Forevermark diamond, and help clarify the basics of the selection criteria as it applies to the range of clarity, color and overall cut grade, I’d like to invite him to help me provide you with additional insight into the overall cut grade and degree of optical symmetry exhibited by the average Ben Bridge Signature Forevermark diamond, by asking him to send me the AGS Ideal-0 diamond grading reports for 10 – 20 Ben Bridge Signature Forevermark diamonds, along with images of each diamond as seen through an ASET Scope and an Ideal Scope so that I may provide my interpretation of that information, in the same manner which other round brilliant cut diamonds are evaluated.
Naturally I’d love to see how these diamonds look through a hearts and arrows scope as well, even though I don’t expect them to exhibit a pattern of hearts and arrows, because each reflector scope provides a slightly different perspective with regards to the degree of optical symmetry.
In order to maintain a fair and balanced platform for this discussion, I’d like to encourage Zach to provide us with his analysis of the information provided on the diamond grading reports and his interpretation of the reflector scope images. Naturally the article will feature links to each Ben Bridge Signature Forevermark diamond if they’d like to feature the diamond for sale on their web site, so you’ll have the opportunity to purchase any diamond which might appeal to you based upon our discussion.
Let the games begin.