“I think I’ve read every single blog post that you’ve written, possibly even twice, and it seems to me that you definitely have a preference for the super ideal cut diamonds produced by Brian Gavin and Crafted by Infinity; but which hearts and arrows diamond would you select if you had to choose between those two diamond cutters?
Does Brian Gavin produce a better diamond than Crafted by Infinity? Or vice versa? Of the three diamonds presented (below) which one would you choose and why? And do you have coupon codes for either vendor?”
Alice Falls Down the Rabbit Hole and Finds Herself in Wonderland:
In the first place, this statement is likely to offend the likes of Brian Gavin. Secondly, it’s also likely to offend Paul Slegers of Crafted by Infinity. However, the reality is that I find their production standards to be very much the same. As a matter of fact, I’ve always had difficulty deciding which diamond to choose when comparing diamonds of similar characteristics from their production.
Given the fact that Brian Gavin and Paul Slegers both produce Hearts and Arrows diamonds that are recognized as being within the Top 0.001% of the annual production for round brilliant cut diamonds, it probably is not that surprising that I’m unable to distinguish a difference between Brian Gavin Signature Hearts & Arrows diamonds, or Crafted by Infinity Hearts & Arrows diamonds.
In my experience, both Brian Gavin Signature round ideal cut diamonds and Crafted by Infinity round ideal cut diamonds are optimized to deliver the highest volume of light return and a virtual balance of brilliance (white sparkle) and dispersion (colored sparkle/fire) and flashes of light/sparkle that is bright, bold, and vivid.
Both diamond cutters carefully plan the production of every diamond that is cut in their factories, using state-of-the-art equipment to scan the diamond rough and partition the diamond properly into crown and pavilion sections that are optimized to produce the highest light return and best sparkle factor.
And it seems to me like only Brian Gavin and Paul Slegers speak my language when it comes to what constitutes a Hearts and Arrows diamond, both diamond cutters routinely produce hearts and arrows quality diamonds that meet my selection criteria, which is based upon the original hearts and arrows grading criteria established by the Zenhokyo and Central Gemological Laboratories (CGL) of Japan; which was later expanded upon by the HRD Gemological Laboratory of Belgium.
So asking me to choose between Brian Gavin Signature and Crafted by Infinity diamonds of similar carat weight, color, and clarity, is like pushing me down the infamous rabbit hole, whereupon I find myself on an almost impossible adventure wherein I’m supposed to pick the best option, from the very best diamonds available. Oy vey.
Meet the Contenders Brian Gavin vs Crafted by Infinity:
The challenge that you’ve presented me with is to pick the best option between two diamonds produced by Crafted by Infinity, and one Brian Gavin Signature round diamond, all of which are within the same range of carat weight, color, clarity, and overall cut quality. Let’s take them in order of carat weight:
- 1.306 carat, G-color, VVS-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity round diamond
- 1.318 carat, G-color, VVS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond
- 1.320 carat, F-color, VS-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity round diamond
I want to start out by saying that if we were able to compare these three diamonds side-by-side, set out on a diamond sorting tray, where they are set face-up and separated by a distance of about half an inch. Under those circumstances, we would be hard-pressed to distinguish between the three diamonds because they are similar in color, clarity, and carat weight. In addition, the overall diamond cut quality of the three diamonds is essentially the same, with very minor differences which are unlikely to be detected with just our eyes.
Sometimes when I’m comparing diamonds of similar characteristics, it helps me to create a spreadsheet where I can compare the data side-by-side, and this is what I decided to do in this particular instance and this is what the graph looks like:
Now what I like about being able to look at the data for the diamonds in this manner, is that I’m not trying to compare the diamond details while flipping back and forth between the diamond details pages.
Best Proportions for Super Ideal Diamonds:
It is important to note that all three of these diamonds meet my selection criteria which is outlined in the One Minute Diamond Buying Guide. Even though the 1.320 carat, F-color, VS-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity round diamond has a crown angle of 34.2 degrees, which is only one-tenth of a degree shallower than my preferred range of crown angle which resides between 34.3 – 34.9 degrees.
However, the reality is that a tenth of a degree variance in the crown angle is not going to make a critical difference in the volume of light return or the sparkle factor; however a tenth of a degree difference in the pavilion might make actually make a difference in the volume of light return, so these things must be considered on a stone-by-stone basis.
All three of the diamonds from Brian Gavin and Crafted by Infinity, which is distributed via HPD represent the best of the best and fall within the Top 0.001% of an overall cut quality for the average annual production of round brilliant cut diamonds, so any of these diamonds is likely to blow your socks off.
However, you asked me to help you select the best diamond out of these three options, which means that I’m going to have to get hyper-vigilante about the diamond details and essentially tear them apart and be super-duper picky, in order to help you pick the best of the best from this group of what I feel are phenomenal diamonds, each diamond is fantastic on its own merit.
With that in mind, let’s walk through the diamonds one-by-one as if we were sitting next to each other, and you can listen to my inner thoughts as I wander through the diamond details:
Crafted by Infinity round diamond review: AGS 104074032011
The 1.306 carat, G-color, VVS-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity round diamond, offers proportions that are well within my preferred range, it is cut to the center “sweet spot” of proportions that is well known for producing diamonds that offer exceptional visual performance.
The 40.8 degree pavilion angle is going to produce a high volume of light return, while the 34.5 degree crown angle provides a virtual balance of brilliance (white sparkle) and dispersion/fire (colored sparkle) and that the sparkle is going to be bright, bold, and vivid because of the 76% lower girdle facets.
Note that a diamond cut to the exact same proportions, but which has lower girdle facets that are in the range of 80 – 82% is likely to exhibit flashes of light/sparkle which are smaller in size, and more like pin-fire, which is a look that some people find appealing. However, the reality is that our eyes tend to experience difficulty dispersing smaller flashes of white light into colored sparkle.
Therefore, you might find that such diamonds appear to be more brilliant than fiery and that they have a kind of a crushed ice appearance. However, that’s not the kind of diamond that I personally prefer. With that in mind, I tend to focus on diamonds cut like this 1.306 carat, G-color, VVS-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity round diamond.
The G-color of this diamond is going to face up as a crisp clean white that is near-colorless, meaning that it’s not likely that you’ll be able to detect any color within the diamond when viewing it from a top-down perspective in normal lighting circumstances. At the same time, the VVS-1 clarity means that the diamond is going to seem completely eye-clean from a top-down perspective. In addition, it is very likely to be eye clean from a side profile also. Likewise, the inclusions will be very slight when viewed through a loupe.
Pros and Cons:
The only thing that I don’t like about this diamond is that the primary inclusion is indicated as being a chip, which is exactly what it sounds like. However, I’m also confident that on a VVS-1 clarity diamond it is going to be so small, so absolutely minuscule, that it is going to be of no consequence.
Thus, I wouldn’t let that stop me from purchasing this diamond; but the word “chip” always seems to give me the heebie-jeebies, and I’ve included a link to the definition of that phrase because I know that it isn’t going to make any sense to Paul Slegers of Crafted by Infinity, which is located in Antwerp, Belgium because it is primarily an American idiom.
If you would like to know more about chips and other types of inclusions within diamonds, this article on diamond clarity characteristics provides explanations that explain the different types of inclusions in-depth and features some photographs that I took of the different types of inclusions.
Editors note: notice that Wink from High-Performance Diamonds took the time to weigh in and express his opinion regarding the chip on this diamond within the comments section provided below, and I consider his opinion to be of critical importance because he’s actually seen the diamond, and been able to examine the chip using higher levels of magnification; whereas I’m merely expressing my opinion about chips as an inclusion type.
Grading H&A Patterns:
You might have noticed that I gave the hearts pattern on the 1.306 carat, G-color, VVS-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity round diamond an A- and that is because while it is really, really good, there are some minor inconsistencies in the hearts pattern as indicated in the photograph provided by Crafted by Infinity, which is pictured to the left.
Look closely at the tip of the heart located in the relative 5 o’clock position, it bends downwards slightly and the clefts of the hearts located in the 11 and 12 o’clock positions are split ever so slightly. This type of thing is usually the result of very minor variations in the length of the lower girdle facets or slight differences in the indexing of the facets.
Now the thing to realize here is that I’m not bagging on the cut quality of this1.306 carat, G-color, VVS-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity round diamond, far from it.
The cut quality of this diamond is excellent and it meets my selection criteria on ALL LEVELS, but I also feel that I have an obligation to you as your diamond consultant to point out both the Pro and the cons of the diamonds which I review, and then you can decide what level of perfection is required for you to be comfortable with your purchase…
It should be noted that I’ve never seen what I consider to be a perfect hearts and arrows pattern, these diamonds are hand polished, facet-by-facet on a diamond polishing wheel, they’re not being stamped out on a production line, and thus there are going to be variances in the patterns exhibited by the diamonds, some more noticeable than others, and some which are pretty minor like the slight tipping of a single heart and two split clefts on this stone.
How to interpret the ASET Scope image for this diamond:
One thing that I can tell you for certain is that whatever is creating the slight variance in the hearts pattern of this 1.306 carat, G-color, VVS-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity round diamond, is not affecting the visual performance of the diamond, the ASET image provided on the Diamond Quality Document issued by the American Gem Society Laboratory (pictured left) looks phenomenal.
The ASET image shows a lot of red, which represents the brightest type of light being reflected by the diamond, with a good amount of green that is evenly distributed, which happens to represent the 2nd brightest type of light; the color blue represents the contrast created by our head blocking light from entering the diamond.
Everything about this ASET image looks great, but people tend to be confused by the presence of the green spot located in the middle of the diamond, thinking that the diamond is going to be less vibrant because the ASET image indicates that the diamond is exhibiting the second brightest level of brightness from that area, but that is not a correct assumption.
ASET Red and Green Colors:
It is completely normal for the center region of the table facet to be red or green in color, and quite often it is a combination of both colors because they share the edge of the 45° spectrum, which separates the two colors.
If you look at the ASET scope pictured to the left, you will see that the two sections of red and green are connected, therefore any light which enters the diamond along the seam may appear either red, green, or a combination thereof.
The color blue represents contrast which is what enables our eyes to see, this is light that could have entered the diamond, but which is being blocked by our heads (or a camera lens) as we observe the diamond.
The AGS Laboratory developed their Angular Spectrum Evaluation Technology (ASET) to show how subtle differences in the proportions, and the degree of optical symmetry that a diamond has been cut to, will affect how the light which is available to it within a hemisphere shaped room will be picked up, interpreted and reflected throughout the diamond.
Angles of Interpretation:
The color red is used to represent light which strikes the diamond from perpendicular to the table facet, up to forty-five degrees. This is the brightest range of light available to the diamond, and these sections of the diamond will be more brilliant. If you’ve read my article on Tolkowsky’s Diamond Design, then you know that the term brilliant as used in this connotation refers to the brightness of the diamond and not white sparkle, which is also referred to as brilliance.
The color green represents light which is not quite as bright, it strikes the diamond from 45° out to the edge of the horizon. While the areas colored green represent areas that are less bright, they are still bright, and the slight difference between the areas which are red and green serves to increase the contrast within the diamond. Contrast is the difference in shades of tone and color which enable our eyes to see depth, it is a critical factor of visual performance within a diamond.
All right, so there you have it, everything that you need to know in order to decide whether this 1.306 carat, G-color, VVS-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity round diamond is right for you. This is definitely the type of diamond that is going to exhibit a high volume of light return and the type of sparkle that gets noticed from across the room!
Brian Gavin Signature round diamond review: AGSL 104054185004
The 1.318 carat, G-color, VVS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond is also cut to my preferred range of proportions and should exhibit the same volume of light return as the Crafted by Infinity diamonds, and the sparkle factor, thus I consider them to be comparable, with the primary difference being the slight difference in clarity which will only be visible when the two diamonds are compared using 10x and higher magnification.
The plotting diagram on the Diamond Quality Document (DQD) issued by the AGS Laboratory for this 1.318 carat, G-color, VVS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond indicates that the VVS-2 clarity grade is based upon two small “clouds” of pinpoint size diamond crystals that are located in the middle of the table facet. A “cloud” is simply a cluster of tiny pinpoint size diamond crystals, and as such, they tend to be very difficult to locate using 10x magnification because we’re essentially looking for sparkling specks of dust.
If we’re going to be totally honest, I definitely prefer the idea of sparkly specks of dust contained within this 1.318 carat, G-color, VVS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond over the idea that there is a chip somewhere on the 1.306 carat, G-color, VVS-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity round diamond, even if the chip is extremely small, so small that it warrants inclusion in the VVS-1 clarity grade, but perhaps this is only a “mind clean” type of thing since the chip is probably located along the girdle edge of the diamond, and as such is likely to never be an issue.
The proportions of this 1.318 carat, G-color, VVS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond are spot-on, the 40.9 degree pavilion angle is going to produce a high volume of light return.
Simultaneously, the 34.9 degree crown angle provides a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion, and the 76% lower girdle facet length, combined with the incredible degree of optical symmetry required to produce the hearts and arrows pattern that is pictured to the left, is going to produce flashes of light/sparkle which is bright, bold, and vibrant. Notice how the tips of the hearts are not tipped in either direction, and I don’t see any splits in the clefts of the hearts.
As stated previously, there will always be slight variances in the size and shape of the hearts, as well as slight variances in the spacing between the tips of the hearts and the arrowheads which appear beneath them, as well as variances in the size and shape of the arrows which are visible from a pavilion view (as pictured above).
As a matter of fact, that is perfectly normal. What we’re looking for when we judge the pattern of hearts and arrows diamonds is a relative amount of consistency, and both of the diamonds reviewed thus far exhibit that type of consistency.
Evaluating the Hearts Pattern:
However, I feel that in this particular instance the hearts pattern exhibited by the 1.318 carat, G-color, VVS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond is slightly better than the diamond from Crafted by Infinity ~ this time, it might be an entirely different story next time, because this sort of thing varies from diamond to diamond, and keep in mind that we’re picking apart diamonds which represent the very best that the industry has to offer!
The ASET image for the 1.318 carat, G-color, VVS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond looks great, as do the rest of the details provided on the Diamond Quality Document (DQD) issued by the American Gem Society Laboratory.
The diamond has an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal-0 and meets my selection criteria for all factors pertaining to diamond cut quality, optical symmetry, inclusions, and how it looks through the reflector scope images.
You definitely can’t go wrong with either one of these diamonds, but between these two G-color, VVS clarity, diamonds, I find myself leaning towards the Brian Gavin, simply because the two diamonds are going to face-up essentially the same in terms of the volume of light return and sparkle factor, but I definitely prefer the inclusions within this diamond to the chip on the other, even if the odds are that we’ll never find it.
But wait… we’ve still got to review the details of the 1.320 carat, F-color, VS-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity round diamond. As you might expect, there are some things that I really like about it, and a few things that I wish were different, but all in all, it’s a pretty good option.
Crafted by Infinity round diamond review, AGSL 104074032008:
So the first thing that I want you to notice about the 1.320 carat, F-color, VS-1 clarity, round diamond by Crafted by Infinity, is that the hearts pattern looks amazing, every bit as good as the hearts pattern presented by the diamond from Brian Gavin which I gave top marks; so in my opinion, the degree of optical symmetry exhibited by these two diamonds is the same.
Don’t be alarmed by the shadow effect that you’re seeing splashed across the hearts pattern, that is simply an optical illusion being created by the new imaging system that Crafted by Infinity is learning how to use, the hearts pattern looks crisp and white if you look at it through a hearts and arrows scope.
Now while the total depth of all three of these diamonds is the same at 61.5% the proportions of this 1.320 carat, F-color, VS-1 clarity, round diamond by Crafted by Infinity are a bit different than the other two diamonds, starting with the crown angle of 34.2 degrees which is one-tenth of a degree shallower than my preferred range for crown angle which is outlined in the article One Minute Diamond Buying Guide.
But guess what? It’s not going to make a lick of difference in how the diamond looks, because the difference between the balance of brilliance and dispersion exhibited by a diamond cut to the same proportions, but with a 34.2 or 34.3 degree crown angle is not likely to be something that you or I would notice with our human eyes, the diamond is still going to exhibit a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion.
Girdle Edge Measurements:
But there is a little bit of carat weight being hidden in the thin to slightly thick, faceted girdle; which is costing the diamond about three points (o.03 carats) in visible outside diameter; which is not of critical importance, but it is the type of thing that I take note of when buying diamonds, and the type of thing that caused Paul Slegers to introduce me to a group of diamond dealers as Crafted by Infinity’s “Resident Diamond Snob” back in the day when I was an authorized retailer for Crafted by Infinity.
Now the variance in the girdle edge of this diamond is not of critical importance, but it would be something that you’d see me highlight if I were flipping through a stack of diamond grading reports, deciding which diamonds I was going to purchase from inventory or not; I’d also highlight the 34.2 degree crown angle, thus my virtual notes would be indicted something like this on the spreadsheet that I introduced earlier in the article:
And that’s because I know from experience that the thin to slightly thick, faceted girdle is likely to cost the diamond just a bit in the visual outside diameter of the diamond; to demonstrate this point, I simply have to use the following formula to estimate the carat weight of the diamond by the formula.
Formula to Estimate Diamond Carat Weight:
Average outside diameter squared x the depth x 0.0061 = approximate carat weight of the diamond; so we take the measurements across the top surface of the diamond, which is 6.99 x 7.03 = 49.1397 x 4.31 = 211.792107 x 0.0061 = 1.2919318527 which we’d round off to 1.291 carats; and since the actual carat weight of the diamond is 1.320 carats, then we know that the thin to slightly thick girdle is costing about 0.03 carats worth of outside diameter.
Using the same formula for estimating the carat weight of a round brilliant cut diamond, you can see that the estimated carat weight of the 1.306 carat, G-color, VVS-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity round diamond is 1.302 carats, which is a difference of only 0.004 carats; and both the actual and estimated carat weight of the 1.318 carat, G-color, VVS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond is exactly the same.
However, don’t assume that this means that it always will be for diamonds cut by Brian Gavin, because I’ve seen it go the other way on plenty of stones, and this isn’t an absolute indicator of anything, as much as it is just something that one of my mentors in the diamond business taught me to be aware of, and which might be something that I use as a deciding factor if everything else about the diamonds which I’m considering is practically identical.
Why I never disclose this type of thinking to the diamond cutters:
The reason why I usually don’t get into this type of thing, especially with the diamond cutters who I work with, is because they tend to take this type of thing very personally… so I’m probably going to receive a phone call from both Brian Gavin and Paul Slegers that starts out with “WTH?!?!” and followed by this really, really, really LONG EXPLANATION about why none of this matters, and how these diamonds are the best in the world, and how minimal variances in hearts and arrows patterns and girdle thickness don’t matter all that much; and to some degree they’re right, but how else are we supposed to pick one diamond out of three diamonds which are truly exceptional?
While at the JCK Trade Show in Las Vegas a few years ago, one of the diamond cutters I work with handed me a stack of about 50 diamond grading reports and said “Show me how you decide which diamonds you are going to purchase for inventory” which I initially refused to do, suggesting that it probably wasn’t a very good idea… but he insisted, so I picked up a handful of lab reports, flipped them open, and quickly began to discard one lab report after another, tossing them into a stack located to my right; and every once and a while, I’d set a diamond grading report to my left; when I looked up a few minutes later, the diamond cutter literally had tears streaming down his face, and he murmured, “I’m sorry I asked, I wish that I’d never seen that…”
Which I confirmed would probably have been better, then I asked to see the five or six diamonds that accompanied those particular diamonds, looked at them through a loupe, examined them under the various reflector scopes, eliminated another one or two of them, and then said: “Pack those up and ship them to my office, I’ll take them.” Needless to say, things were never quite the same between us, but my job is not to love every ideal cut diamond that is produced by the diamond cutters who I work with, my job is to cherry-pick the best that each diamond cutter has to offer.
Cherry Pick the Best Options Available:
And with that in mind, if I were still buying diamonds for inventory, I would not hesitate to grab both the 1.318 carat, G-color, VVS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond and the 1.320 carat, F-color, VS-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity round diamond, because I think that they are excellent options; the only thing you have to decide is whether you prefer the higher clarity of the 1.318 carat, G-color, VVS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond, or the higher color of the 1.320 carat, F-color, VS-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity round diamond, because the two diamonds are likely to exhibit virtually identical light return and sparkle factor.
Now if you decide to purchase the Brian Gavin Diamond, be sure to send me an email and request the exclusive coupon code that I’ve negotiated for my clients, it will save you a pretty good chunk of change on a setting purchased in conjunction with a Brian Gavin Signature diamond. And if you decide to purchase the Crafted by Infinity diamond from High-Performance Diamonds, be sure to ask Wink for the special discount that he’s offering for settings purchased with CBI diamonds weighing more than 0.40 carats.
And of course, if the minute chip on the 1.306 carat, G-color, VVS-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity round diamond doesn’t bother you, don’t worry about it, because I’ll openly admit to being anal retentive about such things, everything else about the diamond is great, but I had to eliminate at least one of the options to make it a bit easier for you to decide the Brian Gavin Signature vs Crafted by Infinity diamond debate via coin toss 😉