"Would you mind helping me decide which two carat hearts and arrows diamond I should choose? I'm not actually planning on proposing until June, but heard that diamond prices might be going up and thought I should get a jump on things. I know that you're a big fan of Brian Gavin and Crafted by Infinity, but what are your thoughts on Victor Canera? I don't see any reviews for him on the site."
"I've read that these diamonds are supposed to be perfectly cut, but I see inconsistencies when I look at the hearts patterns and scope images. Can you explain why these perfectly cut diamonds don't seem to be perfectly cut? My girlfriend and I prefer cooler tones, so I'm focusing on diamonds that are F-G color. I'm a little worried that G-color might be too warm, perhaps you can weigh in on that. We're also want to be certain that the diamond is completely eye clean, so a VS-1 clarity diamond is probably best. However, you might have some insight on that as well. We're also trying to decide between several halo settings. Can you help us pick the best one? Thank you."
These are the two carat hearts and arrows diamonds that we're going to evaluate on behalf of this client:
I wouldn't be exaggerating (very much) if I said that my head exploded when I looked at this list of diamonds. Brian Gavin versus Crafted by Infinity? Are you kidding me? Both Brian Gavin and Paul Slegers of Crafted by Infinity used to produce hearts and arrows diamonds for our private label collection. I couldn't tell their production apart without looking at the inscription on the girdle edge of the diamonds.
Victor Canera is a relative newcomer to the realm of hearts and arrows diamonds. However, I know the diamond cutter he's working with and they produce a really fine looking hearts and arrows diamond. The reality is that you could pick a winner from this bunch by simply playing a game of eeny meeny miny moe! These hearts and arrows diamonds represent the Top 0.001% of the annual production of round brilliant cut diamonds!
At the same time, there are always going to be differences in the degree of optical precision exhibited by hearts and arrows diamonds because they are turned on the wheel by hand. In addition, while there is relative consistency within the production of each of these brands, every diamond must be evaluated individually on its own merit.
With that in mind, I'm going to take 5-6 aspirin and run through the details of each diamond one-by-one. It's so much easier when people ask me to help them decide between standard ideal and hearts and arrows diamonds! The higher degree of optical precision and sparkle factor of the H&A diamonds makes that such an easier choice!
This 2.13 carat, F-color, VS-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity diamond from High Performance Diamonds looks amazing! However, be aware that the first photograph of a diamond that appears on the page is only a sample image. Actual images of the diamond are available if you click on the icons that appear beneath the larger image.
We will look at the actual images of the diamond in a moment. But first, let's talk about the proportions. The pavilion angle of 40.8 degrees should produce a high volume of light return. The crown angle of 34.2 degrees should produce a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion. Brilliance is the white sparkle that the facets of a diamond reflect and dispersion is colored sparkle or fire. Super Ideal Hearts & Arrows cut diamonds of this caliber exhibit the highest degree of light performance and sensational sparkle!
One of the things I like about Crafted by Infinity is that they provide all the reflector scope images necessary to judge the optical precision of their diamonds. The majority of diamond cutters do not provide ASET, Ideal Scope, or Hearts & Arrows scope images. We need all of these reflector scope images to determine the extent to which the diamond is leaking light and judge the light performance.
Don't be misled into thinking that you can use an ASET Scope like an Ideal Scope or vice versa. Each scope is designed for a specific purpose and that is why we have multiple scopes in our toolbox. On a similar note, don't be misled into believing that a diamond will exhibit a good hearts pattern just because it exhibits a good arrows pattern.
You might be able to use the clarity photograph for this 2.13 carat, F-color, VS-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity diamond to see the inclusions, but I'm not that worried about the extent of the inclusions in a VS-1 clarity diamond. I'm more interested in the degree of contrast brilliance created by the pavilion main facets reflecting back the dark color of the camera lens.
This Crafted by Infinity hearts and arrows diamond exhibits excellent contrast brilliance. The arrows pattern is nice and dark and this means the diamond is going to look incredible. The higher degree of contrast brilliance will make it seem like it is sparkling, even when it is being starved for light, or being viewed under fluorescent lighting where diamonds do not actually sparkle due to the lack of UV light.
You might be wondering about the Zebra-like stripe effect that is visible in the ASET Scope image (upper right). This is nothing to be concerned about, it is most likely due to the camera lens being too close to the surface of the diamond. While I appreciate the fact that Crafted by Infinity provides these images for their dealers, the fact of the matter is that they need to invest in a state-of-the-art imaging system.
At the moment, they are using a camera set-up that they pieced together and having to set up each shot individually. Whereas other dealers like Brian Gavin, James Allen, and Victor Canera are using more elaborate imaging systems that enable them to switch between different scope views without repositioning the diamond.
More expensive imaging systems provide a more consistent representation of the diamonds and much better image quality. Instead of focusing on the zebra stripe effect, I want you to notice the high volume of red that this diamond exhibits.
The color red in an ASET Scope image represents light from the brightest light source in the room. The high concentration of red in this ASET Scope image means that this diamond is gathering the majority of light from the brightest light source and reflecting it back evenly. Notice how even the distribution of red, green, and blue is throughout this diamond.
The Ideal Scope image for this Crafted by Infinity hearts and arrows diamond from High Performance Diamonds indicates that the diamond is not leaking light substantially. What we are primarily looking for is to make sure that there are not any translucent or light pink areas under the table facet.
White or translucent areas indicate light leakage in an Ideal Scope image. As you can see, there is a little bit of white located along the edge of the diamond. However, this little bit of light leakage is perfectly normal in a super ideal cut diamond and in-line with what I expect to see. What we want to avoid are white, translucent, or light pink areas under the table facet which would indicate higher amounts of light leakage.
We use a Hearts and Arrows Scope to judge the degree of optical precision that a diamond is cut to exhibit. A crisp and complete pattern of eight hearts that are relatively even in size, shape, and spacing, indicate that a diamond has been cut to a higher degree of optical precision. The term optical precision refers to the consistency of facet size, shape, and the indexing of those facets as they are polished on to the surface of the diamond.
The hearts pattern exhibited by this Crafted by Infinity diamond is a reflection of the higher degree of optical precision. I mean that statement quite literally. The hearts pattern is created by light reflecting off the facets from one side of the diamond and reflecting off the facets on the other side. If the indexing is off even a little bit, you will see variations in the pattern of hearts and arrows.
It is important to realize that there will always be some variation in the size and shape of the hearts and the spacing. These diamonds are turned on the wheel by hand and thus you should never expect to see a perfect pattern of hearts and arrows. At the same time, you should focus on finding H&A diamonds that exhibit patterns that are similar to this one, which shows very little variance.
It is truly fascinating how hearts patterns are created within round ideal cut diamonds. I know that once you understand the complexity of the process, that you will appreciate the beauty of hearts and arrows diamonds more and more. Many people believe that hearts patterns are something which are created easily and automatically by the basic facet structure of a round brilliant cut diamond. Nothing could be further from the truth.
This illustration by Brian Gavin demonstrates the process for creating hearts patterns within round diamonds. Light reflecting off of the pavilion main facet in the 12 o'clock position (highlighted in green) reflects across the diamond and splits apart to reflect on to the lower girdle facets on either side of six o'clock.
As you can see, the light reflecting off the pavilion main facet in the 12 o'clock position reflects across the diamond to create two halves of a heart. Moving to the right in a clockwise direction, light reflecting off the pavilion main facet in the one o'clock position will create the other half of the heart in the seven o'clock position and half of the heart in the eight o'clock position. Continuing to move around the diamond in the clockwise direction, the hearts pattern will be complete as you follow the process.
Imagine how difficult it must be to polish the facets on to the surface of a diamond crystal and create this type of precision. Not only must the indexing of the facets be extremely precise, but all of the facets must be the same relative size and shape by section. Any variance in the size or shape of the facets will affect the pattern of hearts and arrows.
For example, if the length of the lower girdle facets is different, then it will effect the length of the light reflecting off the facets. Differences in the length of light reflecting off the lower girdle facets is what creates the optical illusion that the tips of hearts are bending.
This 2.157 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity diamond from High Performance Diamonds looks spectacular. As with all Crafted by Infinity diamonds, it was graded on the Platinum Light Performance grading platform of the AGS Laboratory.
The multi-color ASET Scope image visible in the middle of the Diamond Quality Document (DQD) indicates that the diamond is very bright and reflecting light evenly. Notice the difference the appearance of the ASET Scope image (above) taken by Crafted by Infinity and the image on the DQD.
The zebra stripe effect that is visible in the ASET Scope image above is not occurring in the ASET Scope image provided by the AGS Laboratory. Once again, the imaging system that CBI is using leaves a lot to be desired. While it may serve to provide us with some insight into the optical properties of the diamond, CBI is selling themselves short by failing to demonstrate the true nature of their diamonds.
As a former Crafted by Infinity dealer, I can tell you that this is something that I have gone around and around with them about for years. On the one hand, it seems clear to me that Crafted by Infinity would sell more diamonds online if the photographs they provide were of higher quality.
On the other hand, Crafted by Infinity is the company cutting these diamonds and not the company selling diamonds to the end-user (that's you). The response that I receive every time I bring the subject up with CBI is that they are a diamond company, not a dealer. They provide the images as a courtesy and point out that most diamond cutters do not provide images of any kind. While that may be true, it's also true that more and more diamond companies are investing in imaging systems and providing images for their diamonds within the multiple listing services that we use to trade diamonds globally.
Perhaps High Performance Diamonds should invest in the state-of-the-art imaging system required to produce high-quality images that would enable us to verify the higher degree of optical precision exhibited by Crafted by Infinity diamonds. The challenge is that these diamonds tend to move around within the Crafted by Infinity dealer network.
The first thing I noticed when I looked at the images for this 2.157 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity hearts and arrows diamond is that the tip of the heart in the eleven o'clock position is bending down to the left. And once you see that the tip of the heart in the eleven o'clock position is twisting to the left, you are likely to notice that the tip of the heart in the twelve o'clock position is also twisting to the left.
What does twisting at the tips of the hearts mean? Well, it could indicate a difference in the length of the lower girdle facets. Which creates reflections of different lengths and thus the difference in the length of the two halves of the hearts creates that twisting effect. Or it could just be a matter of focal depth and camera tilt. It's difficult to say for sure, but I tend to err on the side of caution.
Which is why I think it would be a prudent investment for Crafted by Infinity to get with the times and buy a state-of-the-art imaging system that will enable them to produce images of the same quality as their competitors. At the same time, as a former Crafted by Infinity dealer, who has seen thousands upon thousands of Crafted by Infinity diamonds and the photographs that go with them, I can tell you that I've never rejected a single CBI diamond for cut quality.
The fact of the matter is that I had to learn to ignore the images they provide and focus on the consistency of the brand. Take this clarity photograph for example, it shows that the diamond has great contrast brilliance, but is that the purpose of a clarity photograph? Absolutely not, a clarity photograph is supposed to enable me to see the inclusions and can you see the inclusions in this photograph?
While I might not necessarily be concerned about being able to see the inclusions in a VS-1 clarity diamond (because they are not likely to be of any consequence) the reality is that most consumers rely on these images to get an idea of what the inclusions within the diamond they are buying are going to look like. Correct me if I'm wrong (leave a comment below).
Victor Canera is a relative newcomer in the niche market of hearts and arrows super ideal cut diamonds. Which means that this might be the first time you are reading about Victor Canera. That's all right, because I've known Victor Canera for several years. Victor Canera is a phenomenal custom jeweler who hand forges engagement rings that will blow your mind.
If you're not familiar with the concept of hand-forged jewelry, it means that the ring is carved from the metal rather than being cast from a wax model. That means that this Emily halo platinum engagement ring by Victor Canera is not made by carving a piece of wax and then casting the ring in metal. Rather, each piece of the ring is made by heating, bending, carving, and manipulating the platinum into the shape that you see here.
The majority of custom engagement rings and jewelry being made today is created using Computer Aided Design which produces more symmetrical designs than hand-carving wax models. The CAD files are then sent to a machine which either carves or grows a wax model of the ring to be cast.
Every method of producing custom jewelry designs has its pros and cons. The idea of having Victor Canera hand-forge a custom engagement ring for your beloved is certainly a romantic notion. After all, what can be more unique and one-of-a-kind than an engagement ring shaped from the metal?
No doubt that many people will find the idea of a hand-forged engagement ring incredibly appealing. At the same time, I know that many of my clients will prefer engagement rings created using CAD/CAM because it produces a more symmetrical design. Knowing which method of custom jewelry design to choose is a matter of knowing thyself. If you are a hopeless romantic who can accept the idea that there is perfection within imperfection, then hand-forged jewelry by Victor Canera will appeal to your senses.
But if you're going to sit there and loupe the ring and expect something which is shaped out of metal by heating, bending, twisting, and carving it into form, then I'm going to venture to say that CAD/CAM is probably a better choice.
The clarity photograph of this 2.234 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Victor Canera hearts and arrows diamond is high quality. The photograph enables us to verify that the diamond exhibits strong contrast brilliance. The facet structure of the diamond is clear and we can see that light is reflecting evenly throughout the body of the stone.
The inclusions within the diamond are not readily and immediately visible, but that is not surprising since this is a VS-1 clarity diamond. It is also important to note that the format of the plotting diagram on the diamond grading report is one dimensional. Inclusions are plotted in the relative location with no reference to their location within the diamond in terms of depth. With this in mind, you might need to rotate the diamond left or right in the video in order to locate the inclusions and become more familiar with them.
10x magnification is the industry standard for diamond clarity grading. However, we have to use a much higher level of magnification to make it possible for you to see the inclusions within a diamond on a computer monitor. Thus most of the diamond clarity photographs and high-resolution video that you'll find online were taken at about 35x magnification.
To put this in perspective, a U.S. currency "dime" measures 17.9 mm. This dime was photographed by Brian Gavin on the imaging system they use to photograph diamonds, using the same settings used to take the photographs provided on their diamond details pages. The 2.234 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Victor Canera diamond pictured above measures 8.32 - 8.35 x 5.16 mm which is less than half the diameter of a dime and yet it looks huge on your monitor.
Which is something to keep in mind when that little voice in the back of your head points out that the inclusions within that diamond look huge! Wink. Wink. When that happens, just hold a dime up to the diamond on your monitor and put things back into perspective.
The purpose of a diamond clarity photograph and high-resolution videos is to enable you identify the inclusions within the diamond. This might not always be easy to do depending on the nature of the inclusions. Remember that inclusions within diamonds can appear at different depths within the crystal. The inclusions might be light or dark in color and vary in degrees visibility depending on the vantage point and position of the diamond.
You should also keep in mind that the rotation of the diamond might not be in the same position as the inclusions are indicated on the plotting diagram on the lab report. It was quite difficult for me to locate the primary inclusions within this 2.234 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Victor Canera hearts and arrows diamond until I made the image even larger by zooming in on it.
Once I zoomed in and doubled the size of the image, I was able to identify the primary inclusions within this diamond quickly and easily. The little black crystals highlighted in the eight o'clock region were the easiest inclusions for me to see. Once I found those, I was able to find the ones within the kite shaped bezel facet by cross referencing the plotting diagram. Good luck finding these with a standard 10x diamond grading loupe.
This 2.234 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Victor Canera diamond exhibits a nice and consistent pattern of hearts and arrows. By that I mean that the size and shape of the hearts looks pretty consistent to me. It is not readily apparent that that the hearts are different sizes and shape. It does appear to me that there is a little more space around the heart in the seven o'clock position, but that slight difference is literally of no consequence.
Remember that I don't expect to find hearts patterns which are absolutely perfect because these diamonds are turned on the polishing wheel by hand. Therefore, the idea of perfection is an elusive concept. What I am looking for are identifying characteristics that define shades of perfection within the class of super ideal cut diamonds known as hearts and arrows.
With that in mind, the defining factors that distinguish hearts and arrows diamonds from one another are often what we don't see, rather than what we do see. For example, I don't see twisting in the tips of the hearts, which leads me to believe that this diamond exhibits a higher degree of optical precision.
I don't see huge splits in the clefts of the hearts, nor do I see a dramatic difference in the size or shape of the hearts. The amount of black that represents the space of the pavilion main facets between the hearts appears to be fairly even. The maroon space within the clefts of the hearts appears to be even. Note that I am not concerned in the least with the shape of the little arrowheads that appear at the tips of the hearts, those are always going to be wonky looking.
The ASET Scope image for this 2.234 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Victor Canera hearts and arrows diamond looks pretty good. There is a high concentration of red which means that the diamond will be nice and bright. The green color that represents the second brightest light source in the room is pretty evenly distributed. And the diamond is exhibiting blue (contrast) in all the right places.
If you look closely, you will be able to see a little green triangle on either side of the arrow in the six o'clock position. This could be an indication that the minor facets of the diamond could be fine-tuned to produce even better light performance. It might also be nothing at all, because I don't see the same little green arrows in the ASET Scope image on the diamond quality document. Thus it could simply be a matter of focal depth or something to that effect.
A discussion between Brian Gavin and I a few years ago about these little green triangles is what led to the creation of the Black by Brian Gavin collection. What we were trying to determine was why green would show up like this in some super ideal cut diamonds and not others. Through and extensive period of research and development, Brian determined that fine tuning the minor facets of the diamond significantly reduced the effect.
Which is not to say that Brian Gavin is the only diamond cutter who produces diamonds of this cut quality. The fact of the matter is that many Crafted by Infinity and Victor Canera diamonds do not exhibit this effect either. With that in mind, it's possible that Victor Canera might be able to eliminate the effect in this ASET Scope image simply by changing the focal depth. After all, the green secondary brightness is not showing up in the ASET Scope image on the DQD and thus it might not really exist.
The Ideal Scope is designed to enable us to determine whether a diamond is leaking light and judge the extent of that leakage. The reality is that all diamonds are going to leak light to some extent, but some will leak more light than others. Light leakage shows up as white or translucent areas in an Ideal Scope. Thus, you know that the little white diamond shapes that appear between the tips of the arrows are light leakage as are the little shapes along the edge of the diamond. All of this is perfectly normal for a super ideal cut diamond.
I'm not seeing any indications of abnormal light leakage in this 2.234 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Victor Canera diamond. In fact, the Ideal Scope image is a great example of what to look for in a super ideal cut diamond. But it does appear that the sections on either side of the arrow at six o'clock are a little lighter than the rest of the diamond.
The light reflecting within those two inverted triangular shaped sections looks just a little lighter to me. Do you see it? Or am I going crazy? (Victor Canera votes YES) Because if those sections of the diamond are a little bit lighter, then that might explain why we're able to see just a hint of green in the ASET Scope image.
At the same time, I want to remind you that I don't expect these diamonds to be perfectly cut. Once again, it is impossible to produce a perfectly cut diamond because these diamonds are turned on the wheel by hand. Thus, there are always going to be slight inconsistencies and we're evaluating shades of perfection. Furthermore, we are picking apart diamonds that represent the Top 0.001% of the annual production for rounds. "GAWD BOMB! Can I get an Amen?" ~ Stephen King.
Based on the size of the diamonds in the clarity photographs we've seen thus far, you might be expecting this 2.282 carat, F-color, VS-1 clarity, Black by Brian Gavin to look a bit larger. I have to admit that the first photograph that loads in the image field for Brian Gavin Diamonds always throws me off for a second, before I remember that this image is intended to show that the diamond is eye clean.
The size of the diamond actually appears larger on my monitor, but I sized it down to 300 pixels to fit the format of this blog post. The average diameter of this diamond is 8.48 millimeters, which as you know is about half the diameter of a dime.
Apparently, this is Brian Gavin's answer to the dilemma created by providing people with images of the diamonds at 35x magnification which tends to make inclusions super obvious and scary looking.
This 2.282 carat, F-color, VS-1 clarity, Black by Brian Gavin exhibits strong contrast brilliance. However, it might not be obvious to you at first because the arrows do not appear to be as black and pronounced as they seem to be in the CBI and VC diamonds pictured above.
The arrows pattern of a diamond appears dark because the pavilion main facets are reflecting the dark color of the camera lens that is positioned above the diamond. The closer the camera lens is to the diamond, the darker the arrows pattern seems to be. The new imaging system being used by Brian Gavin positions the camera a little further away, thus the arrows do not seem as dark. In addition, the diamond sits at a slight angle on the tray and that also affects our perception of symmetry.
This is one of the downsides of Brian Gavin's new imaging system, which set him back a pretty penny! There is something else that I noticed that I'll address in a moment. The good news is that the new imaging system takes some pretty amazing pictures and provides us with more insight than any other imaging system I've seen.
The first thing that people tend to notice when they look at the Sparkle videos provided by Brian Gavin is that his diamonds sparkle like crazy under that light source. The second thing they seem to notice (and ask me about) are the dust-like reflections that appear throughout the diamond. It seems like every time I recommend a Brian Gavin Signature diamond to people, they tell me that the diamond looks great, but they're concerned about all the inclusions they can see in the sparkle video.
The thing is that those "inclusions" are not inclusions at all. What you are seeing is light reflecting off of the surface of the platform the diamond is resting upon, bouncing up into the diamond, and being reflected throughout the facets. The green arrows highlight where this is occurring most obviously.
Once you realize what is creating this optical effect, take a good look at the surface of the black platform that the diamond is sitting on. Do you see the correlation? One of the challenges that we face when photographing diamonds and posting the pictures online is that diamonds are crystals that are faceted to reflect light. As such, they are going to pick-up and reflect back everything in the room.
Which is one reason you should not try to use these images to judge the body color of a diamond. Differences in the amount of light present in the room at the time it is photographed will affect hue and saturation. As will the color of the walls or the shirt that somebody is wearing while taking the pictures.
The hearts pattern of this 2.282 carat, F-color, VS-1 clarity, Black by Brian Gavin diamond look great. The shape of the hearts is nice and symmetrical with only very minor differences. The tips of the hearts do not appear to be twisting in one direction or the other. The clefts of the hearts are not split. Thus, we know that this hearts and arrows diamond has been cut to a higher degree of optical precision.
At the same time, I can tell you that the hearts pattern would look even better if the diamond were aligned properly on the platform. If you look closely, you'll be able to see that the diamond is tilted slightly to the right and this skews the pattern slightly. From the perspective of a diamond grader, I can tell you that this is the nightmare of trying to photograph hearts and arrows diamonds.
The slightest variation in the angle of the diamond as it sits on the platform will skew the hearts pattern. Which means that one of the things we try to account for is camera lens to diamond surface tilt when evaluating hearts and arrows diamonds.
In a perfect world, the hearts patterns for all of these diamonds would look picture perfect. However, in the real world it is not realistic to expect to see perfect patterns of hearts and arrows unless you are looking at a computer generated illustration. This is why we evaluate hearts and arrows diamonds in shades of perfection which is subject to interpretation and perception.
This 2.282 carat, F-color, VS-1 clarity, Black by Brian Gavin diamond looks great in the ASET Scope image. There is a high concentration of red and an even distribution of reds and blues. This indicates that the diamond is gathering most of the light from the brightest light source in the room and reflecting it back evenly.
You might be wondering about the red and green sections that are visible in the middle of the table facet. Wasn't the point of the Black by Brian Gavin collection to reduce the amount of green under the table facet? A lot of people are confused about the appearance of red and green under the table facet of diamonds in ASET Scope images.
It is normal for the colors red and green to appear together or individually in the middle of the table facet in ASET Scope images. The reason is because red and green share the 45-degree junction point on the ASET Scope. Thus, light entering the diamond from 45 degrees might reflect red or green or a combination thereof.
If you see little green arrows between the blue arrows under the table of a diamond in an ASET Scope image it indicates that the minor facets of the diamond could be fine tuned to improve light performance. Which is not to say that little green arrows under the table facet of a diamond in those positions is necessarily a bad thing. But rather that the light performance of the diamond could be improved by fine tuning the minor facets.
This is like your mechanic indicating that he could improve the performance of your Porsche 911 Turbo by polishing the inner workings of the engine. Will you notice the difference in light performance? I suppose that depends on your experience looking at diamonds and your ability to appreciate higher degrees of light performance.
The Ideal Scope image for this 2.282 carat, F-color, VS-1 clarity, Black by Brian Gavin diamond is rich in hue and saturation. There are no translucent or light pink areas under the table facet which indicates there is no substantial light leakage. Why do I use the word substantial? Because all diamonds leak light and thus I don't want to suggest otherwise.
Once again, if you look closely at the Ideal Scope image the distribution of light under the table facet is not perfectly even. Some sections of the diamond appear to be slightly lighter or deeper than other sections. In my experience, there will always be slight variations in the pattern of light reflecting throughout these diamonds. Once again, we're looking for shades of perfection with the goal of choosing the diamond with the least variances.
Obviously, some of the optical effects and variations in the pattern of light reflecting throughout these diamonds results from issues with the imaging system or the photographer. It is easy to critic these images from the armchair position of a Saturday morning quarterback. However, as a person with experience on both sides of the issue, I can tell you that photographing these diamonds is a PITA!
I used to spend 30-45 minutes and sometimes longer positioning and repositioning diamonds in an effort to produce the most accurate photographs possible. Even then, the images were far from perfect and I used to spend a lot of time explaining what was going on with the diamonds in each photograph.
I had the opportunity to play around with Brian Gavin's imaging system when I visited their office in April 2017. The imaging system is state-of-the-art, but the size of the platform that the diamond sits on is incredibly small. It was very challenging to try to slide the diamond through the opening while holding it in a pair of tweezers. And even more challenging trying to position the diamond in the center of the platform.
If I had to describe the experience in a single word, that word would be frustrating. However, the word frustrating is not one of the expletives that flew from my mouth (over and over again) as I tried to learn to use the machine.
This image demonstrates the effect of camera tilt on the symmetry of super ideal hearts and arrows cut diamonds. The images in the first row are computer simulations of the hearts pattern within an ideal cut diamond. Notice how the first image in the upper left corner shows a near-perfect pattern of hearts. The software program creates the hearts pattern based on the proportions of the diamond and the assumption that the optical precision is of the highest quality.
Notice the effect that one degree of tilt from east to west has upon the symmetry of the hearts in the illustration in the middle of the top row. Then see how tilting the diamond one degree east to west and one degree north to south has upon the appearance of the hearts in the last image in the upper right corner.
The photograph in the lower left corner shows the actual diamond as seen through a hearts and arrows scope. This diamond does not exhibit good hearts and arrows by my standards. There is too much variation in the size and shape of the hearts and the tips of the hearts are bending. There are also splits in the clefts of the hearts which is something we want to avoid.
Just the same, take a look at what happens to the hearts pattern when the diamond is rotated to match the simulation above. The tips of the hearts in the two and four o'clock positions (middle image bottom row) are now bending to the left instead of the right. Then look at the photograph of the diamond in the lower right corner when it is rotated further to add one degree of tilt from north to south.
I hope that you're beginning to grasp the difficulty of photographing hearts and arrows diamonds. The slightest variation in angle or rotation skews the pattern of hearts and arrows as seen through the camera lens. At the same time, the challenge of photographing these diamonds is nothing compared with the difficulty of polishing diamonds to exhibit the higher degree of optical precision necessary to produce a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows.
Now that you know that it takes up to four times longer to polish super ideal cut diamonds to exhibit the higher degree of optical precision, I'm certain that you have a higher appreciation of the beauty of these diamonds. You're also more aware now of how difficult it is to photograph these diamonds, even when using a state-of-the-art imaging system.
Take a moment to relax and appreciate the rarity of hearts and arrows diamonds cut to the standards of Brian Gavin, Crafted by Infinity, and Victor Canera. From what we've seen here today, it is clear that all of these diamonds offer degrees of optical precision that is far beyond the scope of most ideal cut diamonds.
At the same time, each of these diamonds exhibit traces of minor inconsistencies in the degree of optical precision. Which is something you now realize is to be expected in all diamonds to varying degrees because they are turned on the polishing wheel by hand.
Throughout the time I've been looking over the characteristics of these super ideal cut diamonds, I've been trying to decide which diamond to recommend over the others. The reality is that all three of these brands of H&A diamonds are on the high-end of the spectrum for diamond cut quality.
I was really hoping that one of these diamonds would stand out head and shoulders above the rest:
While that certainly is sometimes the case, I'm not going to be that lucky today. Which is why I said that this comparison had me in agony in the title of this post. Obviously, each of these companies would like me to influence your decision to buy from them instead of their competitor. Upon reading this blog post, each of them will probably call me and remind me of the things that set them apart from their competition.
At the end of the day, none of those things really matter because all three of these companies are selling a product that is very similar to the other. Thus, it comes down to the reputation of the brand, which unfortunately is not going to help either. All three of these companies and brands of super ideal cut diamonds have stellar reputations and a long list of happy clients who highly recommend their diamonds and jewelry.
With this in mind, I suggest that you purchase whichever of these diamonds (which all meet my selection criteria) that appeals most to your personal sense of balance and preferences. The visible difference between F-G color is very slight, but there is a discernible differences nonetheless.
Some people will prefer the mind clean aspect of an F-color diamond which is just a hint cooler than a G-color diamond. Other people will prefer the savings that a G-color diamond provides over an F-color diamond since the difference in hue and saturation is so slight. Which is the right choice? The combination of carat weight, color, and clarity that satisfies your sense of balance.
Let me know which of these diamonds you end up deciding to purchase. Please send me photographs of the ring, I can't wait to see it. All of these vendors will take glamour photographs of the ring upon completion if you ask them to. Please forward the images to me and tag me @NiceIceDiamonds if you post them on social media. Thank 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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