Hi, I’ve noticed that you give very good advice on diamonds, and I would graciously like to ask for your help. I’m in my 3rd day of learning about diamonds. What I’ve figured out so far is that I want a Brian Gavin hearts and arrows or blue, because of the emphasis on diamond cut quality. My budget is between 7500 and 9000 for a 1 ct Tiffany solitaire engagement ring. Maybe something in the D-G color range, but if we can go down in color and get a better value and slightly larger diamond, then I’m cool with that too. But there’s a ton of diamonds to choose from at BGD, I wondered if you could make sense of them and help me choose the best option? Thanks in advance, T.J. Crawford
I absolutely love the look of the Classic Tiffany Solitaire Engagement Ring from Brian Gavin which is pictured above, it just happens to be one of my favorite engagement ring designs. I’ve always liked the prong structure of this ring because it looks like a crown which creates the perfect presentation for a diamond of the cut quality offered by Brian Gavin.
Solitaire engagement rings which are inspired by Tiffany are extremely popular choices for diamond engagement rings because they have been featured in so many magazines and movies that they have become the classic engagement ring.
Reportedly Tiffany & Co introduced the Classic Tiffany Solitaire Engagement Ring in 1886 as an alternative to the bezel set engagement rings which were popular at the time. The idea was that the six prong setting which held the diamond high up in the air would allow more light to enter the diamond, and make it brighter and create more sparkle.
The publication of Tolkowsky’s Diamond Design in 1919 also had a significant impact upon how diamonds were set because it provided a formula for producing ideal cut diamonds which exhibited higher volumes of light return and sparkle. Needless to say that the introduction of the Tolkowsky Cut Diamond inspired generations of diamond cutters to fine tune their skills and produce the finest diamonds available, and while the formula for the modern ideal cut diamond has changed a bit over the years, it is the inspiration for the Hearts and Arrows diamonds produced by Brian Gavin and other diamond cutters who focus on diamond cut quality.
I’m not sure what range of clarity you wish to consider, but I generally prefer a range of SI-1 to VS-1 because if the SI-1 clarity diamond is “eye clean” then all the diamonds are going to look the same in terms of clarity to the naked eye, and this range of clarity provides the best options in terms of maximizing carat weight.
When I was the diamond buyer for Nice Ice, the range of color which we selected for inventory was between D to I-color, with a range of clarity that was between SI-1 to Flawless, and we automatically rejected diamonds which contained inclusions which consisted of cavities, knots, twinning wisps, and any feathers which I felt posed any sort of potential durability risk to the longevity of the diamond.
With this in mind, I set the range of parameters to search for round diamonds on Brian Gavin to include options from the Brian Gavin Signature and Brian Gavin Blue collections, which weigh between 1.00 – 1.50 carats, and which are D to I-color, and SI-1 to VS-1 in clarity, within the budget of 7000 – 9000, and was presented with 25 possibilities.
The next step was to flip through the diamond details pages for each diamond to eliminate any options which do not meet my selection criteria for proportions, which is outlined in the article 15 Seconds to Diamond Buying Success. The problem is that Brian Gavin and I tend to think alike in terms of the range of proportions which we prefer and thus I was only able to eliminate two options based upon the proportions of the diamonds… and that was because the crown angle was one tenth of a degree beyond my preferred range of 34.3 – 34.9 degrees and I can afford to be this picky in this instance because of the wealth of options that is available from Brian Gavin.
Thankfully the status of one of the options presented is “Reserved” so there is one less diamond to consider… then I decided that I could eliminate the 3 diamonds from the Brian Gavin Blue collection which exhibit very strong blue fluorescence since I felt the need to draw the line somewhere, and I’m not sure how intent your interest is in diamonds with blue fluorescence and there are several other options available within the range of medium to strong blue.
The next thing which I did was flip through the reflector scope images provided on the diamond details pages to ensure that all of the options meet my expectations for optical symmetry and diamond cut quality, because next to the proportions of the diamond, this is the next most important factor with regards to the visual performance and sparkle factor displayed by the diamond.
Unfortunately I didn’t find anything within the ASET Scope, Ideal Scope, or Hearts and Arrows Scope images which didn’t meet my selection criteria, so I was unable to eliminate any Brian Gavin Diamonds from the list of options based upon the degree of optical symmetry.
So it is time to open up the high resolution copies of the Diamond Quality Documents provided by the American Gem Society Laboratory (AGSL) and eliminate any options which contain inclusions which rub me the wrong way… Now this is where Brian Gavin and I tend to differ in our opinion, I tend to play it extremely safe because I don’t have the diamonds sitting in front of me and thus I can’t pick them up and evaluate the inclusions using a diamond grading loupe, so I just kick anything that I don’t like to the curb… I ended up rejecting four diamonds for the clarity characteristics, and it wasn’t even that they were all that bad, there were simply better options available and so I figured why mess with it?
At this point, I’ve reduced the number of diamonds from Brian Gavin which meet my selection criteria from 25 down to seventeen, and it’s time to cherry pick the best of the best from the perspective of which of these diamonds would I be inclined to purchase if I were the one buying the diamond… at least that’s the approach that I like to take when helping people shop for diamonds.
With the understanding that all of the diamonds being considered have been graded by the AGSL and received an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal-0 on their Platinum Light Performance grading platform, which uses Angular Spectrum Evaluation Technology (ASET) to measure the diamonds for brightness and judge the light performance, and that we’re essentially cherry picking diamonds which are well within the Top 0.001% of the annual production for round brilliant cut diamonds, here are my top picks from Brian Gavin Diamonds, presented in order of carat weight:
This 1.016 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin round diamond exhibits medium blue fluorescence, which as you can see from the picture to the left, looks extremely cool when the diamond is subjected to black light! I just love the neon blue color exhibited by blue fluorescent diamonds when they are viewed under black light, and the fluorescence can help boost the body color of the diamond just a bit when the diamond is exposed to a strong UV light source, such as direct sunlight… the rest of the time the diamond will look perfectly normal, it’s kind of like a hidden super power! Plus blue fluorescence commands a slight discount, so you save some money without sacrificing a thing![separator]
There is a notation that appears beneath the high resolution video provided on the diamond details page for this 1.017 carat, H-color, SI-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond which indicates that it is eye clean. The reality is that not all SI-1 clarity diamonds are eye clean, and thus if you truly desire a diamond which is eye clean, then you should look for the notation “This diamond is eye clean” beneath the video which is intended to provide insight into the clarity characteristics of the diamond.
Note that the designation “eye clean” is based upon evaluation of the diamond from a distance of 9 – 12 inches, by a trained diamond grader, and it does not mean that the diamond will be 100% eye clean 100% of the time, the odds are that if you carefully scrutinize the diamond facet-by-facet from a distance of only a few inches that you might be able to find an inclusion or two with just your eyes… if this is something that is likely to bother you, then you might want to consider a diamond which is VS-2 clarity and higher, but personally it isn’t something that bothers me because I view inclusions as just part of the natural crystal structure of a diamond… there is perfection in the imperfections and all that.
The medium blue fluorescence exhibited by this 1.022 carat, H-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Blue diamond is a definite plus in my book! It’s going to give the H-color a little boost when the diamond is exposed to direct sunlight, and the diamond is going to look perfectly normal in other lighting situations.
You might have read that fluorescence can cause diamonds to look cloudy or milky, but rest assured that this is a bit of an overstatement. According to a study conducted by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) fewer than 2% of gem quality diamonds are negatively impacted by the presence of fluorescence.
The fact of the matter is that medium blue fluorescence is primarily an identifying characteristic which is highly unlikely to create any sort of issue for a diamond in terms of the visual appearance, beyond giving the body color a slight boost. The 2% of gem quality diamonds which the GIA deemed to be negatively impacted by the presence of fluorescence, were what the industry considers to be “over blues” which usually have fluorescence levels of very strong to distinct blue.
One of the benefits of buying from a diamond cutter like Brian Gavin, who takes pride in the quality of the diamonds which he selects for inventory, is that he personally evaluates every diamond to ensure that it exhibits the levels of light return and visual performance that he insists upon… if a diamond is being negatively impacted by fluorescence, he’s going to wholesale it off to a vendor who is less selective about the diamonds which they offer.
I really like the look of this 1.051 carat, I-color, SI-1 clarity, Brian Gavin round diamond which exhibits medium blue fluorescence, but this 1.052 carat, I-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond with hearts and arrows is just a few hundred dollars more… as is this 1.063 carat, I-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round, so I’d go with one of those if you prefer a slightly higher clarity and definitely want a diamond that exhibits a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows.
Now the reality is that I believe that these three diamonds would look about the same in terms of light return and visual performance if we lined them up and compared them side-by-side… they were all produced on the same production line by the same diamond cutters, under the supervision of Brian Gavin, and I’ve had the opportunity to do a comparison like this in the past and found the diamonds to be comparable in cut quality and visual performance.
If you prefer something slightly higher in color, which will make the diamond face-up just a little brighter, then this 1.064 carat, G-color, SI-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond is the perfect choice! One thing to keep in mind is that there are two types of “brightness” exhibited by diamonds of this cut quality, there is the brightness that we perceive as being whiter, and then there is the brightness created by the sparkle effect that results from super ideal proportions combined with exceptional optical symmetry… so the I-color options that I’ve referenced above are no less bright than this G-color diamond in terms of sparkle, and the reality is that the sparkle will make it more difficult to discern the actual body color of the diamond, but if you were to examine the diamonds side-by-side from a side profile, you’d probably be able to figure out which one is which.
While I’m personally more apt to purchase an I-color diamond which is SI-1 or VS-2 in clarity, because in my mind it makes more sense to combine a middle range color with a middle range clarity, you might find this 1.067 carat, I-color, VS-1 clarity, Brian Gavin round with medium blue fluorescence appealing if you like knowing that the inclusions within the diamond are going to be difficult to locate even with a 10x diamond grading loupe. Personally for a few hundred dollars more, I’m more inclined to pick up this 1.111 carat, I-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond because it provides a better balance of characteristics in my mind, and it enables me to pick up just a little more carat weight.
And there is definitely nothing that would prevent me from picking up this 1.237 carat, I-color, SI-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond because it is well within your budget and it makes sense to me to purchase the largest diamond possible within your price range because no matter how big your girlfriend is going to think the diamond is now, eventually Diamond Shrinkage Syndrome is going to set in! So why not buy the largest, most impressive looking diamond that you can from the beginning? But don’t take my word for it, I’ve only been doing this since 1985… what do I know? Laughs.
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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