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Diamond Buying Advice Learn Before You Buy!

By Todd Gray

August 6, 2012

I’m Todd Gray and I’ve been actively involved in the diamond industry since 1985.  During that time I’ve owned and operated a brick and mortar jewelry store. I was also employed as the primary diamond buyer for Nice Ice, Inc. As a matter of fact, Nice Ice is recognized as one of the pioneers of the online diamond industry.

I’ve recently converted the Nice Ice web site from a direct seller of diamonds to a diamond information site. Our goal is to provide consumers with in-depth diamond grading advice and impartial reviews. Click here to contact me for a free in-depth analysis of the characteristics of any diamond that you are considering.

You’re in for a real treat if you’re the type of person who likes to learn as much as possible about something before you make a significant purchase because we’re going to fill your brain with the type of diamond buying brilliance that can only come from spending 25+ years in the diamond industry!

I have to forewarn you, this web site is a lot more in-depth than those 4C’s diamond information pamphlets which barely scratches the surface of diamond grading, I speak geek and this web site is one big rolling adventure through the ramblings of my mind.  I write like I talk so this is going to be like a passionate conversation between two friends discussing diamonds over a few bottles of wine.

Now if you just want to buy an engagement ring as quickly and painlessly as possible without uploading 80+ pages of diamond grading information into your brain beforehand, just read this One Minute Diamond Buying Guide and you’ll be good to go.  But if you’re like me and you love to learn, keep reading because I think you’re going to enjoy learning all about diamonds from the perspective of a veteran diamond buyer.

Challenging the Status Quo by Sharing Knowledge

When we first launched Nice Ice as a Diamond Information Site in 1996, we were promptly sued by 50 members of a trade organization for Disclosure of Proprietary Information to the Public and Disparagement of an Entire Industry, they later withdrew their case after we hired a really prominent law firm to protect our first amendment rights.

Interestingly enough my cell phone began to ring non-stop when I announced that Nice Ice was returning to its roots as a Diamond Information Site and that we would no longer be selling diamonds.  Apparently, the concept of sharing diamond buying information freely with the public is a concept that still sends a shiver down the spine of some people in the industry.

Quite a few of our former competitors are wondering what I’m going to say now that I have nothing to gain or lose in terms of diamond sales… well, no worries, I don’t have a bone to pick with anybody in the diamond industry, I just thought it would be kind of cool to use the knowledge which I’ve acquired through 25+ years as a respected member of the diamond trade to help people buy exceptional diamonds at fair prices!

Diamond Buying Advice for Real People

The basic premise behind the creation of Nice Ice is to provide unbiased diamond grading advice and in-depth diamond grading tutorials designed to help real people buy exceptional diamonds without getting bogged down by all the marketing hype.

We wanted to decode all of the letters, abbreviations, vague descriptions, and codes commonly used on diamond grading reports and translate them into plain and simple English that is easy to understand and make it possible for you to purchase an exceptional diamond without getting caught up in all the backroom diamond-speak.

I think we’ve done an exceptional job of making it easy and fun to learn about diamonds and look forward to guiding you on this journey.

So What is Nice Ice?

Nice Ice is the brainchild of Robin & Todd Gray and first emerged in Cyber Space in February of 1996. Initially, this was the website for Treasures by R.J. Diamond & Jewelry Brokers which was established in 1979.

The website was first created to be an educational resource for our local clients and we actually never intended to sell diamonds online.  However, the universe had different plans and within a few years, Nice Ice had developed a reputation as one of the most respected online vendors of Hearts & Arrows Super Ideal Cut Diamonds.

Robin committed suicide on June 01, 2005, fifteen months after we lost our daughter Niki to a terminal bone marrow disease. It was at that point that Robin’s family seized the opportunity to try and steal a lifetime of work and achievement from me. After eight years of extensive litigation, it was determined that their case lacked any merit. However, to be perfectly honest, the sum of those experiences made me realize that there is more to life than sitting around an office grading and selling diamonds.

With that in mind, while I love diamonds and remain an active member of the diamond industry, the truth is that I love hanging out with friends, freediving, wakeboarding, and challenging people to fully embrace all that life has to offer significantly more!

During the eight years of litigation following Robin’s death, I began a new career as a Hypnotherapist and Coach. I primarily help people improve their relationships and overcome the obstacles that might be holding them back. Visit my web site Hypnoformance if you would like to know more about that.

With all of this in mind, Nice Ice is being returned to its roots as a diamond information resource. In other words, we are no longer actively involved in the business of selling diamonds and manufacturing jewelry. However, we will help you search for diamonds and evaluate the ones that you are considering.

Harnessing the Power of Nice Ice:

As the Diamond Buyer for Nice Ice, I took it upon myself to purchase every diamond for inventory as if I were buying it for myself or my best friend. That means that I rejected a lot of zero ideal cut diamonds and quite a few of them were quite beautiful.  The reality is that subtle distinctions between diamonds can result in incredible differences in visual performance and price…

So I was always looking to find the best options available for our clients and I was willing to wait a reasonable amount of time to find it.  The goal of Nice Ice has always been to help our clients get the best diamond available within the range of their desired preferences and price range.

This has not changed and I am more than happy to assist you find the diamond of your dreams and act as your diamond buying consultant to the extent that time permits, understand that I have more or less retired from the industry to pursue my true passion as a personal development coach helping people to achieve their peak potential, but diamonds are still very much in my blood and I look forward to helping you find the diamond of your dreams!  Click here to ask for my help in finding or reviewing a diamond.  Please note that client requests are quite often used as the basis for a blog post in an effort to help other people who might be seeking similar information.

Who Pays for My Time?

Affiliate agreements with various vendors provide compensation for the time spent writing diamond reviews and diamond grading tutorials, but rest assured that the evaluations provided are based upon the individual characteristics of each diamond and that my opinions about each diamond are clearly stated regardless of any affiliation I have with the diamond dealers… a little time spent reading the articles and diamond reviews will make this quite clear as you’ll see that there are times when I like a diamond offered by a dealer in one paragraph and then rip apart another diamond offered by that very same vendor in the next paragraph.

Ideally Yours,

Todd Gray

About the author

A mad scientist with a passion for improving diamond cut quality to maximize light performance and sparkle factor. I speak geek in degrees of optical precision between bouts of freediving. My ghostwritten ramblings haunt the rabbit holes of information found on many diamond vendor sites. Diamond buyer, author, consultant, errant seeker of deep blue water.

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  1. I think the computer ate my first post, so here it is again!

    First of all, my sincerest condolences to Todd on the sad loss of Robin and Niki. While it has been 12 years, and ‘time heals’, the sadness never really goes away, it just gets tucked away in the closet of our mind, to be let out occasionally and then put back!

    For some reason, today, I decided to see if NiceIce was ‘back’ and was so happy to see the site back up and running!

    I can hardly believe it has been 20 years since I received my ‘puppy” from Robin & Todd. Way back then, I was looking for a diamond and happened across the original NiceIce site. I spent hours and hours reading the information to educate myself and went off in search of a diamond at local ‘jewelry’ stores, only to walk out frustrated that I ‘knew’ more than the salespeople themselves! So, I turned to Todd and after many lengthy emails, over a course of a couple of months, he managed to find me a diamond that he was satisfied with! It was truly the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

    Every day I look at it and cannot believe how gorgeous it is. Initially, I had it mounted in a traditional, very simple Tiffany setting. But, 10 years ago, I commissioned a custom Tacori setting and love how it looks.

    For anyone looking for a diamond, and wanting to make sure that the stone you buy is high quality, I cannot recommend Todd enough. There are not enough superlatives to describe how helpful and trustworthy he is.

    Every day people comment on how beautiful my ring is .. the sparkle is still as bright now as it was 20 years ago… I love my puppy!

    Thanks, Todd, for helping me find the perfect puppy.

    1. So Julie, you KNOW that you’ve made my day, right? Possibly my year! I love to receive comments like this from people who purchased their diamond from us long, long ago and still love it! You’ve had your puppy on your hand for 20 years and are still receiving compliments on it, it simply doesn’t get any better than that! 🙂

      We used to be an authorized Tacori dealer, they make a beautiful ring! I’m sure your diamond looks amazing in that setting!

      Losing Niki in 2004 and Robin in 2005 was definitely a blow, but the legacy that they left behind continues to march forward and benefit people to this day. Nice Ice has gone through multiple transformations throughout the years; but then again, haven’t we all?

      While we no longer sell diamonds directly because I just didn’t have the energy or the resources to pump things back up after being dragged through court for eight years by Robin’s family (I won eventually, whatever that means!) I do enjoy helping people find the diamond of their dreams.

      Quite often, we’re still working with former suppliers of Nice Ice, like Brian Gavin Diamonds.

      Thank you for taking the time to look us up and leave a comment! I certainly do appreciate it, Julie. Best wishes for a wonderful and prosperous 2018.

      — Todd

    1. Oh, that’s a good one! I have to admit that I’m stumped. I actually have no experience with rough Carbanado diamonds, or slag for that matter.

      All of my diamond buying experience is limited to the realm of polished white and fancy color diamonds, and thus I don’t know how you would go about trying to determine whether what you have is actually black diamond rough, or coal slag. But there are a few threads on the subject in the archives of Gemology Online that might provide the insight you need, or at least lead you in the right direction.

  2. Hi Todd,

    I too was put greatly put at ease after stumbling on the Nice Ice website late 2005, whilst searching for an engagement stone. Spent a few days reading all the info. It was a pleasure to read because of the enthusiasm/humour. I was shocked (shocked!) to find myself wiring cash to a distant land and peoples (at least to me) unproven.

    Anyways, once the deed was done, it dutifully arrived at our home in Sydney, Australia. I took it to be priced/certified in the city (insurance). The gemologist was disgusted with ‘throw-away’ price I’d paid for the ‘puppy’ (the ruination of the industry I think he inferred).

    The subject came up again tonight as a family member recently bought his better-half a diamond ring. I still smile and refer my wife to your site to reassure it wont be better than what I got for her 😉

    Thanks for all your outstanding efforts in educating us hapless chaps in the ways of diamonds.

    All the best !


    1. Thank you so much Chris for taking the time to share your experience with Nice Ice! I am positively thrilled every time one of our original clients takes the time to drop by and say hello… it’s so cool to be remembered and acknowledged for the unique creative style which defines our educational platform. The comment made by your gemologist is really amusing to me because when we first launched Nice Ice back in 1996, there were quite a few people in the industry who focused on blaming us for the ruination of the diamond industry, but after awhile they began to realize that we were merely blazing the trail throughout cyberspace that many of them would follow to expand their own influence in the market. It’s a real kick to look back on those “wild west” days from the perspective that the information age has brought us! And as you’ve noted, there is always the added bonus of knowing that very few people are running around out there with diamonds that provide the level of light return and visual performance that Nice Ice clients end up with… Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment!

      1. Our pleasure Todd! (Just noticed your reply, which wasnt forwarded to my email address).

        Warmest regards.

  3. I believe the computer ate my first note, so here’s a second try. I wish to buy a diamond for a pendant. Your essays have been very helpful. I especially like the Crafted by Infinity sensibility and also the Brian Gavin signature diamonds. Budget realities mean I am looking in the $4000 to $5000+ range, which dictates a carat weight of about .80 to .90. Will that size diamond be esthetically pleasing in a single-stone pendant? I have identified a number of possibles, but weighing the interaction of characteristics is difficult. How would you judge the relative merits of the following:
    Continental Diamonds Ref. # 6181 (AGS 104062444009); Ref. #6223 (AGS 104062705007); or
    HPD Ref # HPD6159 (AGS 104060340008); Ref # HPD6211 (AGS 104062705006);
    Brian Gavin (AGS 104061766056); and finally (AGS 104061350049). Thanks for any help you can give.

  4. Hi Todd,

    Just dropped by to say hi – I was showing my 8 year old diamonds and remembered your site. You sold me my engagement ring – I guess it worked out, we just had our 10 year wedding anniversary.

    Thanks again for everything, your site is a tremendous resource and made the entire process much, much easier for me.

    Best wishes and Happy New Years,


    1. Hello Chris, thank you for remembering us and congratulations on your ten year anniversary! Showing your eight year old diamonds… that must have been a fun experience, I can’t imagine all of the questions that an eight year old would come up with on that subject! 😉

      — Todd

  5. Hi Todd,

    12 years ago, I bought the diamond for my engagement ring for you — and subsequently referred three other friends who did the same. Now I have 3 kids. Time flies.

    Just checking in for old time sake, so sorry to hear of Robin’s passing.

    Thanks for continuing to provide useful information to the Interwebs. (Although now I’m going to have to do more work when I hit our 25th anniversary. How dare you.)

    1. Thank you so much for remembering us Henry, it warms my heart to hear from you after all these years! It was necessary to change the business model of Nice Ice after all the litigation brought by Robin’s family (determined in my favor) but my dedication to helping our customers find the most visually stunning diamonds and jewelry has not… just let me know what you are looking for when you are ready and I will help you find it… the way I see it, we just have access to more inventory now 😉

  6. Hi Todd,

    I just found your website read a few blogs on how you would select a diamond. I just purchased a princess cut diamond engagement ring but it wont ship out for another month. I was hoping you would be able to let me know if I picked a good diamond and that it will have your “100% light bulb” look or if I should find something else. I tried to ask bluenile about the pavilion and crown angle but they have no idea since its not listed on the GIA report. I selected bluenile because the future fiancee im giving this to loves a particular band on the site.

    Anyways the diamond stock # is LD02264417 but i originally chose LD02210526 but the GCAL on LD02210526 seemed to show 4 dark spots on the optical brillance analysis so I went with the other diamond.

    Thank you very much in advance.


    1. Hello John, thank you for your inquiry. Because of the wide variance in the facet structure and design of princess cut diamonds (square modified brilliant) it is practically impossible to have any idea of how they will perform in terms of brilliance, dispersion and light performance off of the proportions alone. This is why when we sold diamonds directly, I eventually ended up working with a small handful of suppliers who consistently produced an exceptional looking princess cut diamond. The reality is that I simply got tired of paying to ship diamonds in for evaluation and then being disappointed by the visual performance of the diamond… I don’t know who is producing the signature series of diamonds for Blue Nile, so I can’t provide any insight into this particular diamond; however I would ask the gemologist at Blue Nile to look at the diamond for you and provide you with an evaluation… and/or ask for the diamond to be sent to an independent graduate gemologist for evaluation on your behalf because nothing beats an experienced (and impartial) set of eyes in a situation like this.

  7. Todd,
    Thanks for the ultra-informative website. As a geek and a doctor I crave knowledge and you certainly provide it. I would value your opinion on a diamond. My wife has her eye on a 18kt white gold mounting for a 6mm round.
    I’m looking at Brian Gavin Blue
    BLAGS-104060183023, a 0.770 J VS1 Signature Blue round. I know you think highly of Brian and it seems like its hard to go wrong with this diamond at $2477.
    I’d love to know what you think.
    Thanks again for the education,

    1. Hi Greg, I really appreciate the feedback on the content of Nice Ice! I took a look at the details of the Brian Gavin Blue Signature ideal cut diamond that you referenced and put together a little summary for you.

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