“Hi Todd, Thanks for such an informative site. I am shopping for an engagement ring and would love your help in picking something out. My girlfriend is very simple, thus she loves round diamonds. I am looking for a diamond between 1.00 – 1.50 carats. Size is not as important as quality and sparkle. Being that we live in southern California, it is important that this thing sparkles in natural daylight. My budget would be roughly 12,000 for the loose diamond, and up to $15k including the setting, we’re thinking of a halo engagement ring. I can stretch the budget a little bit higher if you find something incredible. Feel free to respond via blog post. Looking forward to hearing back from you!”
This is the kind of diamond quest that I really enjoy, because throughout the 25+ years that I’ve worked as a diamond buyer for the diamond industry, my focus has always been on selecting the brightest, most brilliant, fiery, diamonds that exhibit the type of intense sparkle that people notice from across the room!
And the formula for buying round brilliant cut diamonds that sparkle like crazy is simple, you just need to mix the following ingredients together and pour them out into a diamond shaped mold:
Whip the ingredients listed above together using a skilled Diamond Artisan, like Paul Slegers of Crafted by Infinity, or my mentor Brian Gavin, who are some of the finest diamond cutters that I know. Polish the facets of the diamond to the pinnacle of perfection, until the optical precision of the diamond looks something like this 1.442 carat, I-color, VS-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity round hearts and arrows diamond, pictured to the left, when viewed through an ASET Scope, Ideal Scope, and Hearts & Arrows Scope.
This Hearts and Arrows round ideal cut diamond exhibits the type of sparkle that people notice from across the room! But you don’t have to take my word for it, because you can judge the consistency of optical precision for yourself simply by looking at the reflector scope images provided for the diamond; all you have to do is study the diamonds, identify the patterns which repeat within the diamond, and gauge the degree of consistency.
One thing that I’d like to point out is that both Crafted by Infinity and Brian Gavin Diamonds post actual photographs of the diamonds in their inventory; the clarity photograph pictured to the left was taken using 40x magnification, which is significantly higher than the industry standard of 10x magnification which is used by the diamond industry for clarity grading.
The hearts pattern pictured to the left, is the actual pattern of hearts that is visible within this 1.442 carat, I-color, VS-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity round diamond, when it is viewed while unmounted through a hearts and arrows scope, this is not a rendering that was created by a computer. I’m able to determine that this diamond was cut to the highest level of optical precision, because the diamond exhibits a hearts pattern which consists of eight hearts, which are symmetrical in shape, clearly resemble hearts, and don’t look like lawn darts, rabbit ears, or anything else that might loosely be defined as a “heart” they clearly look like hearts.
The hearts are distributed evenly throughout the diamond; the points of the heart are not twisting or tipped substantially in any direction; there are no substantial splits visible in the clefts of the hearts; and the color of the hearts is relatively even, indicating that light is reflecting evenly across the lower girdle facets, which is being reflected from one side of the diamond to the other, to create the hearts pattern, it’s truly an incredible feat to cut a diamond to this level of perfection, it is not something which happens by accident, and the proportions of the diamond are only one factor that contributes to the creation of a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows.
It is important to note that I’m not saying that a diamond is going to be exceptionally stunning simply because it exhibits a hearts and arrows pattern; because I’ve seen some round brilliant cut diamonds that we total dogs in my book (no offense intended to my purebred German shepherd) which exhibited a very nice hearts and arrows pattern; the pattern is merely an indication that the diamond has been cut to a higher level of optical precision.
What makes this 1.442 carat, I-color, VS-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity round diamond so incredible, is that Paul Slegers combined the super ideal proportions outlined above, with the highest level of optical precision, thus I know that this diamond is going to sparkle like crazy, in practically every lighting environment… it’s even likely to sparkle when it is practically being starved for light!
And I’m not kidding… The late, great “Rock Doc” who was an extremely well known independent gemologist used to test diamonds by closing himself in a closet, lighting a match, and then running it around the perimeter of the diamond, from a few inches away… I tried that with the super ideal hearts and arrows diamonds that I used to buy from Paul Slegers and Brian Gavin, and it’s a kick to see how much sparkle diamonds like this exhibit when they catch a glimpse of the smallest of light!
Now I can provide you with all the technical reasons why this diamond is going to exhibit the highest volume of light return, but it really comes down to brand consistency… I’ve purchased literally thousands and thousands of diamonds produced by Crafted by Infinity and their competitor Brian Gavin Diamonds over the years (from their wholesale divisions) and every single one of them has been drop-dead gorgeous! What more do you really need to know? Seriously. But I’ll tell you what makes this diamond tick, because I want you to understand how the proportions of a diamond affect the volume of light return and sparkle factor.[separator]
This 1.442 carat, I-color, VS-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity round diamond is graded by the American Gem Society Laboratory with an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal-0 on their Platinum Light Performance grading platform, which I feel is the strictest grading platform available for diamonds, because it uses Angular Spectrum Evaluation Technology (ASET) to measure diamonds for brightness; it goes well beyond the proportions based grading system relied upon by the GIA Gem Trade Laboratory; and uses a grading standard for diamond clarity, and diamond color, which is based upon the standards set forth by the GIA, so win / win. It goes without saying that the proportions of this diamond are well within the range specified above and within the article 15 Seconds to Diamond Buying Success, but the 40.8 degree pavilion angle is going to provide the highest volume of light return, we’re talking va-va-voooom! The 34.6 degree crown angle is going to produce a virtual balance of brilliance (white sparkle) and dispersion (colored sparkle) while the 76% lower girdle facets are going to produce flashes of light / sparkle that is bolder, brighter, more intense, and actually higher in number, than would be exhibited by a diamond with the exact same proportions, but which had lower girdle facets in the range of 80 – 82% and it also contributes to the higher level of static contrast that is exhibited by this diamond in the clarity photograph.[separator]
The only downside to this 1.442 carat, I-color, VS-1 clarity, round diamond from Crafted by Infinity, is that it is a bit beyond your desired price range, but it is well within the range that you specified for the complete diamond engagement ring, and I know that Wink is currently offering a 15% discount on settings ordered in conjunction with a Crafted by Infinity diamond, so maybe it pencils out.
I think that this 1.302 carat, H-color, VS-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond offers the Biggest Bang for the Buck” within the price range that you specifically designated for the diamond. It is also graded by the AGSL with an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal-0 and exhibits a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows; and looks phenomenal in the ASET and Ideal Scope photographs; but this is not really surprising to me, I’ve come to recognize that the Brian Gavin Signature brand offers incredibly reliable consistency in production quality, and the volume of light return, and sparkle factor that results from precision diamond cutting! Brian Gavin is recognized world wide for his skill![separator]
Obviously the degree of perfection exhibited by the hearts pattern above, provides us with the evidence that we need to know that this 1.302 carat, H-color, VS-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond exhibits the highest degree of optical precision; but what about the proportions? Here again, the 40.9 degree pavilion angle is going to provide us with an extremely high volume of light return, and the crown angle of 34.3 degrees is going to produce a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion; while the 75% lower girdle facets are going to produce the bright, bold, vivid flashes of light that I personally prefer in a round brilliant cut diamond!
I think that if we were to compare this 1.302 carat, H-color, VS-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond, and this 1.442 carat, I-color, VS-2 clarity, Crafted by Infinity round diamond, placed side-by-side on a diamond sorting tray, so that the table facet is facing up, and the diamonds are separated by about half an inch, that the only readily discernible difference that we would see between them, would be the slight difference in carat weight; and that would only be discernible form a distance of a couple of feet.
[Pause for Dramatic Effect]
Followed by Brian Gavin reading this article, calling me on the telephone and exclaiming “Toddy, I’m reading the review that you wrote comparing my diamonds with Crafted by Infinity; you know that my diamonds are clearly better…blah, blah, blah.”
Yes, Brian Gavin really does call me “Toddy” and I tolerate it because as one of my original mentors in the diamond business, I guess that he’s kind of earned the right to give me a nickname; and it’s much better than some of the other nicknames that diamond cutters have blessed me with, such as Diamond Nazi, Diamond Snob (Paul Slegers gave me that one) and Golden Child; all right, I actually kind of like that last one…
Brian’s phone call is likely to coincide with an email from Paul Slegers of Crafted by Infinity, which reads something like “I would like to respectfully point out that my diamonds are clearly superior to those produced by Brian Gavin, and as a former Crafted by Infinity authorized dealer, you should know that… blah, blah, blah.”
And perhaps even a phone call from John Pollard of Crafted by Infinity, who like myself was mentored in the early days by Brian Gavin, and who used to work for Brian Gavin when Brian Gavin was at the helm of Whiteflash, to say… “Geez Todd, did you really have to go and say that?”
But the reality is that I used to buy a ton of super ideal cut diamonds from Brian Gavin, under the brand name “A Cut Above” which he created back around 1998, which he later marketed directly on Whiteflash, but which he abandoned in favor of the new Brian Gavin Signature line when he left Whiteflash to start Brian Gavin Diamonds.
And I’ve bought thousands of Crafted by Infinity diamonds from Paul Slegers, and I don’t recall being ever to see a distinguishable difference between the Brian Gavin Signature and Crafted by Infinity diamonds that I purchased for inventory; the decision to purchase one diamond over another from either of these exceptional diamond cutters, always came down to which of them happened to have the diamond with the characteristics that I was looking for at the moment.
I should probably mention that I think that H-color, and I-color diamonds, provide an excellent value in my opinion, they face-up nice and white, and enable you to maximize the carat weight for your budget. You can hop up to F-color, or G-color, but the reality is that most people aren’t all that color sensitive, and are more apt to notice a difference in carat weight, before they will notice a difference in the color of near-colorless diamonds, especially when those diamonds are mounted, and observed under normal lighting conditions. The diamond which I selected for my own wedding ring was an I-color diamond with strong blue fluorescence.
So I’d be perfectly fine with the strong blue fluorescence exhibited by this 1.302 carat, H-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond when it is exposed to black light. Just look at how beautiful the strong blue fluorescence is in the photograph provided to the left, which was taken of the diamond when it was being exposed to black light in a room which was otherwise pitch black. The strong blue fluorescence is likely to boost the body color of the h-color diamond a bit, when the diamond is exposed to light sources that contain high amounts of ultra-violet light, such as direct sunlight. Another benefit provided by blue fluorescent diamonds is that they come at a slight discount![separator]
The discount applied to diamonds with fluorescence, has nothing to do with the visual properties of diamonds with blue fluorescence, but rather is a residual effect left upon the diamond market by an investment firm in Asia who elected to preclude diamonds with fluorescence from parcels of diamonds that they were offering to investors back in the 1970’s which created a glut of fluorescent diamonds; which were then discounted to make them more attractive to other buyers… it’s a discount that stuck, and we’re the beneficiaries of it. Yay for us, practically every diamond which I have ever purchased for myself has exhibited medium to strong blue fluorescence, one even had very strong blue fluorescence, I’m totally good with it.
Needless to say that this diamond looks exceptional when viewed through an ASET Scope and an Ideal Scope; Brian Gavin does not provide hearts and arrows images for diamonds selected for the Brian Gavin Blue collection, because the focal point is the blue fluorescence, and he provides a photograph of the intensity exhibited by the blue fluorescent diamond, rather than a photograph of the hearts pattern.
However I can tell you that the diamonds are produced on the same production line, by the same diamond cutters who produce the Brian Gavin Signature hearts and arrows diamonds, and it’s not like they are going to cut the diamonds any less precisely because it has fluorescence… I had the opportunity to flip through the entire inventory of Brian Gavin Blue diamonds when I visited their office in August of 2013, and every single diamond looked exceptional to me… once again, Brian Gavin is all about brand consistency.
Thus it should go without saying that this 1.302 carat, H-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond has the overall cut grade of AGS Ideal-0 and the center range, zero ideal cut proportions that I look for in a diamond. The 40.9 degree pavilion angle, combined with the 34.7 degree crown angle, and the 78% lower girdle facets, is going to produce the highest volume of light return, with a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion, and sparkle which is bold, bright, and beautiful.
I think that it goes without saying that I would be most apt to choose one of the larger Brian Gavin Signature or Crafted by Infinity diamonds reviewed above, but you might prefer something a little smaller, that is higher in color; I recall from your email that you’re less concerned about the inclusions within the diamond, as long as they are not readily and immediately visible without magnification.
So you might prefer something like this 1.211 carat, F-color, SI-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond, or this 1.130 carat, G-color, SI-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity round diamond; both of which have been cut to the same range of proportions, and exhibit the same degree of optical precision as the other diamonds reviewed thus far… You simply can’t go wrong with a diamond from either one of these diamond cutters, I stake my reputation on it as a diamond buyer, each and every day; thousands and thousands of satisfied customers can be found all over the globe for these guys! Run a search for Brian Gavin or Crafted by Infinity reviews and you’ll find lots of happy people![separator]
Now on the off chance that you decide you want something higher in clarity, this 1.117 carat, F-color, VS-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond has the makings of a Rock Star! And this 1.107 carat, D-color, SI-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity round diamond is going to be so bright and white, that it will blow your socks off!
By the way, I almost forgot to mention that I’ve also got a Brian Gavin discount code and coupon that will save you some money off the price of a setting ordered in conjunction with a Brian Gavin Signature diamond… drop me a note via my Diamond Concierge Service if you’d like me to provide it to you.
If we were to categorize the production of Brian Gavin Signature and Crafted by Infinity hearts and arrows, super ideal cut diamonds, like this 1.107 carat, D-color, SI-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity round diamond, they represent the Top 0.001% of the annual production for round brilliant cut diamonds; the degree of precision that they are cut to, takes up to four times longer to polish than the Top 1% diamonds that I’m going to get into now… which is why they cost more, the question that only you can answer is whether you are willing to pay a little bit more for the very best, or if the second tier of light performance and sparkle is good enough; it is certainly better than most if that makes sense.[separator]
This 1.16 carat, D-color, VS-1 clarity, round from Enchanted Diamonds has the makings of an exceptional looking diamond! It has a crown angle of 35.0 degrees which is offset by a pavilion angle of 40.8 degrees, with lower girdle facets that measure 75% in length; so you know by now that this diamond is going to exhibit a high volume of light return, with a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion, and sparkle which is bold and bright! What’s not to love? We might not have the scope images required to judge the degree of optical precision, but it’s definitely going to blow 99% of what you find out there out of the water! What level of perfection is good enough?[separator]
The answer of course depends on whether you’re going to be happy driving a Lamborghini or a Porsche, and whether you want that Porsche to be turbo charged or not… and maybe you think that you might not be able to tell the difference, but I promise you that as an experienced diamond buyer of 25+ years, that I definitely can, which is why I’ve always focused on diamonds of the highest cut quality.
Now this 1.20 carat, F-color, VS-1 clarity, round from Enchanted Diamonds is a bit different than all of the other options that we’ve considered thus far, because the 80% lower girdle facets are likely to create pin-fire type sparkle, which is smaller in size than the sparkle that will be visible in the other diamonds reviewed previously, it will be more like the tiny flashes of light that are reflected off of a disco ball, and some people like that sort of thing. Then again, this might be one of those things that the average person would never pick up on, it’s difficult to say, but plenty of my clients have been able to discern the difference when we’ve compared diamonds side-by-side.[separator]
This 1.20 carat, F-color, VS-1 clarity, round from Enchanted Diamonds has a crown angle of 35.0 degrees which is offset by a pavilion angle of 40.6 degrees, which are both on the outer edge of my preferred range, but I promise you that it is a combination that works incredibly well, and that this should be a stunning diamond that will take her breath away!
Another option that you might want to consider if you think you might like the pin-fire, disco ball effect, is this 1.25 carat, F-color, VS-2 clarity, round from Enchanted Diamonds, it has essentially the same proportions as the last diamond, but exhibits medium blue fluorescence! Now follow this line of thinking… if Disco ever makes a come back, and you go out dancing with your wife, she’ll be wearing a bright neon blue disco ball that is all her own!
I think that this gives you quite a few exceptional options to choose from, and provides you with a wide range of diamonds in a variety of carat weight, color, and clarity; while maintaining the proportions and diamond cut quality required to produce the highest volume of light return and sparkle factor.
I truly appreciate your allowing me to publish this blog post while you’re in the early stages of looking for a diamond; feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance. And if you happen to be reading this blog post as part of your research before buying a diamond, I hope that you’ll take advantage of my free Diamond Concierge Service, I’d love to help you select the best diamond available in your price range.
But of course, you might want to spend some time familiarizing yourself with all of the different options of carat weight, color and clarity, that are available within your price range, here is where I recommend you start your search:
And then send me links to the diamonds which are of interest to you, just so that I can look over the details really quick and let you know that you’re on the right track…
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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