Nice Ice Super Ideal Cut Diamonds

    Diamond Earrings “by the numbers”

    This is an expansion on last weeks post on Diamond Stud Earrings in response to a client who wrote: “Reading your tutorials led me to wonder if I could find diamonds in the super ideal central range on Blue Nile or James Allen [as opposed to only from Brian Gavin Diamonds or Crafted by Infinity].  I found the below stones and wondered what you thought of them and grouped them together in terms of potential sets” (for diamond stud earrings).
    “So in addition to considering BGD1 + BGD2 and BGD3 + BGD4 [BGD = Brian Gavin Diamonds referenced in my article on diamond stud earrings] I’d also look at the following:

    BN2 + BN3 [details below]BN3 + BN5 [details below]BN4 + JA1 [details below]

    I’ve also attached the lab reports (GIA or AGS) of the highlighted BN and JA stones.  I know that the Brian Gavin Diamonds will look lovely since they’ve been visually inspected by an expert, whereas the diamonds I found on Blue Nile (BN) and James Allen (JA) might be super ideal, or might not, but odds are reasonable given that the dimensions fall in the tight central range of super ideal that I found on your website.

    What do you think?  I wonder because BN’s prices for similar diamonds (if they are in fact similar) look like they’re 12-15% cheaper than BGD.  Maybe it’s cheaper cost structure for them, or maybe the diamonds are not as nice!”

    One of the benefits of creating a diamond information site like Nice Ice in blog format is that as people read my blog posts and respond by asking questions, I am able to further expand Nice Ice as a diamond education resource by responding to those questions in the form of an additional blog post… your questions provide the basis for some exceptional learning opportunities and provide me with topics to blog about!  So keep them coming, either by adding a comment at the bottom of this post or by using our contact form.

    I realize that I tend to focus on the proportions of a diamond a lot while I walk through my diamond selection process… I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the range of proportions which defines the zero ideal cut proportions rating which was first introduced by the American Gemological Society Laboratory (AGSL) back in 1996 and then redefined by the AGSL in June of 2005.  I’ve also made frequent reference to round brilliant cut diamonds with proportions within the center region of the rather broad range which defines the zero ideal cut proportions rating and referred to diamonds with proportions within that center range as “Super Ideal Cut Diamonds” but perhaps I have not stressed enough the importance of Optical Precision as it pertains to Light Return and Visual Performance.

    I’ve bantered the terms Optical Precision, Visual Performance and Light Performance about in practically every blog post which I’ve written  but I just realized that I haven’t really expanded on the concept of Optical Precision and how it effects the actual Visual Performance or “Sparkle Factor” of a diamond… the first thing which I think I should share with you is the fact that the Light Performance rating for the Platinum Light Performance Diamond Grading Report from the AGS measures Light Return and not Visual Performance… in addition, the gemological laboratories take facet shape, size and consistency into account when determining the Symmetry rating of a diamond; however they do not grade diamonds for Optical Precision which is an entirely different factor.

    When gemological laboratories grade “Diamond Symmetry” they look at the consistency of facet shape, size and consistency… they also consider the extent to which the facet junctions meet up, this is known as “meet point accuracy” and diamonds which are graded as either GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal obviously have excellent meet point accuracy.  However it is possible to tweak or shift the angle of diamond facets as they are cut to adjust for minor variances in cutting so that meet point accuracy is maintained just enough to obtain a diamond symmetry grade of GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal even though the diamond is not actually cut that well… this shift is known among diamond cutters as “Azimuth Shift” or “Facet Yaw” and it is literally done to yield a higher rate of return in terms of carat weight at the expense of visual performance while still being able to obtain a desirable paper grade.

    So how can you tell if a “super ideal cut diamond” with center range proportions within the zero ideal cut proportions scale established by the AGS Laboratory as been cut for optimum visual performance and has exceptional optical precision?  The answer is easier than you might imagine… just look for an exceptional pattern of Hearts & Arrows, but be aware that sometimes when a pattern of Hearts & Arrows looks “too perfect” that it probably is… the following illustration is courtesy of Brian Gavin Diamonds who was gracious enough to let me use it for illustration purposes.


    The left side of the image shows an actual Hearts & Arrows diamond as seen through a special viewer which magnifies the size of the diamond using three times magnification to make it possible to see the hearts pattern as seen from the bottom side of the diamond.  As you can see the hearts located on the right side of the image look much crisper and more attractive than the hearts located on the left side of the image and thus it is reasonable to assume that an online consumer who is comparing images of Hearts & Arrows Diamonds among different online diamond vendors would be inclined to believe that the Hearts & Arrows Diamond represented by the right side of the image is of superior cut quality to the Hearts & Arrows Diamond represented by the left side of the image.

    Does it make economic sense for an online diamond dealer to spend the time that it takes to edit their diamond details pictures using an image editing program?  Hey Adobe Photoshop is available from Amazon for about $600.00 and the five minutes it takes to dramatically improve the quality of a Hearts & Arrows Diamond digitally is well worth the potential in terms of increased sales and profits.  Take this picture for instance:


    The picture above contains a Brian Gavin Signature Hearts & Arrows Diamond which weighs 1.208 carats and is E color and VS-1 in clarity, it’s gorgeous by the way… cut just the way I like it with center range “super ideal proportions” and a crisp and complete pattern of Hearts & Arrows.  Now the Hearts & Arrows pattern on the left side of the graphic was downloaded directly from the diamond details page for the 1.208 carat, E, VS-1 from Brian Gavin.  The picture on the right shows the same picture after I spent less than 5 minutes editing it using Adobe Photoshop.

    Now I didn’t spend a whole lot of time on editing this picture and I used my mouse to make the changes instead of taking the time to plug in my Wacom tablet which I use regularly because of my passion for photography, but you can see a dramatic difference between the way the diamonds on the right “POP” off of the page compared to the hearts pictured on the left… and all I did was spend about 5 minutes playing around with the Lasso tool, Paintbrush and Sharpen Edges Mask in Adobe Photoshop.  If I wanted to spend about 15 minutes, I could have turned this picture into a magazine quality masterpiece.

    So who can you trust?  Well to begin with I’d look closely at the Hearts & Arrows images made available online by the various diamond dealers who claim to sell Hearts & Arrows Diamonds and get an idea as to whether they are editing their images extensively or not… and then of course you can bank some interest upon the reputation of the different companies and the customer feedback regarding the level of satisfaction with the diamonds received.

    The best Hearts & Arrows diamonds which I am aware of being consistently produced at this time are being offered through Brian Gavin Diamonds and Crafted by Infinity.  Of course there are a few other diamond cutters who also produce some pretty nice renditions of Hearts & Arrows diamonds, I just find that there can be a little less consistency in their production of Hearts & Arrows diamonds and that our opinion of what constitutes a Hearts & Arrows diamond is sometimes a little different, probably because my expectations are based upon the original grading standards set forth by the Zenhokyo and Central Gemological Laboratories of Japan which actually did take Optical Precision into account as part of their diamond grading process.

    Given the thousands of diamonds which Brian Gavin Diamonds and Crafted by Infinity have sold to people who are specifically seeking a Hearts & Arrows quality diamond, I think that their track record of excellence is quite impressive.  Both diamond cutters spend extensive time planning the production of every diamond that they produce for their inventory with the understanding that exceptional optical precision and visual performance are the ultimate destination throughout the diamond cutting process.

    But we began this conversation trying to address a question about why diamonds from Blue Nile and James Allen which appear to be comparable in terms of the overall proportions and paper grade seem to be less expensive than diamonds of “comparable quality” which are offered by Brian Gavin Diamonds and Crafted by Infinity.  The quick and easy answer is that the diamonds are most likely of a different cut quality in terms of optical precision and visual performance, but the only way to know for certain is to grade the diamonds for optical precision beyond the “meet point grading” standards incorporated by the GIA and AGS gemological laboratories.

    Without the benefit of a facet-by-facet breakdown of the diamond using some very specialized equipment, the easiest method available to consumers are unedited images of the Hearts & Arrows patterns of the diamond.  Images of Hearts & Arrows patterns are rarely available from Blue Nile because the majority of diamonds which they sell are drop shipped directly to consumers from their suppliers and the suppliers rarely provide those images.  Hearts images are available for True Hearts Diamonds from James Allen, however Arrows images are not available unless you want to rely on the Arrows image as viewed through an Ideal Scope which is actually a different piece of equipment, designed for a different purpose.

    At this point I think I’ve established a good foundation in terms of one possible explanation as to why diamonds of seemingly comparable quality and proportions might reflect different selling prices, but as stated we’d ultimately need to have all of the same type of data in order to arrive at a definite conclusion as to why one specific diamond is selling for 10-12% more or less than another within that range of carat weight, color, clarity and cut.

    Without a complete set of scope images and a computerized proportions analysis in the form of a manufacturers report, I can’t provide much more insight than this… so perhaps the deciding factor has to fall upon whether you want the ultimate in visual performance or just something outstanding, because keep in mind that even a super ideal cut diamond with a little bit of “Azimet Shift” or “Facet Yaw” is already in the Top 1% or so of the annual production for round brilliant cut diamonds in terms of quality… jumping up to the precision craftsmanship of Brian Gavin or Crafted by Infinity gets you more into the realm of the Top 1/1oth of 1%.  It’s kind of like do you want the Porsche with the turbo or without?  Only you can determine whether the potential increase in performance is worth the difference in price.

    With all of this in mind, let’s finally get around to evaluating the matched pairs of diamonds that you selected for diamond stud earrings from Blue Nile and James Allen as alternatives to the pairs which I mentioned in my previous post on diamond stud earrings… From the original question, the matched pairs proposed by the client are as follows:

    BN2 + BN3:

    BN2 weighs 1.04 carats, F color, VS-1 clarity and is being offered by Blue Nile for $11,250.00 and is graded by the GIA Laboratory with an overall cut rating of GIA Excellent.  According to the GIA the diamond measures 6.52 – 6.55 x 4.01 mm and has a total depth of 61.4% with a table diameter of 55% and a crown angle of 34.5 degrees which is offset by a pavilion angle of 40.6 degrees with a thin to slightly thick, faceted girdle and no culet.

    BN3 weighs 1.04 carats, F color, VS-1 clarity and is being offered by Blue Nile for $11,311.00 and is graded by the GIA Laboratory with an overall cut rating of GIA Excellent.  According to the GIA the diamond measures 6.47 – 6.50 x 3.99 mm and has a total depth of 61.6% with a table diameter of 57% and a crown angle of 34.5 degrees which is offset by a pavilion angle of 40.8 degrees with a medium to slightly thick, faceted girdle and no culet.

    This pair is an excellent option if you are not concerned about hitting the ultimate top end in terms of optical precision and visual performance since we have no way of knowing whether or not they exhibit a crisp and complete pattern of Hearts & Arrows… the fact is that they very well might, but we have no way of knowing since Blue Nile does not provide this type of detail on their diamond listings.  There is a bit of a spread between the outside diameter measurements of the diamonds, but not so much of a difference that it would be readily visible when the diamonds are sitting on either side of a person’s head, so it’s perfectly acceptable.

    BN3 + BN5:

    BN3 weighs 1.04 carats, F color, VS-1 clarity and is being offered by Blue Nile for $11,311.00 and is graded by the GIA Laboratory with an overall cut rating of GIA Excellent.  According to the GIA the diamond measures 6.47 – 6.50 x 3.99 mm and has a total depth of 61.6% with a table diameter of 57% and a crown angle of 34.5 degrees which is offset by a pavilion angle of 40.8 degrees with a medium to slightly thick, faceted girdle and no culet.

    BN5 weighs 1.01 carats, F color, VS-1 clarity and is being offered by Blue Nile for $10,465.00 and is graded by the GIA Laboratory with an overall cut rating of GIA Excellent.  According to the GIA the diamond measures 6.44 – 6.45 x 3.97 mm and has a total depth of 61.6% with a table diameter of 57% and a crown angle of 34.5 degrees which is offset by a pavilion angle of 40.8 degrees with a medium to slightly thick, faceted girdle and no culet.

    Here again, this appears to be an excellent option provided that you understand that there is no way for us to judge the optical precision of the diamonds.  There remains a slight difference in the outside diameter measurements  but as explained in the explanation for the previous set of diamonds, it is acceptable given the distance that the diamonds will be set apart.

    BN4 + JA1:

    BN4 weighs 1.03 carats, F color, VS-2 clarity and is being offered by Blue Nile for $10,161.00 and is graded by the GIA Laboratory with an overall cut rating of GIA Excellent.  According to the GIA the diamond measures 6.53 – 6.56 x 4.00 mm and has a total depth of 61.1% with a table diameter of 56% and a crown angle of 34.5 degrees which is offset by a pavilion angle of 40.8 degrees with a thin to medium, faceted girdle and no culet.

    JA1 weighs 1.04 carats, F color, VS-2 clarity and is being offered by James Allen for $8,757.00 and is graded by the AGS Laboratory with an overall cut rating of AGS Ideal.  According to the AGS the diamond measures 6.50 – 6.53 x 4.00 mm and has a total depth of 61.5% with a table diameter of 57% and a crown angle of 34.4 degrees with a pavilion angle of 40.9 degrees with a medium to slightly thick, faceted girdle and a pointed culet.

    I feel that it is important to note that while this diamond is graded by the AGS and received an overall cut rating of AGS Ideal for polish, symmetry, proportions and light performance that the diamond was not graded on the same Platinum Light Performance Platform that the diamonds referenced in my previous post on diamond stud earrings from Brian Gavin and Crafted by Infinity are graded upon.  There might be several different reasons for this, but it seems to me that since the diamond grading report was issued in 2012 that the diamond would have been graded on the Platinum Light Performance platform if it would have received an AGS Ideal 0 rating on that platform.

    So here we have three viable choices in terms of matched pairs of round brilliant ideal cut diamonds for diamond stud earrings.  I don’t consider them to be “super ideal cut diamonds” because we have no way of knowing whether they actually exhibit a crisp and complete pattern of Hearts & Arrows, thus we have no way of judging the optical precision of the diamonds.  However we do know that they are cut with exceptional “meet point symmetry” and received the highest grades available from the AGS and GIA gemological laboratories for overall cut grade.  Definitely excellent choices if you don’t want to take the jump up to the highest tier of cut grade currently available.

    About the AuthorTodd Gray

    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)

    follow me on:

    Leave a Comment:

    0 Shares