Practically every woman loves the way their diamond engagement sparkles when they first receive it, but in many cases the sense of amazement which they initially experienced, fades over time as the diamond becomes covered with dirt and grime… this however has not been Sandy’s experience with the Crafted by Infinity diamond which she and her fiance purchased from Wink at High Performance Diamonds, because she just sent me this picture of the ring which she describes as being “dirty but still glowing!” This is the type of feedback that people like Wink and I love to receive, because it reminds us of the importance of not settling on our selection standards, or diamond cut quality.
When Sandy and her fiance began to shop for diamond engagement rings, they shopped around several local jewelry stores, and eventually settled on a diamond ring from COSTCO which contained a 1.51 carat, I-color, VVS-1 clarity, round brilliant cut diamond which was graded by the GIA with an overall cut grade of GIA Excellent.
Unfortunately when Sandy opened the box, the ring failed to impress: “The first thing that struck me was the dull grayness of the center stone. The side stones were gorgeous brilliant, F / G color, VS clarity, diamonds which further contrasted with the gray color of the center stone. I promptly returned that ring and set out to learn how something that is rated XXX by GIA could be so disappointing, and what could make a diamond so gray so this wouldn’t happen to me again.”
Sandy began researching diamonds online and quickly discovered the importance that the proportions have upon the light performance and sparkle factor of a diamond. It became evident that the reason why the diamond which Sandy had purchased from COSTCO looked “dull and lifeless in most lighting situations” because the diamond had been cut to proportions which were on the outer fringes of the ideal cut rating; this is usually done in an attempt to retain carat weight during the cutting process, as opposed to focusing on cutting diamonds for maximum light return and sparkle.
The range of proportions that is deemed to be acceptable for the GIA Excellent cut grade is pretty broad, and the crown height and pavilion depth measurements provided on GIA diamond grading reports are averaged and then rounded off, which makes them pretty useless from my perspective… these are all things which Sandy discovered as she continued to learn more abut how proportions and optical symmetry affect the visual performance of a diamond.
At the end of the day, all of the effort that Sandy put into learning about diamonds paid off, and this is what Sandy has to say about the Crafted by Infinity (CBI) diamond she purchased from High Performance Diamonds: “After extensive research both online and numerous jaunts to local vendors, I stumbled upon CBI. The difference between any diamond I had ever seen, or purchased before, and what I purchased from Wink, is like the difference between driving a Prius and a Maserati. Like the difference between a tenement house, and an oceanfront house on Maui. Like the difference between a sun shower and a Category 5 hurricane. I could go all day, but you get the drift.”[separator]
Sandy says that “When I received my ring from Wink, it made me feel as if I’d never seen a well-cut diamond ever before. The difference is so obvious once seen, yet so hard to describe. I’ve seen more expensive, higher colored stones, branded stones, but the moment my fiancé and I laid eyes on my Crafted by Infinity diamond – we instantly recognized its vast superiority to anything we had ever seen in person before. The blinding sparkle, fire, reflection, luster and abundant scintillation has no comparison. I pulled my few other diamonds out and every single one looked dead and lackluster by comparison, regardless of their color. I steam cleaned them all and tried again – it made no difference.”[separator]
As a professional diamond buyer with more than 25 years of diamond buying experience, I readily recognize the combined effect that proportions and the degree of optical symmetry have upon a diamond, however the average person trying to buy a diamond for an engagement ring, is rarely introduced to the importance of diamond cut quality. Instead they find themselves running from jewelry store to jewelry store, trying to select the best diamond available within their price range, based upon the limited information provided on diamond grading reports, which are not always of the same caliber in terms of grading standards and consistency.
From the perspective of a trade member, I’ll tell you that we view diamond grading laboratories such as the American Gem Society Laboratory (AGSL) and the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) gem trade laboratory to be Top Tier gemological laboratories, which grade comparably for factors of diamond grading, such as carat weight, diamond color, diamond clarity, fluorescence, polish and symmetry. The parameters for the GIA Excellent and AGS Ideal-0 proportions grades are distinctly different, and I feel that both sets of parameters are too broad, but the diamonds produced by Crafted by Infinity are cut to the middle of the spectrum designated for the zero ideal cut proportions rating, and that is the target range which I consider to be the “sweet spot” in terms of delivering the highest volume of light return and a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion.[separator]
The multi-colored image of the diamond which appears in the middle of the diamond grading report pictured above, are the results of the Angular Spectrum Evaluation Technology (ASET) scan, which is technology that is proprietary to the American Gem Society Laboratory (AGSL) and provides us with insight into how bright the diamond appears, the degree of static contrast which it exhibits, as well as how it is making use of the light which is available to it within the room, this is extremely valuable insight when buying a diamond.
One of the advantages to working with a vendor like High Performance Diamonds, is that their diamond details pages provide all of the reflector scope images required to judge the degree of optical symmetry exhibited by the Crafted by Infinity diamonds that they sell.
Reflector scopes enable us to judge the optical symmetry of a diamond, by magnifying the facet structure of the diamond, and using different colors to filter the light. The hearts and arrows scope which enables us to see the pattern of hearts and arrows, pictured to the left, which appears within the 1.211 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity diamond which Sandy purchased from High Performance Diamonds, features a white disk in the middle which reflects light off of the pavilion facets, and uses a 3x magnification lens and a red filter to enable us to see the pattern of hearts and arrows that results from consistency of facet shape, and extremely precise indexing of the pavilion facets.[separator]
It has been estimated that fewer than 0.001% of all the round brilliant cut diamonds produced in the average year, are cut precisely enough to exhibit a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows like the one pictured above, and warrant an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal-0 from the AGS Laboratory under the guidelines of their Light Performance grading platform which uses Angular Spectrum Evaluation Technology.
It is important to understand that not all round brilliant cut diamonds graded with an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal-0 will exhibit a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows, nor will all “hearts and arrows diamonds” warrant an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal or GIA Excellent.
It takes an exceptional degree of skill and patience to produce a diamond of the cut caliber that Crafted by Infinity offers because literally every facet of the diamond must be the same relative size and shape per section, and aligned perfectly with every other facet on the diamond, in order for the pattern of hearts and arrows to appear correctly. Even the slightest variance in the length of one of the facets, or a slight variance in the angle of the surface of the facet, or a slight shift in indexing, will cause the hearts pattern to appear inconsistent.
It literally takes four times longer to polish a round brilliant cut diamond to this level of precision, and since “time is money” the diamonds appear to cost more than other diamonds of the same carat weight, color, and clarity… that is until people understand the importance and added value provided by diamond cut quality, which according to Sandy is a difference that you can see once you know what to look for:
“The precision of the CBI diamonds cut quality makes a world of difference. In every other diamond I have seen and actually own, the facets of the crown themselves are not clearly distinguishable; not so on the CBI. The facets near the girdle are pure precision and moving the stone almost imperceptibly makes the most dazzling light show! Its beauty is almost unearthly and I spend a LOT of time gazing into it to watch the kaleidoscope play of color and light. I will never buy another significant stone from anyone other than CBI because the quality of their product is incomparable and without equal as far as I have seen. As in most things, you get what you pay for, but in this case, my expectations were blown away and I got better than I hoped for. Keep looking around to confirm what you already know – you’ve already found the best there is.”
The Ideal Scope is a reflector scope which is reveals the extent to which a diamond is leaking light. What you want to see is a lot of pink and red, as is visible in the Crafted by Infinity diamond which Sandy bought from High Performance Diamonds, with very little white or grey areas, and arrows which are nice and dark, like those pictured to the left. While the depth of contrast might vary from Ideal Scope image to Ideal Scope image, due to variances in imaging technology and camera settings, what you want to look for is consistency of patterning throughout the diamond, as well as minimal amounts of white and grey, especially under the table facet of the diamond![separator]
The diamond cutting formula for producing round brilliant cut diamonds which exhibit the highest volume of light return, a balance of brilliance (white sparkle) and dispersion (colored sparkle) along with bright, broad, flashes of light that can be from across the room is simple… All you have to do is maintain a proper balance between the upper and lower sections of the diamond in terms of their height, while maintaining the proper offset between the angle of the crown and pavilion sections of the diamond, and ensuring that every facet of the diamond within each facet section is cut to the same size, shape, and angle… rather than focus on the retention of carat weight, as so many diamond cutters tend to do.
As I write this review of Sandy’s experience with Crafted by Infinity and High Performance Diamonds, I imagine Paul Slegers of Crafted by Infinity, reading that last paragraph while enjoying his first cup of coffee in Antwerp, Belgium tomorrow morning, and spewing it out all over his computer monitor while exclaiming “All you have to do…” (!) “All you have to do…” (!) while dialing my cell phone to remind me of the importance of three dimensional optical symmetry, and how even the slightest variance in the indexing of the facets will cause the hearts to look unsymmetrical, etc., yet the statement is 100% accurate because learning how to cut a diamond to this level of master precision is “all you have to do” to produce diamonds of this caliber… Laughs! It sounds so simple when I put it that way… but it’s not.
By focusing on the beauty and light performance of every diamond he produces, Paul Slegers of Crafted by Infinity, creates diamonds which spark emotion in people who see his diamonds from across the room! Imagine feeling the exuberance that Sandy must experience every time this type of thing happens to her: “I must sound like a love-struck fool because I absolutely am. People everywhere comment on its brilliance. Just this weekend I had a lady come across the room to see it. She said she thought I was holding an LED flashlight until she saw that it was moving with me and had to know where I got it.” How many women can say this type of thing about their ring?[separator]
During the 25+ years that I was actively working as a diamond buyer who specialized in zero ideal cut diamonds, I’ve had the privilege of working with a select few who seem to focus solely on cutting diamonds which are beautiful and full of life! Paul Slegers of Crafted by Infinity is one of these diamond cutters, and as a result of his commitment to excellence, I never rejected a single one of his diamonds for diamond cut quality or visual performance, the only times I rejected any of his diamonds was due to an inclusion or two that I didn’t like, and this is of course a matter of personal preference.
The level of excitement and satisfaction reflected by Sandy’s commentary regarding her CBI diamond, does not surprise me. After all, as a former authorized distributor of Crafted by Infinity diamonds, I’ve had the opportunity to personally evaluate thousands of them, and every diamond has been top notch! But beyond that, one of the things which I love about the Crafted by Infinity organization, which includes their primary diamond cutter Paul Slegers; the Goddess of Diamond Rough, Lieve Peeters; and the Head Master of Diamond Education, John Pollard; is that the manner in which they operate instills a sense of family loyalty among their distributors.[separator]
Over the years, Wink from High Performance Diamonds, has proven himself to be a worthy competitor with a high degree of integrity, I consider him to be a life long friend; and as such, I know that you will enjoy working with him… Sandy certainly can’t say enough about her beautiful Crafted by Infinity diamond, and the level of customer satisfaction that she experienced before and after buying her diamond from Wink.
I know that one of the unexpected benefits that Sandy enjoys from her Crafted by Infinity diamond is that the combination of super ideal proportions, combined with the exceptional degree of optical symmetry that is required to produce a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows, creates the appearance that the diamond is whiter and brighter than some diamonds which are actually higher in color.
After returning the I-color diamond which they initially purchased from COSTCO, Sandy and her fiance decided that they should focus on diamonds of higher color, such as D-E-F colorless diamonds, to ensure that the diamond would be bright and shiny… but the more Sandy learned about diamond cut quality, the more importance she placed on finding diamonds which exhibit signs of superior optical symmetry, like those offered by Crafted by Infinity.
The challenge she ran into is that diamonds of exceptional cut quality, cost more than diamonds of mediocre and even standard ideal cut quality… The reality is that you’re not going to be able to purchase a new Ferrari for the same price as a Hyundai, and in order to stay within the confines of their desired price range, Sandy realized that she was going to have to drop down in carat weight and color to find the diamond of her dreams:
“I wanted an excellent 1.5 ct D-F VS2 or higher. When I realized just how important cut was and that I wasn’t willing to negotiate on that factor, I had to drop something. For me personally, I can see things that other people say I shouldn’t be able to, so clarity and the “mind clean” factor were huge considerations. I ended up buying a 1.21 carat, G color, VS-1 clarity, AGS-0 cut diamond, and I am beyond ecstatic with it. I have seen MANY a GIA VVS certificate that isn’t anywhere near as clean as my stone is. It has one teensy invisible feather along the upper pavilion and that’s it! If it wasn’t for that one tiny feather it would be IF. And this G is SUPER DUPER white. I told Wink exactly what was important to me and why, discussed price range and he instantly told me what he could get that fit my requirements. He had them in hand the next morning and I had videos that afternoon. Being chicken I still hemmed and hawed for a week, and then I saw prices jumping and my size range options disappearing overnight. So I pulled the trigger.”
Sandy goes on to say: “Right after I first got it, my fiancé and I were at a high end mall in the area and went into a jewelry store to look at comparable stones just for fun and to confirm the beauty of “my precious” diamond. They didn’t have any D colored stones in my size range, but they had Es and Fs that I was able to compare to, and I have to tell you – even under their lights with all my sticky fingerprints all over it – my G was whiter than their E’s and F’s. The sales lady thought my stone was an E color. She about fell over when I told her it was a G color diamond, and I think it’s because of the cut…”
If the enjoyment that Sandy gets from wearing a Crafted by Infinity diamond in her engagement ring, is the type of experience that you want the diamond you purchase to deliver to your fiance, then I’d like to help you find a Crafted by Infinity Diamond from my friend Wink who owns and operates High Performance Diamonds.
Buying a diamond by the numbers, is not as simple as it sounds… Even if you happen to know that the proportions of the diamond which Sandy purchased consist of a total depth of 61.7% and a table diameter of 55.6% with a crown angle of 34.4 degrees and a crown height of 15.2% which is offset by a pavilion angle of 40.7 degrees and a pavilion depth of 43.0% with a thin to medium, faceted girdle and lower girdle facets which average 76% in length. Buying a diamond with those exact same measurements does not necessarily guarantee that the diamond will deliver the same volume of light return or sparkle factor, it is merely a good first step on the pathway to diamond buying success.
The next step is to be able to determine how well the diamond is making use of the light which is available to it within the room, using an ASET Scope; determine the extent to which the diamond is leaking light, using an Ideal Scope; and being able to judge the degree of optical symmetry, using a Hearts and Arrows Scope… and then be able to combine the insight provided by those reflector scopes, combined with the proportions information, to determine whether the diamond is actually going to deliver a high volume of light return with a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion, and nice, broad, bright flashes of light!
This is all stuff that you could learn how to decipher, if you want to spend enough time reading diamond grading tutorials and researching diamonds on the internet, however I’m guessing that you have a day job and you don’t want to spend all of your free time trying to figure out what makes diamonds tick. Thankfully you don’t have to become an expert diamond buyer to buy a diamond which is as exceptional as the Crafted by Infinity diamond which Sandy purchased from Wink, you just need to drop me a note that lets me know what range of carat weight, color, clarity, and price that you want to consider, and my free Diamond Concierge Service will take care of the rest.
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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