James Allen vs Brian Gavin Diamonds (Updated 2019)

James Allen vs Brian Gavin, hearts and arrows diamond reviews

This review of Brian Gavin Signature diamonds and James Allen True Hearts diamond was originally written in 2016. As with most of my blog posts, it was written in response to a question from a client. The original response to that inquiry remains intact below. However, I’m updating this post in 2019 in response to questions posed by another client based on the original content of this article.

Here is what the most recent client wants to know:

“How do James Allen True Hearts diamonds stack up against the new collection of Black by Brian Gavin Hearts and Arrows diamonds?”

With that in mind, I’ve added the following section which appears further down the page:

James Allen vs Black by Brian Gavin Diamonds

The Original Blog Post Starts Here:

“What is the reason for the price difference between James Allen True Hearts and Brian Gavin Signature Hearts and Arrows diamonds? There seems to be a pretty steep premium charged by Brian Gavin for his hearts and arrows diamonds. Is the premium simply due to a difference in brand name? Or is the difference in price between the two brands of hearts and arrows diamonds due to differences in diamond cut quality?”

“Can you tell me what differences in diamond quality are actually worth paying for? I am trying to decide between these (3) James Allen True Hearts Diamonds, and (5) Brian Gavin Signature diamonds. At the end of the day, I simply want a spectacular looking diamond in the range of 1.30 carats, which is completely eye clean, and faces-up white in a platinum six prong solitaire. Can you help me pick the best diamond from the list provided?”

James Allen vs Brian Gavin comparison:

This is the list of the eight diamonds that this client asked me to compare:

Obviously, the client is only going to purchase one of these diamonds. I provided him with in-depth reviews of each diamond via email. And we spent some time going back and forth discussing the whole James Allen vs Brian Gavin thing. Then I obtained his permission to publish these reviews and some of the topics we discussed as a blog post because I feel that this is the sort of thing that is helpful to my readers.

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James Allen vs Brian Gavin prices:

James Allen vs Brian Gavin, the ideal differencesAll of the diamonds featured in these James Allen vs Brian Gavin reviews have an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal. All of the diamonds exhibit patterns of hearts and arrows to varying degrees. A professional diamond buyer like myself can quickly and easily discern the differences that tend to distinguish the two brands. However, the odds are that the average diamond buyer does not know what to look for. Which is not to say that they would not be able to appreciate the ideal differences, once they have been shown what to look for.

In my experience, when people compare the prices of James Allen vs Brian Gavin, they approach it from the perspective that if both diamonds are:

  • AGS Ideal Cut.
  • Same color grade.
  • Same clarity grade.
  • Same carat weight, approximately.
  • Exhibit Hearts & Arrows patterns.

Then the diamonds must be comparable, thus the prices for the diamonds should be relatively the same. However, nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that differences in the degree of optical precision exhibited by ideal cut diamonds can have a major impact upon the price. Most people in the diamond industry don’t want you to know that Diamond Cut Quality Affects Price by 60%. Interestingly enough, Optical Precision has a substantial affect on the price of a diamond, but it is not taken into account by the gemological laboratories.

Why doesn’t James Allen provide ASET?

Given the understanding that diamond cut quality can affect the price of a diamond by as much as sixty percent, one might wonder why most of the Diamond Quality Documents issued by the AGS Laboratory for James Allen True Hearts diamonds don’t feature an ASET image. Especially since ALL of the DQD’s issued for Brian Gavin Signature diamonds feature an ASET image. You might find yourself concluding that:

James Allen vs Brian Gavin
is the difference between
Performance Based vs Light Performance
Diamond Quality Documents

However, the reality is that both versions of the AGS Diamond Quality Documents are Light Performance based. The Platinum version of the report which accompanies all Brian Gavin Signature diamonds simply features an ASET image. The ASET image provides a visual representation or map of where in the room the diamond is gathering light from and demonstrates how evenly light is being reflected throughout the diamond. Now let’s take a look at the ASET images for two very different AGS Ideal Cut diamonds:

ASET images, James Allen SKU 275431, AGS 104068746001 vs Brian Gavin Signature AGS 104085720005

I want you to know that I’m making an “Apples to Oranges” comparison of ideal cut diamonds that represent opposite ends of the spectrum. It is the only way I know how to demonstrate the difference in light performance between these two AGS Ideal-0 cut diamonds:

The ASET image featured on the left is a standard ideal cut diamond. The diamond on the right is a Brian Gavin Signature round hearts and arrows diamond. Both diamonds were graded on the Platinum Light Performance grading platform with an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal-0. From the perspective of the paper grade, you could make the mistake of assuming that the diamonds are comparable. However the reality is that they represent opposite ends of the spectrum, and the reason we are able to determine this is because of the insight provided by the ASET image.

In order to fully appreciate the differences between these two ideal cut diamonds, I strongly recommend reading the following articles:

James Allen clearly has the capability of capturing Ideal Scope and Hearts & Arrows Scope images. So why don’t they provide ASET images? Your guess is as good as mine… but I can tell you that when I’ve requested them in the past, they’ve refused to provide them. Even when I pointed out that competitors like Brian Gavin provide all reflector scope images on their diamond details pages. What makes this more frustrating for me, is that I know that James Allen has the ability to provide an ASET image. They just won’t do it. Apparently not for me, and probably not for you either.

And clearly, they don’t want to provide them on the Diamond Quality Document either, or they’d pay the slight difference in cost between the Performance Based and Light Performance Based Diamond Quality Documents available from the American Gem Society Laboratory. Which would also benefit them in the form of having the James Allen True Hearts brand featured on the Diamond Quality Document. This is not only beneficial in terms of branding the diamond, but it also ensures that your insurance company has to value the replacement cost of the diamond upon a diamond of the same quality and brand designation, in the event of loss or damage.

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James Allen vs Brian Gavin diamond reviews:

I think I’ve done a sufficient job of explaining the difference between the versions of “Performance Based” diamond grading reports being relied upon by James Allen vs Brian Gavin. Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty and determine the additional differences between the two brands of hearts and arrows diamonds.

James Allen vs Brian Gavin Signature, AGSL 104085060011I’d like to begin by directing your attention to the hearts and arrows pattern exhibited by this 1.314 carat, F-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond. This diamond exhibits a textbook version of a picture perfect pattern of hearts and arrows. You’re looking at eight symmetrical hearts, which are created by light reflecting off the lower girdle facets, located on the other side of the diamond, opposite of each heart. Now if that statement seems a bit puzzling, read this tutorial on the Creation of Hearts & Arrows patterns in round diamonds. Lord knows that this article is already long enough, without my adding an explanation about what creates patterns of hearts and arrows in round diamonds. What I want you to notice is that the heart shapes are essentially the same size and shape and that the spacing around the hearts is relatively even. The tips of the hearts are not bending or twisting, the shoulders of the hearts are uniform in shape, and there are no splits in the clefts.

This is exactly what I expect the hearts pattern of a Hearts & Arrows diamond to look like. This is an excellent example of what to look for in a hearts and arrows diamond. So we’ll use this diamond as the foundation of understanding that we will build upon in this example.

The proportions of the diamond are also exceptional. The proportions are right in the middle of the spectrum designated for the zero ideal cut proportions rating. The 40.7 degree pavilion angle is going to produce a high volume of light return, so the diamond is going to be nice and bright. The 34.7 degree crown angle is going to produce a virtual balance of brilliance (white sparkle) and dispersion (colored sparkle). The combination of the 76% lower girdle facet length and the higher degree of optical precision indicated by the crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows, will produce broad-spectrum sparkle. This is sparkle that is larger in size, and which tends to be brighter, bolder, and more vivid, than what the average ideal cut diamond will produce.

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James Allen True Hearts diamond review:

James Allen vs Brian Gavin, JA SKU 1025861, AGS 104085772002Now let’s take a look at the 1.308 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, James Allen True Hearts diamond. The diamond has an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal-0 on the Light Performance grading platform of the AGS Laboratory. However the report does not provide an ASET Scope image of the diamond, so there is no indication of how evenly light is reflecting throughout the diamond, nor do we have an indication of where in the room the diamond is gathering light from. But I can tell you that the 40.8 degree pavilion angle should produce a high volume of light return. While the 34.8 degree crown angle should produce a virtual balance of brilliance (white sparkle) and dispersion (colored sparkle) which should be larger in size due to the 76% lower girdle facet length. But check out the edges of the heart pictured in the relative eleven o’clock position. There is definitely something going on with the shoulders of that heart. Also notice how the hearts differ slightly in size and shape, and that they are bending at the tips.

This is most noticeable in the tip of the heart that is located just above the nine o’clock position. Notice how the tip of that heart is bending downward. The tip of the heart located in the relative five o’clock position is bending to the left slightly. The tips of the other hearts are bending a bit also, but to a lesser degree. This is an indication that the length of the lower girdle facets is slightly different.

Each heart consists of two halves, which are made up of light reflecting off of the lower girdle facet located on the other side of the diamond. When there is a difference in the length of the lower girdle facets, then the reflections are different lengths, and this causes what appears to be bending at the tip of the hearts. I’d say that this diamond is an exceptional ideal cut diamond, which is going to perform wonderfully, but clearly, there is something going on in terms of the optical precision. Thus I wouldn’t classify it as hearts and arrows, but it’s a better than average ideal cut diamond.

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James Allen True Hearts diamond review:James Allen vs Brian Gavin, JA SKU 872701, AGS 104084159029

The hearts look a bit better on this 1.315 carat, F-color, VS-2 clarity, James Allen True Hearts diamond, but notice how the heart located in the eight o’clock position is just a hint smaller than the rest. Same with the heart located directly across from it in the two o’clock region. Remember that I just said that each half of the heart is created by the light reflecting off of the lower girdle facet located on the other side of the diamond? Do you think there might be a correlation between the hearts located in the two and eight o’clock positions then appearing to be smaller in size than the rest? This is the type of thing that professional diamond buyers like myself tend to notice. At least those of us who specialize in the niche of hearts and arrows diamonds. So once again, I’m going to label this a higher end ideal cut, but not quite hearts and arrows.

On a positive note, I have no doubt that the 40.6 degree pavilion angle is going to produce a high volume of light return. The 34.3 degree crown should produce a virtual balance of brilliance (white sparkle) and dispersion (colored sparkle) while the 78% lower girdle facets produce sparkle that is larger in size than what would be produced if they were 80% or higher.

If you look at the comments section on the Diamond Quality Document, you’ll see a comment indicating “the clarity grade of this diamond is partly based upon clouds that are not shown.” This statement tends to freak people out, but it really is not a concern in a VS-2 clarity diamond.

A “cloud” is simply a cluster of pinpoint size diamond crystals, which tend to look like stars sparkling up in the sky when viewed through 10x and higher magnification. This comment tends to used to disclose the presence of clouds, which are so small that the grader felt they were not worth plotting because they can’t be relied upon as an identifying characteristic. But they are mentioned because they might be found upon close examination. It’s essentially a CYA statement and nothing more.

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Brian Gavin Signature diamond review:

James Allen vs Brian Gavin, BGD Signature, AGSL 104081959007This 1.317 carat, H-color, VS-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond exhibits an exceptional pattern of hearts and arrows. Notice how the hearts all appear to be relatively the same size and shape. Notice how the shoulders of the hearts all exhibit the same shape, the hearts exhibit the same outline. The spacing between the tips of the hearts and the arrowheads located in the middle of the diamond are relatively the same. This is another great example of what I expect true hearts and arrows diamonds to look. I want to point out that the little arrowheads located in the middle of the diamond are never going to be the same size and shape, those aren’t actually the arrows that are being referred to when we say “Hearts & Arrows” so don’t get caught up on that. The Arrows pattern is actually the pattern of eight arrows that is visible when you view the diamond in the face-up position. I also want you to understand that the patterns will never be perfect because these diamonds are cut by hand.

But there are varying degrees of perfection to be found within the classification generally referred to as Hearts & Arrows. This diamond represents the higher end of the spectrum, you could think of it as being A+ on the scale of perfection. The diamond also looks fantastic in the photographs provided of the diamond as seen through an ASET Scope and Ideal Scope. I have no doubt that this diamond is going to be exceptionally bright and exhibit broad-spectrum sparkle.

The 40.8 degree pavilion angle is going to produce a high volume of light return. The 34.8 degree crown angle is going to produce a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion. And the combination of the 77% lower girdle facet length and the higher degree of optical precision, should produce broad-spectrum sparkle that people notice from across the room.

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Brian Gavin Signature diamond review:

James Allen vs Brian Gavin, BGD Signature, AGSL 104086279069This 1.335 carat, F-color, VS-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond also exhibits a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows. As with all Brian Gavin Signature diamonds, it is graded on the Light Performance grading platform that provides the results of the ASET Scan on the Diamond Quality Document. As you can clearly see, the diamond is showing lots of bright red, which indicates that the diamond is going to be incredibly bright! The majority of light being picked up and reflected back by the diamond is being gathered from the brightest light source available in the room. The arrows pattern is showing exceptional contrast brilliance, which improves our depth perception and makes the diamond seem to sparkle even more! In terms of the proportions, they are right in the middle of the spectrum designated for the zero ideal cut proportions rating. The 40.6 degree pavilion angle is going to produce a high volume of light return. The 34.9 degree crown angle is going to produce a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion. The combination of the 77% lower girdle facet length and a higher degree of optical precision is going to produce broad-spectrum sparkle. The kind of sparkle that will take her breath away every time she looks upon this diamond!

Once again, the diamond details page provides all of the reflector scope images that you need to be able to judge the optical precision of this diamond, and know that it is going to look incredible. No guesswork required.

James Allen True Hearts diamond review:

James Allen vs Brian Gavin, JA SKU 1025864, AGSL 104085772005-hearts-patternSo what do you think of the hearts pattern exhibited by this 1.348 carat, H-color, VS-1 clarity, James Allen True Hearts diamond? I suspect that you’re beginning to know what to look for as far as what the hearts pattern of a “Hearts and Arrows diamond” is supposed to look like. This is not it from my perspective. Notice the distortion in the shoulders of the hearts located in the lower right quadrant of the diamond in this image provided by James Allen. And notice how the tip of the heart located in the relative five o’clock position is twisting to the left. There is also a lot of variance in the amount of spacing located between the tips of the hearts and the arrowheads positioned beneath them. There are other irregularities in the hearts pattern, but I don’t feel the need to point out all of them. I’d rather focus on the main points that knock this diamond out of the hearts and arrows classification, based upon my grading standards for hearts and arrows.

So once again, I feel that this diamond is a very nice ideal cut diamond, but not one that I’d classify as hearts and arrows. But that’s the thing, there is no official grading standard that defines the parameters for what constitutes hearts and arrows. Clearly, James Allen and I are working from opposite sides of the spectrum, and that’s perfectly fine. If they want to allow an ideal cut diamond which exhibits a pattern like this to define the James Allen True Hearts brand, they are welcome to. But if you’re asking me for my opinion, this is not hearts and arrows.

On a positive note, the diamond warranted an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal-0 on the Light Performance grading platform. The results of the ASET Scope scan are not provided on the Diamond Quality Document, nor on the diamond details page provided by James Allen. But the 40.8 degree pavilion angle should produce a high volume of light return, and the 34.8 degree crown angle should produce a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion.

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Brian Gavin Signature diamond review:

James Allen vs Brian Gavin, BGD Signature, AGSL 104085720005As with all of the other Brian Gavin Signature diamonds we’ve evaluated thus far, this 1.355 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, BGD Signature round diamond exhibits an exceptional pattern of hearts and arrows. Have you noticed that the Hearts and Ideal Scope images provided by Brian Gavin on the diamond details pages are larger in size than the ones provided by James Allen? Smaller images make it easier to hide the imperfections in the hearts and arrows patterns. So not only do I think that the hearts patterns are more precise in the Brian Gavin Signature round diamonds that we’ve evaluated thus far, the images are larger in size, making it easier to detect any variances. And yet, the hearts patterns continue to look spectacular. When I consider whether to purchase a diamond from James Allen vs Brian Gavin, this is the type of thing that I take into consideration. There is more to buying an ideal cut diamond than simply focusing on the proportions and overall cut grade.

There is more that goes into creating an exceptional looking diamond, than merely hitting the right proportions and nailing the polish and symmetry grades. The next evolution of diamond cutting is all about producing diamonds that exhibit exceptional optical precision.

To that regard, I feel that Brian Gavin sets the standard for Hearts & Arrows. If I had to describe the Brian Gavin brand in one word, that word would be Consistency. Every Brian Gavin Signature round diamond that I’ve ever seen looks like this:

    • AGS Ideal-0 for Light Performance.
    • AGS Ideal-0 Polish, Symmetry & Proportions.
    • Features Super Ideal Proportions.
  • Exhibits Exceptional Hearts & Arrows pattern.
  • Looks Fantastic in the ASET Scope image.
  • Looks Fantastic in the Ideal Scope image.

This diamond is certainly no exception. You know from experience, that the 40.8 degree pavilion angle is going to produce a high volume of light return. The 34.8 degree crown angle is going to produce a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion. The combination of the 77% lower girdle facet length, and the higher degree of optical precision that creates the crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows, is going to produce broad-spectrum sparkle that is simply breathtaking. What more do you need to know? Oh yeah, I know…

The Difference between F-G-H color diamonds:

You are probably aware that diamonds which are D-E-F color are classified as being colorless, which means that they are going to face-up bright white. When viewed while placed upside down on the table facet, on a white diamond sorting tray, under the controlled light of a GIA Diamond Light in a room which was otherwise pitch black, from a side-profile, these diamonds appear to be colorless.

Brian Gavin classic tiffany style solitaire, differences between F-G-H color diamondsDiamonds which are G-H color are classified as being near-colorless, which means that they exhibited just a hint of hue and saturation when viewed from a side profile. But the slight difference in diamond color is not going to be all that visible from the vantage point that we look at a diamond when set in something like this Classic Tiffany style solitaire by Brian Gavin. Which is why I haven’t suggested that you buy a diamond of specific color grade in this James Allen vs Brian Gavin review. I prefer to focus on the sparkle factor of the diamonds instead because that is a difference which is more likely to be seen by the average person. Whereas the subtle difference between F-G-H color diamonds is going to be a lot less noticeable. If the average person can see it at all without a great deal of coaching. From my perspective, the difference in light performance and sparkle factor is a benefit that is always worth paying for. I’d gladly sacrifice a color grade or two, in order to afford the higher cut quality.

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I hope that you’ve enjoyed learning more about James Allen vs Brian Gavin, and have a better understanding of the differences that can exist in the cut qualities of diamonds designated as being hearts and arrows. Feel free to take advantage of my free Diamond Concierge Service if you’d like help finding the best diamond available within the price range you are working with. Just drop me a note and let me know the diamond shape you seek, along with the range of carat weight, clarity, color, and blue fluorescence that you are open to considering. I’ll put the experience I gained while working as a professional diamond buyer for 30+ years to work on your behalf. There is no upfront charge for this service, my time is paid for by the various vendors who I work with. Best of all, your price on the diamond is exactly the same as if you’d found it on your own!

The following is an update added to this blog post in 2019:

James Allen vs Black by Brian Gavin Diamonds:

Be forewarned, the Black by Brian Gavin diamonds are hard to beat.

The fact of the matter is that Black by Brian Gavin Diamonds are simply breathtaking. The higher degree of optical precision that these diamonds exhibit creates the most vivid and intense sparkle that I’ve ever seen.

I was blown away when I first set eyes on the Black by Brian Gavin diamond collection. Apparently, so was my girlfriend because her reaction to seeing them is legendary.

Let me set the stage:

My girlfriend Lety used to work for a manufacturing jeweler. At one point in our relationship, she said:

“If you ever buy me an engagement ring (no pressure there, right?) I prefer a nice sapphire over diamonds…”

[at which point, I broke up with her]

Well, I thought about it… Seriously. What the Frack?!?!

After all, I’m a “diamond buyer” by profession, not a colored stone guy.

But instead, I just made a mental note to teach her more about diamonds. Because you might not appreciate how spectacular something is until you’ve seen the difference, right?

With that in mind, I brought Lety with me the next time I went to visit Brian Gavin Diamonds.

Picture the Scene:

Search Black by Brian Gavin Diamonds, the Sirisha NecklaceI’ve taken over the conference room as my temporary office at Brian Gavin Diamonds. My girlfriend and I are sitting at opposite ends of the conference table doing email.

One of my clients asks whether I can compare three Black by Brian Gavin diamonds side-by-side. So, I go to the vault room and request the diamonds and bring them back to my desk.

I open up the parcel papers and set the diamonds on a Lucite sorting tray. Then I pick up the tray between the thumb and forefinger of both hands and begin to rock it gently back and forth. The next thing I know, Lety is pressing in hard over my shoulder to get a closer look at the diamonds. Then she began to purr like a kitten reaching the peak of satisfaction while exclaiming:

“Wow! Oh, Wow! Wow!”

Which, notably, is more of a reaction than I’ve ever gotten from her…

Enough said.

I don’t know what possessed me to do so, but then I picked up the tray and instructed her to “follow me” while I led her out to the main room which is illuminated with floor to ceiling windows.

The diamonds sizzled to life in the sunlight…

And Lety proceeded to lose whatever was left of her mind.

Afterward, as Lety basked in the afterglow of seeing her first Black by Brian Gavin diamond, she looked at me and said very matter of fact:

“If you ever buy me an engagement ring, I want a Black by Brian Gavin Diamond.”

Well, at least that’s settled.

So, what’s the moral to the story?

If you’re going to buy an engagement ring, it should feature a Black by Brian Gavin Diamond.

From a technical perspective, Black by Brian Gavin diamonds represent the pinnacle of diamond cutting. The diamonds featured in this collection are a cut above the rest because the minor facets have been fine-tuned to reduce the amount of secondary brightness that occurs beneath the table facet.

Which means that Black by Brian Gavin diamonds exhibit a higher volume of light return and sparkle which is even more vivid and intense.

The overall cut quality goes beyond the basics of proportions based light performance and proper alignment of the primary facets.

Truth be told, I’ve never seen anybody else produce such spectacular looking diamonds on a consistent basis. With that in mind, it’s going to be difficult to find anything comparable within the James Allen True Hearts collection or anywhere else for that matter.

Which is not to say that James Allen True Hearts diamonds don’t exhibit great light performance. Because some of them really do, but rather that it’s not reasonable to expect a Porsche 911 Turbo to outperform a GT3 even though some of the specifications might seem similar.

Which means that while the proportions and overall cut grades of the hearts and arrows diamonds featured in these collections might be similar, the difference in optical precision will create measurable differences in light performance.

  • Optical precision is the consistency of facet shape, size, and alignment from the perspective of 360 degrees.
  • Gemological laboratories such as the AGS and GIA do NOT take optical precision into account as part of the overall cut grade!
  • Differences in diamond cut quality can affect the market value of a diamond by as much as sixty percent.

Which means that you might be overlooking a HUGE factor of light performance if you wrongly assume that all ideal cut diamonds are created equal.

Because they’re not… Which brings us to the next topic.

Are Super Ideal Cut Diamonds Worth the Premium?

It can take up to 4X longer to produce a higher degree of optical precision and this results in a higher price. At the same time, the higher degree of optical precision will produce:

  • A higher volume of light return;
  • More virtual facets within the diamond;
  • Sparkle which is more vivid and intense;
  • A difference in light performance that shows up from across the room.

Thus, I do feel that Black by Brian Gavin Diamonds are worth the premium because you’re going to see an appreciable difference in sparkle factor. Which is why we chose a Black by Brian Gavin Diamond for my son’s engagement ring:

Corey Gray of Nice Ice Black by Brian Gavin diamond engagement ring with 4 mm green tsavorite accents, top view

That pretty much says it all, right? After all, 30+ years of trade experience as a diamond buyer enables me to buy direct from practically any diamond cutter in the world. Clearly, there must be a reason why we choose Brian Gavin diamonds again, and again, and again. Obviously, I’ve seen enough diamonds to be able to appreciate the differences between the different production qualities of ideal cut diamonds.

But the odds are that you have not, so let’s look at some of the technical aspects. That way you will also be able to appreciate the differences that set Brian Gavin apart from the rest. Because while you might be fine buying a diamond in the performance class of a Porsche 911, but knowing the differences in sparkle factor will enable you to make a more informed decision.

Differences in Proportions within the Ideal Cut range:

James Allen True Hearts Diamond review, 5421237, AGS104100736019

This 1.25 carat, F-color, VVS-1 clarity, James Allen True Hearts diamond has proportions which do not meet my selection criteria.

The crown angle of 32.9 degrees is too shallow from my perspective. I’ve highlighted the measurements for the crown section in red on the copy of the lab report pictured to the right.

The shallow crown angle is likely to make the diamond look brighter, but it will probably be at the expense of other factors such as contrast brilliance and scintillation.

The diamond is also likely to exhibit more white sparkle (brilliance) but less dispersion (colored sparkle/fire) because of the shallow crown angle. Whereas a crown angle between 34.3 – 35 degrees is more likely to produce a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion.

Why is the Ideal Cut proportions range so broad?

Some people in the industry will argue that you might prefer a diamond that exhibits more brilliance than dispersion, which is how they explain the extremely broad range of proportions designated for the zero ideal cut rating.

That’s fine, everybody is entitled to their opinion, right? I just happen to disagree with their position because I prefer to see a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion. Your decision whether or not to buy a James Allen True Hearts diamond like this will depend on your personal sense of balance and preferences.

But from a technical perspective, there are other factors to consider. Such as the effect that proportions and the degree to which the minor facets affect light performance and sparkle factor.

Fine Tuning Minor Facets Improves Light Performance:

James Allen True Hearts diamond review, SKU 5421237, AGS 104100736019 Ideal ScopeDid you happen to notice the green arrows on the lab report above which point towards the ASET Scope image? They are pointing at the edge of the star facets which should be outlined in green, but they are not. Why is that?

Well, it’s most likely the result of the shallow crown angle and the minor facets might need some adjustment.

The reason I selected this particular diamond is that this is the type of diamond that tends to confuse people who don’t have a lot of diamond buying experience. The ASET and Ideal Scope images look great at first glance. The ASET shows a lot of red and that is an indicator of brightness, right?

You might think that because the Ideal Scope image shows a lot of red and isn’t showing any major signs of leakage, that it must be a good thing, right? However, it’s the lack of green around the star facets that is likely to catch the attention of a seasoned diamond buyer like me. Let’s face it, 30+ years of diamond buying experience has taught me to look at things differently than you’re going to in the beginning.

Effect of Crown Angle on Table Facet Appearance:

You might be aware that the crown angle of a diamond affects the balance of brilliance and dispersion. But did you also know that the crown angle affects the appearance of the table facet and arrows pattern?

Take a look at the clarity photograph for the diamond we’ve been discussing above (pictured on the left below) and see how it compares with the 1.21 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, James Allen True Hearts diamond (right):

James Allen True Hearts diamonds comparison, SKU 5421237 vs 6089544, 33 degree vs 34.5 degree crown angle

The first thing I want you to notice is how different the table facet region appears. I’ve highlighted the open space that appears in the center of the arrows pattern with red and green to highlight the effect of the crown angle on the appearance of the diamond.

The open space that appears at the base of the arrows pattern is much larger in the James Allen True Hearts diamond with the 32.9 degree crown angle than it is in the James Allen True Hearts diamond with the 34.5 degree crown angle.

Both diamonds have a pavilion angle of 40.8 degrees and thus it is easy to see the effect that the crown angle has upon the arrows pattern.

Brighter Diamonds Are Not Necessarily More Brilliant:

Now, this next bit might seem a bit confusing, but I want you to take another look at the diamonds above and notice how the diamond on the left appears to be brighter than the diamond on the right.

The shallow crown angle appears to make the diamond on the left look brighter. While this might seem like a good thing at first glance, the odds are that it will also rob the diamond of three out of four critical factors of light performance:

  • Contrast Brilliance.
  • Dispersion
  • Scintillation.

And it’s also likely to make the sparkle factor of the diamond seem flat with a low-intensity appearance similar to the light cast off from the headlamp of a coal miner.

The Other James Allen True Hearts Diamond Looks Better, but…

The James Allen True Hearts diamond on the right faces-up better and is likely to exhibit a better overall balance of brilliance, dispersion, and a higher degree of scintillation.

James Allen True Hearts Diamond review, SKU 6089544 Ideal ScopeUnfortunately, the Ideal Scope image (left) indicates that the diamond is leaking more light under the table facet despite having tighter proportions. I’ve added green lines to the Ideal Scope image to highlight the table facet which should be dark red and not semi-translucent as pictured here.

You might be wondering why this James Allen True Hearts diamond can appear to be leaking more light when the proportions are tighter. The answer probably lies in the degree of optical precision exhibited by the hearts patterns and slight variations in the angle of the facets.

And this is one of the challenges that I have with the James Allen True Hearts diamond collection.

Brand Consistency and/or Lack Thereof:

The degree of inconsistency between these two James Allen True Hearts diamonds drives me nuts. From the perspective of a diamond buyer, consistency is something that I look for in a brand.

I don’t know about you, but I operate from the perspective that time is money.

I don’t want to waste my time flipping through a bunch of options that don’t have proportions within my preferred range.

I expect to see a certain degree of consistency in the ASET and Ideal Scope images of diamonds within a designated brand. There should not be inconsistencies in the degree of hue and saturation exhibited by the reflector scope images and I certainly don’t want to see broad variances in the degree of light leakage.

The hearts images should be consistent in size, shape, and spacing because that indicates the degree of optical precision. I expect to see something like this:

Black by Brian Gavin vs James Allen True Hearts diamonds, AGS 104104416019

Unfortunately, there is a lot of variance in the degree of optical precision exhibited by the diamonds in the James Allen True Hearts collection. There is also a broad range of proportions within the spectrum of diamonds selected to represent the brand. And an equally broad variance in the degree of light return as evident by the differences in Ideal Scope images.

It doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to see the difference.

Brand Consistency = Brand Integrity:

If you’re anything like me, when you set out to buy something, you want to be able to trust in the brand. You want to be certain that the diamond you’re buying is truly the best.

You probably don’t want to have to spend a lot of time guessing which brand of diamond is going to deliver the best sparkle factor.

And thus, you want to focus on the brands which offer the highest degree of consistency and which have a proven track record for light performance.

This is why I personally prefer diamonds from the Black by Brian Gavin collection. But, I’m also not the type of guy to blindly follow along without conducting my own due diligence. I prefer the peace of mind of knowing that I’ve made a good decision based upon the facts.

Which is why I recommend looking at diamonds from both collections, so that you can choose the best diamond available based on your personal preferences.

I’m happy to help you sift through the options and determine which diamonds are worthy of consideration. Just submit an inquiry via the Diamond Concierge Service form or send me an email Diamonds[at]NiceIce[dot}com (it’s totally free).

Nice Ice Diamond Concierge ServiceTake advantage of 30+ years diamond buying experience for free!

Todd 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)
Todd Gray

@NiceIceDiamonds

Professional diamond buyer with 30+ years trade experience in the niche of super ideal cut diamonds. In my free time, I enjoy freediving & photography.
The incredible #story behind the Sirisha diamond necklace by @BrianGavin 71 #Diamonds cut to order #Amazinghttps://t.co/dHOo1T99xT - 2 years ago

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