“I really want to thank you for all of the advice which you provide on your web site. I am currently shopping for an engagement ring, one of our friends has a Hearts & Arrows diamond which my girlfriend can’t stop talking about. A co-worker suggested that I buy from Tiffany, but they don’t seem able to provide the type of detail that you refer to on your site and they seem kind of expensive. What are your thoughts on Tiffany diamond cut quality? Is it worth it? And do you know whether Tiffany sells Hearts and Arrows diamonds? I’m looking for something in the range of 1.25 carats with a halo around it, like the Tiffany Embrace.” — Dave H.
I really want to thank you for your inquiry Dave, no really… nothing seems to generate more hate mail than anything which I write about Tiffany & Co., because people who shop at Tiffany are fiercely loyal to Tiffany and as it so happens, I am not a fan of Tiffany diamonds, or their approach to selling diamonds. My blog post about Secret Shopping Tiffany actually resulted in a threat wherein the person promised to knock down this web site if I ever wrote about Tiffany like that again… Naturally that just prompted me to write another article the very next day! And this is why talking about Tiffany Diamond Cut Quality, or the lack thereof as I see it, is a lot like opening up a can of worms![separator]
From my perspective they’re just another jewelry store, which just happens to market a pretty blue box wrapped up with a white ribbon. Seriously, that’s how I see it… They’ve managed to knock it out of the park a few times from the perspective of marketing their brand, but I’m not impressed in the least with their diamonds, jewelry, or their prices… and I’ve paid the exorbitant price that they charge for silly stuff like this silver necklace pictured to the left! Yea, so I dated this girl once… And she just had to have this necklace from Tiffany, so I purchased it from Tiffany & Co., New York, and yes as a matter of fact I did use my NiceIce.com email address when I placed the order![separator]
True Story! So I place the order online and shortly thereafter I receive a phone call from a customer service representative from Tiffany, who saw the email address and thought that he should verify the order… He actually laughed and said “Wow! That’s got to hurt!” at which point I admitted that it was a little disturbing, especially since I was paying a few hundred bucks for about thirty dollars worth of sterling silver! Oh well, this is the price you pay for love, or whatever that was… actually in this case, it was simply the price that I paid for the Tiffany & Co., brand name to be stamped on a sterling silver disc and a pretty blue box.
All right, I guess that I’ve procrastinated addressing the question regarding Tiffany Diamond Cut Quality long enough… I might as well just tackle the question head-on. I personally don’t think that the words “Tiffany” and “Diamond Cut Quality” should be used in the same sentence, because the Tiffany diamonds which I’ve seen fail to meet my selection criteria. To begin with, the majority of them seem to be graded internally by diamond graders who are employed by Tiffany & Co., and I feel that the whole premise of “Trust us because it’s a Tiffany Diamond” is a bit pompous and self-serving. Why aren’t Tiffany Diamonds graded by an independent gemological laboratory like the GIA or AGS?[separator]
As consumers, we’re apparently supposed to take the word of Tiffany & Co., when it comes to the clarity, color, and diamond cut quality of their diamonds… even larger diamonds like the 1.66 carat, G-color, SI-1, and the 2.28 carat, G-color, VS-1, described on the business card above! And they won’t even provide customers with a copy of the diamond grading report which they issue, until three to four weeks after the diamond has been purchased… No joke! I asked the sales clerk for a copy of the lab report for the diamonds described on her business card above, and was told that they would mail it out to me sometime over the next three to four weeks!
And when I asked to see the inclusions within the diamonds… I was told that they weren’t important because “these are Tiffany diamonds and the inclusions are not visible without magnification” which clearly made me feel much better! The contrast between buying a diamond sight unseen off of the internet and blindly over the sales counter at Tiffany & Co., seems absolutely staggering to me…
I mean, at least when I look at the diamond details page for this 1.604 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Signature Hearts & Arrows Diamond from Brian Gavin, I don’t have to take their word for anything, there is a video of the diamond featured in the upper left corner of the screen, followed by a clarity photograph, and various reflector scope images, and a copy AGSL diamond grading report.[separator]
And by buying this diamond from Brian Gavin, I’d be saving $10K off the price of the 1.66 carat diamond described on the business card from Tiffany & Co., featured above and it’s two clarity grades better! As determined by the American Gem Society Laboratory, which is an independent, impartial, third party!
Plus the proportions of the diamond from Brian Gavin are tighter, according to the AGSL, the diamond has a total depth of 60.7% with a table diameter of 57% and a crown angle of 34.6 degrees which is offset by a pavilion angle of 40.7 degrees with a thin to medium, faceted girdle… that’s well within the parameters of my selection criteria!
The total depth of the 1.66 carat, G-color, SI-1 clarity which was offered to me by Tiffany & Co., was 62.9% which is absurd! It’s like getting ripped off twice as far as I’m concerned… first I’d be paying too much for the diamond, and then I’d be paying for carat weight which I’m not going to benefit from in terms of the visible diamond of the diamond! Pass…
Well if they do, they’re not talking about it… they certainly aren’t providing their customers with the reflector scope images necessary to judge the optical symmetry of their diamonds, or to determine whether their diamonds exhibit a crisp and complete pattern of Hearts and Arrows.
And the only way to determine whether a diamond exhibits a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows, is to view it while unmounted through a reflector scope that is specifically designed for that purpose. Going back to the screenshot of the diamond details page for the 1.604 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Signature Hearts & Arrows Diamond from Brian Gavin featured above, the fourth image from the left, in the bottom row, is an image of the hearts pattern as seen through a reflector scope.
I use the various reflector scope images provided on the diamond details pages of Brian Gavin and other vendors, such as James Allen and High Performance Diamonds to judge the diamond cut quality, but I generally refer to it as “optical symmetry” which is a more accurate gemological term, that is used to describe the consistency of facet shape and three dimensional alignment.
As stated within the American Gemological Society Laboratory study of brilliance, dispersion and scintillation in round brilliant cut diamonds, published in September of 2007, the optical symmetry of a diamond, combined with the proportions, will have a direct impact upon the volume of light return and the sparkle factor of a diamond.
Round brilliant cut diamonds which have been cut to “super ideal proportions” and which exhibit a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows, are widely recognized as exhibiting a higher degree of light return, and more sparkle in the form of brilliance, dispersion and scintillation, than round brilliant cut diamonds of lesser cut quality.
Now Dave, you didn’t provide me with any indication as to your desired price range for this project, so I’m just going to proceed by making a couple of recommendations based upon what I might purchase. Since most high end jewelry designers set their jewelry with F-G color, VS clarity, melee (diamonds weighing less than 0.22 carats), I conducted a search for 1.20 – 1.30 carat, round brilliant ideal cut diamonds, in the same range of clarity and color.
The first option which I found is this 1.237 carat, F-color, VS-2 clarity, Signature Hearts & Arrows Diamond from Brian Gavin. Once again, all of the information that you could possibly want to know about this diamond is provided on the diamond details page featured to the left, images of the diamond as seen through a microscope, ASET Scope, Ideal Scope, Hearts & Arrows Scope, diamond grading report, etc.[separator]
The second option which I found is this 1.228 carat, F-color, VS-1 clarity, Hearts & Arrows Diamond produced by Crafted by Infinity. Notice that High Performance Diamonds provides images of the diamond as seen through the various reflector scopes on their diamond details page also. Both diamonds have been graded by the AGS Laboratory with an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal-0 on the Proprietary Light Performance grading platform! And they both exhibit a crisp and complete pattern of Hearts & Arrows with pictures to prove it![separator]
Now you mentioned the Tiffany Embrace halo setting by name, but you didn’t indicate that your girlfriend absolutely had to have that particular setting, so I’m going to assume that you’re simply looking for a halo style engagement ring. I really like the look of this Halo Setting from Brian Gavin and I’ve seen the quality of the jewelry produced by his in-house jewelers, it’s top notch and rivals the quality of many high end jewelry designers. If you look at the details page for this ring, you’ll see that the diamond quality is stated as being F/G color, VS clarity, so either of the center stones which I’ve selected for you will look great in this setting![separator]
I’m sure that Wink from High Performance Diamonds offers a variety of halo settings as well, I just didn’t see a category for it on his web site, but he also has a great custom jeweler that he works with!
While admittedly I am not a big fan of Tiffany & Co., their presence in the market is undeniably prominent and there are some women who just won’t be happy with anything else… logic and diamond details be damned! Even I have had to surrender to the power of the Blue Box from Tiffany, as I described above. So do what you have to do…
But if I were going to buy a diamond from Tiffany, and pay full market price for the privilege of doing so, I think that I would like to know as much as I could about the diamonds I was considering before I handed over my hard earned money. I don’t think that I’d be completely satisfied as a consumer with empty claims of quality, such as “It’s a Tiffany Diamond” and would prefer to see a diamond grading report issued by an independent and impartial gemological laboratory, such as the GIA or the AGSL.
In the absence of this, I would at least like to see a plotting diagram of the inclusions, which I could then use to compare to other lab graded diamonds of comparable description for clarity, and the opportunity to view those inclusions using standard 10x magnification.
And I’d like to see the diamond grading report before completing my purchase… Who makes a significant purchase without having all of the facts first?!?!
And finally, I’d really like to see how the loose diamond looks through the various reflector scopes which enable me to make an informed decision taking the optical symmetry of the diamond into account…
Of course, I realize that Tiffany & Co., is not likely to provide you with any of this information, because I wasn’t able to get any of it when I secret shopped Tiffany and requested it while shopping for diamonds… good luck with that.
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