Monthly Archives: March 2015

Welcome to NDRDiamond – Blog!

Welcome to the NDRDiamond Blog.

The postings on this site are intended for retail jewelers who I hope will read my “thoughts” and “concerns” about diamonds, diamond grading reports, internet diamond sales and other random subjects affecting the jewelry trade.  It is my hope that you may find some of these posts to be useful when dealing with retail consumers and that you might share some of these blog posts with such consumers.

If you happen to be a retail consumer who has somehow come across this Blog, I welcome you to read my posts in the hope that you will gain some knowledge and advice that you will find interesting and helpful.  To these readers, the best advice that I have is that you purchase a diamond or diamond jewelry from a trusted “bricks and mortar” jeweler.  As a third generation jewelry professional, this advice is given based on my understanding that a diamond or diamond jewelry is something that must be seen and appreciated by human eyes much like a painting or other works of art – for it is not possible to visualize  a diamond based on a diamond grading report.

Whether you are a jewelry retailer or consumer, I welcome you and hope that you will find some useful information on the posts that follow. Please feel free to comment as you feel appropriate.

 

Neil D. Reiff

 

Excellent Cut in a Fancy Shape Diamond

Many diamond buyers who are in the market for a Fancy Shape diamond are searching for an “Excellent Cut” diamond. “Fancy Shape” – is the generic terminology for an Oval, Cushion Cut, Emerald Cut, Pear Shape, Princess Cut , Radiant Cut and all other non-round diamonds. These buyers must be aware that there is no such thing as an Excellent Cut in regard to a Fancy Shape diamond – at least to the extent of a GIA grading report!

As a result of the lack of cut grade – for Ovals or Cushion Cuts or any other fancy shape diamond, many consumers are under the mistaken impression that the Polish and Symmetry grades for these shapes are integral to the beauty of the diamond. There is no truth to this assumption.  Polish and Symmetry have nothing to do with the overall beauty or Cut of a fancy shape diamond.

GIA: Excellent Polish. Excellent Symmetry.

I happen to think that many fancy shape diamonds are ugly. I also think that there are fancy shape diamonds that are spectacular.  In most cases, what makes one fancy shape diamond nicer than another is all about the diamonds “cut”.  However, the “cut” that makes a fancy shape diamond spectacular almost never has anything to do with Polish and/or Symmetry.

In my personal experience, I often prefer fancy shape diamonds in which the Polish and/or Symmetry is only “Good”.  Many times I find that the fancy shape diamond that has “Good” polish and/or symmetry is much more beautiful than another fancy shape diamond that is Very Good or Excellent.

This is not to say that the fancy cut diamond is more beautiful because the Polish and/or Symmetry is only “Good”.  It is because the Polish and Symmetry is usually inconsequential to the big picture – which is “How beautiful is the diamond?“.

GIA: Excellent Polish. Good Symmetry.

Unfortunately for the consumer, the Polish and Symmetry grade on a grading certificate does not give even the slightest inkling of whether or not a particular diamond is beautiful. The beauty of a fancy cut diamond is about the proportions of things such as length by width – or the depth and table. It is about the brilliance and “life” of the diamond.  It is about what the diamond looks like when you actually look at it as opposed to looking at a grading report!

The overall beauty of a fancy shape diamond has nothing to do with Polish and Symmetry. Most fancy shape diamonds have Polish and Symmetry grades of “Good” or Very Good.  Unlike Round diamonds in which “Excellent” or “Very Good” is more common, a grade of Good” in Polish and/or Symmetry is the “norm” for fancy shape diamonds.

This is one of the issues of buying a diamond online or strictly buying a diamond based on the certification paper. The simple truth that I know after spending a lifetime in the diamond trade is that the beauty of a fancy shape diamond – whether it is a Cushion Cut, an Oval, or an Emerald Cut or any other fancy shape – has nothing to do with the Polish and/or Symmetry grade (except in cases of Fair or Poor). The beauty of a fancy cut diamond is about the diamond itself. It is about how that diamond disperses light.

Unlike a round diamond in which there are scientific parameters when cutting which provide for maximum brilliance, there is no scientific formula for cutting a fancy shape diamond. Most often when cutting a fancy shape diamond, the diamond cutter is working within the parameters of the rough diamond that he starts with.  The beauty of the finished diamond is the direct result of the diamond itself.

The creation of a fancy cut diamond is similar to the work of a sculptor. A diamond cutter cuts the shape and dimensions from a rough diamond that has been extracted from the earth. Trust me in that the minor detail of the facet alignment or the smoothness of the surface is inconsequential to the overall appearance of this diamond.  A sculptor may achieve a beautiful smooth finish that one could say is “Excellent” or “Very Good”.  But that may overlook the fact that the sculpture is ugly!

The bottom line is this. Stick to “Excellent” and/or “Very good” in a round diamond.  Understand that in a fancy shape you are fooling yourself if you think that the Polish and Symmetry grade gives you any inkling of the beauty of the diamond.

  • *   *   *   *

On the subject of EXCELLENT CUT in a Fancy Shape diamond I recently came across this comment on a diamond discussion forum that reinforces my discussion in the above blog post from someone who asked about the ‘best” specifications” of an Oval diamond.  Here is the response to that inquiry . .

“Welcome to Pricescope!

A few things stand out immediately to me

First- I would not limit polish/symmetry to EX.

The reason is that the difference between EX,VG and G are not perceptible to the eye 99% of the time. “

 

 

 

Diamond Fluorescence: Good or Bad?

There is perhaps no characteristic of a diamond on which you will find more disagreement among diamond professionals than diamond Fluorescence.  For this reason, it is also a subject that causes much confusion among diamond professionals as well as consumers.

Diamond florescence refers to the effects of ultraviolet light on a diamond.  According to the GIA (Gemological Institute of America), approximately 25% to 35% of all diamonds have some degree of fluorescence.  Diamonds that have fluorescence will exhibit a “bluish” glow when exposed to ultraviolet light.  In most cases, this glow is minimal and will never be seen outside of laboratory conditions.

A study conducted by the GIA concluded several key findings that are significant with regard to fluorescence:

1) Nearly 1/3 of all diamonds certified by the GIA (Gemological Istitute of America) have some degree of flourescence noted on the grading report.

2) Only 10% of those diamonds with fluorescence had any degree of florescence that may affect the appearance of the diamond.  Quite simply, this means that fluorescence, even when indicated on a GIA grading report, has no significance to the diamond 90% of the time.

3). For the overwhelming majority of diamonds, the strength of fluorescence has no widely noticeable effect on appearance. In fact, the average person could not make a distinction between a diamond with fluorescence and a diamond without fluorescence.

4). In many instances, observers preferred the appearance of diamonds that have medium to strong fluorescence.  Again – Most observers preferred the appearance of diamonds that are fluorescent!

According to another diamond industry “authority” known as the “Rapaport Report”  (a publication for the Diamond trade), “Fluorescence may add value to lower color stones as it gives the stones a whiter, brighter appearance.”

Now that I have given you the findings of the GIA study on fluorescence, I will share some of my thoughts on the subject . . .

As stated above, there is perhaps no element of a diamond grading report that is more misunderstood and controversial than that of fluorescence. The negative thoughts with regard to fluorescence date back to different times of the diamond trade.

Firstly, in the days before diamond certification, fluorescence was considered to be “bad” because a diamond with fluorescence might be seen to be better than than it really was – and therefore, the buyer may be fooled. If you really think about this, fluorescence was thought to be bad because it made a diamond look better!

Additionally, another reason for the negativity about fluorescence dates back to 1980 when there was an “Investment Diamond” craze in which people were sold a bill of goods about buying diamonds as an “Investment”.  During this time, it was thought that in order to buy an ‘investment grade diamond”, the diamond must be only the best quality (i.e., D to F color, Flawless or VVS clarity) and have no fluorescence.

Regardless of the thoughts about fluorescence at the time, the value of diamonds skyrocketed based on investment speculation before falling precipitously. People who invested in diamonds during this time ended up losing a lot of money – but the connotation that fluorescence is a “bad thing” has lived on for no apparent reason!

So where does this bring us today . . .

It is my opinion that “Faint” fluoresence means nothing!!  Faint fluorescence is something that will never be seen by the consumer and something that has absolutely zero effect on the beauty of a diamond! “Faint” fluorescence is something that should NEVER deter you from buying a particular diamond.

It is my opinion that “Very Strong” fluorescence should be AVOIDED.  A “Very Strong” fluorescence grade is that which is most likely to give a diamond a “smokey” or “milky” or “cloudy” appearance.  Diamonds that are of Very Strong fluorescence trade at discounts of 10 to 20% less than similar diamonds with none or lesser degrees of fluorescence..

The issue of fluorescence is more convolluted when dealing with Medium or Strong fluorescence.  In almost all cases within these fluorescence grades, the fluorescence will have either no effect of the overall beauty of the diamond or, alternatively, the fluorescence will have a beneficial effect. In many cases, medium or strong fluoresence will enhance the beauty of a diamond – particularly in “JKLM+” or lower colors. In these colors, the diamond will appear whiter when mounted in a ring than a similar diamond without fluorescence.

In some cases, strong fluorescence may be a negative factor.  In such cases, the diamond may have a milky or cloudy appearance as mentioned above with regard to “Very Strong” fluorescent diamonds. It is my opinion that Strong Blue fluorescent diamonds should be acceptable in many cases – with the exception of DEF/IF -VS graded diamonds. As with the case of Medium fluorescence, “Strong” fluorescence is usually a benefit to lower color diamonds as these diamonds will look considerably better when mounted than a similar lower color (JKLM+) diamond without fluorescence.

In terms of diamond pricing, medium fluorescence has little or no impact on the price of a diamond. A diamond with Strong fluorescence should be priced at 15% to 25% less than a similar diamond without fluorescence. This discount will be less as you drop down the color scale as the benefits of fluorescence become more desirable.

i realize that this brief discussion may run counter to other information one may find with regard to the subject of fluorescence. One must understand that fluorescence is often a subject used by a diamond seller to dissuade one from purchasing a diamond from another seller. For instance, “That diamond has fluorescence; You shouldn’t buy that diamond!” It is BS comments like this that perpetuate the controversy of this subject.

As a professional within the diamond industry for more than 40+ years, I can honestly tell you that I purposely selected a diamond with Medium fluorescence for my wife’s engagement ring!! Yes, I purposely chose a “i” color diamond with Medium Blue fluorescence!

Perhaps, the GIA has said it best when it comes to fluorescence . . . “A diamond’s appearance must be taken as a whole. . . Other factors can influence appearance more strongly than fluorescence, such as how the diamond has been cut, . . .” Perhaps the most important statement on the subject is also from the GIA: “On GIA’s Diamond Reports, fluorescence is a description, not a grade”.

The bottom line is this. What makes a diamond one of the most treasured items of nature is the beauty of a diamond. There are many different things noted on a GIA grading report. We have turned the beauty of a diamond into characteristics noted on a piece of paper. A diamond is about the beauty of the diamond. – and not the piece of paper!

NOTE: This discussion of fluorescence deals with Blue fluorescence which is the type of fluorescence most commonly found. Any other fluorescence -yellow or white fluorescence which is indicated as such on a GIA grading report should ALWAYS BE AVOIDED. This type of fluorescence always has a negative impact on the beauty of a diamond.

Best Proportions in a Fancy Shape Diamond – Oval, Cushion Cut, Emerald Cut, Pear Shape, Radiant Cut, Princess Cut

Best Proportions in a Fancy Shape Diamond – Oval, Cushion Cut, Emerald Cut, Pear Shape, Radiant Cut, Princess Cut

 

The best answer to the question of “What are the best proportions of a fancy shape diamond (the generic term for an Oval, Cushion Cut, Emerald Cut, Pear Shape, Radiant Cut, Princess Cut, among others) is that there is not any best proportion.  No laboratory assigns a grade for the proportion of a fancy shape diamond.  Moreover, there are no scientific parameters for determining what is or is not the “proper” dimension or ratio of any particular fancy shape diamond

The idea of what is “best” in regard to proportion is somewhat like asking “What should a beautiful woman look like?”.  Everyone has there own idea of beauty.  It is something that cannot be put on paper with any degree of authority.  At best, we can perhaps come up with a “range”.  Even then, we must assume that there will always be a multitude of exceptions – whether it be a beautiful woman or a diamond.  Some are truly beautiful despite being different from our preconceived notions or parameters.

Perhaps the best guide that we have in determining  what are “proper” or “best” proportions is to utilize the “calibrated” sizes and their corresponding ratios of semi-precious stones – such as Amethyst or Blue Topaz.   Unlike diamonds that are often cut with regard to the “rough” diamond, semi-precious stones (because of the lack of concern about weight loss) are cut to calibrated sizes that have endured through time – whether it be an Oval, Emerald Cut, Pear Shape, or other shape.

Additionally, my 40+ years of working within the diamond trade has given me a thorough understanding of what dimensions are most desirable and advisable.  Even with such an understanding, one must understand that often the proper dimensions or ratio will change depending on the type of mounting that will be utilized in setting the diamond.  For instance, it is my experience that a three-stone ring may often look better with a longer Emerald Cut that that which might be in a plain “solitaire” mounting or in a classic “Tapered Baguette” mounting. Furthermore, a “Halo” style  may require something different from either of the above mounting styles.

Before continuing, I have one very important bit of advice.  It is not advisable to purchase a fancy shape diamond simply based upon dimensions or ratios or any other descriptive element contained on a GIA grading report!  I see hundreds of diamonds every week.  The information that is contained within the grading report has almost nothing to do with the overall beauty of the diamond!  This is something that must be observed with you eyes -preferably live and in person – or at least in a photograph. To make you purchase decision based solely on a paper report is setting yourself up for disappointment.

AND now for my suggested parameters: .  .  .

OVAL Diamond Proportions:  The standard calibrated ratio of Ovals is approximately  1.25 : 1 to 1.40 : 1.  In other Oval Proportionwords, standard calibrated sizes will be 8x6mm or 9x7mm or 10x8mm.  In my own experience, this ratio range seems to be the “proper” proportion. While I would not suggest going much below 1.20 : 1 (a slightly shorter and wider dimension), some people may prefer a somewhat longer length : width ratio.  I would  consider going up to a ratio of 1.50 : 1.  This, however, is considered long and must be taken into consideration with many other factors of the diamond.

The 2.02 carat Oval pictured here measures 9.15 x 6.82mm. The ratio is 1.34 :1.

 

EMERALD CUT Diamond Proportions: The calibrated sizes for Emerald Cut diamonds is basically the same as that for Ovals.  The ratio is approximately 1.25 : 1 to 1.40 :1.  Again, this ratio may be somewhat less (likeEmerald Cut Proportion 1.20 : 1), however a longer Emerald Cut may be preferred.

A ratio of 1.55 : 1 is close to the maximum range that I would recommend  for anyone who is seeking a “long” Emerald Cut shape. One must be aware, however, that it is somewhat difficult to find a “long” emerald cut that is lively and bright and “well-cut’.

The 1.28 carat Emerald Cut picture here measures 6.97 x 5.51mm. The ratio is 1.27 : 1.

A ratio of 1.50 : 1 is often referred to as a “credit card” shape as these dimensions are represented by any standard credit card.

ASSCHER CUT Diamond Proportions:  An Asscher Cut diamond is basically a square Emerald Cut.  A ratio of 1.05 :1 or less is most preferred. It is important top note that GIA will designate Square Emerald Cut within this ratio.  A  ratio of up to 1.10 : 1 will still appear square when set into a mounting, although this ratio mayAsscher Cut Proportion be discounted more than the 1.05 : 1 ratio as the GIA designation will not designate “Square”.  The ratios between 1.10 and 1.20 : 1 is the “lost” area between Emerald Cut and Asscher Cut and are usually less desirable and less expensive..

This 3.00 carat Asscher Cut diamond measures 7.83 x 7.62mm. The ratio is 1.03 :1.

 

 

CUSHION CUT Diamond Proportions: The Cushion Cut has become the “IT” diamond shape over the past several years – replacing the Princess Cut as the “hot” non-round brilliant shape. I personally think that this is for good reason as a Cushion Cut combines the brilliance of a round diamond with a somewhat square shape.  For this reason GIA refers to this shape as a “Cushion Modified Brilliant” or “Cushion Brilliant”.

There is no preferred length by width ratio for a Cushion Cut diamond.  Most Cushions are Cushion Cut Proportionsomewhat square in dimensions.  Others may be somewhat rectangular, although it is extremely difficult to find a Cushion Cut that is of the rectangular dimensions of an Emerald Cut or Oval.

The 5.00 carat Cushion Cut diamond pictured here measures 10.5 x 9.29mm.  The ratio is 1.11 : 1.

Cushion Cut diamonds, more so than any other shape, can be exceptionally beautiful or not pretty at all.  It is not a question of dimensions that make a Cushion Cut beautiful; it is a question of the overall shape and faceting – none of which is characterized by any information on a GIA grading report, including the Polish and Symmetry grades.  Cushion Cut diamonds must be purchased based on their actual appearance.  To purchase a Cushion Cut in any other way will lead to serious disappointment.  (For more insight, please see my post  Buying a Fancy Shape Diamond – BUYER BEWARE!

RADIANT CUT Diamond Proportions:  A Radiant Cut diamond is, in many ways, similar to a Cushion Cut when itRadiant Cut Diamond Proportion comes to dimensions.  There is no clear cut or “proper” length by width ratio.  Radiant Cuts can be squarish or they can be somewhat rectangular.  Some may be as rectangular as a long Emerald Cut.  Most Radiants tend to be squarish; rectangular Radiant Cuts are much more difficult to locate.

The 2.54 Carat Radiant Cut pictured here measures 8.53 x 7.10mm. The ratio is 1.20 :1.  This is a beautiful “rectangular” Radiant Cut.

Like most fancy shape diamonds, the beauty of this pictured Radiant Cut diamond is not the result of any characteristics noted on the grading report.  It is simply a matter of beautiful faceting which has nothing to do with the Polish or Symmetry grades as noted on the certificate.  For more information on this subject, please see  my post  Excellent Cut in a Fancy Shape Diamond – Oval, Cushion Cut, Emerald Cut, Pear Shape, Radiant Cut, Princess Cut 

 

 

State of the Diamond Industry

In response to nonexistent profit levels and soft demand for diamonds, many of the largest Indian diamond companies appeared to recently change their marketing strategy. Realizing that the current system was all about the “lowest price” and that this was becoming destructive to their bottom line as well as the health of the diamond industry, these companies began listing their diamonds on Rapnet at the “list” price instead of at their discounted price. It was an attempt to revert back to market-making via personal communication as opposed to the cheapest price on a computer database.

I believe this was an attempt to avert the ongoing race to the bottom in which everyone is a loser. I believe that this was a good move with regard to restoring the health of the diamond industry.

Unfortunately Martin Rappaport felt it necessary to show the world that he is the only one with power to control the dynamics of the diamond market. And so he lowered his list prices to strike back.

This is unfortunate. The market was starting to recover from the abyss of January and early February. I sensed that there was a healthier attitude and increasing demand. Now, by lowering the list, demand will again stagnate as buyers will be afraid of diamond price deflation which could become a self fulfilling prophecy.

We, as diamond professionals, have an obligation to protect the integrity of our trade. Profit margins are senseless at all levels. More importantly, the appeal of diamonds in all aspects has been destroyed.

I yearn for the days when there was a “diamond market”. At that time there was also a thriving market for diamonds.

All about diamond grading certificates.

All about diamond grading certificates..

When buying a diamond I urge you to buy a diamond with a diamond grading report or diamond grading certificate. These mean the same thing – and are used interchangeably.

In a different post I have discussed the differences between a diamond grading report issued by the GIA – and those issued by other diamond labs. This can be found at http://www.ndrdiamond.com/blog/2015/03/13/gia-vs-egl-what-is-the-difference-between-grading-labs/

The subject of this post is not the issue of different grading labs. It is the issue of diamond grading itself.

As a diamond merchant for 40+ years, and with two generations of Diamantaires before me, I urge you to understand that just because two different diamonds have the same diamond grade does not make their value equal!

One must understand that there is a range of values within each quality grade. Though this fact may mean very little with regard to diamond color it may be significant with regard to clarity grades. This is somewhat true with regard to “VS” grade diamonds and is particularly significant with regard to the “SI1” and “SI2” and “Imp” clarity grades.

With regard to stye “SI” clarity grade, there are many “SI2” diamonds that are beautiful. This is true whether viewed with our without magnification. On the other hand there are many “SI” graded diamonds that have significant black carbon imperfections that can be seen to the naked (non-magnified) eye.

Because of these differences, diamonds within these grades may trade on the wholesale diamond market for 5%-20% differences between other diamonds of the same grade.

In the retail diamond market there are retailers that prefer these “weak’ “SI” grade diamonds (meaning at the lower end of that particular clarity classification) because these are cheaper. A cheaper wholesale price can translate into a cheaper retail price and also allow the retailer to make a bigger profit margin.

These differences in the wholesale price are also evident on internet diamond sites. It is the reason why one H/SI2 diamond may be $15,000.00 and the same size diamond of the same grade may be $18,000.00.

There are diamond sellers who understand that it is not just about low price but about a beautiful diamond. One might think that these people are the “expensive” sellers. In fact these sellers may be the ones offering the real value in that they are working within their profession or trade to better serve you with a better diamond!

Take a look at the diamond. Use your eyes. Use a magnifying “loupe” or microscope. Take a good look at the diamond grading certificate. Look at the “plot” that is on the grading report. You can see these differences quite easily.

In some cases, even though you may know very little about diamond grading, you will see that one diamond may have only a slight white inclusion (Yes, it is my opinion that this is the one you should want!) – and another diamond may contain many black imperfections. Most people do not want black carbon inclusions or black carbon imperfections in their diamond. This is usually the reason why one diamond is more expensive than another – even if the grading is the same!

As a potential retail or internet diamond buyer, one must understand that it is difficult to put on paper what the eye sees or to otherwise describe the beauty of a diamond in a diamond grading report. We are not talking about automobiles that are assembled in a factory. We are talking about diamonds. Every diamond is unique. Every diamond has it’s unique inclusions.

Trying to categorize diamonds by diamond grading is like trying to categorize a beautiful woman. Diamonds are creations of nature. Like beautiful flowers or sunsets or a beautiful woman, beauty and the elements that make up beauty cannot simply be classified by categories or be understood by a diamond grading report.

Pay attention to the diamond that you are buying. Do not simply rely on the diamond grading report to ascertain value. The real value of a diamond is based on it’s beauty and it’s own unique characteristics – and not simply in a piece of paper that attempts to describe it!

GIA vs EGL. What is the difference between grading labs?

When buying a diamond a diamond grading report is essential. The grading report or “Certificate” represents an independent analysis of the quality of a diamond. Without such a grading report, one is at the mercy of the seller and assumes that the seller is accurately describing the quality. In many cases, sellers have a tendency to exaggerate the color, the clarity, or the cut proportions of a diamond. Some may do this on purpose; others simply do this because or their own lack of knowledge with regard to accurate diamond grading.

There are several diamond laboratories that offer diamond grading reports – often referred to as diamond “Certificates”. Among the most popular “Certificates” are those of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and of the European Gem Lab (EGL).

The Gemological Institute of America, or GIA, is a nonprofit institute dedicated to research and education in the field of gemology and the jewelry arts.Founded in 1931, GIA’s mission is to protect all buyers and sellers of gemstones by setting and maintaining the standards used to evaluate gemstone quality. The institute does so through research, gem identification and diamond grading services and a variety of educational programs. Through its world-renowned library and subject experts, GIA acts as a resource of gem and jewelry information for the trade, the public and worldwide media outlets.

The GIA Certificate is the gold standard of diamond grading. Although diamond grading is not an exact science and GIA grading may not always be perfect, the GIA attempts to be consistent within the framework of the color grading scale and clarity grading scale that GIA created.

One should not assume that every diamond that has the same specific color and clarity grade from GIA is exactly the same. GIA grading is subjective and deals with differences in clarity such as “minute inclusions extremely difficult to locate under 10X magnification” and “minor inclusions somewhat difficult to locate under 10x magnification”. These can be very subtle differences. For the most part, there is not much of a difference in GIA clarity grades in the Flawless or VVS grades. There can be significant differences among diamonds within the “VS”, “SI” and “I” clarity grades. For this reason, often diamonds within these are described as being a “top SI1” or a “weak SI2”.

EGL and most other diamond laboratories are for-profit businesses that are in business to make money. Unfortunately, they make money by issuing inflated or “bogus” diamond grades that do not adhere to GIA standards.

Unlike GIA, which has multiple locations throughout the world but strives to achieve uniform standards for grading diamonds, EGL has several independently operated labs throughout the world. Each has its own standard of how “far off” the GIA standard they are willing to go.

The best of the EGL labs is EGL– USA. There is a lab in New York and one in Los Angeles. I have once or twice seen a diamond grading certificate from EGL-USA that was very close to a GIA standard. In many cases, there tends to be a color grade difference of perhaps one color and a clarity grade difference of the same magnitude.

EGL International, which can be in any one of several locales, is a joke with regard to diamond grading and the Certificates that these labs issue. Color grades may be off by four or five shades – for instance, a diamond that is graded as a “G” color may, in reality be a GIA “L” color. Because of the fewer categories of clarity grades, the clarity grade is usually not off by as many grades as the color, however a variance of two or maybe three clarity grades is not unusual.

Perhaps now you can understand why GIA is the gold standard when it comes to a diamond report or Certificate. To take this a step further, one must understand that if they are comparing GIA graded diamonds and EGL graded diamonds; they are comparing apples to bananas. If one thinks that they are saving money by purchasing an EGL graded diamond, this is usually not true at all. If one were to get a GIA certificate on the EGL diamond they would most likely find that they are overpaying for an inferior diamond.

Such is life. Some people think they have found a way to beat the system. They only understand “low” price. This is the purpose of the non-GIA labs – to give these consumers what they are looking for.

 

UPDATE: On October 1, 2014 Rapnet banned all EGL grading reports from its diamond database listings. This is a link to the official notice.

How important is Polish and Symmetry in a Diamond Certificate?

How important is Polish and Symmetry in a Diamond Certificate.

This question is one that arises in my business several times every week. The typical request comes in for a “Triple Excellent” of for “EX/EX/EX” diamond.

To begin with, one must understand that “Triple Excellent” applies only to Round Brilliant diamonds. GIA diamond grading reports do not grade “Cut” for Fancy Shape diamonds. A fancy shape diamond is anything other than a Round Brilliant Cut. This includes Cushion Cut, Princess Cut, Radiant Cut, Emerald Cut, Oval, Pear Shape or Marquise. This being the case, only a round diamond can be an Excellent Cut or EX/EX/EX or “Ideal Cut”.

With regard to Polish and Symmetry grading, GIA assigns a grade to each that can range from Excellent to Poor. There are five possibilities. They are Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor.

It is my opinion that Polish and Symmetry are more important on a Round Brilliant diamond than on a fancy shape diamond. To many retail diamond buyers, this may seem somewhat surprising since there is no “Cut” grade assigned for fancy shapes and, therefore, Polish and Symmetry is all they have to go on when determining the “cut” of a particular fancy shape diamond.

Truth be told – a fancy shape diamond is all about the cut. Unfortunately, the determination of the beauty or brilliance of a fancy shape diamond has nothing at all to do with Polish and/or Symmetry! (For more on this, see below.)

With regard to Polish and Symmetry, whether it be a round or a fancy shape diamond, one must understand what these things really are. Polish refers to the appearance or lack thereof of any surface remnants or surface blemishes that remain on the diamond after the cutting is completed. These are not flaws or imperfections in the diamond. Think of the final diamond polishing process as being akin to sandpaper on wood. In a perfect situation, , there is no trace that the wood has been sanded as it is left in a pristine, smooth condition. This is also true with regard to diamond polishing.

Symmetry on the other hand is something specific to a diamond. This refers to the faceting of the diamond. Specifically, a diamond is cut with many different facets. In a round diamond there are 58 facets – or individual “planes” on the surface of the diamond. The number of facets on a fancy shape diamond varies. Symmetry refers to how precisely the “point” of each “facet” is aligned with the “point” of the adjacent “facet”.

One must realize that with regard to polish and/or symmetry, there are many facets and “points” of a diamond. Usually, the polish or symmetry grade of a particular diamond can be based on an extremely minute detail of just one or two facets.

In order to put this whole thing into perspective, one must understand that within the grades of Excellent and Very Good (and, in most cases of “Good”), the differences in these Polish and Symmetry grades are very minimal and have virtually no effect on the overall brilliance or sparkle of a diamond. We are talking about things that are apparent only under magnification and, even then, are extremely difficult to visualize.

“Fair” or “Poor” grades in either Polish and/or Symmetry are somewhat significant issues that may affect the overall beauty of the diamond. In these instances there are numerous misaligned facets or facets that are “way out of whack”. In the case of fair or poor “Polish”, there are numerous or somewhat more obvious surface blemishes that remain on the diamond’s surface. These diamonds should be avoided.

On the other hand, It must be understood that the differences between “Excellent”, “Very Good” and sometimes “Good” are very minor differences and are inconsequential to the overall appearance of a diamond. These are facet junction issues or surface issues that I assure you will never ever be aware of – even under magnification.

My advice is to stick with “Excellent” and/or “Very Good” in both Polish and Symmetry. More importantly, do not think that a diamond with “Excellent” Polish and/or Symmetry is any more beautiful that one that is “Very Good”.

Think of the difference in this way. Assume you have beautiful custom wood cabinets built in your home. Assume that these cabinets are made of beautiful wood and the craftsmanship of the project is spectacular. Assume the final step on the installation is applying the final coat of varnish to the the surface on which several coats of varnish has already been applied. If you then went over the entire surface of the many linear feet of cabinetry inside and out with a magnifying glass and found an exceptionally minuscule spec or blemish in the varnish on the inside of one cabinet, this would be the difference between “Excellent” or “Very Good”. Remember – this is with magnification and even so we are talking about something that is exceptionally minute!!

As in everything in life, we all want perfection in every way. But, as a diamond merchant for 40+ years, I assure you that I cannot tell the difference between “Very Good” and “Excellent” when it comes to Polish and/or Symmetry. I am human and do not possess the vision and technical analysis of a computer that is programmed to do nothing else except examine a diamond and every one of it’s facets under extreme magnification. I have no doubt that you also will never see any difference between “Excellent” and “Very Good” when it comes to Polish and Symmetry.

Retail diamond consumers often drive themselves “crazy” with details about somewhat trivial things. Today, advances in technology have taken the diamond cutting process and the ways in which diamonds are evaluated far beyond levels that were possible in the past. Realistically, we have gone way beyond the things that really matter – the overall beauty of a diamond!

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A WORD ABOUT “POLISH” and “SYMMETRY” and “FANCY CUT” DIAMONDS . . .

I happen to think that many fancy shape diamonds are ugly. I also think that there are fancy shape diamonds that are spectacular. In most cases, what makes one fancy shape diamond nicer than another is all about the diamonds “cut”. But the “cut” that makes a fancy shape diamond spectacular almost never has anything to do with Polish and/or Symmetry.

In my personal experience, I often prefer fancy shape diamonds in which the Polish and/or Symmetry is only “Good”. Many times I find that the fancy shape diamond that has “Good” polish and/or symmetry is much more beautiful than another fancy shape diamond that is Very Good or Excellent.

This is not to say that the fancy cut diamond is more beautiful because the Polish and/or Symmetry is only “Good”. It is because the Polish and Symmetry is usually inconsequential to the big picture – which is “How beautiful is the diamond?”.

Unfortunately for the consumer, the Polish and Symmetry grade on a grading certificate does not give even the slightest inkling of whether or not a particular diamond is beautiful. The beauty of a fancy cut diamond is about the proportions of things such as length by width – or the depth and table. It is about the brilliance and “life” of the diamond. It is about what the diamond looks like when you actually look at it as opposed to looking at a grading report!

The overall beauty of a fancy shape diamond has nothing to do with Polish and Symmetry. Most fancy shape diamonds have Polish and Symmetry grades of “Good” or Very Good. Unlike Round diamonds in which “Excellent” or “Very Good” is more common, a grade of Good” in Polish and/or Symmetry is the “norm” for fancy shape diamonds.

This is one of the issues of buying a diamond online or strictly buying a diamond based on the certification paper. The simple truth that I know after spending a lifetime in the diamond trade is that the beauty of a fancy shape diamond – whether it is a Cushion Cut, an Oval, or an Emerald Cut or any other fancy shape – has nothing to do with the Polish and/or Symmetry grade (except in cases of Fair or Poor). The beauty of a fancy cut diamond is about the diamond itself. It is about how that diamond disperses light.

Unlike a round diamond in which there are scientific parameters when cutting which provide for maximum brilliance, there is no scientific formula for cutting a fancy shape diamond. Most often when cutting a fancy shape diamond, the diamond cutter is working within the parameters of the rough diamond that he starts with and the beauty of the finished diamond is the direct result of the diamond itself.

The creation of a fancy cut diamond is similar to the work of a sculptor. A diamond cutter cuts the shape and dimensions from a rough diamond that has been extracted from the earth. Trust me in that the minor detail of the facet alignment or the smoothness of the surface is inconsequential to the overall appearance of this diamond. A sculptor may achieve a beautiful smooth finish that one could say is “Excellent” or “Very Good”. But that may overlook the fact that the sculpture is ugly!

The bottom line is this. Stick to “Excellent” and/or “Very good” in a round diamond. And understand that in a fancy shape you are fooling yourself if you think that the Polish and Symmetry grade gives you any inkling of the beauty of the diamond.