Category Archives: Diamond

The most important thing in buying a diamond engagement ring -TRUST.

In everything in life, whether it be a visit to the Doctor or Dentist, or a significant purchase of one thing or another, we often face the dilemma of whether the service provider or seller is looking out for himself/herself or for the patient/customer in making their recommendation(s) for the fulfillment of the patient’s/customer’s needs or desires. This is only natural in that the seller is most often concerned with getting well compensated for his/her services while the patient/consumer is motivated by the quality of the provided service or product and receiving such service/product at a “fair” price.

I recently had an experience with regard to a needed plaster repair in my beautiful older home. The fast talking great salesman who came to me through an internet referral service quoted me $1750.00 for a job that I knew he was not going to correctly repair – since he really had no idea how to do it right! In the end, a trustworthy old timer with lots of experience in plaster repair did a remarkable job on the repair for the cost of $360.00!!

So . . . you ask, “What the heck does any of this have to do with the purchase of a diamond engagement ring?” The answer should be somewhat obvious. You need to deal with someone who has the required experience and understanding of your needs as well as of the industry and the product – in this case, a diamond.

You also need to navigate through the minefield of fast talking salespeople (Beware of the Internet!!) and find someone who you feel comfortable dealing with in terms of their personality and their knowledge and their reputation for trust and integrity. Granted, this is not an easy task!

But there are many jewelry professionals whose mission in their work is to provide you with the necessary information, and more importantly, the right advice – to assist you in making the right educated choice in your selection of the “right” engagement diamond and/or diamond engagement ring. The most important thing to remember during this process is that you should not be looking for the best price. Price is not the same as “value” – and those who think otherwise will almost always buy an inferior (read: ugly!) diamond!

When you find such a person, I urge you to give him the level of respect and trust that he deserves. In the end, that trust and respect will serve you well.

The end result should be an experience that is mutually beneficial to both sides of the transaction. The buyer will be grateful for the knowledge and advice that has been obtained. The seller, or jewelry professional, will be happy that he has provided you with something that will be worn and appreciated and admired for many years to come!!

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This above comment – “the “right” diamond engagement ring” – is even more important than one might initially think!!

A diamond is just a diamond – beautiful as it may be. A diamond engagement ring, on the other hand, is a very significant piece of jewelry that is, in addition to symbolizing that the wearer is “engaged” or “married”, a very personal statement of one’s style and/or taste and personality. It is a work of jewelry art that will be worn for many years and will be appreciated by the wearer as well as many friends, family members, associates and many others.

Just as in the process of purchasing a loose diamond, it is essential to deal with a knowledgeable and experienced and trustworthy jewelry professional in turning a diamond into the finished engagement ring.

Some diamond shapes or qualities work well in certain styles of settings and not so much in other styles. While you may have a general idea of where you would like to end up in terms of an engagement ring style, I urge you – as in the diamond buying process itself – to find that trusted jewelry professional whose knowledge of materials, diamond shapes and qualities and cuts, and sense of style will assist you in ending up with something that will be beautiful to you as well as to everyone else!

Find someone who you can and will trust. Sometimes it takes a leap of faith. But it is the most aspect of getting to where you want to be. This is true regardless of the fact that you may be purchasing a $1,000.00 or a $50,000.00 diamond ring!!


In the course of my daily business I am sometimes the buyer of diamonds from one who has previously purchased a diamond.

Today I was presented with such a diamond. The owner/seller had acquired this diamond from a retailer in Philadelphia where my office is located. The owner/seller provided me with the opportunity to look at the diamond as well as the grading report that they were given at the time of purchase.

According to the paperwork, I assume that the purchaser thought that they were getting a good deal at the time of purchase. Upon looking at the diamond and grading it to “fair” and “proper” standards, the diamond was actually six grades lower than what the buyer/seller/owner thought she had acquired. The diamond was not a GIA certified diamond and was graded by a “fraudulent” grading lab.  The diamond was, in fact, worth only 32% of the value of what they thought they were buying!!

This true story is stated here just to reiterate the subject matter of the above post. Obviously, as should be learned from this brief story, there are those in the world who think that low price is all that matters – and who later ind out that they have been cheated.  More importantly, this brief story should reiterate the necessity of dealing with someone with a reputation for trust and integrity.

Sea Shells and Diamonds


As I was packing up my house recently, preparing to move, my daughter came across a beautiful Conch shell that she found on the beach in Captiva, Florida when she was young. Captiva is known for its beautiful shells.

She was admiring her beautiful shell when it occurred to me that finding a beautiful sea shell in a place that is known for its shells is much like finding a beautiful diamond.

In the world of diamonds, there are thousands of diamonds available on the Internet.  If there is one thing that I know after a lifetime of 40+ years in the wholesale diamond business, it is this: Finding a beautiful diamond is much harder than finding a beautiful Conch shell!


Recently I was evaluating the diamonds that I purchase for my “wholesale diamond stock”. I realized that for every thousand diamonds that I look at –  99% of which are certified by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America),  –  there are perhaps 20 that I purchase.

It is not a question of what the GIA report might say in terms f the diamond quality. It is a question of finding that rare diamond that you just look at and say, “WOW!’

A “WOW!” diamond is something that is truly amazing. You just want to look at it because its facets and its scintillation draw you in.  It is a work of nature and a very talented diamond cutter. It is one of the most spectacular things in the world. It is something incredibly beautiful.

It is very rare – even in a world filled with databases of many thousands of diamonds.

So, you might ask, “What is my point?”  In the sea of many thousands of diamonds (Internet diamond databases), one must understand that there are diamonds that are truly exceptional and the other 99%. Buying a diamond from an internet database – particularly the lowest priced diamond – is cheating yourself of the beauty of what an engagement diamonds supposed to be.

Maybe you think that an engagement diamond is just something that you “have to do” because it is an “expected” part of the engagement process.  This may be true to some extent. But it is something that will look at every day for many years. It should also be an investment in something that is truly spectacular.




The Right Diamond at the Right Price.

Since 1994, N D Reiff Company has used the tagline “The Right Diamond at the Right Price” in many of our promotional materials – whether it be a business card or in industry advertising materials.

To me, this is not just a tagline for advertising purposes.  It reflects a commitment in each and every unique diamond that I acquire and that I offer to the jewelry trade/consumer.

This commitment to “The Right Diamond at the Right Price” is more significant today than at any time over the past 25 years.  This is because the industry is flooded with ugly diamonds.

The issue of ugly diamonds has many dimensions. The most common issues are as follows:

1.) Over-Graded GIA Reports. This is particularly obvious within the  “SI”  (Sightly Imperfect) categories where the majority of diamonds contain black carbon or other large inclusions that are visible to the naked eye. It is also a factor in many “VS” graded diamonds.  A diamond with a black inclusion or a major inclusion may be valued at up to 15% – 40% less than a diamond of the same GIA grade without such an inclusion.  The pricing differential is dependent upon the size and placement of the carbon inclusion.  A diamond with a black carbon inclusion is almost always not the right diamond.

2.) Milky Diamonds. These are diamonds that are “cloudy” and “milky”.  Many will say that the diamond looks “sleepy”. Though the diamond may be represented by  a somewhat “clean plot” on the GIA report, a milky or cloudy  diamond will be severely lacking in luster and brilliance –  the characteristic for which a diamond is valued.  This is usually not apparent by looking at the GIA report. Milky diamonds will usually be priced at 20% -50% less than a similar graded diamond that is not “cloudy” or “milky”.  A milky diamond is never the right diamond.

3.) Tinge Diamonds. Some diamonds may exhibit a gray or green or brown color tinge.  While this is sometimes indicated on the GIA grading report it is most often not noted on the GIA report. Diamonds that have a color tinge exhibit shades of color beyond the normal scope of GIA color grading which evaluates the overall whiteness of a diamond in terms of gradations of yellow. For example, a diamond may be a “H” color in terms of the GIA grading scale but may exhibit a shade of grayish or greenish or brownish tint.  This color tinge greatly effects the overall brilliance and lustre of a diamond. Such diamonds may be 20% to 50% less than a diamond that does not exhibit a color tinge.  A tinge diamond is never the right diamond.   

4.) Fluorescent Diamonds.  Fluorescence is perhaps the most misunderstood designation on a GIA grading report.   In most cases, faint or medium fluorescence will not impact the overall beauty of a diamond but will have some impact on pricing.  The designation of Strong or Very Strong fluorescence will, in many cases, effect the lustre and brilliance of a diamond and should will have a significant impact on the price of a diamond usually in the range of 15% to 35%.  A fluorescent diamond must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and should be avoided in cases where it effects the lustre and brilliance.

5.) Cut – Round Diamond.  There is perhaps no other GIA grade characteristic that is as misunderstood at the Cut grade. It is my honest opinion that there is very little difference between the GIA cut grades of Excellent and Very Good.  For this reason the price differential between these two grades is minimal. There is, however, a significant difference in beauty and pricing for a diamond that is grade as good (or fair or poor). This may be in the overall cut grade or in the polish or symmetry characteristics noted on the report.  A good cut grade may be 10% to 40% less than a similar diamond that is Excellent.  A cut grade that is below Very Good cut should be avoided in most cases.  

6.) Cut – Fancy Shape Diamonds. There is nothing more important to the beauty of a fancy shape diamond than the cut.  There is also nothing more significant to the pricing of a fancy shape diamond than its cut. Many consumers are of the mistaken belief that the polish and symmetry attributes that are noted on a GIA grading report are an indication of the overall cut and appearance of a fancy shape diamond. This is absolutely a fallacy.  The cut has more to do with the beauty of a fancy shape diamond than anything else.  A poorly cut fancy shape diamond may be 50% less expensive than a beautifully cut fancy shape diamond.

7.) Proportion Ratio.  This issue of proportion ratios is particularly significant with regard to fancy shape diamonds.  It is applicable to all fancy shapes as it refers to proportion ratios.  These ratios affect the overall dimensions of the diamond as well as the optimal light refraction of a fancy shape diamond.  For instance, the ideal proportion ratio of an Oval diamond is 1.35 to 1.45. A diamond that is 1.30 or 1.50 is still a “nice” diamond in most cases although the price of such a diamond should be slightly less expensive.   With regard to a diamond that is significantly outside of the preferred ratio, the Rapaport Diamond Report notes this comment with regard to fancy shape diamonds:  “Prices for fancy shapes are highly dependent on the cut (meaning proportions, ratios, etc.).  .  . Off-make, poorly cut fancies often trade at large (price reductions) and are (not desirable) .”   A poorly proportioned diamond is never the right diamond.

8.) Etcetera,  Etcetera,  Etcetera .  .  . There are many other issues that affect the beauty and the price of a diamond.  Many of these issues go beyond the specifications or attributes noted on a GIA grading report.  Every diamond is a unique creation of nature as well as the diamond cutting process.  Some diamonds just have a “WOW” factor and others do not.  A “WOW” diamond is always more beautiful and more expensive than a diamond that is lacking in brilliance and scintillation and fire.

There is not a day that goes by in my office in which my discussions with retail jewelry store managers/owners/diamond sellers do not touch upon the relationships of diamond qualities and diamond prices.  These conversations usually go three different  ways:

For instance, today a retail jeweler was in my office looking for a diamond for his consumer customer who previously purchased a diamond from another retailer. His customer wants to upgrade the previously purchased diamond because it has “no life and no brilliance”.

I had the opportunity to see the diamond and I agree with the customer.  The customer purchased  a “Milky” diamond and now has regret.  Unfortunately the customer will now be paying more money to have a “nice” diamond.  Even worse, not only is the customer purchasing a new diamond in place of their earlier mis-taken purchase, the customer is now stuck with the diamond that was previously purchased as the disreputable retailer will not allow their customer to “upgrade” the diamond!

An additional conversation that I often have with diamond retailers goes like this:
“What is more salable in your store?. . . Low price OR a nice diamond??”.

To be perfectly honest with the reader (You), the typical answer to this question depends on the respect and integrity of the person that I ask. The diamond seller/retailer who is highly regarded whether on Yelp! or by community reputation will almost universally tell me that when given a choice and actually viewing diamonds, the buyer will choose the nicer and more expensive diamond.  Unfortunately, many mass market sellers tend to believe that low price is more important than quality.

The third conversation deals with the impact of the Internet on the diamond business.  Sure, the internet has impacted the diamond business at every level of the industry. Many people believe in Internet nirvana and believe that there is no reason to leave their computer screens.  These buyers never take the time to understand that a diamond can truly be something that is the essence of natural beauty.  These buyers look to the internet in which people are in search of lowest price – without understanding the meaning of value!

As one who has been art of the “diamond trade” for a lifetime, I understand that my industry serves many different “markets’ within the market.

On one hand there are diamond sellers/retailers/consumers who only believe in selling/buying cheap diamonds.  Whether this is because selling cheap (ugly) diamonds allows them to make a larger profit or because they believe that their clientele only understands low price, it is these such buyers who end up in the first category which I have described above.

On the other hand, the bottom line is this: The diamond buyer should buy “The Right Diamond at the Right Price”.

So, a diamond consumer will ask: “How do I know if it is the right diamond?”.
To that question I do not have an easy answer.

But I do know that it is my mission and my commitment to make “The Right Diamond at the Right Price” available to the market.


The Right Diamond at the Right Price.



Neil Reiff


Buying a GIA Fancy Shape Diamond – BUYER BEWARE.


Buying a Fancy Shape diamond – the term used for an Oval, Cushion Cut, Emerald Cut, Princess Cut, and all other non-Round diamond shapes – based solely on the GIA grading report is not well-advised.   Though there is much information contained within any grading report, none of this information conveys any clues as to what any particular fancy shape diamond looks like.

Today I came across two diamonds of similar GIA specifications – the same carat weight, same GIA color grade, and the same GIA clarity grade.

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. So . . here it is in pictures.

This is a actual un-retouched photo of a 3.02 Carat Cushion Cut diamond, GIA “I” color, GIA “VS2″ clarity.

This is an actual un-retouched photo of a 3.06 Carat Cushion Cut diamond, GIA “I” color, GIA “VS2″ clarity.

As you can see, a picture is also worth thousands of dollars! That is the difference between buying something that is beautiful and wasting money on something that is not pretty at all.

In the photos one can easily see that one diamond is beautiful. It is my opinion that the diamond pictured in the above photo is ugly! Live and in person, I assure you that the difference is even more apparent.

From looking at the two certificates, other than the fact that one diamond is more square and the other more rectangular (which has nothing to do with the issue at hand), one would never see the difference in beauty between these two diamonds simply by viewing the GIA certificate.

The simple truth is that one is just a beautiful diamond. The other is not. This is not determinable by looking at the GIA grading report.

To be honest with the reader, the diamond in the above photo is priced approximately 20% less than the diamond in the lower photo. In my opinion, the nicer diamond is worth a 1000% more than the other.

Some might think that saving 20% on a diamond is important. But when one diamond is 1000% more beautiful than another, think about this . . .

What diamond do you want to look at for the rest of your life?

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 Institute of America) have some degree of fluorescence 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” fluorescence 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 20% to 30% less than similar diamonds with none or lesser degrees of fluorescence..

The issue of fluorescence is more convoluted 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 fluorescence 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, a diamond with medium fluorescence should be priced approximately 3% to 15% below that of a similar diamond without fluorescence. The amount of this reduction depends on the color grade of the diamond.  In lower colors, the price differential is insignificant.  In DE and F color diamonds and VVS clarity diamonds, the price differential should be more significant.

A diamond with Strong fluorescence should be priced at 10% 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!   I honestly believe that fluorescence can be beneficial to a diamond in that it can enhance the overall beauty of a diamond and bring down the cost of a diamond by a few percentage points.

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.

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.

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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. “




NDR Diamond Grading


NDR Diamond Grading Chart

NDR DiamondGrading Chart REV2

Investment Grade

Investment Grade consists of those diamonds typically purchased for long term investment. Diamonds within this category are typically colorless (DEF color) and Flawless or near flawless (IF to VVS).  As with most things in life, the “BEST” and “RAREST” of anything is thought to be of “investment grade” because of their future potential for appreciation.  Diamonds that fall within the DEF/IF-VVS parameters are very rare are are sought after for this reason.  And, yes, a diamond that falls with these parameters will usually be exceptionally beautiful –  (assuming it has a good cut! – See Blog posts dealing with Cut)

Fine Grade

Fine Grade consists of diamonds that are exceptionally beautiful. Typically diamonds that are within the color range of DEFGH and clarity range of VS2 and better are considered fine.   I often use Tiffany & Company as a standard when speaking of Fine Grade diamonds as Tiffany adheres to a quality level that deserves respect throughout the diamond industry.   Tiffany & Co.  sells engagement diamonds that are of color grades ranging from “D” to “I” and clarity grades ranging from “VVS” to “SI1” clarity.  A “top” SI1 clarity will often be a “Fine” grade diamond.  There are also some SI2 clarity diamonds that may be considered fine, depending on the size, type and location of the inclusion.

Nice Grade

Nice Grade is characterized as a diamond that will appear to be white and brilliant and lively when used in a diamond engagement ring. Though considerably less expensive than diamonds in either the “Investment” or “Fine” grades, to the normal human observer in “real life” conditions (as opposed to laboratory environments) there is often very little difference in the overall appearance of a “Nice” diamond when compared to one of the top categories. 

Unlike the top two grade levels, this grade level may be a sliding scale within itself. For instance, an “I/SI1” diamond is still in many cases an exceptionally beautiful diamond.  On the other hand, a “K/SI2”, which is positioned near the end on the linear chart within this grade, is going to be somewhat less beautiful – but, in many cases, may still be a “Nice” diamond.

Furthermore, with respect to all categories, it should be noted that any combination of a “higher” color grade or clarity grade is more desirable and more valuable – (Read: Nicer and More Expensive!).  For instance, an “E” color and “SI1” clarity is often exceptionally beautiful and is considered a “Fine” diamond!

Commercial Grade

Commercial Grade diamonds are primarily sold in chain stores and Mall jewelry stores.  These are usually diamonds that are sold to “unknowing” mass-market consumers who know or care little about the beauty of the diamond they are buying.  Often times it is the “store credit” or other financing terms that motivates this buyer instead of the diamond.

It should be noted that a lower color/high clarity diamond such as a M/VS2 or a high color/lower clarity such as a F/I1 may be nice and pretty diamonds.  However, for the most part, diamonds within the color and clarity ranges noted within the Commercial grade section of the chart above will, in most cases, be significantly less beautiful than those in the top three categories.

Ironically, these diamonds are often not “cheap” with regard to pricing and represent “bad value” to the consumer.  Although sold at an “attractive retail price point” by mall retailers and chain jewelry stores, these diamonds are usually not cheap for what  they are.  More importantly, regardless of price, diamonds within the Commercial grade are usually not beautiful diamonds!

Garbage Grade

Garbage Grade  – The name says it all! There is no reason to purchase on of these diamonds except a “Price Point”.   And even then, the price may be low but you are getting nothing in return for the price.  A diamond is supposed to be something that is beautiful and something that will be worn and enjoyed. This is not that!

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 



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

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!