Education

Welcome to our Education section, where you'll find information on diamond buying, jewelry care and more. We hope these references assist you in making more informed buying decisions, and we invite you to contact us with any further questions or concerns you have.

GIA has developed a new cut grading system for round brilliant cut diamonds. The system involved over 2,300 diamonds with over 300 people making 70,000 observations. This took 15 years. The results were recently unveiled with the new Cut Grade. For years we have graded cut. Diamond dealers and gemologists make a visual inspection of the diamond before louping it. We look for Fire, Brightness, and Pattern first. This is the overall visual experience of light that you see when you look at a diamond with the unaided eye in the proper lighting enviroment. This is independent from the clarity and color grade, unless the clarity grade is extreme low promotional, in which case the diamond will not sparkle. Mark Goodman, Graduate Gemologist, GIA attended a 3 hour laboratory and workshop at the IJO buying and educational show in Tampa, Florida. This lab was conducted by GIA with two instructors, one which helped develop the new cut grading system. Basically, every facet now counts. We inspect every facet for polish, symmetry, alignment, shape, and pointing. We evaluate the table size and shape, the length of the star facets, the length of the lower girdle facets, the girdle thickness and finish as well as wave, digging out and painting of girdle, Fire, Brightness, Pattern, overweight retention, crown angle, crown height percentage, pavillion angle, pavillion depth percentage, and culet size. All of these factors now give us the final cut grade. The new scale is Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor. The price difference of a 2ct round diamond which is Fair versus one which is Excellent can be 30% to 40% even with the same clarity and color grade! This makes an enormous difference in the value of the diamond as well as the beauty of the diamond. Remember, most of this is done using the unaided eye. In other words, you actually have to see the diamond.

The theme of our show was: Jewelers do not buy diamonds before seeing them and comparing them to others, why should you? I can not tell you from a grading report if a diamond is actually beautiful or if it will look fair of lifeless. GIA only started using this system a few months ago. They started conducted seminars for it one month ago. It has not been taught at all overseas yet. In other words, we are one of only a few jewelers and gemologists in the world which has received formal training from GIA on this new system to date. It will take time to train all of the gemologists and diamond graders the new system.

Even with the new grade, the pattern, fire, and brilliance of diamonds can be different in appearance but still receive a Good or Very Good grade. This is because there are a lot of variables as well as different grain structures in diamonds from different localities. Some diamonds can have great proportions and good clarity and color, but still not be bright or have good fire. This is where you actually have to see the diamond for yourself and be guided along by a trained professional. Since two diamonds can both have a Very Good cut Grade but still look different, it is important that you pick out the pattern, fire, and brightness that you like in a diamond. Different people are drawn to different looks in diamonds. Therefore, your personal taste plays a huge role in picking out your diamond. This can not be done by just looking at a grading report. A jeweler recently wrote an article in In-Store magazine that said something to this effect: Picking out a diamond from a stack of grading reports is like picking your wife from a stack of driver's licenses. It might say that she is 5'5", brown hair, blue eyes, 115 pounds, but it does not tell me if she is pretty. Unfortunately, I could not find this artice to credit the author. This is how we buy diamonds in the trade. We actually look at them with our eyes. The diamond must talk to you and be attractive to you visibly. In our case, if the diamond passes the visual inspection and is overall actractive to the eye, then we begin the process of clarity grading, color grading, and measuring all of the angles, the table, the diameter, depth, crown height, pavillion depth, and girdle thickness. Then we inspect the polish and symmetry.

All of our round brilliant diamonds which we grade beginning on March 10th, 2006 will now receive the new GIA CUT Grade on our reports along with the clarity grade and color grade. This usually starts with diamonds of 1/2 carat or larger in size. All new GIA reports will also have this CUT Grade added to the report. Earlier reports will not have this final Cut Grade listed.

I will be glad to explain the new cut grading system in more detail with you. Feel free to come by the Abingdon store and ask for Mark. I can show you the difference between a fair cut diamond and a well cut diamond. The difference is amazing and you can see it with your eyes.

Also, one area that is often overlooked is Fluorescence. This is something that usually has little effect on a diamond unless it is strong to extreme. Then, it can change the look of the diamond when viewed in light sources containing ultraviolet, such as sunlight. Then, the appearance can change. Sometimes it can look better to some people, sometimes washed out, or sometimes not much different unless it is very strong. In the case of very strong fluorescence, the value can be affected due to the washed out appearance the diamond can have in sunlight. Some diamond dealers do not like even moderate fluorescence. However, I have no bias towards moderate as long as the diamond has a good visual appearance in sunlight. Weak, faint, or slight will have little effect on the diamond, except maybe make it look a little whiter if it has a slight hue of yellow body color. Not all diamonds fluoresce. Many are inert. We check for fluorescence and list it on our reports with diamonds of 1/2 carat and larger. This can be an identifying characteristic of the diamond which can be useful later.

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