The time has come in your relationship to finally pop THE question. Various thoughts are now running through your mind, like how to ask, where to ask, and when to ask. And then it dawns on you: what type of ring should I choose?
If a traditional round brilliant diamond is too traditional for your taste, consider one with a different shape. Fancy Shaped or Fancy Cut diamonds (as they are also known) are beautiful and sometimes even more affordable than the traditional round brilliant. These geometric works of art are created by diamond cutters who are master craftsmen with a cutting wheel.
Fancy shaped diamonds can also come with diamond grading reports so that you can best understand the diamond’s characteristics. AGS Laboratories pioneered the light performance cut grade for fancy shapes, which means between the diamond cutters and AGS Laboratories, you now have more options of beautiful diamonds to choose from.
Here are four different fancy shapes to consider when shopping for the perfect ring.
The pear-shaped diamond has become a popular fancy shape among celebrities and modern brides who are looking for an elegant, eye-catching engagement ring. This beautiful rose gold ring from Tacori features a pear-cut diamond framed by a pear-shaped halo.
Emerald cuts are another great alternative. Take this showstopping emerald cut from Harry Kotlar, which is flanked by two spear-like diamonds.
Ovals are classic diamonds that are just a bit more cheeky than a round brilliant. They say, “I have a classic style, with a bit of an edge.” Just like this stunner from Valentina Diamonds.
The long, narrow shape of this fancy cut is often credited for making the finger appear more slender. Check out this diamond halo marquis-cut engagement ring from Norman Silverman Diamonds.
The right ring can be found with a little research and shopping around. One thing the right ring needs, though (besides the right person to give it to) is the right jeweler. Find the perfect jeweler here.
When you are making a diamond purchase, you want to know the story of the diamond, right? The more you know, the easier it is to make an informed decision.
That’s where a diamond grading report comes in. It’s just what it says it is: a report that grades the various qualities of diamonds.
AGS Laboratories Diamond Grading Reports take that analysis to the next level with Only My Diamond™.
Only My Diamond™ is a mobile-friendly tool that provides an easy, quick and interactive way to understand a diamond’s grading report.
This user and mobile-friendly tool includes numerous features, all designed to explain the unique characteristics of your diamond. Some highlights of Only My Diamond™ are the interactive video of your exact diamond, as well as proprietary features from AGS Laboratories that help explain how your diamond performs in different lighting environments (which is at the root of a diamond’s sparkle!)
Share the story of your diamond with your friends and family.
Watch this quick video to learn how Only My Diamond™ works. Then ask your jeweler for Only My Diamond™ from AGS Laboratories. Click here to find a trusted, AGS credentialed jeweler.
Already have an Only My Diamond™ report? Click here to view your report. Enter your report number and the diamond’s carat weight in the fields provided.
If you don’t have Only My Diamond™, why not take it for a test drive? Click here and enter 9999805 into the AGS number field and then enter .567 for the weight.
Diamonds have been celebrated for centuries as a symbol of love and status and have been revered throughout the centuries. No wonder there are literally volumes of references to diamonds in fiction and historical tomes.
Though April is in our rearview mirror, we just can’t quite let go of our favorite gem, and in thinking about our obsession, three thoughts struck us that show how special diamonds really are:
Diamonds are the result of both nature and man. They come from the earth, but diamond cutters, who are skilled artisans, turn diamond rough into beautiful works of art.
Case in point: this masterpiece from Forevermark.
Diamonds and plants both need light. Plants need light to live. In a way, so do diamonds. The way light travels through a diamond creates sparkle. A well-cut diamond will have more sparkle than one that is poorly cut. Gemologists often refer to this sparkle as “life.”
A well-cut diamond shimmers with life; that because of the light being returned to the eye! Did you know that cut affects the value of a diamond by as much as 50%? A well-cut diamond will appear larger than one of similar size that is not as finely cut.
This well-cut beauty from Carizza also doubles as a show-stopper!
Diamonds can be a symbol of love, status and even purity . . . they are also a symbol of strength: A diamond forms under tremendous heat and pressure, just like human character! It takes billions of years to form a diamond, and while humans don’t have that luxury of forever, we grow and learn from life’s challenges. It’s no wonder that people celebrate their special moments with diamonds. Diamonds are also the most durable of gems, and measure 10 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness.
Star Gems demonstrates that while a diamond may be tough, the right design can be soft and downright feminine.
Ask your American Gem Society jeweler to help you find the perfect diamond. Remember, something as rare and precious as a diamond deserves a report from a well-respected diamond grading laboratory. Ask for one from AGS Laboratories, a nonprofit diamond lab created with the AGS mission of consumer protection and the highest standards of grading. Search for an American Gem Society jeweler near you by clicking here.
Buying finished jewelry is so different than buying loose diamonds, mainly because our diamond buying is a year-long process. We are constantly searching for diamonds, whether it be something specific that a client has asked to see or just something that we need to meet our day-to-day inventory needs.
Because of this never-ending search for perfect diamonds, our ability to spot the good ones remains pretty sharp. I’ve always said that a really well-cut diamond has a sort of “it factor,” meaning after you’ve seen enough of them, you just know the special ones with a glance. When it takes your breath away—right away—that’s the one.
When I closed Part I of this blog, I promised you that we would discuss exactly what goes into making a diamond an AGS Ideal® cut. How do you tell the difference? And is it worth the extra money? I stressed out so much about living up to my promise that I reached out to my good friends at American Gem Society Laboratories to make sure I kept it all straight. So here we go:
What exactly is “cut” as it relates to diamonds? The American Gem Society (AGS) and AGS Laboratories say, “The cut of a diamond refers to how well the facets of a diamond interact with light, the proportions of the diamond, and the overall finish of the diamond.” (Source: americangemsociety.org/diamond-cut)
Facets, light interaction, proportions, and finish may seem like small things, but their influence on the beauty of a diamond is enormous. AGS makes it really easy to understand with their 0 to 10 grading system, with zero (0) being the highest cut grade (ideal) a diamond can receive and 10 being the lowest. However, this apparent simplicity is deceptive because it requires very careful analysis of all things that make up that diamond.
It used to be that diamonds were “cut graded” primarily by their proportions, but AGS revolutionized diamond grading in 2005 when they released their long-awaited Light Performance Cut Grading System.
This method uses patented software technology to measure the attributes that are most important to the beauty of your diamond: Brightness, Fire (spectral color), and Contrast. The combined impact of these factors is what breathes life into your diamond and makes it sparkle! In other words, they are the secret ingredients of the “it factor” that I mentioned above.
The AGS Grading Scale, based on a 0 to 10 scale, makes grades easier to understand; 0 means the cut grade is the best it can be.
Because every facet is considered, every cutting mistake and design flaw can impact the final Cut Grade. Consequently, the AGS Performance Cut Grade system is the most technologically advanced and scientifically rigorous system in the world and represents the highest standards in cut grading.
These ranges make it easier to understand, but I’ve seen more than my share of clients get caught up in these numbers, and they forget to ask themselves one thing: how does the diamond actually look? Is it bright and sparkly with a lot of life? Yes? Then don’t let one number encourage you to cast a pretty diamond onto the scrap pile.
What’s really cool from a gemologist’s point of view is that the same technology used to compute the Cut Grade also produces a color-coded image of the diamond which allows you to understand its light performance.
The above is called an ASET image. ASET stands for Angular Spectrum Evaluation Tool. (There will be a test later, haha.) For customers like you, this is a crucial piece of technology because it demonstrates the way light interacts with your diamond. It’s much easier to see and understand a diamond’s beauty through this image than to listen to a scientific explanation, right? We can show you your diamond’s ASET image right at Jack Lewis, and you can even snap a picture of it to carry around with you or share on social media.
Additionally, The ASET shows the “optical symmetry” of your diamond. For example, in the image above, the eight symmetrical arrows prove that the diamond was cut with a high degree of craftsmanship and artistry.
The simple fact remains that while what we do isn’t the most complicated job on the planet, it really does take a scientific approach and an educated eye to do all of the above. A life spent in the diamond business can teach the right grader, gemologist, or diamond buyer the skills they need to be able to make proper decisions and assign the right grades which determines the right price.
The average consumer looking to find just the right diamond for the love of their life does not have the time to become an expert during their brief shopping experience. They can Google, research, and look at hundreds of diamonds, but they will still need to seek out a properly credentialed and trustworthy diamond professional to help them find what’s right for them. That’s the real dilemma when you’re looking for a jeweler isn’t it….trust?
I once had a client at the diamond counter who told me that Jack Lewis Jewelers was the 15th jewelry store he had visited! He was so confused and so frustrated with the process that he was almost in tears. I can understand why. One jewelry store will tell you one thing, and then another will explain it another way, and on top of it, they are all trying to sell you whatever is in front of them. Just about all of them mean well and are honest, but it can be a lot to process.
I asked if I could give him some advice and he reluctantly said, “Sure.” I said, “Just stop. Stop looking. Pick the place that makes the most sense with as little sales talk as possible. Then trust that person to walk you through the process with an education along the way.” I went on to say that I hoped that was me, but if not, he needed to find the person he could most relate to and trust.
I could tell when I gave him that advice that I had lifted a great weight off of his shoulders. The process can be overwhelming and the diamond grading scale can be a large part of why. I understand that retailers don’t always do a good job of explaining the process, so it is really important to find one who takes the time to do just that. I’ve found it’s the best way to establish a relationship with my clients—and dare I say it—a friendship. I’m happy to say that client did choose me! This occurred over 10 years ago and over the course of a few years, he even sent me several of his friends.
You can see we’ve taken this from an explanation about Cut Grade to the importance of establishing a relationship with someone you can trust. My journey to this destination was no accident. So let’s cut to the chase: at some point, buying a diamond becomes a leap of faith, and Cut is the most complicated part of the buying process as well as being the most essential characteristic in determining beauty. I believe it’s an understatement to say that it pays off to have an expert help you with that part. And at Jack Lewis, we’re ready to walk you through it.
I want to thank my friends at the American Gem Society (AGS) and AGS Laboratories for helping me with this blog. In particular, Jason Quick, who is the Laboratory Director and a mad genius who understands diamonds in ways I can only imagine. Jason and the team at AGS are on the forefront in the jewelry industry because consumer protection is at the very heart of everything they do.
Like the young man in my story, I hope you also choose Jack Lewis Jewelers, but we realize we can’t sell everyone a diamond. If you’ve ever wondered how you can find a jeweler you can trust, start with us if you can…but if not, AGS has you covered. Visit Find a Jeweler at www.americangemsociety.org/find-a-jeweler, type in your zip code and visit a great store. Every retail member of the American Gem Society adheres to a strict code of ethics that help them remain dedicated to the education of their clients.
This first fun finding was taken at 50x magnification of a crystal shaped like a turtle, and the “turtle’s” reflection. Can you see it? (Look closely, you’ll see the body, head, and arm).
This next image was taken at 20x magnification and exhibits iridescence in a feather. Some of our gemologists see the head of a rainbow trout, with the opaque crystal representing the eye. What do you see?
When it comes to diamond grading, there are five factors that affect how clarity is determined in a diamond, and how inclusions are considered: size, nature, number, location, and relief.
Size: Generally, the larger the inclusion, the greater the impact on the clarity grade. If the inclusions are large enough, the can also impact the durability of the stone.
Nature: Refers to the type of inclusion it is and its relative superficiality or depth.
Number: For the most part, the greater the number of clarity characteristics, the lower the clarity grade. However, inclusions are not always judged on the number, but on how readily they are visible.
Location: The position of the inclusion/blemish in the diamond.
Relief: The distinctness of the inclusion in contrast to the host diamond. The greater the relief, the greater the effect on the overall clarity grade.
To learn more about diamond grading, clarity, and AGS Laboratories, click here. To find a jeweler who carries AGS Laboratories Diamond Grading Reports, click here. AGS Laboratories is the only nonprofit diamond grading lab created with a mission of consumer protection.
Ask your jeweler for an AGS Laboratories Diamond Grading Report. Accept no substitutes, and buy your diamond with confidence!
So…I’m back! It’s been a while since I have regaled you with my gem nerd knowledge, so today I need to do a quick recap. We started off discussing color, then we went into clarity, followed up by my tales from Antwerp, Belgium. This time, we need to discuss the absolute most important aspect of any diamond: how it is cut! Because this is so important, we need to split it into a few parts just so I can hold your attention and give you the most important details.
My clarity blog ended by pointing out that the way a diamond sparkles generally has very little to do with its carat weight, its color, or its clarity. So what causes that dynamic little laser show you see in a perfectly cut diamond? I will do my best to explain.
For just over a hundred years, cutters have known how to properly proportion a diamond to maximize its sparkle. Yet without modern technology, they were forced to use nothing but mathematics to accurately decipher what angles would ensure the maximum beauty of a diamond.
Today, we can use computer programs and ray-tracing technologies to reinforce that those Belgian cutters from the previous century were almost spot-on with their equations. Think about how amazing that is! Using just mathematics, they were able to get the proportions of diamonds within fractions of a percentage point to their optimal standards. (And you never believed your teachers when they insisted math was useful.)
Over the years, I’ve had thousands of interactions with clients at our diamond counter, and while everyone is looking for something a little different, the constants that every buyer wants are the same: they want their diamond to be as big and as sparkly as possible for as little money as possible. Simple enough, but most people go about this process the wrong way (initially, at least). So it’s my job to help them see things from the proper angles (diamond cutting pun intended).
After some initial Internet research, the average diamond consumer becomes fixated on color and clarity and starts to focus most of their attention on those categories. This isn’t incorrect so much as it’s just incomplete, because it’s a little misguided to value those areas over the cut grade of the diamonds you are shopping.
Color and Clarity are important. They have to be since they’re based on rarity and because they affect the price so much. But here’s the truth that almost no diamond seller will tell you… Ready for this bombshell? Here it is: once you put that diamond on your finger, absolutely nobody will ever walk up to you and say, “Wow! That’s a really pretty 1.01ct G color VS2 clarity diamond!” Ridiculous right? Know why? Because unless the color and clarity are terrible, nobody notices those (not even your jeweler). What you, your friends, your family, and everyone else does notice about a diamond is its size and how much it sparkles. And what I’m telling you is that color and clarity have almost no influence on how much a diamond sparkles (again, unless they are lousy).
So that brings us to the cut grade and the proportions of a diamond which, from an educational perspective, have always been the most difficult to explain because, frankly, there are so many numbers to focus on that it can be hard to know which ones to single out. Some people try. They look at the table percentage or the depth percentage and assume if they are in line, then the rest must be as well. But this is not always the case.
For generations, the diamond industry has known that the cut grade is the most important factor in describing a diamond’s beauty, but they struggled for decades to explain why. In fact, this is such a complicated topic that universally-accepted grading standards for Cut didn’t make it into the marketplace until nearly 40 years after the accepted nomenclature for color and clarity were instituted.
It was in 2005 that the AGS Laboratories from American Gem Society (AGS) became the first diamond grading laboratory to bring clear standards to an otherwise fuzzy conversation. They accomplished this by basing their cut grading on both 3-dimensional modeling and on the actual appearance of the diamond. While other laboratories have since followed suit with systems of their own, I have always been a believer that the AGS system is the most thorough and reliable.
Being a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to the mission of consumer protection, AGS Laboratories takes the security of their diamond grading reports very seriously.
If you have an AGS Laboratories diamond grading report, take a close look at it. Have you ever noticed any of the security features? Some are apparent and some are hidden. We feel you should know about the six security steps AGS Laboratories has taken to ensure the authenticity and security of your diamond grading report.
#1 – Paper
Just like U.S. currency, the paper used to create your diamond grading report is tracked and signed in and out. When documents need to be printed, the paper is taken from its secure location, counted, and then signed out. Once printed, it’s counted again. The amount of paper that was originally signed out must match the amount that was printed.
If a document is misprinted, it will be securely discarded. This action must be added to the report, that way the destroyed document isn’t recorded as missing.
#2 – Hologram
Each document contains a special hologram unique to AGS Laboratories. Like the paper, these holograms are counted, signed in and signed out. It also contains its own security feature: if you try to peel it off, it becomes illegible and cannot be reapplied.
#3 – Barcode
Each document has its own unique barcode, which is just one more way the security of your document is reinforced.
#4 – QR Code
At the top of each document appears a Quick Response (QR) code, which can be scanned with any QR app found on a smartphone or tablet. The QR code ties in with the AGS number and barcode found on each document. If the algorithm within the QR code verifies that both numbers match in our database, it will connect to the report verification page on the AGS.org and agslab.com websites.
AGS Laboratories is the first to have both a barcode and a QR code on laboratory documents.
#5 – Unifraction Embossing
On the reverse side of the document, you will see something that looks like a hologram but is, in fact, a proprietary security mark woven into the paper. Examples of unifraction embossing can be found on some foreign currency.
#6 – Lamination
The lamination on your document keeps it looking like new. It protects against damage from liquids, the transfer of oils from our skin, paper-loving vermin, and the general wear and tear of time. It’s also bonded to the document; if one attempts to peel it off, it will destroy the document, removing ink in the process.
Ensuring Your Protection
So, there you have it: the six security features on your AGS Laboratories diamond grading report. These six features can only be found on full and half page documents. Go ahead and count them. Scan the QR code. Be confident you have an authentic and secure document in your hands.
We know shopping for a diamond or diamond jewelry is a big investment, and at times can be intimidating. Always ask for an AGS Laboratories Diamond Grading Report to help you make an informed purchase. And, be sure to shop with an American Gem Society credentialed jeweler. They will explain your desired diamond’s AGS Laboratories Diamond Grading Report, as well as tell you about the qualities and characteristics that make your diamond unique.
Rolls Royce. Hermes. Cartier. Luxury brands that evoke the best of the best, right? When thinking of gemstones, diamonds, like these brands, are on the high-end of the luxury food chain. They are a girl’s best friends. They are the ultimate symbol of status. . . and of love. They are Forever.
With something so precious and coveted, it stands to reason then that when you purchase a diamond, it has been thoroughly analyzed before it hits the store so that you understand its level of quality. There are several diamond grading labs that can do this, but before you buy a diamond with one of those lab’s report, it’s important you learn about the lab. In 1996, the American Gem Society created AGS Laboratories because no other labs were founded on the premise of consumer protection. None. They were all created to service the trade.
From its inception, AGS Laboratories has taken its mission seriously. It’s devoted much of its resources to not just grading diamonds, but researching them to really understand how this beautiful gem can be its most beautiful. Because of this research, AGS Laboratories uses a scientifically vetted cut-grading system, based on optical physics and proprietary “ray-tracing” software. This three-dimensional analysis traces how light performs in a diamond. That methodology is the cornerstone of the Lab’s Platinum Diamond Quality® Document. No other report is more thorough or reviews as much detail on a diamond’s light performance.
The report covers all the 4Cs with great emphasis on Cut—the C that contributes most to a diamond’s brightness. Each document has a “Light Performance” map unique to each diamond, showing you where the diamond has its most brightness versus light “leakage.” The less light that leaks out of a diamond, of course, the brighter it will be.
So what exactly is light performance and why is it important? The diamond’s cut—the layout of its facets—determines the light returned to the surface (what most refer to as Sparkle). The better and more exacting a diamond is cut, the more light is returned from the top of the diamond (known as its crown). If a diamond has a cut that is too shallow, light will leak out of the bottom. It the cut is too deep, light escapes out of the sides.
AGS Labs performance-based cut grade is available for Round Brilliant, Princess, Oval, Emerald and Cushion-shaped diamonds.
At the American Gem Society and especially in AGS Laboratories, we look forward to April all year long! With the diamond being April’s birthstone, it’s yet another opportunity to celebrate our favorite things: bright, shiny diamonds!
Don’t get us wrong, all other months and their birthstones are just as special! However, being part of an organization that offers you the highest quality diamond grading reports…we do have a special soft spot for diamonds.
A gorgeous 7 carat, cushion cut from Alson Jewelers.
History of the Diamond as the April Birthstone
Diamonds are a thing of beauty and the ultimate gift for a loved one. Thought to be one of the hardest substances on the globe, diamonds date back billions of years. The diamond is the traditional birthstone of April and holds significant meaning for those born in that month, thought to provide the wearer with better relationships and an increase in inner strength. Wearing diamonds is purported to bring other benefits such as balance, clarity and abundance. It’s also symbolic of eternal love, and those fortunate to call April the month of their birth will enjoy the following history behind this rare gem.
Diamond engagement rings by Suna Bros.
Adopted from the Greek work “adamas,” meaning invincible, diamonds come in a wide range of colors such as black, blue, green, pink, red, purple, orange and yellow. The color is dependent upon the type of impurities that are present in the stone. Yellow stones have minuscule traces of nitrogen while blue ones contain boron.
A stunning pear shape diamond from Philip’s Diamond Shop.
The History and Beliefs Surrounding the Diamond
As told through the Encarta, Sanskrit texts dating back before 400 B.C. found that people associated significant value and wonderment with crystals. There is also significant research that dates back to the 1330s showing diamond cutting in Venice. The diamond trading business flourished towards the 15th century with the opening of Eastern trade routes. Ancient theories touting the magical powers of diamonds were prevalent: some thought lightning bolts formed diamonds, while other theories asserted that diamonds were the tears of god.
Engagement rings by Ritani.
The Healing Power of Diamonds
During the Middle Ages, diamonds were thought to hold healing powers and to cure ailments stemming from the pituitary gland and brain. By heating the crystal and taking it to bed, it was thought to draw out the harmful toxins that were crippling the body. It was believed that diamonds could also have an effect on an individual’s balance and clarity and could boost their energy when combined with other crystals like amethyst.
The diamond as the April gemstone has garnered the hearts of many and is the most coveted crystal to date. Deemed as the King of all birthstones, diamonds make the ideal choice for an April birthday gift. She’ll love you for it! Find a trusted diamond jeweler near you.
You’re likely familiar with the 4 C’s of Diamonds: Cut, Clarity, Color and Carat – however, there is another very important aspect of diamonds to keep top of mind: Sparkle!
Sparkle, or Scintillation as it is also known, is the play of white and colored flashes of light seen when the diamond is viewed in motion. Viewable with the naked eye, sparkle is the life of the diamond.
Sparkle does have two different aspects, flash scintillation and fire scintillation.
Flash scintillation is the dynamic pattern of white sparkles observed across a diamond’s crown. Because flash can be seen across a broader range of light environments, it is more common to see white sparkles in a diamond than colored flashes of fire.
Fire scintillation is the dynamic pattern of colored sparkles observed across a diamond’s crown. Because of the refraction caused by a diamond’s faceting, normal white light can be split into many spectral colors as it leaves the diamond.
Light and Movement
Without light, diamonds can’t sparkle. As light is a key ingredient, diamonds with the highest potential for sparkle find light in broad ranges of commonly encountered illumination environments and redirect the light to the observer’s eye through the diamond.
The other key attribute is movement, which sets the scintillation performance apart from its light performance. A motionless diamond in broad diffuse lighting cannot demonstrate the beautiful display of scintillation. It is movement that causes the flickering of sparkle across a diamond, whether it is the diamond, the observer, or the light source that moves.
But, how do you sparkle?!
Cut is key to sparkle. A diamond with superior sparkle has flashes of light and color across the top of the diamond. A poorly cut stone can have “dead” areas where no flash or fire is seen.
For a fun and unique take on sparkle, check out AGS Laboratories’ very own Executive Director, Peter Yantzer, talk about how he sees sparkle.