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Ideal Vs. Vg; Vs2 Vs. Si1; G Color Vs H Color


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#1 KurtB

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 12:12 PM

Hi, I'm in the market for a diamond for my future (hopefully) fiance.

I'm looking for something about 1 carat in a round brilliant, and can spend between 4,000 and 5,500 for the stone.

So far specs that I'm 'zeroing in' on (I've learned a lot from this forum so far already) for this price range would be Ideal cut, VS2 clarity, and G color. Also symmetry and polish to be at least very good.

I'm wondering if it's possible to priortize any of these 'rankings' further any more or less.

I realize this generalized question might make some of the dealers on here cringe.... it may be too general to answer. Also, I realize every diamond is different. It's impossible to answer this question and try to apply it in a blanket approach to all diamonds, especially stones you've never even looked at.

But if you, as someone in the business, were looking to maximize value for yourself in this price range, going into the search before looking at anything, which areas generally are you looking to maximize and which areas are you looking to shave costs?

For instance, would it be wiser to go for an H color and a VS2 clarity, or better to get G color and SI1 clarity? (assume we're talking AGS and GIA grades here).

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Edited by KurtB, 20 May 2007 - 12:54 PM.


#2 denverappraiser

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 02:18 PM

For AGS ‘Ideal’ grade, it must also have polish and symmetry graded ideal. For GIA ‘excellent’ the p&s must be at least very good so, since you seem to be sticking to those two labs and the respective top grades, you don’t need your p&s specs.

You’re going to come in over your budget with that set of specs, even at a discount dealer but not by all that much. Go to the link at the top of the page called ‘find online jeweler’ and enter in your specs. Give it a size range of 1.00-1.03/VS2/G and you’ll get more than a hundred offers. Sort by price from top to bottom and ignore anything that’s obviously out of place. The ones near the top end will be the best cut. You can easily adjust the parameters and do a second search to see what changes when you tweak the various things. I would stand firm on the cut and the lab but I suspect you will need to adjust at least two of clarity/color/price. You get to pick which two.

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#3 JohnQuixote

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 02:23 PM

You can find commercially cut G VS2 candidates offered on the internet within your budget but if you want top cut quality you will probably need to relax a bit somewhere.

For instance, would it be wiser to go for an H color and a VS2 clarity, or better to get G color and SI1 clarity? (assume we're talking AGS and GIA grades here).

You can go either way. An eye-clean SI1 will appear no different than VS2+ to the naked eye. Work with a pro who actually has the diamond in hand (not a 'drop-shipper') if you go this route. For that matter, a well-cut H color is going to be indistinguishable from G to most people. If you consider an H SI1 combination you can maximize cut and have more options.

VG+ in finish is a good call when trying to get the best bang for the buck. It sounds like you've done good research.

Edited by JohnQuixote, 20 May 2007 - 02:25 PM.

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#4 KurtB

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 04:00 PM

Thanks guys. You guys and this forum have helped me so much.

An added querry - how much stock would you put in, for instance (using blue nile and union diamond as examples), the blue nile "signature ideal" and the union diamond "select ideal" versus regular ole standard 'ideal'? The knowledgeable people here all emphasize cut so are these top of the line cuts a good investment, or are you just paying a premium for some kind of name once you get past your standard 'ideal'?

Edited by KurtB, 20 May 2007 - 04:46 PM.


#5 denverappraiser

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 05:04 PM

Blue Nile Signature Ideal means that they own it (or at least have exclusive control of it) and that either AGS has graded it as Ideal or GIA has graded it as excellent. In the case of rounds, they also say that they display the ‘hearts and arrows’ symmetry, which is kind of cool. They throw in a few other packaging type things like the GCAL report as well but there are no additional standards for the stone that I’m aware of.

I’m not sure what Union ‘select ideal’ means but I suspect they would be happy to discuss it with you if you ask.

Here’s what their website says about it:
“This diamonds proportions are so exact that it has been classified as a Select Ideal™ Cut by expert Gemologists. Its cut ensures the maximum fire and brilliance. Nearly all light that enters our Select Ideal™ Cut diamond is reflected from facet to facet, and then back to the top of the diamond which produces maximum brilliance, fire and beauty. Select Ideal™ Cuts can only be found at Union Diamond.”

Some companies have very specific standards for their house brand where AGS-ideal is just one of the requirements while others use these terms pretty loosely. If they’re not prepared to give significantly better details than the above about what makes it different, I would take it with a grain of salt.

Neil

Edited by denverappraiser, 21 May 2007 - 11:46 AM.

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#6 JohnQuixote

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 05:13 PM

The word ideal is much-abused. AGS incorporated it to describe the top grade in their proportions-based grading system, launched in 1996. In 2005 the AGS changed to a stricter performance-based grading system and AGS Ideal became an even more rarified range. Diamonds which are AGS Ideal (what I think you mean by 'regular ideal') are reliably top performers, though even within this strict range there are variations... But not everyone adheres to AGS standards when they use the word 'ideal' to market their diamonds.

For instance, you could go into business and start selling diamonds as "Kurt's Signature Ideal." The word looks appealing when you're advertising to new diamond shoppers but we can't know what it really implies in terms of your brand unless you define it.

As you can imagine, brands vary quite a bit in terms of how tight/consistent they're cut. Some companies stick to AGS standards. Others have a brand that ranges much wider in parameters than AGS standards (past or present), and may even include 'undesirables.' Yet other companies have brands limited to an extremely tight set of parameters that lies in a zone of proven performance. Not everyone has the same requirements. A simple way of gauging this (as a start) is to see if the company limits its 'ideal' brand to only AGS diamonds (or GIA EX with near-Tolkowsky proportions and EX polish and symmetry, which many consider commensurate).

Whatever your decided-upon standards; there is a buffet of options for you to choose from - and companies boasting brands which range as wide or tight in cut consistency as you'd like to go.

Edited by JohnQuixote, 20 May 2007 - 05:16 PM.

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#7 JohnQuixote

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 05:20 PM

I'd also like to acknowledge Neil as crafty and swifty today. For the second time I've been slowly typing my answer as he posts his sage advice. I will have to do some pinky-pushups.
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#8 diamond_lover

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 06:29 PM

if i were you, i'll buy diamond with good color and clarity. the color at least must be a G color. clarity at least must be a VS1. :)

#9 KurtB

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 06:40 PM

if i were you, i'll buy diamond with good color and clarity. the color at least must be a G color. clarity at least must be a VS1. :)


Hey now, I already had my ideal cut vs2 h all picked out and now you come along. Is this my girlfriend logging in under a fake handle? :P

I'm pretty dead set against going any better than VS2 on clarity, but I'm still open to swaying myself into a G from an H. Do you honestly think you can see the difference?

Looking at the pics of actual diamonds on the site linked in John's sig, for instance.... I feel I can almost tell a difference just from the picture between the G and H. Could just be my mind telling me that, though.

#10 barry

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 06:48 PM

Focus on Cut Quality. The "C" of Cut controls and influences the visual perception of Color and Clarity.

In a beautifully cut diamond "H" will face up super white and SI-2 can face up super eye-clean. This combination will allow you to go up in carat weight and size and really max your dollars.

Before you automatically cringe at the thought of considering SI-2, please keep in mind that the direct result of maximizing a diamond's cut quality is to increase and intensify refracted light up through the Table and Crown facets to the viewer's eye(s). Thus, ability to see and pick out inclusions is masked. An apt analogy is the inability to pick out objects and details in a room if a high powered light source is shone into your eye.

The hesitancy by the diamond buying public to seriously consider purchasing diamonds below VS-2 clarity is based on mediocre cut diamonds which are the majority of diamonds being sold on the market. These diamonds leak more light out through the sides and lower pavillion facets than better cut stones and consequently with less refracted light being pushed up through the top of the stone to your eye, it is much easier to pick out and see inclusions.

A mediocre cut VS-2 may be absolutely no match to a beautifully cut and correctly facet aligned SI-2.

Since it appears that you're looking to purchase on-line it is important that your Vendor has the ability to analyze and review the diamond(s) in-house for you, supply you with necessary information, and determine if the diamond is worthy of purchase.

Good Luck!

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#11 JohnQuixote

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 07:19 PM

The hesitancy by the diamond buying public to seriously consider purchasing diamonds below VS-2 clarity is based on mediocre cut diamonds which are the majority of diamonds being sold on the market. These diamonds leak more light out through the sides and lower pavillion facets than better cut stones and consequently with less refracted light being pushed up through the top of the stone to your eye, it is much easier to pick out and see inclusions.

A mediocre cut VS-2 may be absolutely no match to a beautifully cut and correctly facet aligned SI-2.


Double ditto this. You simply don't see diamonds of this cut quality in normal situations. Most people develop paradigms based on commercial quality and limit themselves to highest color and clarity. This is not apples to apples.

This is one reason internet sellers offering the best cut extend a generous inspection and return period: We welcome buyers to take the diamond on a little 'world tour' to confirm how it measures up.

Edited by JohnQuixote, 20 May 2007 - 07:21 PM.

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#12 KurtB

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 07:25 PM

Are there certain table and depth parameters I should be looking for on a round cut? Or does this become less relevant if it's already, for instance, specifically an AGL-graded ideal?

#13 JohnQuixote

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 08:40 PM

Are there certain table and depth parameters I should be looking for on a round cut? Or does this become less relevant if it's already, for instance, specifically an AGL-graded ideal?

It's less relevant. Overall performance is driven most significantly by the crown and pavilion angle combination. Still, it may be of interest to you that the 1996-2005 'traditional' AGS Ideal range cited table between 53-58% and depth from 58-62.3%. Many successful brands still conform to that range. Diamonds falling into the modern 'near-Tolkowsky' bullseye (table near 56%, crown angle near 34.5 degrees and pavilion angle near 40.75 degrees) are generally thought to produce the most appealing balance of performance qualities; equal parts brightness, fire, scintillation and contrast.

The new AGS system is stricter but also more flexible: Diamonds are no longer rubber-stamped Ideal if they fall into a range of numbers. Now a diamond is scanned and its total configuration ray traced to arrive at numeric values for its own specific performance qualities. All 57/58 facets are taken into account. This means a round with a 50% table can now 'make' the AGS Ideal grade, but only if the crown, pavilion, stars, lower halves and girdles (all 57-58 facets) combine to earn the proper numeric values. Same with a 60% table (remember in the old system it was limited to between 53-58%).

When manufacturing rounds the most potential for a top grade still lies with diamonds in the 55-57% table range. There are just more total combinations at those table sizes predicted to result in an ideal grade than combos outside that range. It's the same with GIA: In their proportions-based system 55-57% tables have the most possible EX combos.

Among equally performing diamonds what you'll favor is a matter of taste: As I mentioned, the near-Tolk combos are commonly thought to produce the best 'balance' of qualities; brightness, fire, scintillation and contrast. In general terms, table sizes 60%+ generally look more spready, with more brightness than fire in the balance of their performance. Diamonds with 53% tables often have higher crowns and look more firey than they do bright (again, this all depends on overall configuration). Your personal taste and how much you want to train your eye will determine whether or not the subtle differences matter to you. Most people just like the diamond to be 'sparkly.' :)

In live commercial markets you may find a lot of diamonds with tables near 60% or so. This is because rough often lends itself to tables in that range.

Edited by JohnQuixote, 20 May 2007 - 08:44 PM.

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#14 JohnQuixote

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 08:50 PM

Looking at the pics of actual diamonds on the site linked in John's sig, for instance.... I feel I can almost tell a difference just from the picture between the G and H. Could just be my mind telling me that, though.

Just saw this comment. Photos can't communicate color appearance. Camera settings, lighting and even what the photographer was wearing that day can influence the way a photo appears on your monitor.

Or it could just be your mind :)

Edited by JohnQuixote, 20 May 2007 - 08:52 PM.

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#15 diamond_lover

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 05:57 AM

Hey now, I already had my ideal cut vs2 h all picked out and now you come along. Is this my girlfriend logging in under a fake handle? :P

I'm pretty dead set against going any better than VS2 on clarity, but I'm still open to swaying myself into a G from an H. Do you honestly think you can see the difference?

Looking at the pics of actual diamonds on the site linked in John's sig, for instance.... I feel I can almost tell a difference just from the picture between the G and H. Could just be my mind telling me that, though.

of course, i'm not your girlfriend! :)

i just feel comfortable with a good color and clarity, of course cannot forget a good cut! :P

#16 dragonfire

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 07:39 AM

Also look at superbcert diamonds @ exceldiamonds.com ...I have si1 and i would challange you to find a imperfection with your naked eye. It is really hard to even find them with 10x loope. Save yourself some money by lowering the clarity. Most important thing is find someone who you trust and it is going to be honest about there diamonds. Especially if you doing it on line.

Good luck!!

Edited by dragonfire, 21 May 2007 - 07:40 AM.


#17 diamond_lover

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 07:50 AM

Also look at superbcert diamonds @ exceldiamonds.com ...I have si1 and i would challange you to find a imperfection with your naked eye. It is really hard to even find them with 10x loope. Save yourself some money by lowering the clarity. Most important thing is find someone who you trust and it is going to be honest about there diamonds. Especially if you doing it on line.

Good luck!!

ya, agree that SI1 inclusions can't even view under 10x loupe (sometimes only). but i just feel more comfortable buying better color and clarity diamonds. just the feel. :)