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Asscher cut - how to choose the best cut?


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I am in the market for an Asscher cut, 1.49-2.00ct, D-F, FL-VS1, with excellent polish/symmetry and none to faint fluorescence, and all within $15,000. On James Allen, there are about 10 options (linked below) matching my parameters. What do you look at to determine which options have the best cut and light return?

https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/asscher-cut/?CaratFrom=1.49&CaratTo=2.02&Color=F,E,D&Clarity=VS1,VVS2,VVS1,IF,FL&PriceFrom=200&PriceTo=16500&Sort=Price, DefaultOrder&ViewsOptions=Images&TabSelected=1&showAdvanced=show&Polish=EX,ID&Symmetry=EX,ID&Lab=AGS,GIA&Flour=Faint,None,Negligible&DepthFrom=45&DepthTo=80&TableFrom=40&TableTo=83&ps

Earlier in my research, I got some advice on which diamonds to pick and which to avoid (note: they are examples and not within my parameters). Can anyone please explain to me what the difference is between them?

PICK: https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/asscher-cut/1.90-carat-g-color-vs1-clarity-sku-2644276?a_aid=recommended

AVOID: https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/asscher-cut/2.01-carat-h-color-vvs2-clarity-sku-3881431

Thanks!

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3 hours ago, asschercut said:

I am in the market for an Asscher cut, 1.49-2.00ct, D-F, FL-VS1, with excellent polish/symmetry and none to faint fluorescence, and all within $15,000. On James Allen, there are about 10 options (linked below) matching my parameters. What do you look at to determine which options have the best cut and light return?

The diamond. As a proxy, several images and preferably comparative ones of the diamond against other "competitors". Information on the report (especially a GIA one) is useless to do anything other than rule out extreme cases, and is never useful to rank. ASET/reflector images can help understanding some aspects of cut behaviour, but 1) they are far less diagnostic in non-round, non-brilliant cuts, and 2) they are seldom if ever taken in standardised and thus comparable conditions. At times one can compare diamonds "within" a vendor's inventory, but practically never across different vendors.

3 hours ago, asschercut said:

Earlier in my research, I got some advice on which diamonds to pick and which to avoid (note: they are examples and not within my parameters). Can anyone please explain to me what the difference is between them?

PICK: https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/asscher-cut/1.90-carat-g-color-vs1-clarity-sku-2644276?a_aid=recommended

AVOID: https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/asscher-cut/2.01-carat-h-color-vvs2-clarity-sku-3881431

Thanks!

Key differences for me:

1. The 1.90 has an alternance of bright and contrasting "bands" across many angles of observation. The 2.01 is more "on and off" with most of the diamond facets looking bright or dark at once.

2. The colour difference between G and H is minute, but for some people it is appreciable without a loupe; the difference between VS1 and VVS2 without a loupe will not be visible to anyone, yet both will have the same effect on prices.

3. The 2.01 faces up with the same size as the 1.90, but it will cost (all else being equal) 40% more because it goes over the 2.00 carat threshold.

Note that 1 (and to some extent 2) are "personal taste" matters. Some people like G, some like H - and most can't tell. 3 is for most people a reason to prefer the 1.90 to the 2.01.

There may be other reasons why other people have suggested the 1.90 vs. the 2.01; the only thing I can tell you is that any observation along the lines of "this has a table of x and a depth of y and is therefore better" is not worth the pixels it's written with.

At the end of the day, the only valid criterion is what you (or your intended recipient) like more.

(Possibly not relevant, but perhaps interesting: one of my wife's most admired rings has an Asscher which is "all wrong" technically - but it works very well in the ring)

Edited by davidelevi
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@davidelevi Thank you very much for your comments. I've since learned that the steps should ideally be on/off sequentially as you turn the diamond, and that it is better for the steps to have varying shades of contrast at the same angle. However, I would still like to know more about how to properly assess cut quality, especially given that GIA reports and ASETs are not as useful for step cuts as you said.

Of the 11 matches on JA, would you agree that the below-linked 1.70 E-VVS2 is the best of them all in terms of cut quality, and that the below-linked 1.78 F-VVS2 is cut even better?

https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/asscher-cut/1.70-carat-e-color-vvs2-clarity-sku-3289990

https://www.bluenile.com/diamond-details/LD08839019

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"Cut quality" is largely what you make out of it - especially in fancy cuts. There are obvious duds (e.g. windowed stones), but I would be very wary of "ideally" and "better" statements made by other people, especially if they don't correspond to things that appeal to you / your intended recipient.

(It's a bit like arguing driving qualities in a car: 0-60 we can all agree on, and that's a bit like weight; but start talking of handling and steering feeling, and macroscopic differences aside whether an MX-5 handles better than a Cayman becomes largely a personal preference - just like cut).

FWIW, of the 4 stones that we are discussing here my personal - repeat personal - preference is for the 1.90. Both in terms of cut and of everything else (you will NOT see the difference between F and G once set - and I'm quite ready to bet even loose). I'm not crazy about the cuts either of the 1.70 or the 1.78: neither is symmetrical/ordered enough for my taste, but if I were forced to choose between those two I'd pick the 1.78... because of the broader corners.

Sorry, but I'm not going to spend an hour or so ranking competitors' stones... 2, 3 or even 4 I don't mind, but 11 is way too many, so I'll take your word that what you picked is what appeals most to you (only valid criterion) from both the JA and BN sites.

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No worries, I figured people don't have time to review a dozen stones for a stranger so I linked the 1.70 as the likely best option as determined by others - and if the 1.70 is still not good enough in your opinion, that's sufficient for me to determine that none of the other JAs are worth it (unless someone else chimes in otherwise).

I'm still not at the point where I've developed any preference, so I am interested in hearing from various experts about their own preferences. Looking at the 1.90 vs the 1.78, I have noticed that the 1.90 has slightly thinner windmills, but thicker/more even steps, whereas the 1.78 steps are in different sizes and seem to turn on/off more randomly. When you refer to symmetry, do you mean the 1.90's steps turning on/off simultaneously on all 4 sides (proportionally), whereas the 1.78's steps turn on only one or two sides at most simultaneously? I note that the 1.90's ratio is 1.02 and symmetry is merely "very good", so I assume you don't consider those to be important factors.

The car analogy is great and highly relatable!

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Yes, what I mean is that the 1.90 has a more symmetrical pattern - which I prefer in an Asscher; it also seems to be more contrasted (the thicker and more defined steps), but that might be lighting and differences in video equipment/technique. The 1.78 has a better (for me) outline, precisely because of the broader corners (and thus larger "windmills"), but if I had to choose I'd still pick the more symmetrical  (and possibly contrasted?) 1.90.

What GIA calls symmetry is actually fairly arcane and refers more to the way the facets meet than to the stone looking symmetrical to a human eye, and telling the difference from VG to EX is going to be impossible without a loupe. Same goes for a 1.02 l/w ratio. I'm a great believer in paying for what I can see... ;) even or especially in diamonds.

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The simple fact is that none of the videos or grading reports are really allowing you to do what would be the best thing to help you understand: compare them side by side.  If you cannot make it to a showroom, ask the vendors to do what we do every day: line up potential stones and take a video of them side by side.  This is the best way to see how each stone compares to others with the same light conditions, short of actually going to see the diamonds in person.ScreenShot.PNG.ed34f6974d48a21b7e31e06186671a2d.PNG

Here is a screen shot which gives you a real view of Princess v Asscher v Radiant v Cushion.  It's not perfect, but it's enough to help you make an informed decision.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've spent almost two weeks reviewing and compiling a list of all the diamonds I have reviewed online from various retailers, and there are only four that I have not yet rejected. Which one would you buy - or perhaps none of them? None of them are particularly symmetrical in the way Davide previously described (the 1.80 is probably the closest), but I think I am fine with that as long as they have steps that flash well from any angle.

1.78 F VVS2

Link: https://www.bluenile.com/diamond-details/LD08839019

GIA: https://www.gia.edu/report-check?reportno=1186402112

ASET: JxJAWCA.jpg

Idealscope: dqv5ILZ.jpg

 

1.65 D VS2

Link: https://www.bluenile.com/diamond-details/LD00106102

GIA: https://www.gia.edu/report-check?reportno=14154607

 

1.80ct F VS2

Link: https://www.bluenile.com/diamond-details/LD08739367

GIA: https://www.gia.edu/report-check?reportno=6255800625

 

1.82 D VS1

Link: https://www.bluenile.com/diamond-details/LD09942170

GIA: https://www.gia.edu/report-check?reportno=6252544102

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I think you are slowly dying of analysis paralysis. On paper and based on the evidence/data you have, all 4 are fine stones. You (the vendor) simply do not have enough comparative data to pick "objectively" even if you have decided what criteria to look for (is pattern symmetry more important than overall brightness?).  You are always seeing the stones in isolation and this means different environments/cameras/operators and those differences swamp any difference in looks.

At this point, you can (should?) go out and look at diamonds, or if that is not practical (no dealers nearby ready to call in a few stones) pick one of these and see if you are happy with the way it looks.

Couple of things to bear in mind:

* Except the 1.65, all look pretty small because of thick girdles and crowns.

* The 1.65 has a small table (for an Asscher) which makes for interesting looks and probably lots of fire. It also has the broadest corners of the lot, which I personally like. It also has a very old report, which may indicate that the stone has been re-sold to the trade... or that there is some not apparent issue!

* The 1.80 shows (in my personal opinion) the best video in terms of contrast pattern. The others seem rather bright and flat (1.78, 1.82) or quite asymmetrical (1.65).

* The 1.82 is strongly discounted probably because of strong fluorescence, which may indicate there is some visible effect in natural light. Or there is an error in the price.

Does any of this tell you what to pick? No, but it might give you some ideas of what to look for. Personally, I would bet on the 1.65 first (subject to re-grading pre or post your approval), then the 1.80. YMMV.

Edited by davidelevi
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On 1/18/2018 at 2:31 AM, davidelevi said:

I think you are slowly dying of analysis paralysis.

This diagnosis is right on the nose! The problem with online shopping is that you never really know how it will turn out in real life - I've been over-analyzing everything because I want to be able to weed out the duds and then ask a dealer to call in a few top candidates. I have been looking for excuses to reject stones.

The 1.65ct and the 1.80ct are also my top two picks, so it looks like I'm doing something right...

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Or we are both doing the same thing wrong. ;)

Nah. Just look at the exercise of buying online as "buying shipping"; you have 30+ days in which to make up your mind - get the most likely candidate and see if you like it. If you don't, all you have spent is shipping costs and a bit of time.

BTW - as far as I know, Blue Nile will NOT call stones in for the sort of comparison that we (Laurent and I) have been advocating; they are a pure drop-shipping dealer. They do however have a very reasonable return policy.

Edited by davidelevi
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