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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Good Diamond Cutting VS. Great Diamond Cutting

As many of you know by now I like to sell ideal cut Lazare Diamonds for most of my diamonds.  I like them because they are always true ideal cuts with very little variations in the cuts.  A lot of what you see online and available elsewhere are diamonds that are called ideal cuts but really don't have the exact angles to qualify as ideal cuts.  The name has become abused and misused everywhere.  However a cutter's art can go far beyond just making sure the angles the stone is cut to are proper. 

I got in a pair of quarter caraters from Lazare the other day for a ring I was making up with an orange sapphire in the center.  I routinely do a Diamond Grading Report for stones that don't come in to me with a laboratory certificate so that when I do an appraisal for my customer on the piece I have proper documentation.  Now with many of the diamonds I sell today this is not always an easy task. Because the clarity grades I am working with are so high, it often takes me awhile to find any inclusions in the stones.  But Lazare is a strict grader and if they say something is a VVS stone, there is usually something there.  VVS clarity stones usually have extremely small pinpoints or other very difficult to locate inclusions in them.  A VVS1 stone is only a step down from a flawless diamond so there really is going to be very little inside the stone to identify it.  A VVS2 stone will have something a little bit larger but still something incredibly difficult to locate.  So my two stones were both VVS2 clarity stones.  It took me about 10 minutes to locate a small inclusion near the culet (the point at the bottom of the stone) on one of them.  But the other one I spent a vast amount of time  looking for anything.  Now if it had been a VVS1 stone I would have said that Lazare was erring on the side of caution and it might really have been a flawless stone, but this one was a VVS2 so I knew they had to have seen something in the stone. 

With stones like these I usually use extremely high magnification to find any inclusions and then back off to 10X to see if I can still see them (10X is the magnification all diamonds are graded at).  I looked at this stone, backwards, forwards in all different types of lighting and just kept getting more and more frustrated.  You should note that with stones in these clarity ranges, you really don't want to mistake a piece of dust for an inclusion, and diamonds are natural dust collectors, so nonstop trips to my steamer to continually clean the stones is part of the process.  Finally after close to a half an hour with the microscope I happened to catch a glimpse of something on the pavilion (bottom) of the stone again near the culet.  Looking at it more closely I finally realized that there was a tiny black needle like inclusion running right up one of the facet junctures. Because it was on the facet junction it was just about impossible to see.

Okay so what does this have to do with cutting a diamond?  Well pretty much everything.  Because of where the inclusion was placed, along a facet junction, it became virtually invisible.  Another cutting operation that pays less attention to this kind of perfection would have allowed the inclusion to end up wherever it was going to.  The stone probably still would have been a VVS2 clarity grade but the inclusion would have been much more visible.  This is one of the subtle differences between good diamond cutting and great diamond cutting.  Which would you rather have:  a VVS2 clarity diamond that has an inclusion right smack dab in the center of the table (albeit tiny) and immediately visible, or a VVS2 clarity diamond that it takes a trained gemologist a half an hour to find the one inclusion in the stone?

Diamonds are not all created equal and diamond cutters have vastly different skills.  Lazare Diamonds uses cutters with great skills and that will always make a difference in the final product. Please think about this when you go out to buy that next sparkly bauble!

The picture above is one of mine (apologies as always).  I made this version of my moonbeams necklace a number of years ago. It has an orange sapphire and diamonds in it.  Usually I do a lighter weight version of this but I had this one in the shop the other day and thought I'd grab a picture of it.

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