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Diamond Cut refers to how well proportioned the diamond is. For example, what percentage of a diamonds diameter is its depth? What are its various angles and how do they interact with one another?
While these may seem like esoteric questions, these are the essential factors that determine how beautiful your diamond will be. For a great visual representation of why these issues matter, have a look at James Allen’s page on Diamond Cut.
Until January 1st, 2006, you basically had two options when it came to diamond cut grade.
You could either buy a diamond with an AGS certificate and trust their diamond cut grading system, or you could learn about the various proportions of diamond cut and trust your own education about what numbers translated into a beautiful diamond.
On that day, though, the GIA introduced a new certificate format that included their very own diamond cut grade. They claim that their Diamond Cut Grade system is based on 15 years of research testing and retesting different combinations of measurements with real life light performance tests.
GIA System vs AGS System
As opposed to the old AGS system which simply defined what an “ideal” diamond is and then gives lower grades the farther away from that “ideal” the parameters are, the GIA system does not have any one single definition of perfection.
They claim that in their research various differing combinations of proportions equally produced diamonds that reflected the most light.
To be fair, in the middle of 2005, AGS also realized that their way of doing things was antiquated. So beginning on June 1st, the AGS lab began offering its certificates with a new light performance-based cut grade.
As it would turn out, though, this new method made it even more difficult for stones to receive the coveted “Ideal” grade for cut. Thus, when the GIA cut grade was released a half a year later with its more elegant solution, AGS lost much market share to the GIA.
Realizing their error and almost facing extinction, the AGS lab in 2008 decided to copy the GIA and began offering a “new” proportions based cut grade.
AGS’s “New” Approach
I write “new” in quotation marks because, really, there was nothing new about it. The AGS cut grade prior to 2005 had always been proportions based.
They simply re-introduced it, just this time with more flexibility. They made the smart decision to mimic the GIA and award Ideal cut grades to different non-concentric combinations of proportions.
In my opinion, the GIA & AGS systems are clearly a much more elegant solution to the question of what cut proportions produce the most beautiful diamonds.
An Elegant and Flexible Solution
The fact is, it’s a more elegant solution than your typical diamond dealer’s instincts, as well. What I mean is, before GIA introduced their cut grade, most diamond dealers thought about cut grade the same way the AGS did.
They had in their mind what was the perfect set of parameters, and basically, diamonds got uglier the further they strayed from that ideal. This revelation of how GIA Diamond Cut Grade worked was a boon to diamond manufacturers as well.
Now, the cutters had more options when assessing a piece of rough for cutting. If a diamond with a 57% sized table couldn’t fit into a certain piece of rough and still maintain the weight category, then they could try a diamond with a 60% table and see if that would maintain the weight.
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