The Diamond Pro

Q&A: Wants Most Brilliant Diamond Possible with Light Performance Proof (ISEE2 or Gemex) for $6000

The following is a real email conversation between The Diamond Pro and a reader just like you who contacted us. Personal information is always removed. Learn from these posts, or contact us yourself to get free personalized help.

Hello, I am going to propose this December and I am looking for a round diamond with the specifications below. My main priority is that it be a extremely brilliant diamond. Ideally, I would like to get some sort of spectrum test performed on the diamond like ISEE2 or such. But really looking for a blazing diamond. Range: $5500-$6500 Size: 1.2c-1.4 Shape: Round Cut: AGS 0 or similar I would prefer inclusions be around a VS2. But I have seen some SI1’s that I would have thought was a VS or higher. Please advise. Thanks!

Hey G.  Thanks for writing.  Regarding ISEE2 or Gemex (brilliantscope) and the others, I can tell you from experience that they’re all pretty gimmicky. They’re there to convince the customer that walks into the store to buy diamonds there and nowhere else.  These “tools” weren’t created by scientists, they were created by marketing executives.

AGS and GIA cut grades, on the other hand were created by scientists.

Anyway, keeping your wishes in mind, I came up with the following picks:

https://www.jamesallen.com/diamonds/J-VS2-Ideal-Cut-Round-Diamond-1261978.asp?a_aid=dmnd1357 – The VS2 is dead center, but I’m fairly confident at this size it won’t be noticeable to the naked eye.  Excellent cut grade from the GIA.  Don’t be bothered by the Very Good polish.  No mortal human can see the difference between even Good polish and Excellent polish without a loupe (and most likely a microscope).

https://www.jamesallen.com/diamonds/J-SI1-Ideal-Cut-Round-Diamond-1260160.asp?a_aid=dmnd1357 – Really great SI1.  It’s actually finer than the VS2 above.  AGS triple zero.

https://www.jamesallen.com/diamonds/I-VS2-Ideal-Cut-Round-Diamond-1227913.asp?a_aid=dmnd1357
– GIA triple ex.  VS2 also in center, but finer than the first one.

https://www.jamesallen.com/diamonds/I-SI1-Ideal-Cut-Round-Diamond-1186697.asp?a_aid=dmnd1357
– AGS triple zero.  Awesome SI1 on the side.

https://www.jamesallen.com/diamonds/I-SI1-Ideal-Cut-Round-Diamond-1247576.asp?a_aid=dmnd1357 – GIA triple ex.  Best SI1 I’ve seen in a while.  I couldn’t even find the inclusion in the picture.  So far, this is my favorite of the bunch in terms of value.

Take a look at these and let me know what you think!

Here’s one more.  It’s from James Allens “true hearts” collection.  These stones comes with hearts & arrows idealscope pictures.

https://www.jamesallen.com/diamonds/I-VS1-Ideal-Cut-Round-Diamond-1193896.asp?a_aid=dmnd1357

It’s slightly under your size range, but I thought you might like to have a look anyway.

Thanks for the quick response Ira.

I have been working with a lady out of Florida, with the Diamond Brokers of Florida (DBOF.com).  They use those brilliance measurement tools and have a pretty good reputation on a large forum I read.

They have given me some pretty good prices, but recently she has come back with SI1’s in my price range.  I have been extremely wary of SI’s on the internet since I can’t see them myself.  Do you believe in the virual loop tool james allen uses?  Are those actual scans of the individual diamonds?  I thought that was a gimmick at first.  They seem to be the only site to offer that.

I definitely like the true hearts collection.  I was looking at the hearts on fire, which is obviously not worth the money.  But the hearts and arrows type of diamonds are exactly what I am looking for.  Do you think they are worth the money?  And is the idealscope just another marketing tool?

Hey G.  I knew the two guys who started DBOF.  I was actually in their store once in Florida on a sales trip (back when I was a traveling diamond salesman in the US).  They’re great guys, and I’m sure they run a great business.

But their problem is they own their own inventory, so it’s very hard, if not impossible, to compete with the online vendors that don’t own their own inventory.

The virtual loop is 100% legitimate.  I was just writing another reader of my site about this today, so I’ll just copy what I wrote him:

There are 3 different business models of online diamond vendors.

1) Most borrow lists of loose diamonds from industry web sites, add a fixed percentage of profit, and list the stones as their own.  When a sale is made, they have to call the vendor and hope that the vendor’s feed is updated and the diamond they just sold is still available.  Mondera, Abazias, and others are in this category.

2) A select few stores own their own inventory.  The advantages are obvious – the diamonds are always available if they say they are.  Customer service can examine the stones for you and answer questions, etc.  The disadvantage is clear too – these stones are significantly more expensive. IF the company had to invest in their inventory, they need to make a higher profit margin.

3)   JA and BN are unique among the crowd of vendors.  They have exclusivity agreements with their vendors to list their diamonds online only with their respective sites.  Since they’re so big, they also have leverage to force their vendors to list their diamonds for a lower base cost (upon which both BN and JA add a fixed profit percentage).

So there are two reasons why I come off as biased towards JA over BN.
1) I know from the inside that their fixed markup is slightly lower than BN’s.  They’re a smaller, privately held company. BN is a big sloth of a public company.  They’re far less efficient.  They have massive overhead that they need to compensate for.
2) JA’s business model is slightly different from BN’s. While BN recruits vendors all over the US and world at large, JA only works with vendors within walking distance of their office in NY’s diamond district.  This proximity allows them access to diamonds to photograph them (the photos are the main reason I recommend JA over BN), and to have them pulled if customers have questions about them.  Also, JA themselves ship you the diamonds.  BN has the individual diamond vendors ship the diamonds directly to the customers.  JA checks each stone before it leaves their office, BN can’t offer that kind of control.

So that’s the reason why they’re the only site to offer that.  And that’s the reason I endorse them so strongly.

Thanks for the feedback.  The lady over there name Jan, told me she searches a list of inventory from her vendor and she doesn’t have a large amount on hand.  I have been looking at JA and really like what I am seeing.

Do you think their true hearts collection provides more sparkle?

I’m not sure, with the TRUE5 discount code, that the “true hearts” really cost anything significantly more than regular AGS triple zeros or GIA triple excellents.   If they did, I wouldn’t recommend them.  You’re right, the whole H&A thing is a gimmick.  It’s true, that most ideal made round stones will exhibit this particular pattern when looked through a colored lens, but that it should be the ultimate decider of quality is nonsense.  I’ve bought and sold probably over a hundred million dollars of diamonds in my career with Leo Schachter, and I never once used an idealscope to judge the quality of the stones I was trading.

I guess the true litmus test for these kinds of tools are – who’s using them the most?  Is it primarily the person in the store trying to sell a diamond to the end-consumer, or are dealers using them to trade diamonds?  The answer with all of the tools we’ve mentioned so far is they are used exclusively as marketing tools to the end consumer.  The only small exception would be dealers who buy H&A stones to sell them as H&A stones.  They might use an idealscope just to make sure they’ll be able to sell the stone with the same gimmick.

So I guess DBOF is a combo of the first two business models I listed.
Not any more than any other ideal cut stone.   But with the discount, they’re priced like regular ideals, so I have no problem recommending them.

I’m off to bed now.  It’s a quarter to 1 here in Israel, and tomorrow night starts a big week-long holiday.  I need my rest!

So when you refer to AGS triple zero or GIA triple excellent, I assume you are referring to cut, symmetry and polish?

Yes.  Exactly.

….

I hadn’t heard from you in a few days.  I was just curious to know if you had made your decision yet, and if so, what direction you decided to go in in the end?

Thanks for following up. I will most definitely purchase from JA. I however, won’t make a purchase until first week of December. I have it planned to propose first week in December, so I want to make sure I get it closer to that date, to take advantage of their purchase guarantees (i.e. free sizing for 60 days).

I will definitely be in touch as it gets closer. You are one of the more valuable resources on the web I have come across!

Sounds good. Just make sure to contact me when you’re ready, as it’s very possible these will be sold already, and most likely there’ll be some new interesting stones in stock.

I am looking at making a purchase the first week of November.  Granted, I know the inventory of diamonds on JamesAllen.com will most likely turnover by then.  But I wanted to see if I the ones I am picking out are good diamonds.

To recap, I am looking at the following criteria:

Round

Under $6k

Size around 1.15-1.30

No less than I color

No less than SI1

AGS 0 cut or similar GIA

Here are the ones I was looking at.

Also a quick question.  When you look at the photo (without magnification) between #1212701 and #1263685, I see one diamond looks very white.  The other is much more blue.  What does that indicate?  Does is say anything how it is cut or how it reflects light?  Remember, above all else I am looking for a real blazer of a diamond.

Thanks!

Item Number:

1212701

1247572

1261940

1231071

1260902

1263685

Shape:

Round

Round

Round

Round

Round

Round

Lab:

GIA

GIA

GIA

AGS

AGS

AGS

Pic:

Photo

Photo

Photo

Photo

Photo

Photo

Carat weight:

1.20

1.20

1.26

1.24

1.14

1.24

Cut:

Ideal

Ideal

Ideal

Ideal

Ideal

Ideal

Color:

I

H

I

I

I

I

Clarity:

VS1

SI1

VS2

SI1

VS2

VS2

Certificate:

GIA

GIA

GIA

AGS

AGS

AGS

Depth:

62.5

62.6

61.2

62

61.1

62

Table:

56

58

58

57

56

58

Polish:

Excellent

Excellent

Excellent

Ideal

Ideal

Ideal

Symmetry:

Excellent

Excellent

Excellent

Ideal

Ideal

Ideal

Girdle:

Medium to slightly thick

Slightly thick

Medium

Thin to medium

Culet:

None

None

None

None

None

None

Fluorescence:

None

None

None

None

None

None

Measurements:

6.76*6.80*4.24

6.73*6.76*4.22

6.96*7.02*4.28

6.83*6.89*4.26

6.77*6.78*4.14

6.84*6.88*4.26

Price:

$5,920

$5,740

$5,950

$5,680

$5,310

$6,160

Hey G.  Before I begin – what kind of setting are you going to be putting this stone in?  I ask because, it’s important to match the color of the center stone with the side stones.  So if the setting you choose has side stones, please send me a link to the setting so I can check it out for you.  Here’s my comments:

1212701 – Great looking stone

1247572 – Very Good cut grade from GIA – reject

1261940 – Looks good.  Small center inclusion, but most likely eye-clean.

1231071 – Looks a little too clean to be an SI1.  Might be a sign of a cloud.  Worthwhile to contact JA customer service to have this stone checked by one of their gemologists.

1260902 – That comment on the AGS cert is really weird.  I’d ask customer service about it. I have no idea what it’s referring to.  Other than that, the stone looks really good

1263685 – Looks good

As far as the color is concerned, I don’t think it’s relevant.  This is a very common question people have about James Allen’s pictures.  I have found that their pics are only useful for judging clarity (and sometimes make quality – specifically with fancy shapes).  The reason is that these pics are taken at the office of the diamonds’ owners.  They probably work with about 15-20 different vendors in NY, and each one has its own camera set up on loan from JA.  So that means 20 different people taking the pictures with 20 different lighting combinations.

Plus, even if you had the diamond in front of you, you never evaluate color face-up.

Let me know about the setting.

Thanks for the response Ira.  I have chosen a white gold pave setting, with split shank.  You can see it here:  https://www.jamesallen.com/engagement-rings/pave/ring/item_412-2226.asp

I have narrowed it down to four and have asked James Allen to pull the stones for me.  I added two more to the mix:  1260811 and 1260902.  902 is a littler smaller, at 1.14c but it is a VS2 and looks beautiful in the pictures.

So, of these three, I am probably leaning towards the smaller one, #902.  The only reason is because it is a VS2 and it looks absolutely beautiful in the picture.  So I was wondering, of the four below, which would you recommend?  It seemed that you preferred #701 from my first list.  My only concern on #701 is why is it so inexpensive for 1.20c when it’s a VS1?

First off, I want to tell you that you have great taste.  That’s one of my favorite rings on James Allen.

Unfortunately, though, we need to start over with the diamond search.  If you notice in the description of that ring, the color grade on the side stones is F-G. So you should probably shoot for a G color center stone, but you could also get away with an H color.  But an I color is too low for that setting.

take a look at these:

https://www.jamesallen.com/diamonds/H-SI1-Ideal-Cut-Round-Diamond-1248435.asp?a_aid=dmnd1357
https://www.jamesallen.com/diamonds/G-SI1-Ideal-Cut-Round-Diamond-1260291.asp?a_aid=dmnd1357
https://www.jamesallen.com/diamonds/G-SI1-Ideal-Cut-Round-Diamond-1231089.asp?a_aid=dmnd1357

I know this must be frustrating, but it’s something you only have to do once in your life!

Ira, great catch.  I called the individual at James Allen who is working with me and posed that question to him.  He said that is one of the most popular questions they hear.   He also noted that almost all of their settings have ranges of F-G colors.  He also went on to say that if I were looking at an IGI graded diamond, then maybe he would talk me into a higher color.  But he believes that the I color, if an AGS or GIA ring, would be fine.  Also, it would be more of an issue if the setting were two larger side stones (say .5c each).  Then, the color difference may be more apparent.

That made me feel a little more comfortable he didn’t try and talk me into a higher quality ring.  He also said they have meticulous standards when setting the ring and if a ring was set in a setting with noticeable color difference, that they wouldn’t ship it and touch base with me to reconsider.

I think I may stick with the I color range, and take advantage of their 30 day return policy if I don’t like it once I see it in person.

I agree mostly with what the rep said. Had the ring had pave stones down the shank only, I wouldn’t have said anything.  What concerned me was that the pave stones were a halo around the face of the stone.  Such a direct juxtaposition, I worried, would make the color difference noticeable.  But the truth is, my experience is much more rooted in loose diamonds than jewelry.  The reps at JA have more experience than I do when it comes to these things, so you should feel comfortable relying on their advice.

So back to your previous email:  If the only thing holding you back from the VS1 is the concern that something must be wrong with it since it’s so cheap – then I think you should reconsider.  Firstly, you can always have the people at JA physically inspect the stone.  But secondly, just to put your worries to rest, let me explain how JA handles pricing.  For every price level, JA has a fixed profit margin.  So for $5000 stones, they might make 16%, for 30,000 stones, they might make 7%, and so on. They don’t differentiate between qualities.  It’s all based on price.  The important thing to remember is that in reality, JA doesn’t set their prices.  Their vendors do.  If a vendor wants to move a stone that’s been around a while, he’ll lower the price he has it listed with JA at.  JA probably works with 20 or so vendors in NYC, so 20 different vendors can greatly vary their pricing.  JA just decides how much profit to make on top of those prices.  Also, JA has a back-office site for their vendors that lets them see how much their competition is listing stones for.  This creates a free market whereby their vendors compete against each other to be the cheapest in a category.  So maybe the owner of the VS1 wants to be the cheapest in this very category of diamond that you’re looking to buy.

I worked with one of their experts and have narrowed it down to these three based on their recommendations as well.  They are in order of their suggestion.  Also, they are doing the IDEAscope to determine light performance.  I know you said this was a marketing tool, but I figure they might as well run it and see what it comes back with.  The guy I have been working with is going on vacation, so I guess James Allen himself will take over my business and work with me on the remainder.

The recommended stone was the 1.21 since the angles of the table (I think that’s what you call it) were 35.0 and 40.8 degrees.  I guess that is close to optimum, per their recommendation, even though they are both ideal cuts.

I am leaning towards the 1.21, but may consider the 1.24 if it comes back with a good rating/viewing by the gemologist.  Strictly because it is $500 cheaper.  What do you think?

I think that’s definitely the right way to play it. Whatever help I can offer can only go so far. Pictures are great, stone measurements help, but there’s no substitute for seeing the diamond with a pair of eyes.

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