Question: How Can I Find the Best 1 Carat Emerald Cut Diamond?

Most online jewelers allow you to search for all of the parameters I list below in this article. I have created a direct link to emerald diamond search pages at James Allen, Brian Gavin Diamonds, Blue Nile, and Leibish at the end of this article for your convenience.

 

This year has seen an increase in the demand for emerald cut diamonds. As such I decided to write a little bit about how to go about finding the best emerald cut diamond.

Definition of emerald cut diamond:

Emerald Cut diamonds are oblong step cut diamonds with a large, open table. The corners are truncated to avoid points of weakness.

Image: Brian Gavin Diamonds

Categorized as a fancy cut, the emerald cut was originally developed for the cutting of emeralds, and came into vogue as a popular fancy cut diamonds during the Art Deco period.

This shape, which is usually known as emerald cut diamond, step cut, or trap-cut accentuates a diamond’s clarity. The large table makes it easy to see right into the diamond.

Like other fancy shaped diamonds, emerald cut diamonds can come in a variety of length to width ratios. The classic outline of emerald cut diamonds usually have a ratio of 1.00:1.50 though ratios of up to 1.00:1.75 are also found to be pleasing to the eye. If the diamond has a 1.00:1.00 ratio it is usually called an Asscher shape as I outline in this article here:

What is the difference between Asscher and Emerald Cut Diamonds?

Ideal proportion is not as clearly defined for emerald cut diamonds as it has been for round cut diamonds. Emerald Cut diamonds, as is the case with many other types of fancy cut diamonds, will be cut to a wide variety of shapes, each with a slightly differing proportion. These variations, particularly in the pavilion, makes the science of light performance extremely complex for fancy shapes. As a result you will not find any cut grades noted on gemological reports issued for fancy cuts. This means you will rely more on the jeweler to help you with choosing your fancy cut stone. For this reason it is quite important to choose the jeweler carefully before getting too caught up in the details of diamond geometry.

There are some guidelines to follow when choosing an emerald cut diamond which can help but the truth is that without extensive diamond experience this will only get you so far. A trained gemologist is much more likely be able to help you find what you are looking for as they will know a lot more about the subtle differences between different emerald cut diamonds.

My choice would be to ask Brian Gavin Diamonds for advice when choosing an emerald cut diamond if your choice is to buy your diamond from an online jewelry retailer.

If you prefer to locate a jeweler within driving distance so you can go in person and speak to the jeweler face to face you may enjoy the service provided by FindMyJewlerTM. (USA only)

Secret Shopper Tests Of Jewelers in the USA

Read here to find out more about the excellent Find My JewelerTM service.

Emerald Cut Diamond Buying Tips

Following are a few points to help get you started on your search

Best options for Emerald Cut Diamonds
Best options for Emerald Cut Diamonds

Clarity

The shape of Emerald cut diamonds, with its large open table, makes it well suited to show off higher clarity grades.

Clarity grades for emerald cut diamonds are shown on the diamond lab grading report (unlike cut grade, for which, as far as fancy cut diamonds go, there is no established science).

Since the clarity of emerald cut diamonds or other step cut diamonds is going to be much more obvious it’s advisable to select from the following range:

  • VS2
  • VS1
  • VVS2
  • VVS1
  • IF

Color

A slightly warmer color range is often considered to be as nice or even nicer than cooler color grades. This is due, in part, to the large open table on emerald cut diamonds. Another reason is that the light play is considerably different in an emerald cut diamond when compared to a round brilliant. The choice of color grade is therefore up to your personal preference.

Warmer colors are found among the following colors on the GIA color scale:

  • L
  • K
  • J
  • I
  • H
  • G

Cooler tones will be found among the color grades that are near colorless on the GIA color scale:

  • F
  • E
  • D

The following video is of an emerald diamond that has a slightly warmer color (the L color on the GIA scale) and you can see that it looks gorgeous. Also note how the large table allows the viewer to peer into the diamond and appreciate its clarity.

 

Cut Grade

While the actual cut grade for fancy cut diamonds like the emerald cut is not something that has been firmly established in the diamond industry* there are certain ratios which seem to work better than others and which would place a diamond in a better cut grade if this were something that laboratories were prepared to include on the diamond grading report. Some of the grades listed below are subjective and it’s an area where opinions do vary even between specialists.

*Even round brilliant cuts, which have been the subject of a great deal of study, can still have variability even among diamonds that have all received a top grade. Finding a good jeweler to deal with is always more important than just looking at a grading report. Check out the list of recommended diamond jewelers on our home page.

Having said that, there are some numbers which can serve as a rough guide which I list here:

Emerald Cut Brilliance Guide

Recommended Table Depth %
NOT recommended
Excellent Cut Very Good Cut Good Cut Fair Cut Average Cut
60% to 65% 58% to 69% 57% to 74% 56% to 78% 53% to 80%
Recommended Table %
NOT recommended
Excellent Cut Very Good Cut Good Cut Fair Cut Average Cut
58% to 69.5% 57% to 72% 57% to 74% 56% to 74% 53% to 76%
Recommended Length to Width Ratio
Excellent Cut Very Good Cut Good Cut
1.00:1.50 to 1.00:1.75

1.00:1.26 to 1.00:1.49
&
1.00:1.76 to 1.00:1.99

1.00:1.26 to 1.00:1.49
&
1.00:1.76 to 1.00:1.99

Additional Factors for best results

Fluorescence None or Faint
Polish Excellent to Good
Symmetry Excellent to Good

Emerald Diamond Search

This handy tool brings you to the Emerald Diamond Search box on four separate websites.

Question: Where can I find the nicest diamond engagement ring for $10,000?

It is easy to assume that spending $10,000 would mean that you’re guaranteed to get the best. This is not necessarily so. If a shopper focuses only on size they could neglect other very important attributes which actually make the diamond look sparkly. For example here is a 2 carat diamond: https://www.jamesallen.com/diamonds/K-I1-Good-Cut-Round-Diamond-1493524.asp which is pretty good, fits the budget, and isn’t poorly cut. The only problem is that there is an unsightly inclusion right under the middle of the table. This is going to be quite noticeable Also this diamond’s color is K, so it’s getting a bit on the pale yellowish side. Any round brilliant diamond whose color is past J will be one that looks kind of pale yellow. It is possible to choose to get a yellow gold ring for a more yellowish diamond’s setting and the idea is that the optical illusion of the yellowish color of the gold doesn’t make the yellow of the diamond quite as noticeable. This has only limited results. A colorless diamond will still look beautiful in a yellow gold ring, so this shows you that the setting’s color only influences how the eye perceives the color by providing a contrast.

All that to say that this 2 carat diamond would not be my first choice. Therefore the first thing to determine when we want the nicest diamond on a $10k budget is what we mean by “nicest.” As you can already tell “nicest” will mean different things to different people. I am going to go through the steps to get what I consider to be the nicest round brilliant diamond with a ring for ten thousand dollars (US$10,000). I find that most diamond experts recommend similar options to the ones I will delineate below.

With a budget of $10,000 your options open up quite nicely. First of all, you’ll be guaranteed to find a diamond over one carat, and that $10,000 will be enough to cover a platinum ring with sidestones as well.

Here is a fine choice: https://www.jamesallen.com/engagement-rings/settings-with-sidestones/platinum-graduated-pave-swirl-engagement-ring-17871p.html

$10000 diamond engagement ring with sidestones
Setting by James Allen (with sidestones). $8500 center diamond + $1500 setting = $10,000 engagement ring.

Platinum is the king of metals when it comes to diamond rings. It is stronger than gold so there’s less chance of any stones falling out.

In regards to the size of the diamond, the advantages of getting a diamond over one carat is that the diamond certificate (grading report) is more detailed. The grading report which GIA issues will include a diagram detailing exactly where any inclusions are found in the diamond.

Ok, so here’s how to go about finding the best and most beautiful diamond with this budget of $10,000.

The ring setting which I have chosen for this example is priced today at $1,590*, leaving over $8000 for the diamond itself.

*Precious metals prices change frequently.

At James Allen select the advanced options in the Diamond Search box.

For this example we will choose Round. We do this because then we will be shown diamonds which have a cut grade mentioned on the grading report. This makes it possible to just select the Ideal cut option without having to worry about having to enter in the depth and table percentage values.

James Allen offer their own estimation of cut grade and categorise their fancy shapes such as Princess, Emerald, Square, Heart, Marquise, Pear, Oval, and Cushion according to what they deem to be Ideal, Very Good, and Good. GIA, the grading lab, does not offer this information for fancy cuts therefore cut grade won’t be mentioned on the GIA grading reports for fancy cut diamonds.

Either way I recommend getting a diamond with a grading report from GIA or AGS.

 

10000-budget-diamond-for-ring
This search, today, gives us 8 diamonds to choose from at James Allen. Two or three look to be very likely candidates.

I have selected this diamond (see image below) from the ones that come up as a result of the above search which I think looks the nicest. This H color, VS1 clarity diamond has Ideal proportions, a diamond grading report from AGS and a 30 Day inspection period.

www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut/1.33-carat-h-color-vs1-clarity-ideal-cut-sku-2600733

The Best Place To Buy Oval Diamonds

The result of hundreds of hours of research and comparing is finally in and I can share with you what I deem to be the best places to buy oval diamonds. This is mainly if you are interested in making your purchase online rather than in person. Although I do have a recommendation elsewhere on this website as to the where to look for the best deals on oval diamonds if you want to go to a place in person, this article’s aim is to help you if you are interested in buying your diamond jewelry via a website.

Today’s article will be showcasing a jeweler that provides a very useful service when it comes to buying oval shape diamonds. As explained in more detail below oval shape diamonds come in many different ratios. Some ratios are better than others. The jeweler I am showcasing in this article sorts through the higher quality diamonds held by manufacturers and only allows the ones that meet his strict criteria for optimum ratios to be listed on his website. This jeweler is none other than Brian Gavin.

Brian Gavin Diamonds

This is the direct link to the Oval diamonds that are listed on BrianGavinDiamonds.com right now.

Brian Gavin Diamonds has been chosen to be showcased as one of the best places to buy oval diamonds for a number of reasons. Primarily this online jeweler demonstrates the highest level of care in every aspect of jewelry and diamond production as well as in the area of customer service. Brian Gavin himself is a fifth generation diamond cutter.  This is an advantage which shows in every aspect and is consequently appreciated by the many happy recipients of Brian Gavin jewelry.

The oval diamonds listed on Brian Gavin Diamonds’ website have been selected because they meet the strict criteria set by Brian Gavin.

Diamonds and jewelry within their virtual selection have been chosen because they meet Brian’s strict Select quality standards. These are diamonds that exhibit outstanding cut, color and clarity as demonstrated by their light performance.

These select stones represent the optimum balance between performance and value.

Oval Diamond Buying Tips

There is a range of ratios to choose from when it comes to oval shape diamonds. The optimum ratio is somewhere around 1.5 : 1, though it’s quite unheard of to actually find a diamond that is exactly this ratio. The range most people find pleasing is between 1.3:1 and 1.7:1.

The choice though in the end comes down to personal taste. If you see a shape you like take note of its length to width ratio. Calculating the length to width ratio of a fancy shape diamond such as an oval diamond is very easy. Simply divide the length by the width. These numbers will be found on the diamond’s grading report. Unfortunately the grading reports do not include the calculated ratio. Grading reports will show you three numbers in millimeters. The largest number is the diamond’s length, the smallest number will be the diamond’s depth. This leaves the middle sized number as the diamond’s width.

For example:

Here we have an oval diamond listed on Brian Gavin Diamonds website.

www.briangavindiamonds.com/diamonds/diamond-details/0.750-i-vs1-oval-diamond-gia-s30375

The measurements are shown to be 7.38 x 5.30 x 2.94. These are all in millimeters.

The smallest of these three numbers is 2.94 and this is the diamond’s depth.

The largest is the length, since it is an oval diamond after all, this makes sense.

Divide 7.38 by 5.30 and we get 1.39.

The length to width ratio is therefore shown to be a very acceptable 1.39:1. This is the kind of high quality offerings we can expect to find at Brian Gavin Diamonds.

Oval diamonds exhibit a unique effect called the bow-tie effect. It is a cute little optical effect created by differences in refraction. This occurs at the junction point in the middle of the diamond. The bow-tie effect is somewhat reduced and therefore less obvious in diamonds with the above specified optimum length to width ratios that also have a depth anywhere between 58% to 68%.

 

Where to Buy The Finest Cut Hearts and Arrows Diamonds

The advent of the Hearts and Arrows effect in the market has become an excellent tool for consumers to see perfection in optical symmetry. Optical symmetry however is somewhat challenging to quantify. The variations between each diamond cutter not to mention the difference between each stone means that certain criteria have yet to be standardized for consumers to avoid discrepancies. Labs grade Color, Clarity and Cut. Hearts and Arrows effect are not something that receives a mention on any lab report. It certainly would be great if this were an aspect that lab reports (diamond certificates) were to make mention of. Diamond Manufacturers do deserve to be rewarded for the excellence shown in the production of optical symmetrical stones. Consumers would also benefit by being able to purchase  assuredly and with comfort.

For this reason one wants to be careful when buying a diamond that is said to be a Hearts and Arrows diamond.

Fortunately it only takes a few minutes to get acquainted with the basics so one knows what to look for.

Hearts and Arrows Diamonds are diamonds that exhibit specific characteristics. They are diamonds that have been cut to ideal proportions and show a pattern of hearts and arrows when seen through a Hearts & Arrows Scope. The arrows are seen when viewing the diamond through its crown, and the hearts pattern is seen when viewing the diamond when its pointy end, the culet, is facing the viewer. While there are slight variations in the exact design of a diamond which shows hearts and arrows, there are characteristics which define hearts and arrows diamonds.

First, they are cut in such a way as to have ideal proportions. Second, they must receive a grade of excellent in terms of optical symmetry and light performance. Third, they must display a specific faceting pattern of hearts and arrows when viewed through a Hearts and Arrows Scope. When all these factors are present the result is a near perfect pattern of eight symmetrical arrows in the face up position and eight symmetrical hearts when viewed in the table down position.

The perfectly shaped hearts are formed when the main pavilion facets are cut at the correct angles and polished with such perfection in symmetry that their reflection results in a perfect heart pattern. Once the perfect heart pattern has been attained, the perfect arrow pattern in the crown results.

To arrive at this state requires meticulous attention to detail at every stage of the diamond’s production. Diamonds in their rough state are octahedral as shown below.

rough diamonds
Diamonds in the Rough. Photo: Brian Gavin

 

This is a photo of rough diamonds as they are after having been extracted from the ground but before being sent to get cut and polished.

The photo was taken by Brian Gavin, one of the worlds most renowned diamond cutters, during his visit with diamond wholesaler Alrosa as he carefully sorted through the precious stones he would select to later work on.

When selecting diamonds to be cut into one of Brian Gavin’s signature cuts, whether the Brian Gavin Hearts and Arrows or the Brian Gavin Cushion Hearts and Arrows there are a slew of specifications that Brian Gavin checks to make sure that the cutting process results in a perfect Hearts and Arrows diamond. Brian Gavin is a skilled diamond cutter who is known to take meticulous care when selecting diamonds he is going to work on.

Cutting diamonds so that the crown and pavilion angle reflect just the right offset requires an experienced cutter. When done according to the optimum calculated angles this process ensures the highest volume of light return and an ideal balance of brilliance (technical term for white sparkle) and dispersion (more easily described as colored sparkle). Another thing that the correct proportions result in is that the sparkle will be broad spectrum. This basically means that it is larger in size, bolder, brighter, and more vivid. As a fifth generation diamond cutter, Brian Gavin knows exactly how to cut diamonds to deliver maximum light performance, and optimize visual performance.

The average diamond cutter has traditionally remained focused on cutting diamonds to retain the maximum amount of carat weight. This often results in compromises.

Brian Gavin is not like all those other cutters. He is one of the few cutters intent on ensuring every diamond is precisely cut to the highest degree of craftsmanship.

Brian Gavin has the requisite skills to accomplish this. After all he is a fifth generation diamond cutter. As creator of his internationally renowned Signature Hearts and Arrows diamond he has become a recognized authority and consultant on diamond cutting and jewelry design. When acquiring a diamond from Brian Gavin you are assured of superior quality and service backed by the knowledge and expertise of five generations of expert diamond cutters. Heritage, history, trust, world-renowned expertise – and the most beautiful diamonds you could hope to lay your eyes on – all that combines, dear reader, as the mark of a Brian Gavin Signature diamond.

 

 

Optical Symmetry is the term used by the industry to describe the precision of facet alignment and shape per section of diamond design, it is not the same “symmetry” grade which appears on diamond grading reports like those issued by the AGS or GIA gemological laboratories. Rather it is a factor of diamond grading which is beyond the knowledge of most jewelry sales people, who mostly rely on the information provided on diamond grading reports to determine the cut quality of the diamonds they sell.

While all of the Brian Gavin Signature Cushion Cut Diamonds like the one shown in the video above, have been graded by the American Gem Society Laboratory (AGSL) as having an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal-0, which is the highest cut grade available from the AGSL, it does not take the optical symmetry of the diamonds into account, it is a light performance grading platform.

Light Performance refers to the levels of light return being exhibited by the diamond in terms of the volume of light return and the brightness of the diamond. Optical symmetry has more to do with the production of virtual facets, as well as the number of flashes of light, and the size and  intensity of the sparkle.

The best way to judge diamonds for their ability to produce high levels of sparkle factor, is to look at the optical symmetry of the diamond as seen through various reflector scopes, such as the ASET Scope, Ideal Scope, and Hearts & Arrows viewer. All those various scope images are shown on the diamond details pages for the Brian Gavin Signature Cushion Cut Diamonds.

Where to Buy Vintage Style Diamonds: Old Mine Cushion Diamonds That Sparkle

In decades past, jewelers would take vintage diamonds and re-cut them into more modern cuts. This is akin to committing diamond sacrilege. Re-cutting these beautiful stones into modern cuts may have “updated” the cuts, but reshaping a diamond will invariably reduce its weight. What’s worse, though, is the loss of a vintage styled diamond that given enough time will come back into vogue. The short-sightedness employed in such a practice while deplorable, is a product of the pressures of commerce. It is difficult for a merchant to hold on to stock without any type of guarantee that those styles will become fashionable again at some point in the future. Styles do cycle around and often what seems dated in one decade given 20 to 30 years becomes “vintage” and interest is revived. Today, jewelers and trades people have again come to appreciate the beauty of the antique faceting seen in these timeless diamonds. There has been a strong uptick in demand from consumers for these vintage styles. Antique style diamonds do have a special charm. It’s no surprise that the interest in vintage jewelry has increased dramatically of late.

An antique/vintage style diamond: The Canera Antique Cushion

The above diamond can be found here:
www.victorcanera.com/diamonds/55416k-2.017-h-vs2-ideal-antique-cushion

The above diamond has an Ideal or 0 Cut grade which is the highest cut grade issued by AGS. An AGS Ideal Cut diamond is considered by many to be one of finest cut diamonds in the world. An Ideal cut grade is reached by factoring in polish, symmetry, proportions and performance scores of a diamond.

The Canera Antique Cushion is a high performance cushion cut diamond. The old mine cut diamonds of the 19th and early 20th century did not have the benefit of the advancements in light performance that we have today and therefore did not display the optimum traits that the new designs exhibit. The Canera Antique Cushion is designed by Victor Canera and combines both the charm of the old style cuts while incorporating advancements in the science of light performance. Within its beautiful “pillowy” outline, the Canera Antique Cushion employs an antique facet pattern inspired by Old Mine Brilliant diamonds of centuries past. This type of faceting is commonly referred to as being “broad faceted” or “chunky faceted”. These terms accurately describe the large, optimally tuned facets employed in the Canera Antique Cushion that reflect broad flashes of light compared to modern diamonds that have a more “splintery” reflective character.

Left: AGS000 Generic Antique Cushion with “mushy” appearance caused by virtual facets. Right: an AGS000 Canera Antique Cushion

The Canera Antique Cushion is a high performance vintage cushion cut diamond having optimal optical symmetry and ideal light performance and can be found exclusively at VictorCanera.com.

History of The Old Mine Cut

Most Old Mine Brilliants existing today are diamonds that have been handed down from generation to generation. These antique diamonds while charming are often lacking in many areas. First of all being used diamonds, these antique stones can have many signs of wear, including chips, abrasions, and cracks. These stones, having been cut at a time when diamond cutting technology was not as developed as it is today, are also severely lacking in cut precision. It’s common to see antique Old Mine Brilliants that are lop sided and the poor craftsmanship is easy to spot. In addition to physical symmetry polishers had little to no understanding of light interaction in a diamond or the notion of light performance.

The Gemological Institute of America informs us that centuries ago, diamond cutting was a slow process. The less material the cutter removed from the original rough diamond crystal, the more quickly he completed his work. If a diamond cutter took too long to complete a task they would see their wages cut as a penalty. Therefore, the typical cut during this time was actually a squarish, sometimes slightly oval cushion-brilliant. The name used by most jewelers today when refer to such shapes is the “old mine cut.” This cut’s defining characteristics are more often than not a squarish shape. The old mine cut diamond’s top and bottom -ie crown and pavilion- were both much deeper than are in the cuts employed in the shaping of today’s diamonds. In the mid-1800’s  Coster’s Amsterdam diamond cutting house was largest diamond cutting establishment in the world. It employed a labor-intensive process that included three phases of operation, each phase required specialized skilled labor to split or cleave the diamonds, cut the diamonds, and finally polishing the diamonds.

In the 1870’s a “bruting” machine started being employed which gave the diamond a round outline. The first angle gauges led cutters to use the angles associated with today’s modern cuts. In the year 1900 a second event changed the way diamonds were shaped: the circular saw came into use. This new tool made it a great deal easier to split the typical octahedral-shaped diamond rough crystal into two pieces. This in turn made it possible to cut the smaller top piece into a finished diamond. The technique which had been employed prior to this was to simply grind it away. – A waste of precious diamond which would no longer be necessary. Within the next couple of years many in the industry realized that using the saw saved weight from the common octahedral diamond crystals, which meant that the new proportions could be cut without the type of waste of diamond rough that previous techniques had caused. This change shifted the emphasis from weight recovery to allowing diamonds to be cut into prettier shapes resulting in the many designs which eventually have become the styles that we see today.

Vintage Style Diamond Cut: Cushion Cut

vintage-cushion-halo-ring-with-matching-band
A Cushion Cut Diamond. Available from Ritani.com

The cushion diamond had a big increase in popularity during the 19th century. Old mine cuts are often confused with modern cushion cut diamonds. Today, some cushion cut diamonds are actually certified as “old mine brilliants”. Old mine cut diamonds are somewhat similar to cushion cuts the main difference being that old mine cut diamonds have fewer facets and the proportions also vary.

The cushion cut is a modern take on an old style, as it has more of the sparkle expected in diamonds, while still having a shape reminiscent of the old mine cuts.

Cushion cuts have been in high demand in the past few years, yet it was not until the Canera Antique Cushion came on the scene that anyone had been able to bring out the true chunky faceted style of the Old Mine Cuts and still have the diamond display the optimum light performance that makes a diamond sparkle. In the end this sparkle, fire and brilliance is what diamonds are famous for.

We invite you to view Victor Canera’s current offering of loose Canera Antique Cushion Diamonds and see why the lucky owners of this gem, call it one of the finest cushion cut diamonds in the world.

 

Where Can I Buy Hand-Forged Bespoke Engagement Rings (Custom Unique Rings), Earrings, Pendants, Bracelets.

Anyone who understands the difference between hand forged and wax cast jewelry knows that in terms of quality, cast based production brings some compromises into the process. Hand forged jewelry, made by a master craftsman has a lot of things going for it. Wax cast jewelry is by far the most common method of creating custom rings and works fairly well for the majority of jobs. But the art of hand forging jewelry still is reminiscent of the craftsmanship reserved for royalty.

There are several marked differences between wax cast jewelry and hand forged jewelry. With hand forged jewelry the master craftsman has control over each individual part of the design. Wax cast jewelry tends to be susceptible to a collection of minor problems. There can be cases where wax cast jewelry may have one or more of the following deficiencies: porosity and pinpoints from air bubbles, less precise joints, imperfections in cathedral openings or in underside baskets, have more of a wavy surface (from the cleaning of the casting mold), and can also result in a heavier yet weaker piece. None of these are disastrous problems but if the piece is affected to a noticeable degree the jeweler will have to have the piece recast. However these problems can be avoided altogether by employing a master craftsman who hand forges the jewelry.

hand forged custom ring
Hand Forged Vintage French Cut Halo Solitaire Ring See this ring at VictorCanera.com

The technological improvements in automation and mass manufacturing have still not dethroned hand forged jewelry as a method to produce jewelry of the highest quality. An expertly hand crafted piece of jewelry has a smoother finish, and is surprisingly lighter while being stronger than an equivalent piece made by wax casting.

One of the finest craftsmen who not only produces remarkable pieces, but who also stocks the finest cut diamonds imaginable is Victor Canera.

Victor Canera is an atelier studio in California that physically produces jewelry. With decades of accumulated knowledge in creating jewelry, they can provide sound advice based on their extensive experience producing jewelry as to what is possible with handmade jewelry.

An example of Victor Canera’s work is shown here. The above video is of the Emilya Halo Solitaire, which has a U-Cut pavé used throughout. This feature, accomplished by using the special tools at the Victor Canera atelier, maximizes the size of the pavé diamonds while at the same time minimizing the amount of seen metal. This hand forged ring in precious platinum features a 4ct Canera Ideal Hearts & Arrows Round diamond. A halo of Single Cut pavé surrounds the center stone. The name used to describe the way the shank is adorned is “shallow U-Cut” Single Cut pavé otherwise known as cut down.

What about cost?

Yes hand forged jewelry will not be in the same price category as wax cast jewelry. But there are ways that you can avoid extra costs by carefully choosing the right options as to how the ring is to be made.

Victor Canera has the following advice:

Labor Costs within the Context of Hand Forged Jewelry

Hand Fabricated and Hand Forged Jewelry is extremely labor intensive as compared to other forms of jewelry manufacturing such as using CAD\CAM and casting. We feel very strongly though from our decades of experience in jewelry production that hand forged jewelry is superior in craftsmanship and quality to CAD\CAM and cast manufactured jewels in almost every aspect. 

It is not unusual for just the base metal work (hand fabrication) of a ring to take many days to complete. This time consuming nature of hand fabricated jewelry means that a significant portion of the cost of a jewel are made up by labor costs. Any changes in a ring design therefore that reduces manufacturing time would in turn decrease the cost of a ring. 

This can apply directly to Intricate and Ornamental Ring Profiles of some designs that feature “filigree” or “ajour” which substantially add to the time it takes to manufacture a ring and therefore its cost (Fig. 2). Many shoppers aren’t aware of this fact and we believe it’s important for a consumer to do a cost to benefit analysis of intricate profiles by asking for a break down of the added cost of these profiles.

In summary, simplifying the profile of a ring by eliminating ajour (with or without pave), filigree or other designs can lead to significant cost savings without effecting the top down view of a ring.
hand-forged-Rings-compared
Two Victor Canera Ring Profiles Left:Intricate Filigree Profile. Right:Simplified Profile.

Pavé Set engagement ring designs have been very popular in recent years. One option, if you’re trying to reduce the overal labor cost is to consider decreasing the amount of pavé from parts of a ring. This reduces both diamond carat weight which would be a significant part of the overall cost and also reduces labor costs. Victor Canera passes those savings on directly to the consumer. Eliminating pavé on the band of a ring can substantially reduce costs. Aside from cost reduction, omitting pavé on a band produces a glossy beautiful appearance. Other small ways of saving costs would be foregoing pavé from the stems of a ring design or the donut. In summary, any time pavé is decreased there is a net cost savings to the consumer.

Two Victor Canera Hand Forged Engagement Rings. Left:Pave Band. Right: Plain Band
Two Victor Canera Hand Forged Engagement Rings. Left:Pavé Band. Right: Plain Band
Other cost saving tips:

With Trilogy Engagement Rings, otherwise known as three stone rings, the carat weight, measurements and quality of the side diamonds are a major part of the cost, and selecting smaller and lower grade diamonds for the sides can result in considerable cost savings. For example, selecting E-VS1 side diamonds with a total carat weight of 1.00ct would be costlier than choosing 0.80ct stones that are H Color and VS2-Si1 clarity. It is safe in most instances to simply use “eye clean” clarity for the side diamonds while going a shade or so lower in color than the center stone. The difference in color would be very difficult to distinguish especially if the center diamond and side diamonds employ different facet patterns. Trilogy designs that use tapered baguette side stones or trapezoid shaped side diamonds are also priced out in millimeter lengths. For example, tapered baguettes that measure 6mm long each are priced higher than 5mm tapered baguettes even if they theoretically had the same carat weight. See this example:

hand-forged-Trilogies-with-Varying-Side-Stone-Sizes
Top: 1.70ct Center w. 0.80ct Sides. Bottom: 1.9ct Center w. 0.45ct sides.

Browse Victor Canera’s engagement ring page for ideas and contact him today to have your custom ring hand forged.

Where Can I Buy The World’s Most Finely Cut Diamonds Online?

I was recently asked if I could help someone with their search for a jeweler that provides precision cut diamonds. Specifically the question was Where Can I Buy The World’s Most Finely Cut Diamonds Online (ideal AGS cut rating)? The diamond needed was for an engagement ring.

Short answer: Victor Canera
Victor Canera specialises in the following cuts: Hearts and Arrows Diamonds, Antique Cushion Diamonds, (a high performance diamond cut modeled on Old Mine Diamonds), and European Round Diamonds.

They have a wide variety of sizes in stock ranging from 0.3 carat – 4 carat
The range of clarity of Victor Canera stock is only of the highest grade, ranging from IF to SI1
And to top it off the Cut/Polish/Symmetry grades of Victor Canera stock is IDEAL grade.
Victor Canera jewelry is hand forged, which is a far superior way to make jewelry to your regular wax mold process.

Essentially their business is providing their customers with perfection.

Pure and simple.

A Victor Canera Ring is an infusion of three elements. This video explains how these elements are inherent in every VC design.

 Visit www.VictorCanera.com now.

Long answer:

The long answer also includes some advice on how to find a good jeweler within your local area. However for most people the highest quality finely cut diamonds will not be within driving distance. Therefore visiting a jewelry store in person is not feasible for everyone. Many people will have to conduct their search online. Luckily for anyone with internet access Victor Canera has an online presence and provides not only the highest quality cut diamonds but is also where you can have the finest hand forged jewelry made.

After gaining a little knowledge about diamonds very few people will content themselves buying from the mall jeweler. A great deal of chain stores are simply unable to provide high quality stones, much less finely cut diamonds with a super ideal cut. The diamonds found in many chain stores are simply unable to withstand a great deal of scrutiny.

Where to begin

If you think it takes a fair amount of effort to find a high quality diamond jeweler, you’re actually not too far off the mark. Short of flying around the world and spending time in Antwerp, Hong Kong and New York , you’re usually stuck with whatever local jewelers are within your immediate area. And then there’s the internet. With countless businesses vying for your attention it’s no easy task to choose and sift through the pages and pages of information. There doesn’t seem to be any easy way to locate that perfect diamond. The problem often compounds when you do find a jeweler that sells online but you’re not really sure about all the diamond jargon, so it all gets a bit overwhelming.

If you are confused and frustrated don’t despair.

The following points are designed to help with the initial screening process. The aim of this article is to help the smart shopper avoid difficulties which may be encountered when navigating the world wide web, in particular when shopping for precision cut diamonds. This article will include links to jeweler websites that I have screened and consider to be the best of the best of the best. As mentioned above, one of the jewelers that has an online presence and whom I would recommend to anyone looking for the world’s most finely cut diamonds is Victor Canera.

Yet there is a service that has been running for a number of years designed to connect shoppers to the best local jewelers that not only provide high quality stones but also provide excellent service, having passed a series of secret shopper tests. To read more about this please see the page explaining the FindMyJewelerTM service.

However if you would like to conduct your own search for jewelers that provide the world’s most finely cut diamonds here are some tips.

Owned stock or Virtual Stock

Something which can get overlooked when browsing a diamond jeweler’s website is whether the jeweler has stock listed on their website which they own or if the inventory is virtual stock. Virtual stock is very similar to drop shipping, though there are some technical differences which don’t make a huge difference in regards to the aim of this article so don’t need to be gotten into. The main point which this article addresses in regards to virtual stock is to realise that if the jeweler owns the stock themselves they will usually be able to lay eyes on the diamond and describe it to you. This is something which should not be underestimated. A diamond jeweler can’t help but appreciate the beauty of a well cut diamond and this will show in the way they describe it to you whether over the phone or via online chat or even by email. If diamond is from the jeweler’s “virtual stock” it means that it is held by the wholesaler. This presents two drawbacks which, though not major, should be considered. One, the diamond in “virtual stock” may get sold to someone else by another retailer/jeweler and you will have to spend time selecting another diamond. Two, as mentioned above the online jeweler may have no more information than is listed on their own website and therefore can’t give you any more information. To my knowledge the highest quality diamonds are not found within the virtual selections. There may be exceptions to this, but I haven’t come across such exceptions yet.

If high performance and fine quality is an important factor I would suggest that searching through virtual inventory is not going to turn up anything of note. If you are hoping for the jeweler to lay eyes on the diamond so it can be described to you, work with jewelers that own their entire stock.

Signature cut

Time is not the only reason to select a jeweler that owns their stock. If a jeweler/diamond cutter has developed their own signature cut they will in most cases be very meticulous when choosing which diamonds they acquire. Again, here is an area where Victor Canera shines, and it is another reason, among the many, why I am featuring their website repeatedly throughout this article. The diamonds selected by Victor Canera are of the highest grade and they are cut to the highest standard.

the world's most finely cut diamonds
Victor Canera: the world’s most finely cut diamonds
What’s a signature Cut?

To explain what a signature cut is we will first remind ourselves about the basic elements that make a cut diamond such a wondrous thing of beauty. A finished diamond attests to both an impressive feat of nature and of human achievement. A diamond’s scintillation, fire and brilliance* are mostly the result of three well known factors: the quality of the cut, the clarity of the stone, and the color of the stone. The classic diamond shape most commonly used in rings, known by various names but usually referred to as the round brilliant is based on a design published by an engineering student in 1919. The 20 year old Marcel Tolkowsky included this mathematical formula as part of his dissertation for his Ph. D. While the results were impressive for the day the mathematical calculations required to determine theoretically how light would bounce around and disperse in a diamond were calculated by him at a time when computers had not yet been invented. Since the time of his original dissertation many improvements have been added to the science of diamond cutting.  These improvements are incorporated into designs known as Signature Cuts. These designs are often light years ahead of the rest. And yet despite these marvellous improvements people can easily settle on a design that is based on century old calculations! In this day and age there are some wonderful signature cuts to choose from. Admittedly some signature cuts are a little over hyped, but there are some that are definitely worth a closer look.
*Brilliance = white light; Fire = colored light; Scintillation = play of white and colored light in motion.

The Victor Canera signature cuts truly are the result of the highest level of craftsmanship one can imagine.

The Canera Ideal Hearts (CIH) exhibits exemplary physical and Optical Symmetry , Light Performance.

The Emilya Halo Solitaire, hand forged in Precious Platinum pictured above features a 4ct Canera Ideal Hearts & Arrows Round diamond. A halo of Single Cut pave surrounds the center stone. The shank is adorned with “shallow U-Cut” Single Cut pave otherwise known as cut down. The U-Cut pave used throughout maximizes the size of the diamonds minimizing the amount of seen metal. As it is hand forged it is a much higher quality end product than it would be if a wax mold were to be used, as would be the case if this type of design were to be attempted by most other jewelers.

The above ring is to be found at:

www.victorcanera.com/rings/the-emilya-halo-solitaire

The video above shows two Canera European Round Old European Cut Diamonds.

  1. www.victorcanera.com/diamonds/32h62n-1.515-e-vs1-ideal-estimated-old-european-cut
  2. www.victorcanera.com/diamonds/r4qf5a-1.492-f-si1-ideal-estimated-old-european-cut

Where to Have Custom Rings Made

Q: Hi I am trying to find a place that can design my ring from a photo. I don’t want just any old place to do it. I would like the diamonds to be good quality. Please could you recommend someone who has experience with this sort of thing? I do a search but all I find is websites where it says you can design your ring, but they all are the same: choose a diamond, choose a setting. that’s not what I am after. I would like the ring designed from scratch. Monica

A: Hi Monica, thanks for sending in your question. You are in luck because we have just the right place for you. Diamonds-USA offer Custom Engagement Rings from a photo!

Crating a custom design ring from a drawing.
Crating a custom design ring from a drawing. Scroll down for a better look at this example of the process.
diamonds-usa-custom-ring-design
Diamonds-USA offer custom ring design.

Diamonds-USA are one of the best places to buy diamonds online. They might occasionally get overlooked by some who get bedazzled by companies with flashier and dazzling websites. However there are a number of compelling reasons to use Diamonds USA’s service not only for the design of the ring but for selecting your diamond.

  1. They have been in business since 1997 – That is a long time for any online business. When you see a company that has been around that long, it shows they have withstood the test of time, which in the age of the internet is as good as several generations in previous times. In the brave new world that includes the brutal honesty of online customer reviews a business dealing in high end jewelry can’t last long if they don’t deliver at the level expected in this day and age. Which brings us to the next point why Diamonds-USA keeps wowing their customers.
  2. Top quality customer service – Many online jewelers show you what they have to offer and that’s about it. If you like what you see, you can place your order, and there is little assistance. It’s quite different with Diamonds USA. Their customer service is there for you from start to finish. You can contact them via online chat, email, or telephone them directly. You also can call them if you have any questions about diamond engagement rings or anything related to their jewelry.
  3. Real customer testimonials – Many online businesses feature testimonials from people like “John S”. However, there is no way to tell who “John S” is and if this person really exists. Diamonds USA provides contact info from actual customers. This gives you the chance to get real information that you can count on.
  4. No blood diamonds – Your purchase is not supporting conflict. Some diamonds are mined in very harsh conditions and the proceeds go to terrorists. You will not find any conflict or blood stones at Diamonds USA. They do not support any kind of illegal diamonds in the world.
  5. Return Policy – There is no “fine print” in the guarantee from Diamonds USA. This shows they stand behind their product 100%: If you are not fully satisfied you receive a refund with no questions asked, and you have ten days to notify them after receiving your order.
  6. Shipping – They ship internationally. And their shipping is fully insured and free of charge.
  7. Values CustomersWhether you are purchasing a diamond ring, diamond engagement ring a pair of diamond earrings or a loose diamond, Diamonds-USA.com values all its customers and brings you top quality service and diamonds.
  8. Lifetime upgrades – This is what keeps many customers customers for life. Having the option to upgrade the stone at a later date. Maybe you would like to have a large stone in the ring that you purchased a few years ago. In many cases, you can trade it in for something of greater value, and this can be done at any time.
  9. Lifetime warranty on clarity enhanced stones – Their clarity enhanced diamond selections are designed to last forever. You read that right. Diamonds-USA has a very strong guarantee in place: should anything happen, they will be more than happy to make repairs for no charge. To date, there have been absolutely no problems with these stones. This guarantee is in place because many people aren’t aware of the advancements in the field of clarity enhancements. The results of clarity enhancement techniques employed on Diamonds-USA’s stones are excellent and permanent.
  10. Custom jewelry – Diamonds-USA gives you many options for customizing your jewelry. For example, you can shop loose diamonds for sale and have them set into jewelry. You also can choose from a wide variety of cuts and settings for many selections.
    A sketch from which Diamonds USA created an engagement ring.
    A sketch from which Diamonds USA created an engagement ring.

    We mentioned that you can send in a photo but as shown in the example here your design can also be made from a drawing. Submit your plans or drawing for your dream ring, and with the help of modern technology, they will bring those plans into reality for you.

    The experts at Diamonds-USA use computer aided design software to bring the sketch into reality.
    The experts at Diamonds-USA use computer aided design software to bring the sketch into reality.

    custom design of engagemnt ring based on a sketch
    The rendered product: From imagination into reality. Custom design of engagement ring based on the above sketch sent in by customer.

Go here to have Diamonds-USA create a ring from your design.

diamonds-usa-custom-ring-design

Diamonds-USA Custom Engagement Rings

 

Round Diamond Buying Tips

Canadian Loose Diamonds from DiamondWave

There is something magical about seeing a diamond scintillating and sparkling. The flash and fire of a diamond is almost magical as it catches the eye and holds one’s attention like nothing else. The sparkle of a diamond has always been its greatest attraction. It stops people in their tracks as it refracts light and disperses an array of color from the entire visible spectrum. Earlier in history when diamonds could not be bought by the majority of people, ring makers would paint silver on the bottom of glass crystals to give them greater sparkle.

Since a diamond’s sparkle is its greatest attraction it would be a shame to buy a diamond and find that it does not have much sparkle.

Under what circumstances would this occur?

What kind of diamond has less sparkle? A poorly cut diamond.

Diamonds reflect the surrounding light and carry it back to the beholder’s eye. The average viewing distance has been agreed on by grading laboratories and diamond cutters to be approximately 25 cm. This distance is used when determining if a diamond looks good. An Ideal cut diamond will look good at this distance as well as at other distances and at various angles.

The quality of a diamond’s Cut will have a direct impact on its:

  • Brilliance
    This is the total amount of light which is reflected by the diamond. When light reaches the diamond’s surface, some light enters it and some light is reflected back. The most immediate light reflected back will be returned by the crown‘s angles.
  • Scintillation
    This refers to the sparkle (flashes of light) which are produced when a diamond’s viewing angle is moved around. The light that isn’t immediately reflected back enters the diamond and reflects from the inside walls toward the center of the diamond.As it bounces off the internal walls of the diamond it produces what is known as scintillation.
  • Fire
    This refers to the dispersion of light into different colored light. As light is bounced off the inside walls towards the center of the diamond, it then shoots back through the top of the diamond. Because the light is slightly bent by the diamond, a color spectrum is visible when light exits the top of the diamond.

Diamond Cuts

 

A diamond looks at its best when it has either no color, or has a strong vivid color. Colorless diamonds are by far the most popular for jewelry as they have that sparkle factor. However colored diamonds (called fancy colored diamonds, or just fancies) also have strong demand, though they are less readily available.

The proportions and angles at which a round ideal cut diamond has been cut give a diamond more sparkle than is the case with other styles of cuts. A  diamond cut in this way will have so much sparkle that the color of an ideal cut J diamond will not be noticeable. Remember this applies if it is a round diamond, also known as round brilliant. Other shapes do not disperse light as efficiently as round cut diamonds do and therefore color becomes noticeable even in “I” graded diamonds of other shapes (Fancy Cuts).

Check out these gorgeous super ideal cut diamonds:


www.victorcanera.com/diamonds

www.briangavindiamonds.com/diamond/

www.whiteflash.com/a-cut-above-diamonds

What are Virtual Diamonds?

I have been asked a question which I am sure other people are also wondering about. What are Virtual Diamonds? If you have no idea what the term Virtual diamonds means you could easily start wondering if these are some sort of imaginary diamonds. Are the diamonds really there? What the heck are virtual diamonds? Have no fear. We’re here to clear  up any confusion surrounding virtual diamonds.

In a sense virtual diamonds are not there, so in a way you’d be right. But the good news is that they are somewhere. They do exist. They just aren’t being physically kept by the jeweler that is retailing them. Virtual diamonds are the diamonds which are still held by  manufacturers, ie siteholders. These diamonds may be listed by a number of jewelers as virtual inventory by permission from the siteholder. Some online jewelers’ inventory is entirely virtual. This is how James Allen and Blue Nile began.

Jewelers who own their own inventory such as Brian Gavin Diamonds  do also have access to diamonds held by siteholders and are therefore able to also list these diamonds on their website. There are a few reasons they may choose to do this. For example listing virtual diamonds allows them to increase the number of choices available to their customers. Brian Gavin Diamonds has a very large fan base. Anyone who has experienced the care and service that Brian Gavin Diamonds provides would likely look to Brian Gavin Diamonds for their next diamond purchase. As such Brian Gavin Diamonds increases the variety of diamonds available by also listing virtual diamonds. This simply gives more options to anyone browsing their website.

Advantages OF BUYING FROM VIRTUAL INVENTORY

On of the advantages of being able to access a virtual inventory is that  you have access to a wide selection of diamonds. The ability to compare many different diamonds allows you to select for whatever attributes you want. Some people select size over quality of cut, others (who do their research, and know that a poorly cut diamond is not going to sparkle) make their selection based on the quality of the diamond’s cut. But the choices are there and much of this is made possible through virtual stock. Jewelry retailers can list diamonds without having to arrange and maintain secure storage not to speak of investing untold millions of dollars in the precious cut stones themselves. The wide variety of stones available through virtual stock is great for those who like to research and narrow their search down to within specific parameters.

Disadvantages of buying from Virtual Inventory

One disadvantage of browsing through virtual stock is that not all listings include a photo of the specific diamond. Often listings only show a stock photo, or none at all. This is not always the case, but it is understandably quite a logistical challenge for a jeweler to photograph inventory they do not have possession of. Which is why James Allen’s amazing feat of photographing tens of thousands of diamonds is all the more impressive. One disadvantage to buying from a virtual selection that has given rise to complaints on more than one occasion is that in rare circumstances the diamond someone wants may already be in the process of being sold to another jeweler. If this were to happen to you most likely your jeweler would be happy to suggest some alternative stones. However you may have thought long and hard about a particular diamond and will understandably not be too happy at being told that it’s no longer available. Another disadvantage of buying from virtual selections is that all the best signature cuts are generally not included in virtual listings. Signature cuts are best bought directly from the cutter for the best deals anyway.


While we’re on the topic of signature cuts, some jewelers whose signature cuts are to die for and are definitely worth checking out are:

To sum it up, virtual diamonds present us with an opportunity to browse many more diamonds than would be possible if jewelers had to own all their stock.

While the highest grade diamonds are usually purchased from those who specialize in such items and are often hard to find in virtual listings, every inventory will have better and lower quality diamonds. One simply has to choose in which areas they are willing to compromise: size, cut, color, or clarity.