A labour of love...
This all started as a private quest. Through a series of unique encounters and serendipitous happenstance it became a storybook voyage for me and Melissa. I’m delighted to share our discoveries with the following caveat:
Choosing the “right” diamond is subject to personal circumstance, resources and philosophy, and this narrative is not to be viewed as unequivocal or applicable for everyone. Diversity is humanity’s great strength, and prescribes that what may be genial for one man does not befit another.
A diamond is material representation of intangible substance. Love finds it’s own way; the serf’s token carries as much love as the king’s. I caution the casual reader not to be distracted from an appropriate personal quest by “sudden” awareness of superideals, hearts and arrows or perfect cuts. Rather, treat this information as “constructive,” NOT “conclusive” in your own, discreet endeavors.
So what is an “ideal” diamond?
Answer: One which says “I love you” from one person to another - on exclusively private terms.
I KNEW NOTHING.
My diamond search began in February, 2001. I understood color and clarity but was vexed by the concept of cut. Through good fortune I discovered this greatness which is Diamond Talk. For 2 weeks I received a “crash-cut-course” here. Opinions varied, but references to AGS cut grades were a constant. Thanks to the “Good Old Gold” website I came to learn about cut and its definitive impact on light performance.
It may help to note that I am obsessive and (allegedly) over analytical. As the son of professional musicians, I’ve been trained since childhood that perfection is the standard by which performance is measured. That may explain why, once upon the path, my diamond hunt demanded that I seek out the most exacting standards.
I saw a private dealer in Dallas and beheld my first AGS 0 cut stone. Very impressive. Better than anything I had yet seen. Still, the amount he wanted seemed out of proportion to the difference between it and other commercial diamonds which performed well.
On April 1, 2001 I met Brian Gavin of A Cut Above and became aware of a new standard in gemcraft. What followed was intense research into the mechanics of superideal diamonds. The story of how I came to view SuperbCerts, A Cut Above and Eightstar next to each other in New York can be found elsewhere on the forum... Brace yourself if you read the thread. It’s weird.
Melissa and I traveled to Good Old Gold in Massapequah Park, where this convocation of quality took place.
Knowing this meeting would be scrutinized, I decided on procedure ahead of time. I promised the forum I would report on the analytic (concrete measures and tests), and the aesthetic (subjective visual beauty). In order to assure fairness, I did not disclose any information to Melissa.
[Edited by Cupid on 04-24-01 at 09:38 PM]
1. THE ANALYTIC
Test subjects: 3 Superbcerts, 3 A Cut Aboves and 1 Eightstar.
All fell within a very reasonable budget of appx $6000 to $7000, with the exception of the Eightstar. Nevertheless, I asked that it be included.
While Melissa went shopping, Jonathan performed machine analysis. We put candidates through the megascope and compared those numbers with previous Sarin reports. We put them through the Brilliancescope and compared results to a prior Brilliancescope reading (more on that later). We viewed them through the LightleakageScope and the Hearts and Arrows viewer, where they all fared splendidly.
THE MEGASCOPE AND THE “CUPID CALCULATOR™” :)
At my request, we plugged megascope readings into the “Cupid Calculator” to acquire a “Total Deviation” on each diamond.
I devised this system to indicate how locked-in to listed averages the collective data on a stone is: For instance if the avg crown angle reads 34.7º the stone looks great on paper, but the deviance between the min-max measurements on the 8 facets could range from 33.7º-35.7º. That min-max deviance of 33.7-35.7 would receive a 2.0 on the Cupid Calc. Similarly the min-max on an avg table percentage of 55.25% could range from 53.0%-57.5%, for a deviance of 4.5 on Cupid Calc. By totaling deviances for each attribute; diameter, crown angle, crown depth, pavilion angle, pavilion depth and table percentage I obtain “Total Deviation.” The lower the number, the “tighter” the collective data is locked-in to indicated average measures.
I calculated the numbers for an AGS cut grade 3 diamond (1.438 ct H VS1) in Jonathan’s inventory and its Total Deviation on the Cupid Calc was 14.16.
Now it’s possible for an AGS 0 stone to carry a Total Deviation of 11.00 and still be considered ideal (this would be extreme, as every attribute would spread from min-max). A more realistic Total Deviation would be 6.0 with min-max deviances of just 1 percent or 1 degree in each attribute.
The Total Deviation on Saturday’s superideal “candidates” ranged from a mere 2.55 down to a stunning 1.44. Let me reiterate that: When including ALL data on each facet for the COLLECTIVE total (that’s 40 individual measurements on each diamond) the GREATEST collective deviation from all considered averages was only 2.55!
Astonishing. Richard, Brian and Barry are wizards. I cannot conceive of the mastery necessary to tool such strictly focused tolerances.
* “A Cut Above” Average Total Deviation: 2.17 !!! !!! !!!
* “SuperbCert” Average Total Deviation: 2.14 !!! !!! !!!
* I had no communication with Richard so I’m not comfortable reporting specific Eightstar numbers. However, I’ll tell you they were like those above!
It’s eerie how close the figures are.
Given: The Jonathan scale from lowest to highest on the BScope =
- L1 L2 L3 M1 M2 M3 H1 H2 H3 VH1 VH2 VH3 +
(This confused me at first, as VH3 is better than VH1 on the Jonathan BScope scale, but VS1 is better than VS2 on the GIA clarity scale. Huh? Errr, wha? ...I felt like “Ernest Goes to the Jewelers.” But Jonathan just kept whacking me with the knowledge stick until I got it... I’m over it now) :)
PARENTAL ADVISORY: Moms and dads, DON’T allow your kids to split hairs with the Brilliancescope: Promote it - because it provides statistics consumers can instantly appreciate. Cherish it - because it unerringly separates medium performing stones from high performing stones. But DO NOT treat it as ABSOLUTE, as the results are marginally inconsistent and are certainly FALLIBLE when comparing closely matched stones.
Human eyes must perform the tiebreaker.
+ Example: The following resulted in 3 tries on one of the superideals: (1) BScope A: VH1 VH2 VH1 (2) BScope B: VH2 VH1 H3 (3) BScope B again: VH1 VH2+ H3.
Also, the low score (scintillation) was the low score in all 3 BScope runs. But the subject diamond had incredible scintillation. It wound up as one of three finalists based on human observation of that particular quality. Jonathan believes scintillation is the most challenging element for the Brilliancescope to measure. He speculates that sometimes when it goes from position to position it records large “floods” of light but may be missing small “tinkles” that the human eye sees prominently. I agree with this assessment, especially considering all three finalist diamonds received their comparative lowest marks on the Brilliancescope in scintillation.
Even at that, I’m a gung-ho advocate of the Brilliancescope. GemEx has much to be proud of. It’s the only device of its kind which parleys ciphers into language everyone can comprehend. The feedback it provides on the grand scale is unambiguously convincing. I applaud them for continuing to scrutinize and improve the product. In 10 years it may be as standard as the Sarin analysis.
The Brilliancescope returns on an AGS 0 unbranded diamond and another diamond Jonathan sold the same day (not AGS 0) ranged from M1 to H3 (spanning all 3 categories) with the majority of marks @ H1.
The Brilliancescope returns on the superideal candidates ranged from H2 to VH3+ (spanning all 3 categories) with the vast majority of marks @ VH2.
* A Cut Above: Highest mark VH3+ Lowest mark H3+ Average @ VH2
Highest marks consistently in color. Lowest in scintillation.
* SuperbCert: Highest mark VH3+ Lowest mark VH1 Average @ VH2+
Highest marks consistently in color. Lowest in scintillation.
* Eightstar: Very similar performance!
In short: The analytical portion of the day told us what we expected. Now it would be up to Melissa’s eyes to decide if those transcendent numbers could hold up to human scrutiny.
2. NEXT CAME PIZZA
3. THE AESTHETIC
Without knowledge of what she would be seeing, Melissa took center stage. Jonathan was an amazing tour guide, explaining how color and clarity are graded (she already knew), then discussed cut in progressive, understandable terms. He explained AGS cut grades, “hearts and arrows,” and the strict tolerances of superideal brands. He showed her the difference between a non-hearts and arrows diamond and a hearts and arrows diamond in the viewer (neither of these stones were test subjects).
We were ready to begin. Jonathan unveiled the array of candidate diamonds to Melissa. For several moments she just smiled and took in the lively glitter. The first statement she managed was...
“Wow. I have to choose?”
That was her first impression; she would be delighted to take ownership of ANY of those extraordinary creations. She was literally transfixed. She looked like a little girl in an ice cream store. For the duration of our visit, she remained blown away by that array of beauty.
How important is that? It’s this important:
I could end the story here.
4. LET THE GAMES BEGIN
We asked Melissa to begin her selection. She decided color would be her priority. I chose 3 stones and Jonathan put them into faux settings (D, G, H in color, mixed brands). Melissa held and examined each stone from the top, then from the side. She constantly commented on their beauty but searched diligently for a difference. She singled out the H, but said from the top she could not see nearly the difference. I took all 3 from her and mixed them. She spotted the H again, additionally guessing that the D was the best of the three.
Setting those aside, we switched to another 3 (E, G, I, random brands). After admiring the new collection she spotted the I and claimed the E was likely the best, but very close to the G. Without knowing any information she was absolutely accurate.
Melissa dismissed the H-I stones but did not want to dismiss the G, as it looked colorless to her. The H and I were set aside (1 A Cut Above, 1 SuperbCert). Meanwhile Melissa expressed several times she would joyfully have called either of them “her” diamond.
+ Note: The “H” had one of the best Brilliancescope results, VH1+ VH3+ VH1. There was no way to tell it was an H from the top. It was as bright as the colorless stones. The I’s Brilliancescope reading was VH1 VH3 VH1. Another beautiful diamond, and not discernible in color from the H.
Melissa next wanted to see differences in clarity. We told her it may not be possible without a loupe. This was where my little lady blew us both away. She spotted and pointed out the inclusion in a very good SI2 which could only be seen in the pavilion (I squinted and think I may have seen it). She also found a blemish on an SI1. We dismissed those stones (1 SuperbCert, 1 A Cut Above).
+ Note: In settings it would have been impossible to see the inclusions in these stones but since Melissa called it we eliminated them. That left 3 diamonds.
5. FINALISTS: THE BEST OF THE BEST
With no influence, Melissa had arrived at 1 A Cut Above, 1 SuperbCert and 1 Eightstar as her finalists. On paper, they were indeed the 3 best. So after all the testing, the analysis and the speculation - Melissa had selected one of each as paramount with her naked eyes.
Thrilled by the poetry of it all, I encouraged her to continue :)
1 A Cut Above. 1 SuperbCert. 1 Eightstar. All colorless. All eye-clean, ranging from SI1 to VS1. Jonathan recleaned everything and placed them in faux settings.
Now that observation of static qualities was finished, the last test relied on the frailty of human judgment: Which stone appealed the most to Melissa’s individual taste: A measure of scintillation, sparkle, twinkle, flash, pizzazz... Call it what you will.
She held the three finalists a foot away, then at arms length. She scrutinized them from every angle, individually and together. It was dazzling to watch the effervescent performance at her fingertips; an eruption of white hot sparks and dancing fire. The best of the best, performing together. Sovereign musicians in a chorus of prismatic beauty, demanding attention. All of us were grinning ear to ear. It was really something. We moved from spotlights to fluorescent light to natural outside light. In all circumstances we were transfixed by the glittering, hypnotic show of fireworks on her hand.
Finally Melissa made a decision. She proclaimed that one stone did not scintillate as intensely as the others. She could see its colored flashes, but thought it did not share as much incendiary fire when moved back and forth. It was a personal choice, made entirely on imperfect human inclination.
To be certain, we mixed the stones and asked her to decide again.
So how does one compare Mozart to Beethoven? Beethoven to Chopin? Personal taste is the deciding factor. Three different people can have three separate favorites. At such a high level the decision becomes a vote, not an outcome. “Bias is reduced to a matter of personal taste, which by it's individualistic nature is eminently fallible.”
So we set the Eightstar aside, based on Melissa’s personal taste. She preferred the scintillation she saw in the other two diamonds to the lucid purity and dynamic fire she observed in the Eightstar.
+ Note: It’s fitting to note that on the Brilliancescope this particular Eightstar had received the lowest scintillation mark of the finalists (the others tied at 1.5 higher on Jonathan’s Brilliancescope scale). I still contend the machine has difficulty judging scintillation. In this case however, Melissa’s eyes agreed precisely with the GemEx results.
+ Note2: Observation: The Eightstar appeared larger than its carat weight implied. The cut was exquisite. I would have had a hard time dismissing it, but visually agreed with Melissa’s assessment.
Our remaining time saw Melissa carrying the last 2 diamonds from light source to light source. Try as she might, she could not break the tie. She went back and forth, preferring one, then the next. She could not bear the thought of setting either aside - of putting one ahead of the other.
“I’m sorry. I love them both.” She placed the diamonds, and the decision, in my hands.
...Here ends the public story.
Yes. Pugilists will complain. Those who feel an ultimate conqueror must brawl its way to victory will grumble. Let them snarl and pound their clay steins against the bar. Let them overturn wagons, set their torches to barns and raze hamlets in protest. They are missing the point.
Finding that elusive token which can express the quality of my love was always the goal. The most important person in my equation viewed seven such tokens. At the height of her perceptive powers she could not narrow it past two. I respect and celebrate her decision to “love” either gem.
The ideal diamond is one which says “I love you” from one person to another - on exclusively private terms. So we will make this last decision in private. That selection, once made, will not be disclosed by A Cut Above or by SuperbCert - as a matter of respect for our privacy, and in favor of this equitable conclusion.
Gentle reader... If nothing else moves you - let the integrity of that decision by the potentates of A Cut Above and SuperbCert bear witness to their spirit of honor. This unique outcome (which could be exploited in some avaricious mercantile fashion) shall remain a wonderful story, and a celebration of art at its highest level.
I’ve ordered this saga for purposes of enrichment and entertainment. I hope it will be commonly accepted it as it is offered: A voyage of discovery and a celebration of achievement.
As I said at the onset: Diversity is humanity’s great strength, and prescribes that what may be genial for one man does not befit another.
Personality, resources and philosophy will determine the individual’s “diamond decision” and steer him or her in a comfortable direction, small or large, traditional, fancy, ideal, modern or unconventional.
As for the vast substance of this post: The common man may find my drastic preoccupation with a glorified lump of coal absurd... But for those who pursue perfection, I offer that acquiring a superideal diamond, perfection beyond perfection, the fruit of a master’s tender labor, is akin to finding the holy grail.
Every one of the superideals lived up to its name. Every one was a star, superb in all aspects; a cut above anything we had seen.
Perfection beyond perfection.
Worthy of the woman I love.
VERY lucky woman.
congratulations on your purchase and your experience. may your future be as bright as your diamond.
great story! it was well worth the wait and i wish you and your future bride nothing but the best. i know you will enjoy whichever diamond you choose and your love for each other will bring you both the greatest of happiness. thank you for sharing your journey with us and enjoy the rest of your quest.
Taking the high road
Excellent post Cupid. I know many were anxiously awaiting the announcement of a new empire...and the fall of another. Thank you for bringing class to the forum. Some people may think you took the 'easy way out' with your ending. This couldn't be further from the truth. Thanks for taking the high road Cupid.
Now that your thesis is complete, I hope we'll see you back on the forum!! :)
Where is my clay stein? I want to pound it on the bar! Innkeeper, more beer!
After she makes the choice, you have to set it and place it on her finger. Another private moment. Maybe you could share part of that with us after it happens. Love is great but telling about it can bring tears to everyone's eyes.
I think after all that effort, you should just buy both diamonds and not have to make the decision of which one is better...keeps everyone happy...the dealers and the girl :)
You are a class act.:) And congratulations on finding the diamond that, as Wink would say, "made your hearts sing".
My very best wishes to you both!
Cut out of auditing as it was such a dry lecture straight out the textbook..come home, turn on the comp and find this gem. Great post Cupid :) This story is exactly what was to be expected. The super ideals are all amazing cut stones compared to the rest.With so little in differences between them it always comes down to a personal decision based on the availability of the diamond, your heart, and wallet.Now you get the fun part of choosing the setting :)
Permit me a few comments in response to your post. . .
1. Thanks for the fun of it all; for the occasion to enjoy the intrigue. For the excitement and for the laughs.
2. I am happy for you and your fiance. Glad you found a diamond you love. Excited for your life together; every wish for your happiness and love.
3. I am glad that you ended the post as you did. I take your experience and post to mean that you came to respect both companies; their product and their public relations. I would expect that a consumer could find "the ideal diamond" from either cutter. That is good news for the consumer.
4. From this post, together with the many threads on DT, it is clear that a consumer has a variety of tools at their disposal to evaluate the quality of diamonds under consideration. H&A Scope, Megascope, BriallianceScope, Fire Scope, HCA, Crown/Pavilion/Table characteristics, facet deviation. Thanks to DT and associated folks, these are accessable to the average consumer and can help tremendously in getting to that final destination; that special diamond. And when you find that special diamond, you can feel confident that it is "quality" and that you didn't get ripped off. (And if you need expert advice or assessment of your diamond, there are very capable people out there).
5. I encourage Jonathan to post the tests and results on each of the diamonds. It would be a valuable educational opportunity. Keep the company names out of it; give us the data and a play by play.
A PERSONAL NOTE -
I am glad that I didn't end up the lucky person to fly free to Jonathan's and to get caught up in a competitive situation. I would hate not to be able to share the diamond I chose for my special lady. Although I truly believe that I could have equally found a great diamond from SuperbCert, ACA, 8-Star, and I'm sure others (I apologize that my contacts are limited); I was fortunate to have hooked up with Jonathan at GoodOldGold. He was absolutely tremendous, offered a great education on diamonds, gave me 4 solid hours on a busy Saturday (with a 2 hour follow up a couple weeks later), and handled some personal requests and challenges, expertly and professionally. I ended up with a gorgeous 1.70 F VS2, SuperbCert, that performed brilliantly on all the tests, and ultimately captured my imagination and aesthetic sense of beauty. Pam is really going to flip when she sees this ring.
Thanks again, Cupid, for your wonderful post, posts, and intelligent and entertaining comments.
Just an interested consumer,
Thank you for sharing your observations. You took advantage of a great opportunity and shared it with the rest of us. Best wishes to you and Melissa.
I'm with Neal in hoping that Jonathan has the okay from ACA and SuperbCert to post the pictures. Neal, it sounds like you got a beautiful ring. Congratulations!
It was my great pleasure to
sponsor your weekend trip to
New York to visit with Jonathon at
G.O.G. and to meet with me this past
Sunday afternoon at my shop!
Your passion for acquiring diamond
knowledge is highly commendable and your
lucid and cogent dissemination of it
will no doubt serve as a basis
for an invaluable source of
information and guidance to all consumers who travel the DT highway
in search of the "superb"
presentation of their love.
Your "Cupid Calculator" is
intriguing but shows but the "average".
Consumers will be significantly
aided by seeing all of the
individual Megascope and
Brilliancescope readings of the
As I can speak only on behalf of our
product, I call on Jonathon to
publish on Diamond Talk the
Megascope, Brilliancescope and
Firescope readings of all SuperbCert(tm)
diamonds that were tested on Saturday.
Posting these individual results
will provide consumers with both valuable
intra and inter diamond comparisons
that will highlight the precision
and beauty inherent in our Super-Ideal!
Jonathon; I publicly give you
permission and encourage you
to post results of all the
Superbcert(tm) diamonds that
were tested by you and Cupid
this past Saturday. Consumers
on Diamond Talk deserve nothing less!
We therefore look forward to your immediate reply on this channel!
I got my popcorn all soggy from my tears :).
Great story...great storyteller! Thanks Cupid, and thanks to the fantastic professionalism of all involved--Brian, Barry, Bob/Lesley, and of course Jonathon.
But that last decision is easy! that's where you say "thanks, but..." and then go buy a cheap diamond off of ebay. :lildev:
It's so much fun to read your writing, cupid!
Thanks and best wishes for a lifetime of health and happiness with Melissa.
Congratulations! Clearly it was a wonderful experience for both of you. May you have a long and happy life together!
Your findings were masterfully presented. You should be writing books -- you have a great talent for pace and storytelling. That's my professional opinion as an editor.
Live long and ... prosper! (someone had to say it :) )
Good ending to what was one of the most anticipated threads in recent DT history!
What an awesome experience this must have been. You're probably the only person who has seen all 3 top brands side-by-side and done such an indepth analysis. A very privileged position!
Thanks to all who made this happen - Barry, Brian, Rhino and of course the happy couple themselves.
Congratulation for THE 'Rock' for your lady. Whether it's ACA or Supercert - I am sure it will be beautiful & deserve the taste of fastidious connoisseur like you.
Before ever going further let me tell you something, I was like you in the market for buying a diamond ( till lot of people from my company got a 'Pink Slip' which put me on defensive level & has to delay my diamond buying for few months - Still keeping my eyes open for the one which I want ). In this process, I contacted Jonathan, Supercert & ACA - all the party were more than 'my expectation' for their professional service & promptness.
Now back to this thread. I am not here to start a argument & turn this happy moment for you in a soap opera. In fact I posted my reply to you in your earlier thread. I post it in a humorous way BUT somehow using my MBA/Engineering & logical approach of Computer field, I have anticipated this kind of 'End of Happy Story' situation ( which is most logical ).
Please do tell me how ' letting everything till the selection of last 2 stones in intricate detail on DT is not matter of privacy for you but only the 'Final selection between ACA / Supercert is ??? I am confused :) Is this really carried out as what I have posted before as a 'secret deal' ??
Once again I am not here to start a argument or making it a EGO problem turn soap opera but I could not resist myself as I am sure that lot of people will have same question in their mind. Buying an ACA / Supercert individually was not been so 'highly Visible Topic' here on DT ( as both are best quality stones ). This Topic was hot as it was buying between ACA / Supercert. Even every mature person on DT was perfectly aware that 'it was constructive & not the conclusive story for others, never the less they were expecting the definitive answer from you in your celebration of art'. Don't get me wrong for this but you are the one who started the Topic 'ACA/ Supercert side by side' & made other people interested in this.
Here is my previous post & how it holds true in the current situation.
Ok so here it goes
1) ACA & Supercert will make 'Secret Agreement' with consent of Cupid ( Jonathan will also have to involve in this ) that 'Whoever get the sale as a first choice will not disclose it to outside world'.
** Quite possibly it must have happened **
2) Than both the brands will offer the stones at a bare minimum price so that Cupid can buy both :)
example $8000 worth of stone can be offered to Cupid for $4500 ( no loss no profit ) by ACA as well as Supercert in whichever order Cupid rated the stone.
3) So now Cupid with $8000 budget can buy 2 stones with total $9000 ( a very marginal increase for the DEAL he is having ).
4) Declare to outside world that both the stones are so fabulous ( they are really in reality so nobody will question about it ) that he has decided to buy two stones after seeing them in person. Oops one happens to be ACA & the other Supercert. what a co-incidence :)
** It was based on the assumption that You will tell on DT that which stone you picked up for your Lady. That's why I humorously wrote as buying both stones as a honorary exit. But now that suddenly as per your 'Private Decision' rule even if you select one stone of one brand, it hold true as per the theme of my story :) **
5) Nobody I.e. Cupid / Jonathan / ACA / Supercert will talk about what exactly happen as a first choice for Cupid
( which will happen behind the door )
6) Both ACA & Supercert will graciously allow to let their all the related information 'people want to see about the stones' on DT as well as Jonathan's site so that both will be a winner :)
Both can proudly say that our stone got selected.
** Well when you will buy 'one stone' from ACA or SuperCert ( giving benefit of doubt that Jonathan may not be knowing this ), they will come to know about it as 'who actually got the money & gave the stone'. But as per the theme of the story, NOBODY will come out & say that 'who got the sale' under the 'Ethical standard that Customer's privacy needs to be protected'. So bottom line - Nobody will talk about it openly on DT **
7) Life is as usual on DT even in future for ACA & Supercert as well as all the 'so called Fanatic Diamond Cut Quality Customers' to make their own choices again.
8) It will be also decided in this Deal to avoid such a showdown in future :)
** Why not !! It must have been decided as a secret deal based on the way already story has progressed **
Congrats Cupid. But I have to admit I feel cheated(your mileage may vary). Watching all this drama unfold DT and not getting the end.
All the great descriptive writing style with stats etc. doesn't help me with the fact that after all the drama and the opportunity you had to see the stone side by side. We don't get to know the final result.
It doesn't matter if you win or lose....a tie is like kissing your sister.
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