The Four C’s (cut, color, clarity and carat) are a straightforward tick list for diamond buyers. With simple grading systems and visual aids, leading gem labs GIA and AGS have ensured that every buyer stands a chance of finding a quality diamond within their budget. The internet has offered further opportunity for buyers to educate themselves, however conflicting information can confuse inexperienced buyers and lead to overspending on low quality diamonds. That is where I come in.
The clued up among you will already know that when it comes to diamond quality, cut is king. Even diamonds with superior color and clarity grades will appear dull and disappointing if the cut is lacking. Perhaps you have even dipped your toe into ideal diamonds…but the pinnacle of diamond cut quality is super-ideal cut diamonds. If super-ideal cut diamonds haven’t crossed your mind, I still implore you to read on. The results of a precision cut are truly remarkable, but are they worth the money?
In 1919, an engineer from Belgium named Marcel Tolkowsky studied the grinding of diamonds for his PHD. With a family background in diamond cutting, his studies expanded until eventually he formulated the ‘ideal’ cut specifications for a round cut diamond. This was the beginning of a worldwide focus on round brilliant diamonds and their cut proportions – to this day, Tolkowsky’s original specifications remain a guideline for modern diamond cutters.
|Crown Angle||34.5 º|
Super ideal cut diamonds go a step beyond, refining these specifications for diamonds with an abundance of brilliance, fire and scintillation. There is no singular super ideal cut, rather a range of proportions which diamond companies will consider – they then set their own parameters for a super ideal cut diamond. Whiteflash’s A CUT ABOVE® Diamonds are a great example of an in-house, super-ideal cut collection. They give clear definition of their strict specifications, perfectly illustrating how their diamonds measure up against GIA ‘Excellent’ graded diamonds and AGS ‘0’ graded diamonds.
In short, a super-ideal cut diamond takes the basics of cut grading and refines them to achieve optical precision and exceptional light performance.
Super ideal cut diamonds carry a bigger price tag for a number of reasons. The first is concerned with the process of cutting the rough. A round brilliant diamond is the most expensive shape to cut as much of the rough is lost during the cutting and polishing process. To account for this, the market is full of average to poor diamonds, the result of cutters compromising cut quality in favour of carat yield. The cutter may choose to cut the diamond deep, yielding a greater carat weight but sacrificing light return. In a super ideal cut diamond, nothing is sacrificed.
The second reason is the intense precision that a super ideal cut requires and the man hours needed to achieve it. The most minute variances can have a huge difference in the overall cut grade.
The third and final reason is – marketing. Yes, there remains furious debate in the diamond industry about whether or not super-ideal cut diamonds are rare and precious or simply a marketing ploy to encourage spending. You will find lively discussions on forums with guidance coming from every direction.
My experience is as follows; any ‘buzzy’ term can be used for marketing, and super ideal certainly has a ring to it. The best way to identify whether a diamond is giving optimum light return is through advanced light performance imaging (more on this later). When a company explicitly states its specifications for an in-house super ideal cut diamond, this is a good sign. When a vendor also offers light performance reports – even better.
The terms ideal and super ideal are thrown around by sellers as a way to charge a premium for diamonds that don’t live up to the title (though such shady tactics are usually deployed in a traditional bricks and mortar store). When there is tangible data, respectable vendors will happily demonstrate exactly where your extra money is going.
Using ASET and Hearts and Arrows view is one of the easiest ways to analyse light performance and optical precision.
This 1.03ct G-VS2 is from the Whiteflash A CUT ABOVE® range of super ideal cut diamonds. The hearts and arrows view and ASET image are examples of precision and excellent light performance, which both translate to a diamond that burst with brilliance, scintillation and fire.
Learning to interpret ASET images is an essential skill for successful diamond buying. Read my complete guide to ASET to learn more. I would also advise reading my piece on Diamond Imaging, Light Performance and HD Video.
I always advise buyers to prioritise cut when deciding their budget. Though it may be tempting to go for a heavier carat weight, a poor cut can result in a smaller looking diamond. Color and clarity are largely subjective, but in my experience even the most novice diamond buyers can identify a difference in cut quality. After all, it is what makes a diamond sparkle.
The Whiteflash diamond above is $8,209. A diamond with the same specs but a GIA ‘Excellent’ cut grade will be around the $6,500 mark.
This statement is backed up by the thousands of customers that I’ve worked with including:
Read Shirley A.‘s review of Whiteflash on Yelp
In my time helping buyers find beautiful diamonds, many observe the incredible beauty of a super-ideal cut diamond and simply must have it. The optical performance, combined with the ‘once in a lifetime’ spirit of diamonds leads many to weigh up their options and go for the best of the best.
Equally, I have shown various cut qualities to buyers who simply cannot justify the jump in price. Diamond buying is a deeply personal experience – my advice is to take full advantage of the high-res imaging and light performance reports that are offered by vendors for an accurate way to analyse your diamonds.
For their clear specifications, extensive performance reports and overall quality, Whiteflash and their A CUT ABOVE® range of super ideal cut diamonds get my top recommendation, I would also look at Hearts on Fire as a second option. If you are looking elsewhere, it is essential that you take a close look at the proportions of the diamond and try to get an ASET image – simply trusting the phrase ‘super ideal’ will not be enough to stop you getting ripped off.