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Texas Leaguer

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From time to time we like to open up topics for discussion as a way to "take the pulse" of the market. The feedback we get from the pricescope community is an invaluable resource that helps us understand how to better serve our customers.


The issue of what constitutes "eye clean" gets alot of discussion and a quick review of the page on which a variety of vendors have posted their definitions provides a pretty good indication that there is no single standard. The advice there, which we wholeheartedly endorse and post to our own website, encourages customers to decide for themselves what their own particular definition is and to communicate that information to their vendor. And to that end, when communicating with a customer who is interested in an Si stone, we try to ask the kinds of questions that help us understand if a particular stone is a match for that customer''s needs.


Having said all that, we would like to get a current feel for what customers are really concerned about when considering Si stones- in particular Si1 grades from GIA and AGS.

For instance, here are a few questions that might start the conversation:

Are most customers simply concerned that an inclusion might be seen as an obvious "flaw" to a typical observer causing embarrassment to the wearer and reflecting poorly on the giver?


To what extent are customers concerned that the inclusion(s) in an Si1 will diminish fire and brilliance?


What percentage of people are really concerned about being able to resolve a minute inclusion with their naked eye by studying the stone intensively from all possible angles?


Here is a related question for some of the experts and pro-sumers, in particular those that have been around a while :

Has GIA grading changed over time such that there are more (or fewer) Si1 grades in the market today that are not eye-clean?

In looking back at some old GIA course materials it is interesting to see how GIA has evolved the way they describe the Si grades. Below are two descriptions; the first from the 1980''s and the other from current GIA course material.


From 1986
Si1-Si2 (Slightly Included)
These grades describe stones in which the inclusions are noticeable or fairly easy to see under 10x magnification and include such characteristis as included crystals, clouds and feathers. Imperfections in the Si1 grade are not visible in the face-up position to the unaided eye. Imperfections in the Si2 grade sometimes may be seen with the unaided eye if the stone is viewed from the pavilion.
From 2009
SI stones contain noticeable inclusions that are easy (Si1) or very easy (Si2) for a trained grader to see under 10x. Typical inclusions are included crystals, clouds, and feathers. These inclusions are usually centrally located.
As is the case with the VS range, a stone with an eye-visible inclusion can be graded SI, but in general the characteristics in an Si1 diamond are not usually visible face-up without magnification. You’ll see eye-visible inclusions more often in an Si2 stone.

Sorry to make this so long. I hope everyone did not yawn and go to bed! I just wanted to set the table for what hopefully will be a worthwhile discussion.
 

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adamasgem

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Date: 2/24/2010 6:27:11 PM
Author:Texas Leaguer

In looking back at some old GIA course materials it is interesting to see how GIA has evolved the way they describe the Si grades. Below are two descriptions; the first from the 1980''s and the other from current GIA course material.



From 1986
Si1-Si2 (Slightly Included)
These grades describe stones in which the inclusions are noticeable or fairly easy to see under 10x magnification and include such characteristis as included crystals, clouds and feathers. Imperfections in the Si1 grade are not visible in the face-up position to the unaided eye. Imperfections in the Si2 grade sometimes may be seen with the unaided eye if the stone is viewed from the pavilion.

From 2009
SI stones contain noticeable inclusions that are easy (Si1) or very easy (Si2) for a trained grader to see under 10x. Typical inclusions are included crystals, clouds, and feathers. These inclusions are usually centrally located.
As is the case with the VS range, a stone with an eye-visible inclusion can be graded SI, but in general the characteristics in an Si1 diamond are not usually visible face-up without magnification. You’ll see eye-visible inclusions more often in an Si2 stone. EG FACE UP OR PAVILION UP

Teexas Leager..

It is called grade creep, and what they teach, is often not what they do in the lab.
Started during Billy Boys reign (coverup king who got dethroned)...

It is interesting when you trace stuff back further in GIA''s history, like fluorescence and color grading. In case you haven''t read, I''ve been exposing some of this type of stuff for a long time

http://www.adamasgem.org/giafluor.html
Also look at the lighting task force files on the right hand side of the pages below

http://accreditedgemologists.org/pastevents/2009Tucson.php
http://accreditedgemologists.org/pastevents/2010Tucson.php
 

Karl_K

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This is an interesting subject.

It is a fact that AGS has moved the si2/i1 border to be less strict.
GIA the biggest complaint I have been hearing is lack of consistency particularly with fancies.

I have no doubt that grade creep has been going on for several years, do I have absolute proof. No
As far as the percentage of each grade that is eyeclean the diamonds most often purchased on PS are already filtered by the vendors so it isn''t a true picture of the market.
Given that there seems to be a lot of eyeclean si1 diamonds out there but far fewer si2 than in the past.
 

dreamer_dachsie

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I have owned AGS diamonds that were VS2, SI1, and now SI2 clarity grades, for background.


Are most customers simply concerned that an inclusion might be seen as an obvious ''flaw'' to a typical observer causing embarrassment to the wearer and reflecting poorly on the giver?

I am not concerned about other people seeing inclusions, my issue is *me* seeing them. Obviously, if it meets most vendor''s standards for eye clean, observers are not going to see the inclusions unless they look really close. I would be offended if someone did that to my diamond
But I do not like seeing them. My SI2 diamond has some table inclusions, and one is visible to me in certain lighting from about 10 inches, and in normal lighting from about 6 inches. It is a little black spec. I don''t like seeing it because it interrupts the facet pattern. I like taking pictures of my diamonds and posting them on PS
and when I do that I don''t like to see inclusions. But mostly, it just interrupts the patterning and that is why I do not like it.


To what extent are customers concerned that the inclusion(s) in an Si1 will diminish fire and brilliance?


It is a question I would always ask. I would *never* buy an SI diamond where this was a concern. We always warn people to check when clouds are listed as grade making inclusions, or when the SI diamond has "clarity grade based on clouds not shown" included in the notes. So I would say this is a top concern. I would suggest that WF never carry diamond that have this problem.


What percentage of people are really concerned about being able to resolve a minute inclusion with their naked eye by studying the stone intensively from all possible angles?

I can''t speak for everyone, but I know that I personally did not know my tolerance level until I owned an SI2 that was technically eye clean but not clean at close inspection. Turns out I like looking at my diamond from about 5-6 inches. I am near sighted, and for me it is easy to see inclusions at that distance. I think that when you work with customers it is important to be able to tell them *exactly* what situations will allow them to see inclusions. Ideally, you would include detailed notes specifying the distance, angles, and perhaps even lighting environments where inclusions can be seen. Yup, its pretty anal to want this, but many of us would feel better buying an SI diamond if we knew these things in advance and perhaps there would be less returns. I know that WF has started including information about eye cleanliness at 6 inches... I wonder if it is even possible to find an SI2 diamond that is eye clean at that rane? But SI1''s for sure, I owned one and it was totally eye clean at all angles.
 

Lorelei

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Date: 2/24/2010 6:27:11 PM
Author:Texas Leaguer


From time to time we like to open up topics for discussion as a way to 'take the pulse' of the market. The feedback we get from the pricescope community is an invaluable resource that helps us understand how to better serve our customers.




The issue of what constitutes 'eye clean' gets alot of discussion and a quick review of the page on which a variety of vendors have posted their definitions provides a pretty good indication that there is no single standard. The advice there, which we wholeheartedly endorse and post to our own website, encourages customers to decide for themselves what their own particular definition is and to communicate that information to their vendor. And to that end, when communicating with a customer who is interested in an Si stone, we try to ask the kinds of questions that help us understand if a particular stone is a match for that customer's needs.




Having said all that, we would like to get a current feel for what customers are really concerned about when considering Si stones- in particular Si1 grades from GIA and AGS.

For instance, here are a few questions that might start the conversation:


Are most customers simply concerned that an inclusion might be seen as an obvious 'flaw' to a typical observer causing embarrassment to the wearer and reflecting poorly on the giver? I would agree with this, it seems to be a common concern.




To what extent are customers concerned that the inclusion(s) in an Si1 will diminish fire and brilliance? Some are concerned with this, it generally seems to be the consumer that invests time researching all aspects of their purchase. As Dreamer says, we have seen some instances of SI with grade making clouds that have negatively impacted brilliance so we always advise that an expert checks such stones carefully.




What percentage of people are really concerned about being able to resolve a minute inclusion with their naked eye by studying the stone intensively from all possible angles? I find the vast majority want a diamond which is absolutely eyeclean.




Hi Bryan!

Thoughts are above in bold and are based on my experiences here.
 

HVVS

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Date: 2/24/2010 6:27:11 PM
Author:Texas Leaguer


In looking back at some old GIA course materials it is interesting to see how GIA has evolved the way they describe the Si grades. Below are two descriptions; the first from the 1980's and the other from current GIA course material.



From 1986
Si1-Si2 (Slightly Included)
These grades describe stones in which the inclusions are noticeable or fairly easy to see under 10x magnification and include such characteristics as included crystals, clouds and feathers. Imperfections in the Si1 grade are not visible in the face-up position to the unaided eye. Imperfections in the Si2 grade sometimes may be seen with the unaided eye if the stone is viewed from the pavilion.

From 2009
SI stones contain noticeable inclusions that are easy (Si1) or very easy (Si2) for a trained grader to see under 10x. Typical inclusions are included crystals, clouds, and feathers. These inclusions are usually centrally located.

As is the case with the VS range, a stone with an eye-visible inclusion can be graded SI, but in general the characteristics in an Si1 diamond are not usually visible face-up without magnification. You'll see eye-visible inclusions more often in an Si2 stone.

It's interesting that the '86 standard for SI2 seems stricter than the current one. I own an older cut I1 diamond that is graded by GIA-trained gemologist / appraiser (trained in the '80s) who called it an I1, and it's far more eye-clean than the brand new H&A AGS graded SI2 that I bought in September. Honestly, I think the SI2 that I bought should have been called an I1. There is a dark crystal in the table, rather near the surface, and it really does show in most lighting, and is quite obvious from 10 to 13 inches away if not the 18" that the vendor cites. The older I1 stone, it is clean until very close to the eye.

Here's the SI2 SI2 and that crystal is a garnet color. Anytime the diamond is in typical office lighting, for example, I can see that dark spec from 18". It's an I1 in my book. There is not way that such a dark inclusion that's easily visible face-up and IN THE TABLE! should be allowed either of the SI grades, in my opinion. The only thing that got this an SI2 must be that "at a glance" clause.

Now, my SI2 was graded by AGS, not GIA. I have always been told (and have read) that the better stones go to AGS. In this case, I think they flubbed it. What lighting do most people wear diamonds in? If it has an obvious dark speck face up in typical office lighting, call it an I1. To most people, if they can see it prominently it's not SI clarity, it is I clarity. If they have to hunt to find it, then it's SI. Maybe I should hurry up and send my I1 to AGS to grade, so I can get a report that upgrades an I1 an SI1.
 

HVVS

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This is the I1, btw. Fuzzy, and the diamond is not really clean, but there sure are no inclusions in the table, hehe. I am not sure how GOG managed to capture that photo of my SI2 with no black speck showing against the culet, yet it's reflecting in two arrows. The dark inclusion is there in the Bscope and the ASET and the Indealscope images.

I1-COPY.jpg
 

oldminer

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I think the term eye-clean has been well defined by some vendors who participate here yet consumers often have their own definitions in mind which conflict with vendor terminology. Most consumers want to be very cautious about being able to see inclusions with the naked eye and vendors want consumers to have just a bit worse vision than average.
A good vendor really just has to keep it a subjective thing and work individually with each client to meet their specific clarity needs or budget limits. Many I1 stones are sort of eye-clean and you can find plenty of SI1 or SI2 diamonds which are not eye-clean........by the way I define it. Clarity grading does not come close to being defined by eye visibility of inclusions.

The GIA text copied here is a bit misleading. GIA mislead many gemologists during their course of studies. Possibly it was inadvertent, but possibly the goal was to keep Lab secrets intact for as long as possible. Using the text in this way also misleads those reading it here. The Gem Trade Lab grades from small to very large size diamonds. Clarity grading changes as the size increases. They don''t make much mention of this in the GIA Diamond Course since they are always speaking about 1/4ct size sample diamonds for novice gemologists to grade. They just don''t teach large diamond grading in the initial GIA Diamond course. Maybe they make some mention of this in their occasional "advanced" diamond grading lectures, but that''s about it. GIA does not wish to reveal all the secrets of the GIA Lab. They are separate entities and the Lab uses its own set of guildelines for diamonds of larger, more commercial sizes, like 3/4, 1ct, 2ct etc. So, don''t take every word in the GIA text quoted as being applicable to normal size diamonds we see being sold here or in B&M stores for engagement rings. The text quoted is for relatively small diamonds suitable for the GIA Diamond Course of study for novice diamond graders.

Maybe there has been some slippage in standards. I think there have been some adjustments, but I''m not convinced that it is intentional degradation. It could be, but maybe not. The criticism is often given by people with vested interests or bias against GIA and one should "take it with a grain of salt" to realize that few people are truly unbiased or without their own agenda. The most important thing is to make the consumer knowledgeable about a particular stone on a case by case basis and let their eyes and the vendor''s advice go hand in hand when a purchase in being contemplated.
 

Texas Leaguer

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Date: 2/25/2010 12:58:56 PM
Author: oldminer
Most consumers want to be very cautious about being able to see inclusions with the naked eye and vendors want consumers to have just a bit worse vision than average.


Not easy to make this subject entertaining but that one hit the spot!

The GIA text copied here is a bit misleading. GIA mislead many gemologists during their course of studies. Possibly it was inadvertent, but possibly the goal was to keep Lab secrets intact for as long as possible. Using the text in this way also misleads those reading it here. The Gem Trade Lab grades from small to very large size diamonds. Clarity grading changes as the size increases. They don''t make much mention of this in the GIA Diamond Course since they are always speaking about 1/4ct size sample diamonds for novice gemologists to grade. They just don''t teach large diamond grading in the initial GIA Diamond course. Maybe they make some mention of this in their occasional ''advanced'' diamond grading lectures, but that''s about it. GIA does not wish to reveal all the secrets of the GIA Lab. They are separate entities and the Lab uses its own set of guildelines for diamonds of larger, more commercial sizes, like 3/4, 1ct, 2ct etc. So, don''t take every word in the GIA text quoted as being applicable to normal size diamonds we see being sold here or in B&M stores for engagement rings. The text quoted is for relatively small diamonds suitable for the GIA Diamond Course of study for novice diamond graders.

Very insightful viewpoint. It certainly is true that bigger stones can contain bigger (easier to resolve with the naked eye) incusions at a certain grade and therefore the eyeclean standard has to be considered a bit of a sliding scale. It seems very logical, after you point it out, that "one size does not fit all" in terms of precise descriptions of grades. Which begs the question; why do they even include in the descriptions references to what can or cannot be seen with the unaided eye?

Maybe there has been some slippage in standards. I think there have been some adjustments, but I''m not convinced that it is intentional degradation. It could be, but maybe not. The criticism is often given by people with vested interests or bias against GIA and one should ''take it with a grain of salt'' to realize that few people are truly unbiased or without their own agenda. The most important thing is to make the consumer knowledgeable about a particular stone on a case by case basis and let their eyes and the vendor''s advice go hand in hand when a purchase in being contemplated.

Balanced, rational and wise.
Dave,
My comments in bold above.
 

Todd Gray

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In my experience...

Most of the consumers who I talk with about SI clarity diamonds seem to be concerned about whether the diamond is going to be "eye clean" or not and do not want to be able to detect inclusions with their eyes... Thankfully my vision is 17/20 corrected only for astigmatism, so determining whether a diamond is going to be "eye clean" to most people is not a difficult task - however it does make finding an "eye clean" SI clarity diamond a bit of a challenge for me. My brother is actually able to pull inclusions out of many VS-2 clarity diamonds with just his eyes from a top down perspective which blows my mind!

Many people are concerned about whether the larger and more numerous inclusions found within SI clarity diamonds will diminish visual performance, and certainly inclusions such as large clouds (groups of pinpoint size diamond crystals) and extensive feathers, knots, twinning wisps, etc. are capable of doing so - but in my experience, the majority of less prominent inclusions are not going to have a negative effect which can be detected with just our eyes...

I''m with Marty with regards to "grade creep", I don''t recall ever seeing an SI-1 clarity diamond which was not eye clean when I started in the business back in 1985. Today most of the SI-1 clarity diamonds which I evaluate are not eye clean and I end up rejecting them as a result because IMO an SI-1 should be eye clean (by my standards of vision), however I do not expect an SI-2 clarity diamond to be eye clean.

I think that it is reasonable to say that the SI-1 of today is the VS-2 of 10 years ago and that the SI-2 of today is what we were taught to be an I-1. I believe that the gemological laboratories have ''adjusted'' their grading practices in response to pressure from the cutters along the lines of "I send $80M of diamonds through your laboratory a year and I should be sending the diamonds to ''lab x'' because they would call this (a higher grade)" [which would yield the cutter more profit] and over time the labs diminish their standards in order to retain their clients - note that I''m not condoning the practice (which I believe exists based on things I''ve heard the cutters say) I''m merely stating my interpretation of the scenario.
 

yssie

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Date: 2/25/2010 2:55:57 PM
Author: Todd Gray
In my experience...

Most of the consumers who I talk with about SI clarity diamonds seem to be concerned about whether the diamond is going to be ''eye clean'' or not and do not want to be able to detect inclusions with their eyes... Thankfully my vision is 17/20 corrected only for astigmatism, so determining whether a diamond is going to be ''eye clean'' to most people is not a difficult task - however it does make finding an ''eye clean'' SI clarity diamond a bit of a challenge for me. My brother is actually able to pull inclusions out of many VS-2 clarity diamonds with just his eyes from a top down perspective which blows my mind!

Many people are concerned about whether the larger and more numerous inclusions found within SI clarity diamonds will diminish visual performance, and certainly inclusions such as large clouds (groups of pinpoint size diamond crystals) and extensive feathers, knots, twinning wisps, etc. are capable of doing so - but in my experience, the majority of less prominent inclusions are not going to have a negative effect which can be detected with just our eyes...

I''m with Marty with regards to ''grade creep'', I don''t recall ever seeing an SI-1 clarity diamond which was not eye clean when I started in the business back in 1985. Today most of the SI-1 clarity diamonds which I evaluate are not eye clean and I end up rejecting them as a result because IMO an SI-1 should be eye clean (by my standards of vision), however I do not expect an SI-2 clarity diamond to be eye clean.

I think that it is reasonable to say that the SI-1 of today is the VS-2 of 10 years ago and that the SI-2 of today is what we were taught to be an I-1. I believe that the gemological laboratories have ''adjusted'' their grading practices in response to pressure from the cutters along the lines of ''I send $80M of diamonds through your laboratory a year and I should be sending the diamonds to ''lab x'' because they would call this (a higher grade)'' [which would yield the cutter more profit] and over time the labs diminish their standards in order to retain their clients - note that I''m not condoning the practice (which I believe exists based on things I''ve heard the cutters say) I''m merely stating my interpretation of the scenario.
And what a pity
 

Todd Gray

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Correction, I know what I was trying to say, but it didn''t type out right... The SI-1 of ten years ago is the VS-2 of today, not the other way around


Making the SI-2 of today, the I-1 of ten years ago...

I knew what I was ''trying'' to say...

I need coffee.
 

yssie

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Oh, hey, look at that! I read it the way you meant - didn't even notice it was written backward
 

Todd Gray

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Date: 2/25/2010 3:16:56 PM
Author: yssie
Oh, hey, look at that! I read it the way you meant - didn''t even notice it was written backward
Yea... Marty Haske called my cell phone, called me "backwards boy" and suggested that I go back and read what I wrote, he knew what I was trying to say (because we''ve discussed this in-depth)... He''s got course material from the GIA going back to the 1950''s, maybe we''ll get him to put up the earlier definitions for the SI-1 and SI-2 clarity grades!
 

yssie

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Date: 2/25/2010 3:27:39 PM
Author: Todd Gray


Date: 2/25/2010 3:16:56 PM
Author: yssie
Oh, hey, look at that! I read it the way you meant - didn't even notice it was written backward
Yea... Marty Haske called my cell phone, called me 'backwards boy' and suggested that I go back and read what I wrote, he knew what I was trying to say (because we've discussed this in-depth)... He's got course material from the GIA going back to the 1950's, maybe we'll get him to put up the earlier definitions for the SI-1 and SI-2 clarity grades!
That'd be really interesting.. complete with pics of course
..
 

adamasgem

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Date: 2/25/2010 3:27:39 PM
Author: Todd Gray

Date: 2/25/2010 3:16:56 PM
Author: yssie
Oh, hey, look at that! I read it the way you meant - didn''t even notice it was written backward
Yea... Marty Haske called my cell phone, called me ''backwards boy'' and suggested that I go back and read what I wrote, he knew what I was trying to say (because we''ve discussed this in-depth)... He''s got course material from the GIA going back to the 1950''s, maybe we''ll get him to put up the earlier definitions for the SI-1 and SI-2 clarity grades!
Here is a page from an INTERNAL lab manual, vintage 1998, that I could grab quickly that might be interesting
 

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oldminer

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TEXAS LEAGUER quote:
Very insightful viewpoint. It certainly is true that bigger stones can contain bigger (easier to resolve with the naked eye) incusions at a certain grade and therefore the eyeclean standard has to be considered a bit of a sliding scale. It seems very logical, after you point it out, that "one size does not fit all" in terms of precise descriptions of grades. Which begs the question; why do they even include in the descriptions references to what can or cannot be seen with the unaided eye?

The reason it is included is because of the narrow range of size the GIA is teaching novice graders in their course material. They know this does not apply to larger diamonds in all respects, but it is a teaching method which works only in the context of those select, small diamonds used within the course itself. Because of this failing to communicate that the information is limited to small diamonds, they have brought about a lot of troubling concern. This is typical of taking limited statements out of larger context. I don''t blame anyone because it isn''t always easy to see the problem being created until someone else points it out. I hope this makes sense to those reading the thread.


Even so, I do agree that diamonds once graded SI1 decades ago would often now grade VS2 and the same for I2, I1, SI2 from years ago have all sort of risen a bit in grade over time. Market pressure and possibly perfecting the business of running a successful lab operation have all gone into this change. I don''t see a problem with current GIA/AGS clarity grading making pretty good sense as it stands, but one might be able to say the system has been updated, changed, re-configured in the past 30 years. Then again, what hasn''t changed?
 

Texas Leaguer

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Date: 2/25/2010 4:36:09 AM
Author: Lorelei

Date: 2/24/2010 6:27:11 PM
Author:Texas Leaguer

To what extent are customers concerned that the inclusion(s) in an Si1 will diminish fire and brilliance? Some are concerned with this, it generally seems to be the consumer that invests time researching all aspects of their purchase. As Dreamer says, we have seen some instances of SI with grade making clouds that have negatively impacted brilliance so we always advise that an expert checks such stones carefully.

Agree. Good advice.



What percentage of people are really concerned about being able to resolve a minute inclusion with their naked eye by studying the stone intensively from all possible angles? I find the vast majority want a diamond which is absolutely eyeclean.

Do you think this is also true of the vast majority of the general public, or is slanted somewhat by the profile of the internet shopper, or more specifically someone who spends time here on this forum getting educated?


Hi Bryan!

Thoughts are above in bold and are based on my experiences here.
Hi Lorelei,
I''ll see your bold and raise you. Purple Bold !
 

Texas Leaguer

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Date: 2/24/2010 10:19:18 PM
Author: dreamer_dachsie
I have owned AGS diamonds that were VS2, SI1, and now SI2 clarity grades, for background.




What percentage of people are really concerned about being able to resolve a minute inclusion with their naked eye by studying the stone intensively from all possible angles?

I can''t speak for everyone, but I know that I personally did not know my tolerance level until I owned an SI2 that was technically eye clean but not clean at close inspection. Turns out I like looking at my diamond from about 5-6 inches. I am near sighted, and for me it is easy to see inclusions at that distance.
Dreamer,
I have seen a number of people over the years that studied their diamonds that close, so I know at least some people have a real need to know if a stone is eye-clean from 6 inches. The distance that most trade members judge eye-clean from is 8-10 inches, and that distance is not just coincidence. As has been pointed out on this forum many times the distance of most distinct vision is considered to be about 25cm or just under 10 inches. Here''s a link to the optomistrists'' definition.
I wonder what percent of the population fall significantly inside this distance? (We know that as you age you need correction back to this distance (some of us know all too well
)

Some of the other questions I have involve the tradeoff when it becomes aparent that you really need to buy up to a VS to get a "squeaky" eye-clean stone, sometimes costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars more. Or perhaps settle for a smaller stone. I also wonder if there are differences between a man''s orientation in this regard and what direction his lady might tend to go. Men are from Mars afterall!
 
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