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Strain: Will tackling it head-on take the teeth out of it?

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Richard Sherwood

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is it because you don't consider it important (strain)? or because you
don't think it exists ?
-----------

The main reason I don't include a strain report with my appraisals (unless requested), is because there are no studies (to my knowledge) which quantify the effect of strain on the durability of a diamond.

There's just not enough information out there in my opinion to cause a beautiful diamond to turn into a leper because of (quite pretty, actually) interference colors when examined through crossed polaroids.

In the 24 years I've been involved in the diamond industry, with the thousands upon thousands of stones I've bought, sold, examined, appraised, and heard of, I've yet to hear of one stone breaking on a customer's finger because of strain.

With that kind of record, I feel it's alarmist to put a cruel and unusual stigma on an otherwise gorgeous stone.

I would need to see documented studies by nationally recognized leaders in the gemological world citing strain as a realistic problem, and a consistent manner of quantifying the extent of the problem (such as minor strain, moderate strain, strong strain and very strong strain), before I would begin issuing a standard reporting of strain. As far as I'm aware there are no such studies or research on this issue as of yet, probably because nobody has considered it as much of an issue until now.

I do think now that strain is becoming an issue, these studies should be done posthaste to definitely determine how detrimental strain is, if any, and how to quantify it in such a manner that an appropriate discount could be made for the degree of strain a diamond contains. Something similar to the discount system presently in place for fluorescence. "Minor strain" stones will perhaps trade at no discount, while "moderate strain" might trade at say -2 to 3%, "strong strain" -4 to 6%, and "very strong strain" at -7 to 10%.

Once it's quantified like that, I think the fear bugaboo will be removed from it, and you'll see consumers (and dealers) starting to look for strained stones as a bargain, like they sometimes do now with stones having strong fluorescence.

If I were a vendor, I'd go ahead and have every one of my stones checked for strain, and put it right in the site along with the Sarin report and IdealScope photos. Then I'd show a discount for the stone if it contained strain, as outlined above. That way, you're tackling the problem head on, and showing yourself to be at the cutting edge of disclosure and pricing.

I'd also check every stone before purchase, and only accept the strained ones with the same appropriate discount.

It's probably going to come about anyway, so why not beat it to the punch? I've already personally witnessed the rejection of gorgeous stones because of this last minute "surprise" in the analysis of the stone. If you handle an objection right up front in the sales process, it becomes a non-objection, and another stepping stone to concluding a mutually satisfying sale.
 

Garry H (Cut Nut)

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Rich, well said


You missed 1 point.
Strain does often exist and is easy to identify in crossed polars (like polaroid sunglasses - when you see patches in windsheild glass on cars).

The point I was making is in old debates on GemKey defunct forums - Roc was saying that strain causes distortion in light rays and the stones need to be cut differently.
That was shown to be rubbish.

Later Roc introduced the idea that strain causes breakage.

There is only 1 "expert" plugging that point.
There is no need for any (Nationally???) gem body to study this because of one commercially drivenappraiser who had the rug pulled out from under him.
If he thinks there is a case to be made, then he can put up the study to justify what seems to me to be a case of over-servicing.
 

Richard Sherwood

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There is only 1 "expert" plugging that point.
There is no need for any (Nationally???) gem body to study this
because of one commercially driven appraiser
-----------

I hope you're right, but I fear you're wrong Garry.

Like I said, I've already witnessed the last minute rejection of stones (which the consumer was otherwise happy with) because of strain. And that's my personal experience as an appraiser who doesn't include a standard test for strain in his appraisals.

I'm wondering how many stones have been rejected by consumers after being told their prospective diamond is "strained" by the appraiser who is routinely checking it. I'm now starting to be asked by consumers to have their stone checked for strain, which of course I will do if requested. And I have read of some instances here on PriceScope of other consumers rejecting "strained" stones.

Do you see my point? This is beginning to escalate, like a little snowball beginning to travel down a hill. Vendors are losing sales over it. Once something like this starts, it's usually irreversible, especially in this age of instantaneous information via the worldwide web.

Even though the vast majority of the diamond industry thinks it is a non-issue, the public doesn't have the knowledge to feel confident about this position. The public often considers the world of diamonds one shrouded in mystery, and many have had negative experiences with vendors who don't volunteer the "whole truth" regarding their inventory. When they hear a gemologist who they regard as knowledgeable saying strain is a big enough issue to reject a stone, they're often not going to take a chance, and just shun any stone that they feel is "tainted".

This analogy is extreme, but it reminds me of the (unfounded) communist scare in America in the 50's. When a minor politician started labeling numerous people as being communists, the population began to shun and persecute perfectly innocent individuals. It wasn't until the aftermath, when the dust settled, that it was realized there was no basis for Joe McCarthy's accusations, but by that time a lot of damage had been done.
 

optimized

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Richard,

A couple quick points (I'm late for work so this one will be brief):

Replace the words "strain/strained" in your posts with the words "warp/warped" and see what that does. I suspect Mr. Cuellar would love it if the rest of the industry started discounting "warped" diamonds, especially since his seem to be the only diamonds in the world that aren't warped.

Also, to carry your analogy a step further, aren't you in essence promoting "diamond McCarthyism" by thinking this issue should be embraced? If the world had said "so what" to Joe back then, nobody would have been hurt by the fiasco at all, and he likely would have faded back into obscurity. By lending credence to the idea that strain is a bad thing that should lead to discounting of diamonds, isn't the industry in essence agreeing that diamond McCarthyism is valid and should be considered?

I wish I had more time to post my thoughts more clearly. Hopefully later...

-Tim
 

Talonnav

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----------------
On 5/21/2003 8
0:49 AM Richard Sherwood wrote:
I'm wondering how many stones have been rejected by consumers after being told their prospective diamond is "strained" by the appraiser who is routinely checking it. I'm now starting to be asked by consumers to have their stone checked for strain, which of course I will do if requested. And I have read of some instances here on PriceScope of other consumers rejecting strained stones.

----------------
Well, I rejected a diamond with moderate strain. More than likely strain would have never caused a problem, BUT if something were to happen to the diamond, I would be devestated, because "I" picked out a diamond with strain.

Some people may not care about strain, but I do. If a buyer rejects a diamond because of strain, the seller should help the buyer find a similar diamond without strain, instead of complaining that they lost a sale.
 

DiehardSearcher

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Richard Sherwood,

All other items being equal, would you recommend a consumer purchase a diamond with or without the effect of strain?
 

RockDoc

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Richard

If you go through some of the Diamond Talk posts and read between the lines, you'll see that I am not the only expert that has concern with this issue.

Your Gemologist who works for a major insurance company has commented that they have seen damaged stones, in the claim process, and sent them off to GIA for damage reports.

The problem is he cannot disclose the details of such issues, due to the confidential nature of the client/insurer relationship.

I wish insurance companies would send damaged stones to me for study, but so far that hasn't happened.

Strain is a "big" issue in the cutting process. It requires special care when cutting a stone with strain. Of course it depends on where the strain is, how its oriented in relation to the finished stone, and the color and distortion level along with just how much the stone is under strain. In addition, iss the strain associated at the edge of the diamond where there is an existing inclusion.

In addition, also look at DaveT's responses on DT, where he talks about the diamond opening from the inside to the outside due to tension.

The issues are the affect of heat and vibration vs impact.

No one is going to spend the money on a study for affect of strain relevant to impact for the following reasons:


1. The size of the strain
2. The nature of the strain
3. The angle of impact
4. The force of impact
5. The percentage of strain in the diamond

Where you can find some indicitive information on this, is to talk to cutters, read books on the cutting of stones etc.

GIA really doesn't teach this in their courses. So of course most gemologists are not knowledgable about the issue. I have spend countless hours in conversation with cutters about the issue, and have made my conclusions based on their advice and counsel about it. However, I will also mention that their position changes if they are going to lose a sale due to the existance of strain/stress in a diamond they are selling.


Rockdoc
 

pyramid

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On 5/21/2003 11:32:57 AM Talonnav wrote:

----------------
Well, I rejected a diamond with moderate strain. More than likely strain would have never caused a problem, BUT if something were to happen to the diamond, I would be devestated, because "I" picked out a diamond with strain.

Some people may not care about strain, but I do. If a buyer rejects a diamond because of strain, the seller should help the buyer find a similar diamond without strain, instead of complaining that they lost a sale.


----------------
[/quote]



Out of interest was the stone with strain the stone you mentioned showed twinning wisps on the GIA report?
 

Richard Sherwood

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All other items being equal, would you recommend a consumer purchase a
diamond with or without the effect of strain?
-----------

DieHard, that's a fair question, which encapsulates my argument. Prior to all this, strain had no effect on the pricing or sale of a diamond. It was a non-issue in regards to finished stones.

Now, there is beginning to be a perceived threat to durability. It doesn't matter if the threat is real or not, because if the public perceives it to be real it becomes a market driving force.

As we've already seen, this perceived threat has caused the rejection of strained stones by consumers, such as Talonnav above. In turn this has created an "objection" to stones which formerly had no objection to them at all.

This perception really crystallized for me on the last stone which I examined that had moderate strain. It was a gorgeous stone, with no "apologies", but the customer had asked for me to check for strain, which I did. I then explained the whole situation regarding strain, and gave my recommendation on the stone as a good purchase.

The customer happened to be an engineer, and told me "I am very aware of strain because of my profession. I deal with it everyday concerning metals, load & stress. I know that the chances of a problem arising from the strain in this diamond are probably non-existent, but as an engineer I just would feel better having a "non-strained" diamond versus a "strained" one."

He then rejected this absolutely gorgeous stone...

This event is really what precipitated my posting this topic. It made me realize that even if people that deal with diamonds everyday consider this a non-issue, it's really what the public perceives that becomes the market reality. The reality is that more and more consumers are rejecting strained stones, and I don't see the likelihood of the numbers decreasing, but rather increasing.

To answer your question DieHard, I am monitoring this situation closely. If the issue becomes a driving force which begins to be recognized by the market as a factor in pricing, then I will begin to recognize it in my appraisals and consultations, since my obligation to the client is to report any factors which may affect value.

Until that time I will follow the example of the world's foremost laboratories, and not perform a strain test unless requested.
 

Richard Sherwood

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Replace the words "strain/strained" in your posts with the
words "warp/warped" and see what that does. I suspect Mr. Cuellar
would love it if the rest of the industry started discounting "warped"
diamonds, especially since his seem to be the only diamonds in the
world that aren't warped.
-----------

I understand what you're saying Tim, but there's a fundamental difference between these two "concepts".

The warped concept is based upon Fred's misunderstanding of diamond proportions. Because he doesn't know how to correctly add up the components of a diamond's measurements to make it equal the total depth, he mistakenly assumes the diamond to be warped. The interesting thing about this is that all his diamonds should fall under that same warped category, but somehow he manages to keep them out while lumping everybody else's in.

The strain issue however, is based on a seed of truth. There is such a thing as strain in a diamond, and at a certain stage of the diamond cutting process it plays a role in value (strained parcels of rough being less expensive than non-strained).

-----------
Also, to carry your analogy a step further, aren't you in essence
promoting "diamond McCarthyism" by thinking this issue should be
embraced? If the world had said "so what" to Joe back then, nobody
would have been hurt by the fiasco at all, and he likely would have
faded back into obscurity. By lending credence to the idea that
strain is a bad thing that should lead to discounting of diamonds,
isn't the industry in essence agreeing that diamond McCarthyism is
valid and should be considered?
-----------

An excellent point. I thought about that quite some time myself before starting this topic. The thing that prompted me to address it was some advice I received from a very wise businessman once. He said, "Rich, don't run from trouble. It's always better to run TO trouble, and tackle it head on."

I believe that we've got trouble here, as indicated by lost sales due to this "fear factor". The sooner it is addressed, and dealt with, the better. If there's a basis for the fear, a discount system would take care of the problem. If there's no basis for it, then the "fear factor" itself should be blown out of the water with good hard facts.
 

Richard Sherwood

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Hi Bill. Thanks for joining in.

-----------
Where you can find some indicitive information on this, is to talk to
cutters, read books on the cutting of stones etc.
-----------

I've done both of these, and came to the conclusion that strain was basically a non-issue in regards to whatever stresses a human being would place on a diamond in their lifetime.

-----------
I have spend countless hours in conversation with cutters about the
issue, and have made my conclusions based on their advice and counsel
about it.
-----------

Bill, do you have any reference material such as gemological articles published by recognized authorities that support your position on strain? Any specific books you can recommend? Perhaps the name of the diamond cutters who you spoke to that caused you to make your stand regarding this?

The one thing that seperates fact from hypothesis in the scientific community is reproducibility. If your position is valid, then it should be reproducible to any gemologist studying the same source material which you studied.

I would love to study the materials and speak to the people which caused you to form your conclusions. I'm certain many gemologists would as well. Would you care to post them for us, so we can see if we can reproduce your conclusions regarding strain?
 

Richard Sherwood

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I'm curious as to how many stones have been rejected for purchase due to the strain issue. I'd like to get a feel for how much this is affecting this internet microcosm of the diamond world.

Would you consumers and dealers be willing to speak up like Talonnav did regarding your negative experience with strain?

How many consumers have rejected a stone, and how many dealers have had a stone rejected? Additionally, how many consumers have considered strain in their purchase, and decided to purchase regardless?

So far, we're at:

Consumer Rejection.......Dealer Rejected
...........1.............................................0.......
 

Garry H (Cut Nut)

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A comment from Dr Grahame Brown, the editor of the Australian Gemmologist.
Garry,
What the Saratosa Gemological Laboratory representative says is precisely right.

I am unaware of any published studies that have attempted to relate the presence and amount of strain with durability of the diamond. However, I am sure De Beers researchers at Maidenhead would have looked at this problem ... particularely with respect to the survivability of industrial diamonds.

A second source of anecdotal information would be the manufacturers of polished diamond. With respect to this I have personally seen the Boss Cutter at Argyle examining Argyle pinks with a polariscope during the cutting peocess. I am also aware that Gabby Tonkowsky uses a specially cooled dop (that aims to minimise induced strain) when cutting large valuable rough.

With respect to quantifying strain in diamond, first one would have to determine whether various types of strain (anomalous, stress related around inclusions, octahedral slippage etc) have the same damage potential. Don't know how you would do that other than destructively, Fact, if Argyle pinks and browns were quantified for strain (tatami pattern) they would all be discounted.

Personally, I believe any attempt to quantify strain (if you can), and then discount the value of the diamond, is 'pie in the sky' (edited out).

Grahame Brown
On that last point - we have a big Argyle Champagne and pink diamond business. These stones are all stressed and clarity is from SI1 to I1. I have had 1 damaged stone in the last 3 years.
 

pyramid

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As Richard Sherwood said whether it is provable that strain is a cause of deterioration in a diamond is not just the point it is the marketing side of things.

I for one, when I do buy a larger diamond, will probably get Rockdoc or an appraiser who checks for strain to do the test and if there is strain I would definitely go for another stone. Why not? I have not purchased the stone yet and so would look for one with no risk?

I am sure if all the professionals on the board here were buying something which they had researched a bit and one day found out the product had a stigma factor (which some Professionals in the field believed to be true but it could not be proved one way or the other?) they would not buy that model. Why buy yourself a problem.

If it is just a fear factor and there was only one model and you wanted it you would probably buy it. If it is just a fear factor but there are two models just as good but one has a fear factor you go for the other obviously.

I know business is business, but do not think the consumer can be thought of as acting too prudently when the hesitation is brought on by a professsional not just another consumer.
 

Garry H (Cut Nut)

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Pyramid you are a classic case of a very very careful person who has fallen prey to a prcatice which in my mind is deceptive.
I buy hundreds of diamonds every year, and have them set in my own workshop with 6 jewellers who hammer ste them and bash them around with mini jack hammers, push on the prongs with all their strength etc.
I am concerned about strain?
Not a tiny bit.
Why?
Because the only breakages we ever have are when a setter slips off a prong and hits the girdle with a steel tool.
Or occasionally a tiny baguette with razor sharp girdles and corners.
 

Richard Sherwood

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-----------
With respect to quantifying strain in diamond, first one would have to
determine whether various types of strain (anomalous, stress related
around inclusions, octahedral slippage etc) have the same damage
potential. Don't know how you would do that other than destructively,
-----------

It comes to my mind that engineers currently study and can predict the effects of metal strain from computer models.

Perhaps computer models could be created which reproduce different types of strain within diamonds, and analyze it's effect on durability.
 

Final Cut

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Good evening,

Thank you all for your comments sofar - this is really informative... I wonder how many diamond consumers on this board are now wondering whether their diamonds are strained ?

It seems to me that there is no dispute among the experts about the existence of strain but a huge amount of diverging opinions over the importance of strain.

To my mind, this a classic example of confusing relevance with importance.

In my experience as a consumer (and the experts could probably think about a large luxury purchase, such as a car diamonds is like water to them) there are a HUGE number of factors, which enter the purchase decision ! Some of these relate to the 15 C's etc. but there are also qualitative factors, such as trust and timing.

So, the sense I get from the replies:
is strain important - well .... maybe sometimes when it is relevant to the consumer....

I would tend to think and argue that strain IS important and the effects should be documented and it should be the consumers choice - just like CUT ... - who cares about discounts to the dealers - at the end of the day most consumers just want to buy ONE diamond (well maybe 10 in total) and they are generally not very price sensitive (maybe changing now with price scope)!

Everyone on this board claim to be the crusaders of different things - mostly in favour of the consumer - well I would argue that the consumer should and would want to know about strain just as they should know about crown angles and h&a patterns - it is just a question of who 'merchandises' it !

Ultimately I cannot make an informed decision about some information, which is not being disclosed to me - it is really that simple !

FC


PS - I can see it now "AN UNSTRESSED, NON-STRAINED CUT WELL ABOVE HHHHH &&&&&& AAAAA" !!!
 

Final Cut

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PPS - I am still soooo surprised that in such a HUGE $$$$ industry there appear to be no research done into extremely important issues such as strain .... just amazing when you think about the amount of research currently applied to things such as 'subliminal advertising', 'crop dusting patterns' and 'supernatural phenomena'

Just incredible !!
FC
 

Richard Sherwood

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----------------
On 5/22/2003 8:25:26 PM Richard Sherwood wrote:

Hey Dave, in your position you're familiar with not only the "majors",
but also many of the "minor league" labs.

Are you aware of any that check for strain routinely?

Does the AGA routinely check for strain, or considering doing so?

----------------


-----------
I'm curious to know the same thing. Dave ... and you too Rich ... will
you guys be reporting the presence/absence of strain within a diamond
whether you believe it is relevant or not to the durability of the stone?

Rhino
-----------


Rhino, I'm hoping to hear an answer from Dave on this, but in the meantime I'll tell you my position regarding the reporting of strain.

I sincerely believe strain to be a non-issue in regards to any stress that a human being can inflict on a diamond throughout their lifetime. I don't consider it a factor at this time in the determination of the value of a diamond that has made it through the grueling cutting process.

Apparently my position is in good company, as to my knowledge there is not another major lab or AAA minor league lab in the world including a strain check as a routine part of their analysis, except for RockDoc.

I will keep a close eye on the issue, and if we see a major and respected laboratory such as the Gubelin lab in Switzerland (a cutting edge lab) begin to routinely check strain, or if any respected gemologist publishes VERIFIABLE information that strain is a danger, I will then begin to report strain as well.

Until that time I will perform a strain analysis only if the issue is a concern for the client and they request the test.
 

Garry H (Cut Nut)

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Well said Rich


Final Cut would you like to know if your diamond was cut from an octahedra, or a dodecahedra and what was the orientation of the original crystal structure?

This has far more bearing on the likely hood of damage to a diamond.

Does Rockdoc or any other diamond expert ever bother with such things?
I do if the stone is in an exposed setting and has a thin girdle, but only if I remember.

There are so many things we could study, but we never bother too because on the scale of things they do not matter.


If anyone would like to go way back through some old stuff - I dug this up.
You see as I can best remember Rockdoc never did the stress tests for damage, he did it for this other reason - about polarisation caused by anomolous birefringence.
As I remember - the damage issue came up after he and his then close freind Richard VonSternberg from 8* and Dr Reinitz from GIA lost their arguement to Sergey and Yuri from MSU.
As you can see Roc was quite absent from any really technical stuff, and when he did pipe in, it was pretty banal.
Now that does not mean I think he is not good at what he does.
But the idea that he has some special know how that no one else has is just not on.

Here is some old stuff :
http://www.diamondtalk.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=3064&highlight=polarisation

http://www.diamondtalk.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=3132&highlight=polarisation

Of particular interest was this quote from 5-5-2002 which is after the time this strain thing stopped being about distortion of light paths, and the topic had moved on to damage:

From Roc "Secondly, if a stone after being purchased does break, and an insurance claim is filed, will the insurance company want to have the stone gemologically analzysed for "interent vice".

So why do SO MANY stones have strain. Without letting out confidential client information, about 4045% of the stones coming in have some sort of strain."

Now if this was an issue for insurance companies there would have been studies done.
I have never heard of an insurance company (other than from Robert yourgemologist) acting in such a way. Now if such a high percentage of diamonds have strain (which is true) how come they last for lifetimes?

Oh my


Strain is also very prevalent in fancy shape rough.
 

fire&ice

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----------------
On 5/21/2003 3:39:50 PM RockDoc wrote:


Your Gemologist who works for a major insurance company has commented that they have seen damaged stones, in the claim process, and sent them off to GIA for damage reports.


----------------
BUT........would it not be in the best interest of the insurance company to find fault in the *diamond*. Real or Preceived. Less payouts.
 

Garry H (Cut Nut)

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"Inherent Vice"
Means the stone must spontaneously expolde - not associated with an 'event'
"A loss caused by the inherent nature of the thing insured and not the result of a casualty or external cause."

BTW those "YG comments" were never substantiate.
 

Hest88

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YG is also very much against tension-sets, though I've never heard that the percentage of diamonds lost is very much higher than in prong settings. I think the occupation just makes him more cautious.
 

Final Cut

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Cut Nut: "Final Cut would you like to know if your diamond was cut from an octahedra, or a dodecahedra and what was the orientation of the original crystal structure?

This has far more bearing on the likely hood of damage to a diamond."

Sorry for piping in a little late here ...

Cut Nut, appreciate the sentiment - think about this for a second. To me, buying a diamond is likely to be as stressful as you buying some land (for your own money) in Bahamas without viewing it. If I were to tell you that it is not important who your neighbours are and the soil erosion is not important because your land will be there a lifetime (although I have not researched it).... What would you say ? - you trust me and you are comfortable with that ? I thought not !

Whether you and everyone else want to emphasize that strain in a diamond is not important - the consumers will continue to read and try to understand ... BECAUSE it makes sense that strain SHOULD be a factor - get someone to do the research and then noone will ask the question anymore ! EVERYTHING seems important when you start reading this board and I really appreciate all the help from everyone here - especially on cut ...

All I would suggest is - get the research done, copyright it, post it on the board and this site will be even better ! Why not ?? What could anyone loose ?

There must be some gemology students out there looking for a PhD topic ???

Just my $30k !!!
FC
 
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