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The Future of Diamond Cutting

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Mara

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Cindy from NewEngland Gem posted a few days ago about all the technology that was available to the consumers now and she said something that I had actually already been thinking about..which was...will the day come when cutters will no longer cut a bad gem?

So I post this question to those in the trade...what are your thoughts on the future of diamond cutting, taking into consideration the new technologies that pop up year after year...and thinking on how far the industry has come since the early 1900''s when Tolowsky published his little book.

Will there come a day sometime soon where all stones are cut not to maximize carat weight, but instead maximize the beauty of the cut, where all stones will be SuperIdeals similar to the A Cut Above stones with 99.9% excellent light return and perfect hearts and arrows under every viewer? What will these perfect stones be worth, less than a SuperIdeal is today? Or more for the perceived value? If it is more, what does this mean for the general buying public?

If this happens, what will happen to the stones of yesterday, stones such as mine...the AGS 7''s of the diamond world which do not display hearts nor arrows nor have a perfect IS image? Will they become more valuable for their imperfections, or rather will they become those stones that cutters will itch to get their hands on in order to re-cut to the perfect ideal standards of the future?

It is something I have been thinking on and Cindy''s comment in a recent post struck me...so I want to know what others think. Most specifically those in the trade who work with these stones daily and know what goes on in the back rooms with DiamCalc, all the ''Scopes'', the ''minor facet'' discussions, etc etc. But if consumers or those of us who have taken a keen interest in the vast world of gemology wish to respond as well with their thoughts...go for it!
 

Rhino

Ideal_Rock
Trade
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Mar 28, 2001
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6,272
Hi Mara,

You're cute.


To be honest, the kind of stones similar to those you see featured on our site represent not only a small fraction of diamonds on the market but even among those within the world of H&A's.

One thing you have to keep in mind Mara is that business and particularly diamonds biz's are there for one reason and one reason only. Profit.

At the current time the most prized stones (among the diamond world in general) are the AGS "0" H&A's. The hitch of light return vs light leakage and the technologies to be able to analyse this (FireScope/LightScope/BrillianceScope) have not yet taken root to the degree you think. What we talk about here and on the forums almost daily, people in the rest of the industry are oblivious to. So ... in the industry there are more factories (albeit not that many) cutting H&A's but to maximize their profits are cutting the heaviest H&A's they can.

What I mean by heaviest H&A's is that they are cutting the heaviest stone they can that will fall within the AGS "0" range, be an H&A but be cut with virtually the worst possible proportions you can get in an H&A. The last largest show I was at featured alot of H&A factories, I had my LightScope with me and I was actively looking for new sources and left not finding one. Almost all the stones I looked at either had distorted patterns or had blatant white rings of light leakage happening under the table.

I'll tell you when we'll see better goods. When GIA comes out with their cut grading system (or AGS incorporates optical analysis of rounds into theirs) and if that system involves the type of optical analysis which includes optical or 3 dimensional symmetry and light return (and I believe it will) THEN you'll see it take off like wildfire. I don't think this is going to happen for quite a while though. Until then I don't see anything changing.

Interestingly I have been recently contacted and invited to analyse the new I-See2 technology by the people who invented it, which I am told quantifiably analyses and grades

1. brilliance
2. scintillation
3. symmetry (I believe optical symmetry)

I'll have a full review after I test some stones of mine through the machine and run it through it's paces.

Peace,
Rhino
 

lacina

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Dec 27, 2002
Messages
146
Hi Mara,
Such machines do exist!
Why We don't see all cutters using it to cut Ideal makes?
Well the answer is simple,... Gem quality diamond rough is expensive and it's recovery needs to be maximized. The shape of rough dictates the cutting style and it's symmetry not the cutter or the machine cutting it.
I personally don't know one cutter that cuts a bad diamond if the rough allows it. Sure, some cutters advertize to cut Ideal makes only and they do end up with higher percentage of carats in diamond dust on the walls. This is why their recovery comes in marketing and sales of ideal makes that has to cost premium.
The machines are very helpful in cutting inexpensice rough . Or small diamonds that are not of high value. Today most of such rough is cut in countries with low labor costs such as India or Thailand . The low labour rates in those countries are not expected to last forever and this is where the machinery will be helpfull in the future.
Cutting an important rough requires experience that Machine can't replace.
even ideal cut can be improved on by a top cutter. When cutting colored diamonds, the cutter is everything! The rough needs to be maximized not just for it's clarity, cut and weight but most importantly for color! The Intense colored diamond can loose it's value dramatically when cut facing the wrong side up!
adding an extra facet can make a huge difference in color,.. giving the diamond it's character.
Cutting of important diamonds is an art and it is not believed machinery will be allowed to replace it.

Best
George
GLE Gem imports
 

Mara

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
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31,003
Thanks for your replies guys and yes Rhino I am darn cute


You both make very valid points. I understand that right now the H&A and Ideal/Premium/SuperIdeal cuts that we are so familiar with on this forum maybe make up 5% or less of the what is out there in commerce, but I guess in my mind...I'm looking more long term than just the next few years. I'm not just thinking along the lines of 'oh the technology has not caught on yet'. When they DO catch on and everyone and their sister's jeweler is using BrillianceScope and the LightScope/IdealScope/FireScope variations, along with DiamCalc and/or GemAdvisor type imaging software, as well as many other gadgets that I am sure are in the works, what do you see happening? Do you see a vast change coming? Do you see the public demanding better cut stones only? Or do you always think that there will be less than technically ideal cuts such as mine and worse (e.g. 65% table) because there will always be people to buy them?

George, it's good to know that the cutters you know are excellent, but I am sure there are bad cutters out there or else we would not have some of the dull deep dark stones that the mall jewelers have, you know..the ones like the recently discussed Peoples 1c stone of marginal quality? Will these cutters ever be turned over to maximize CUT over all else due to the acceptance of the technology and machines to really gauge cut and light return more strictly, or will they always maximize carat weight first and cut second. You may say that your cutters are maximizing the best cut stone for the rough, and I agree...in a way. They are still trying to keep that carat weight intact so that they can sell a more expensive stone...why else are there stones out there that are heavy in the pavilion with no visual difference in the crown to the viewer? To make the customer pay the extra $$ for the .05c extra weight. Cutters still have their marks to make...esp around the 1c, 1.5c etc ranges--the ranges that command more $$ in retail.

Before the internet...before the advent of some of these machines and technology that have been created more recently...things were obviously done very differently. I am not talking about the future having machines taking over the diamond industry. More along the lines of...wow look how far we have come since the early 1900's--where are we going? I know how businesses are run, I know about the marketing and sales aspect. I just wonder where the industry be in another 20/30/50 years or so. If we are all still here that is.


Keep us posted on the I-See-2 ..Rhino. Sounds very interesting. I want to come work for you!!! Any chance of GOG opening a branch in sunny California?
 

Taurus

Rough_Rock
Joined
Jan 22, 2003
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14
Hi Mara, i'm a newbie and i think in the future or 10yrs later, with the aid of improving technology, R&D & better grading guildlines from GIA & AGS, most of the cutters should be able to attain "perfect" cut techniques. I have attached a table below showing how i weight the criterias when purchasing a diamond. I actually lower the weighting for cut 10yrs later as i believe 8Star, ACA and SC would be able to produce equally good diamonds without light leakage..But it's more of a personal preference
Ayway, it's in the mind and eyes of the beholder...

weighting.gif
 

Rhino

Ideal_Rock
Trade
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I'll 2nd that Rich. Mara ... time for a pic attachment.
 

Mara

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Oct 30, 2002
Messages
31,003
I try to start a serious post here and what does it disintegrate into?


Okay...I will see what I can scrounge up at work tomorrow where I have most of my picture files. What has prevented me from putting my pic as my icon up, is that it seems as though when people do that, the picture ends up squished and strange looking when smushed into icon form. I'll see what I can figure out.

Tim are you out there? I may need assistance.
 

lacina

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Dec 27, 2002
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146
Mara,
After reading so many of your posts, I would also love to see your photo.
Since you are from S. Californina, I would like to ask you to be conservative tough and show only what we ask for,.. OKay?
(just kidding )

I would like to add to our original discussion , that cutters do try their best to deliver max recovery of the rough. This does not mean that the finished product is cut for weight only but there are all 4 c's carefully taken in consideration. The key is to make a proffit out of the piece of rough he is cutting. Sure, if the rough does not allow it, the cuts are less than perfect and therefore considerably cheapper. I am not saying that every cutter is perfect, however the bad ones don't last for long ...

George
 

aljdewey

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Joined
Nov 25, 2002
Messages
9,144
Hi, all: Reading this thread with interest.

Personally, I think that any changes in the industry relative to improvement of the cut will only occur in the highest-quality end of the spectrum.

People who seek top quality will always be interested on ways to improve quality and get the most beautiful performance from stones.

I don't, though, think that these tools will result in an across-the-board improvement of the cutting of all stones. If these tools could help cutters realize an improvement of cuts *without any additional waste*, then it would be a no-brainer to improve the cuts. However, better cuts invariably involve more waste, and waste equals dollars leaking from the profit.

If there wasn't a market for inferior diamonds, then the leakage would be insignificant. But the largest masses of consumers don't educate themselves so there is not enough demand to support a "raising of the standard".

Also, lack of knowledge about diamonds makes the most significant portion of the market subject to marketing telling them what they should be looking for. The greatest percentage of the market demanding diamonds are folks like Sandwich....folks who have been brainwashed that the most important thing is the purchase at least a 1 ct diamond regardless of cut, quality, etc.

Technology can help the industry produce more technically perfect-cut stones, but unless that can yield the same profit margin as selling inferior diamonds to those who don't know any better, the overall cut quality has no reason to improve.
 

optimized

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Dec 28, 2002
Messages
306
Mara,

Email me a picture (or pictures) you'd like to use and I'll be happy to make it/them the correct proportions for the avatar. In fact, maybe I'll do some other cool stuff with it/them too.


Btw, what happened to those pictures of your diamond you were going to send me?


-Tim
 

ociopia

Rough_Rock
Joined
Feb 9, 2003
Messages
95
I can't help but think the market for diamonds will remain similar to any other market. There are "downscale" "middle of the road" and "upscale" models available for almost all products and that holds true for diamonds as well.

It is said that most people in the U.S. don't know the name of the Vice President. They certainly won't know or care to learn about the quality of diamonds.

While more people may become educated and drive cutting "up" to a small degree, there's a very good chance that there will always be the "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly!"
 

lacina

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Dec 27, 2002
Messages
146
I agree Ociopia,...
The "market" witch brings us the bread on our tables actually calls for affordability rather than highest quality. People go usually nuts when buying diamond and then they settle for something that will not make a huge dent in their savings account. Years ago, people didn't think much about VS2 or SI clarity stones and now they are buying SI1 as perfectly acceptable. The people in our industry are comming out with some great new cuts that are more attractive than ever. Ulilizing the middle to low quality diamond rough. This must be missleading to most buying public that is being educated by the marketing experts to believe that cut is everything. Well, it is as important as any of the 4c's of a diamond. You can tell the differnnce from fair to good or very good however can a human eye actually appreciate suberbly polished diamond or Ideally cut? Yes, if you use tools to to inspect it,...
Market will buy what the marketing strategies tell it to buy,...
Now we see I clarity Ideal cut diamonds , and next to come is polished industrial rough polished balls that are now offered at trade shows for $350/carat Yuck,...
And the market does follow not realizing that the true gem quality diamonds are trully rare, expensive and in HIGH demand. No marketing experts needed to promote and sell. I would like to see the cutter working with highest quality rough making a decision like should I cut this D/ IF to perfect proportions 1 carat or do I get more for it if the cut is very decent and it weights 20 points more.
Of course he will go for the weight.

Best
George
 

newenglandgemlab

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jan 16, 2003
Messages
316
Hi Jonathan,

I have checked out the I-See2. I didn't find it very user friendly and if I was using it as a sales tool I think the customer would be lost big time. The upscale jewelers that we do work for have it on their counters but it doesn't get much action! Cindy
 

newenglandgemlab

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jan 16, 2003
Messages
316
Hi Mara,

Pleasure to meet ya! I guess my thought process is more geared towards the better retailer and know that it will get tougher and tougher to sell stones that are a little spread and deep and they will definitely have to be on their toes to keep up with the trends and knowledge to be competitive. The consumer will be armed with enough information that the better retailers will not want to buy off cut stones for their inventory unless they are a real bargain. Once in awhile you get that costumer that only wants size....no comments please! ;-) But, all kidding aside, I can't believe how many people are taking the time to get to know what they are purchasing. The salesperson on the other side of the counter better learn what is going on in this world!

In our business, we have to be out and about to get to know the different markets and we are in retail high end stores at least twice a week. I am excited to be able to keep educating myself and try to maintain and edge-thanks to pricescope and my retail friends!-but this business of REAL jewelry appraising deals not only with diamonds and we need to nurture relationships to keep abreast of pricing in colored stones, manufacturing techniques and designer lines as well. You can imagine what is out there and what we see. It is a fascinating and fun business. Fortunately for us, we are a team of two CGA's so we can bounce things off of each other. I can foresee adding more qualified staff in the future. But, 'qualified' is tough to come by!

Being in these B&M stores enables us to keep them informed of what pricing is like for the consumer on the internet. Most are willing to be competitve just to keep the client. I encourage this and think that this is the only route to go. If you only make 5 to10 percent on a stone, so be it.

Pete Yantzer is speaking at the New England AGS Guild meeting a week from Tuesday on The Future of Diamnd Cut. We have a group driving to Lexington MA to listen to him. I don't know where you are but if you are interested let me know. The New England Gem Lab will be at the AGS conclave the first week of April and this is terrific way for us to keep abreast of gemstone treatments and detection and the latest industry developments. We are enjoying this quest of knowledge!

The demand for better cut stones is going to increase by leaps and bounds....

Cindy
 

Mara

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Oct 30, 2002
Messages
31,003
I sent Tim some photos but I have not heard from him, hope his fiance didn't confiscate them and club him over the head for getting pictures of strange women.

So since I like my beakface Buttercup icon, here is a picture of Greg and I on New Years Eve in New York at a restaurant. Don't laugh at our funny hats.

BTW, how many people here know that 'sweetbreads' are thymus gland? Not I....until I asked the waiter what I was eating. Happy New Year to me..


GregMaraNYE2002.jpg
 

optimized

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Dec 28, 2002
Messages
306
What Richard was REALLY contemplating.


richard2.jpg
 

Garry H (Cut Nut)

Super_Ideal_Rock
Trade
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15,305
Hey the people sparkle and look better than the diamonds around here!!!

Seriously though - once there are universally acccepted and cost effective methods of cut evaluation then a true price scale will fix up lots of cut quality.

Then cut will get a real price list - not the secret dealers scale of discounts and premiums.

Clarity - 1ct G IF to G I3 discount is 86%
Color - 1ct D VS2 to M VS2 discount is 63%

Cut - 1ct G VS2 AGS 0 to G VS2 GIA G G 6.09mm- 6.17mm discount difference on Rapnet today on cheapest listed stones is 30%.

I think the cut on these two stones should have a price difference similar to the color difference.

This means the the price of the better stone would probably rise quite a bit, and the deep GIA stone would probably fall only a little.

Then the cutter will probably decide to cut a .90ct nice stone - this .90ct AGS 0 stone is currently worth +5% more than the 1ct stone as a poor make GIA stone. This premium does not cover the extra cost and skill involved. (these numbers are all based on the actual stones I looked up on Rap, and using the same discounts etc).

If there was a 50% premium difference for cut (not as much as the 85% and 63% for clarity and color) then this is how it would look:

Currently say an AGS 0 diamond that sells for $7,000
Then its equivalent GIA poor make sells for $5,000

After there is a cut scale this is what I can forsee:

Best make $9,000.
Poor make $4,500.

Now if cut became a really easily communicated and easy to prove story (like with an ideal-scope) then a 60-70% discount is possible. Then my diamond stock will be worth loads more than I paid for it and I might retire to Florida with Rich and drink fine Aussie wine and nice west coast beer.
 

Mara

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Oct 30, 2002
Messages
31,003
You guys sure do a girl's ego good!
Hee.

Nice picture, Rich and I love the thought bubble, Tim!! We got a bit of a giggle.

BTW it is interesting to continue to follow the serious vein of this thread and read the varying opinions. Thanks for weighing in!
 

Richard Sherwood

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Sep 25, 2002
Messages
4,924
Cripes, I didn't know you were a mind reader too Tim!

Mara, dump the fiancee and run down to Florida. I'll show you a life such as you've never dreamed. In between the wife, four kids, two grandkids and miscellaneous and assorted pets, hassles and snafus, we'll have golden stolen moments under the palm trees, listening to the hypnotic sounds of the ocean waves crashing while...

Oh poohdooh! Here comes my wife. Gotta run...
 

Richard Sherwood

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Sep 25, 2002
Messages
4,924
I just bumped this one up so I wouldn't feel guilty about killing Mara's thread by hitting on her right in international cyberspace.

Somebody make an intelligent post so I can squeak out of this...
 

optimized

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Dec 28, 2002
Messages
306
Serious thoughts? After all this fun we've been having? Oh well, if we must...


My opinion is that it all boils down to one key factor: what criteria is used to "rate" diamonds. As long as carat weight is the single greatest measure of a diamond's worth to the public at large, the world will be awash in diamonds cut to maximize yield. Think about it. When people see a diamond, the first question that is likely to pop into their head is "how many carats?", not "what are the crown and pavilion angles on that stone?"

The general public has little knowledge of cut, so they shop by what they know, which has traditionally been weight. I think there's little doubt that the technology has been in place for decades -- even without machines doing the cutting -- to cut diamonds with far superior proportions to what is usually seen (Tolkowsky published his findings in 1919, after all), but (as has been previously mentioned in this thread) the cutter is driven by market forces, and the market is demanding "heavy" diamonds to the exclusion of other factors.

I personally don't see that trend changing anytime soon. I think there will be an increase in the number of well-cut stones as time moves on but, without a fundamental shift in what criteria is used by the consumer when shopping, there will always be diamonds cut to maximize weight retention. They may not be the most beautiful diamonds but they're what people are demanding, and the demand is what the supplier will always try to meet....

-Tim
 

Garry H (Cut Nut)

Super_Ideal_Rock
Trade
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15,305
OK Rich - I will repost my serious post


Once there are universally acccepted and cost effective methods of cut evaluation then a true price scale will fix up lots of cut quality problems.

Then cut will get a real price list - not the secret dealers scale of discounts and premiums.

Here is a current 'price' example:

For Clarity - 1ct G IF to G I3 discount is 86%
For Color - 1ct D VS2 to M VS2 discount is 63%

Cut - 1ct G VS2 AGS 0 to G VS2 GIA G G 6.09mm- 6.17mm discount difference on Rapnet today on cheapest listed stones is 30%.

In my (heavily biased) opinion I think the cut on these two stones should have a price difference similar to the color difference.

This means the the price of the better stone would probably rise quite a bit, and the deep GIA stone would probably fall, but only a little.

Then the cutter will probably decide to cut a .90ct nice stone, rather than the GIA ugly one. The resultant .90ct AGS 0 stone is currently worth +5% more than the 1ct stone as a poor make GIA stone. This premium is too small to to cover the extra cost and skill involved. (these numbers are all based on the actual stones I looked up on Rap, and using the same discounts etc).

If there was a 50% premium difference for cut (not as much as the 85% and 63% for clarity and color - remeber it is 30% now) then this is how things might look:

Currently say an AGS 0 diamond that sells for $7,000
Then its equivalent GIA poor make sells for $5,000 (-30%)

After there is a cut scale this is what I can forsee:

Best make $9,000.
Poor make $4,500.

Now if cut became a really easily communicated and an easy to prove story (like with an ideal-scope) then a 60-70% discount is possible. Then my diamond stock will be worth loads more than I paid for it and I might retire to Florida with Rich and drink fine Aussie wine and nice west coast beer.
 

Mara

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Oct 30, 2002
Messages
31,003
Rich, I got a big grin when I read your invitation to Florida. I just forgot to respond in same humor...bad bad me!!


On a serious note...

I agree that for the most part the industry will not change anytime soon...but it will be interesting to see what happens in the next 10/20/50 years. So far the general public is very responsive to heavy cut stones that may not display the best light return characteristics because they don't know any better. But I think as time goes on, with the further acceptance of the internet and other technologies that things may change, and for the better.

An interesting note is that my appraiser, in her big fat final document, noted that the diamond industry has been prey to falling prices due to the advent and further acceptance of the internet. People are becoming more educated, and asking more questions. It's forums such as this and DT and other educational websites like GOG etc that will help further along this enlightened era.

There will always be the stones cut primarily for weight retention, but I look forward to the day when there is a more equal number of well cut, great symmetry stones showing excellent light return such as the 8* and ACA tweaked-faceted stones do. If right now the stones that we all see so much of on here makes up around 5% of what is out there, then I will watch for the day when it makes up 10% then 15% then 20% or more. If it doesn't happen....that is a misfortune..as there is the same money to be made by selling one stone vs another, if there would be a more educated and demanding public. Everyone would benefit, most especially the consumer who would get a 99.9% more excellent stone than the local mall would have had in the past.

But what happens remains to be seen. I'll be on the lookout...

 

newenglandgemlab

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jan 16, 2003
Messages
316
Hi Mara,

I do whole heartedly believe that the internet is gong to effect the retail B & M diamond business big time in the near future and the consumer will reap the benefits-that is what makes this so great. I had given a presentation a few years back to my previous retail team to let them know what was going on. Most were in disbelief, but the pricing had been adjusted to be competitive and they continue to monitor it. I was constantly watching the internet because I had stones coming in for appraisals andI was curious. Maybe that is part of the reason why we started this company.

One note....as we all know the retail stres have been in a real slump for several years now, mostly because of the economy. But the internet diamond sales grew 75% percent lastyear....think that had anything to do with business in the B&M stores? I do

The educated consumer rules. I definitey am happy not being on the other side of the counter knowing the ammuntion the consumer may come in with!

Cindy
 
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