Diamond Beauty and Eyesight

Diamond Beauty and Eyesight – Basics

How perceptive are you? Do you have perfect pitch? Are you tone-deaf? Somewhere in-between? Do you perceive tannic differences in cabernets – or does red wine all taste the same to you?

diamonds and eyesight - tasting wine

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Human Vision

Human eyesight varies. One golfer’s eyes can follow a ball through the arc of flight until it lands and comes to a stop 300 yards away. Another golfer loses sight of the same ball in flight beyond 200 yards. One birdwatcher detects the silhouette of an owl high in a tree. Another birdwatcher struggles to find the owl, even when told where to look. One jewelry shopper can tease out subtle color, clarity or performance nuance between diamonds. Another shopper sees fewer differences.

The good news for aspiring diamond enthusiasts is improvement with experience: No different than learning to sing in tune or taste more subtle differences in wine, a person’s visual palate can improve with more exposure and/or guidance.

Acuity Advantages

20/20 vision is normal visual acuity (seeing at 20 feet what should be seen at that distance). Some people have greater acuity than normal. A person with 20/15 vision sees what others would need to be 5 feet closer to detect. Those with heightened acuity may perceive subtle details the average person cannot detect. Alternately, those with weaker visual acuity may struggle to detect what the average person can see.

human vision eye chart

Retinal Shape Advantages

Nearsighted people (myopic) tend to have greater lifetime experience doing close-up analysis than those who are farsightedness (hyperopic). Whether cultural or hereditary, naturally nearsighted people are better equipped to perceive nuance in diamonds than those who are farsighted.

Gender Advantages

Women see more subtle shades of color than men do, particularly yellows, blues and greens. A 2012 study on hormones and neuron development in the neural cortex supports the hunter-gatherer hypothesis that genders evolved different psychological abilities to fit their prehistoric roles: Men evolved better-able to detect moving prey from afar, while females evolved better able to study close-at-hand, static objects such as wild berries.

gender female vision

Diamonds and Age

Around age 40 humans start to experience presbyopia. This is the hardening of your eyes’ lenses which makes it harder to focus on objects that are close. Some people find the condition mild enough to avoid treatment. Those seeking solutions may consider reading glasses, contacts lenses or LASIK. In any case, those who were able to spot impossible inclusions in their 20s and 30s will be able to relax and enjoy a wider range of diamond clarity.

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Intermediate Diamond Beauty and Eyesight

“Diamond performance is not a judgment of a moment. It’s the journey of a lifetime.”

Unlike color and clarity, which remain static, a diamond’s performance components behave differently in different lighting. Our world presents an infinite panorama of illumination scenarios the wearer will find her or himself in, hour after hour, day after day – not simply a jewelry counter, where any diamond looks good.

diamonds under spotlights

Cut Quality Differences

Regardless of shape, color, clarity or carat weight, well cut diamonds collect, reflect and generously return the light, contrast and colors found in their environment to the viewer’s eyes.

PriceScope Pointer: Learn to identify and evaluate key diamond beauty components: Diamond Performance Explained.

Whether your eyes (personally) find and appreciate what a given diamond offers depends on several factors:

  • Personal Taste
  • Personal Perception
  • Length of Exposure

1. Personal Taste

People like different things. The modern round brilliant is the most popular shape. As it relates to the cut quality journey it’s also the most efficient shape for light transmission. But the round brilliant is not for everyone. Step-cuts, squares, ovals, marquise, pear and other diamond shapes have their own charm and appeal. Older faceting styles focus on producing dispersion. Newer styles add facets, focusing on brightness and faster scintillation.

There is no wrong answer. You do you. Once you find the diamond which suits your taste, proceed on your cut quality journey with enjoyment.

2. Personal Perception

Do you have perfect pitch? Are you tone-deaf? Somewhere in-between? Do you perceive tannic differences in cabernets – or does red wine all taste the same to you? Again, there is no wrong answer. You are not “wrong” if you sing out of tune, but it’s handy to know your strengths and weaknesses.

Jewelers regularly have clients at the counter debate what they can see.

“I can see that inclusion / What inclusion? Where?” … “It’s too yellow / I don’t see any yellow.” … “This one sparkles more / How can you tell?”

diamond on manicured hand

Ladies and people with myopia may be ahead of the general population. They potentially begin the cut quality “journey of a lifetime” at a high perceptual level. For others the good news is that you can learn to detect more nuance with time and exposure.

3. Length of Exposure

Wine palates can become educated. Singing in-tune can be taught. Detailed diamond performance perception evolves with exposure. Many obsessed diamond owners have exclaimed “My diamond just gets more beautiful with time.” (Spoiler alert…it’s not the diamond that’s getting better…it’s their own visual palates).

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Training the Visual Palate

“Diamond performance is not a judgment of a moment. It’s the journey of a lifetime.”

Home Field Advantage

You can evolve your visual palate with study and structure. Start by finding a “favorite spot” in your home where your diamond really sings. Take time to visit that spot daily. Start comparing your diamond to other, familiar jewelry items you own. Be sure to keep them all clean. Take note of what you see. Note the differences in brightness, contrast pattern and fire. Compare the vividness and speed of the sparkle.

kitchen lights

PriceScope Pointer: Learn to identify and evaluate key diamond beauty components: Diamond Performance Explained.

The Away Game

Once you can decisively identify the best qualities of your diamond in your “favorite spot” at home, start taking time to notice how it appears in other locations. It may be helpful to take another familiar jewelry item with different qualities, so you have two benchmarks.

  • Visit different places
  • Look around and notice the illumination – what’s the source of the light
  • Hold still and observe the white-brightness in the diamond
  • Move it slowly and observe the size and purity of dispersion/fire
  • Move it quickly and observe the size, speed, intensity and character of the scintillation
  • Give that illumination scenario a mental score and move on
  • Build a performance-memory of favorite places

In particular: When you visit jewelry stores be sure to compare your diamond to others. Especially, ask to see the best examples of cut quality they have and see if you detect differences.

In-Person Analysis

“Diamond performance is not a judgment of a moment. It’s the journey of a lifetime.”

Most diamond buyers spend a significant sum of money – often what a car-costs. It makes sense, then, to take a thorough test-drive of that diamond through specific illumination scenarios.

Whether it’s a diamond you own, or new comparisons, we highly recommend you follow the steps we have outlined in for in-person viewing, to ensure environmental variety.

In Person Viewing – Make Comparisons Like an Expert

diamonds and eyesight - variety of lights

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