A moment of decision is coming

The diamond business is at a moment in time where old ideas and technology are truly meeting head on. We have the GIA and AGS about to grade the cut of a diamond based on measurements and ray tracing computations along with minor parametric grade limiting characteristics. We have several other players grading or about to grade with similar technologies. We have Gemex using six light positions in an additive way that does not mimic real world lighting and some other tools which compare data with appearance.

All of this is some kind of what might be called "progress", but I have problems with using tools or software to provide answers when obvious flaws exist in these final results. The jewelry business has always been plagued with poorly executed technological "improvements". We had colorimeters of various types that were highly touted to grade color, even on mounted diamonds. Did they really work? No. Some are still being sold, but no real lab would consider them a step up from a good set of master diamonds.

Now, we are about to step up in the world market with grading tools for the cut of diamonds that have inherent problems and problematic results. Why do you need to grade the light return of a diamond you are working with in the laboratory with a computational model? Why not just measure the light return with the diamond itself? Why give in to the error we all know exists in the present industry accepted measuring devices? Once a series of faulty measurments are taken how could anyone suppose the computed model would be accurate? What about the measurements computed by the device and not even measured? These will potentially be even more innaccurate. Lastly, some small measurments are not taken at all. Who is to say that these skipped measurements are not critical to an proper prediction?

Admittedly, the prediction of light behavior in diamond is highly complex. This is precisely why the GIA and AGS have taken so long to get it going. Now, in the rush to get it done, I am afraid it is will be given and/or sold to the industry as if it was a perfect system when it isn't.

If one wants to have the right answers to light behavior, one should use highly accurate equipment and take measurements of the light's properties directly from the diamond being graded. This eliminates any computational error and is the unique and correct measurement for that diamond. This will be the situation with the technology of ImaGem, Inc. Diamonds will be individually graded by direct performance measurement. The first of these units has been installed in my Philadelphia lab and we hope to have it operational in a few days or weeks. Many years have been spent in its development and I have been privileged to have played a small consulting role over the past eight years.

It is my hope that those who make decisions in the diamond trade will allow ImaGem the opportunity to make its case and demonstrate the accuracy of directly measured light behavior. After 37 years in this business, I would like to make it the best possible business we can as we head into the future.

by David S. Atlas, GG(GIA) Sr Mbr(NAJA) ASG(AGA)

D. Atlas & Co.