Today I am doing a diamond search for Michael who is looking for a 0.9 – 1.1ct I-color (or better) eye-clean SI1 (or better) with a budget of approximately $5700. He’s getting a custom-made setting from Enchanted Diamonds so wants to find a matching diamond from them.
Since there is a big price jump around the 1ct range, it’s very common to want to find a diamond that is just under a carat in order to get better value for money. This also means that we are essentially looking at 2 diamond ranges here and Michael will again ultimately have to decide whether to go with size vs quality.
I’ll compare the 3 top choices in the 0.9ct – 1ct range and the 1ct – 1.1ct range.
0.9ct – 1ct Diamonds
Diamond 1: 0.9ct FVS1
This diamond had a Enchanted Diamonds cut score of 100 so we know that the proportions are within the recommended ranges. If we take a closer look at the numbers, the total depth is a bit deep primarily due to a slightly higher crown. The good thing is that this isn’t purely wasted weight because a higher crown will help the diamond produce more fire. The diamond also has an idealscope image which shows us that generally the diamond is bright and does not have unwanted light leakage.
What the Enchanted Diamonds cut score doesn’t look at is the optical symmetry of the diamond. In this case, the optical symmetry is not good so one pavilion facet is too steep so that one of the arrows (at the 10 o’clock) actually disappears. This is a more major cut defect because it reduces the contrast and hence sparkle in the diamond. A diamond with a unique contrast pattern is one thing, but a missing arrow on what could have been a near-H&A cut is to me a cause for rejection.
There is also quite a lot of green in the ASET image at the edges of the diamond due to some slightly dug-out upper girdle facets. Although this is a relatively more minor defect in a stone of this quality, it still indicates that there is slightly reduced brightness at the edges of the diamond so we can’t say that this diamond has excellent edge-to-edge light performance.
Diamond 2: 0.9ct HVVS2
This diamond only gets a 97.2 on the Enchanted Diamonds cut score, the reason being that the crown angle is 35.5°. However, this is actually a more well-cut diamond than diamond 1 because the pavilion facet is shallow enough and the crown ultimately not steep enough for this combination to be a problem. The overall depth of this diamond is actually quite good despite a 4% girdle thickness. The ASET and idealscope shows that the light return is decent even though we have that slightly steep crown. With 75% lower girdles that are considered steep, this diamond could have had weaker light return but the shorter stars and lower girdles again balance out the proportions nicely.
This is a great example of proportions that are outside the recommended range that actually work quite well. The diamond still manages an ideal 15% crown heigh that gives you plenty of fire and it will still be bright. The only thing you are trading off in this stone is the spread so with a weight ratio of 1.064, this is higher than what I usually like to see but you’re only likely to get better than this with a super-ideal. Optical symmetry wise this diamond is fairly decent and is a borderline near-H&A since there is some facet yaw. There is some slight digging as well but it’s so slight that there is really a very small impact on the diamond.
With no color of clarity concerns since, this is a solid choice for a 0.9ct diamond that is well within Michael’s budget. You might feel like you’re paying a premium for VVS2 that you don’t need, but the VVS2 upgrade is considered an inexpensive one and certainly anything over 1ct that is an H color stone will be over the budget.
Diamond 3: 0.9ct GVS1
Here we have another diamond that scores 97.2 on Enchanted Diamonds’s cut score for similarly having a slightly steeper crown and again, this diamond has a shallower pavilion that compensates adequately. What’s more is that this diamond actually has shallower lower girdles cut to 80% and this was done by the cutter to balance out a higher 16% crown height. This means that this diamond has even more fire than diamond 2 for a similar spread. You get this bonus fire because the girdle isn’t cut as thick.
The optical symmetry of this diamond is fairly decent, although it might look like diamond 2 has a nicer pattern. Partly this is because the hearts have clefs in them but this is mainly due to the fact that the lower girdles are longer than 80%. Face up, you can see that the arrows are all very much aligned and it will look like a near-H&A. One final thing to note in this diamond is that there are a few painted upper girdles which is the opposite of the digging that is present in the first two diamonds. This helps improve the light return of the diamond with a slight hit to contrast at the edges.
1ct to 1.1ct Diamonds
Diamond 4: 1ct FSI1
This first diamond that I found seems to be amazing value on paper. It’s a 1ct FSI1 which usually retails for around $6500 so the price is really the first thing that should send out alarm bells.
Clicking around the images, it looks like this diamond has decent proportions, perfect ASET and idealscope images, and almost looks like a hearts and arrows diamond. Open up the lab report and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see a very clean clarity map. The diamond even has a 360 video so you can see that there are no black inclusions anywhere int he diamond. So what is going on here, is this really such a good deal?
Well, this is a classic case of something that is too good to be true. What you can’t tell easily from the 360 video is that this is actually a cloudy diamond. It’s easy to overlook this because clouds don’t even appear on the inclusion lists under the key to symbols! However, if you read the comments section of the report it shows that clouds, pinpoints and internal graining are not shown, and the grader noted this because the diamond is cloudy but it wasn’t something that he could plot on the clarity map as it affects the entire diamond.
Diamond 5: 1ct HSI1
This diamond gets a perfect 100 cut score from Enchanted Diamonds, but a quick look a the ASET reveals light leakage in this diamond. This is a good example of why you can’t rely on any cut scoring system in diamonds and why light performance images can be such effective tools. The reason why this diamond has that light leakage is because there are two pavilion facets that are much steeper than the rest and if you look at the hearts image, you will be able to spot 2 smaller hearts (5 o’clock and 10 o’clock). This light leakage would be enough for me to reject this diamond, but even if it didn’t have light performance issues, the dark crystal inclusions on the table facet don’t look eye-clean to me.
Diamond 6: 1.01ct IVVS2
This is an interesting diamond because it has a 59% table and a 59.8% total depth. It’s right in between what would be considered a 60/60 type diamond and a Tolkowsky Ideal cut. In these types of cuts, you can expect the crown angle to be a little shallower and the crown height to be a little lower because of that. What you get is a diamond that has very safe light return meaning that it will be bright and you trade off a bit of fire when you compare it to a diamond with those more ideal angles.
You also get a diamond that has excellent spread so this 1.01ct diamond has a footprint that is well over the 6.5mm mark expected from a well-cut 1ct stone. This diamond is also truly a near-H&A diamond and you can expect it to have really great sparkle. This is a great option if you want to maximize the size of the stone and many people actively seek out stones just like this one. As an I-color diamond, any extra brightness you can squeeze out of the diamond will help reduce the impact of the body color in the diamond.
We’ve taken a look at 6 options and ultimately Michael is going to have to decide which carat range he wants to be in. None of the diamonds in the the 1ct+ range were perfect choices but the clear winner was Diamond 6. In the 0.9 – 1ct range, the winner for me is diamond 3 because it faces up as a near-H&A and it’s got a more popular color/clarity combination. What do you think?