By Bryan Boyne G.G. (GIA)
, Monday, August 08, 2011 8:56 AM
Whiteflash Diamond Imaging
Imaging is a very important part of Whiteflash operations. Many customers decide to purchase our high quality diamonds and jewelry sight unseen - some from the far side of the globe. To help with those decisions we provide a Diamond Image Package to enable shoppers to see critical aspects of the diamonds and fine jewelry we offer. We employ a team of fulltime photographers so that all in-house diamonds are presented on our website with a comprehensive set of photographic images. In addition, any diamond that we bring in for customers from our Virtual Selection category, or other diamonds that we may source, will likewise be imaged so that the customer will have full benefit of a complete gemological and light performance evaluation prior to purchase.
The Whiteflash Photography Team combines both proprietary and industry known devices and techniques to create the analytical images in the Diamond Image Package. Because we specialize in diamonds cut to an extremely high degree of perfection, many images look very similar and often only small differences will be noticeable.
The guiding philosophy at Whiteflash is to provide the most accurate and consistent images possible, conveying the most useful information to our customers. Yet, even in the most controlled process there are bound to be small variances in web based images. By knowing the intent of each image and how to evaluate them individually and collectively, we believe our customers gain an accurate portrayal of our products with which to make well informed decisions.
Virtually every photograph on the internet is edited to some degree or another. Photos are re-sized to fit better on web pages, they are digitally compressed so that web pages they are on do not take too long to load, and of course many are “Photoshopped” and changed materially for some intended effect.
The format of the images across our Diamond Image Package is consistent in size and background regardless of a diamond’s size. To accomplish this every diamond is digitally taken from its original background and placed onto a template which allows for a more consistent viewing experience between diamonds.
Diamond Image Our Magnified Diamond Image is intended to show a few specific aspects of the stone.
First, inclusions are sometimes visible in these images, particularly SI1 and SI2 grades, and so information is conveyed about the location and nature of these inclusions. Information is available separately indicating whether the inclusions are visible to the naked eye, and if so, at what range and viewing angle.
Secondly, it is possible to see facet patterns and symmetry aspects such as “arrows” in Hearts and Arrows diamonds (also evident in Ideal Scope and ASET view). Diamond images are captured with the camera facing the table of the diamond which sits on a dark surface to reduce glare. The arrow pattern appears dark due to “obstruction” and is essentially produced by a reflection of the camera itself. When actually viewing the diamond a viewer’s head similarly acts to obstruct light from the highest angle. Contrast patterns in a well designed diamond create sparkle and scintillation.
A third aspect that this frontal view conveys, and which is particularly helpful in understanding non-round diamonds, is the outline of the shape. Length to width ratio is often very important in the visual appeal of a diamond, and individual tastes vary widely. For instance, one may prefer a slender marquise or a roundish oval and this image conveys that information.
The Magnified Diamond Image is NOT intended to be used for color or clarity grading between any diamond on the Whiteflash website or external diamonds. Color and clarity are graded at the laboratory in highly controlled lighting environments where the diamond can be viewed in a full range of positions. The AGS or GIA certificate is viewable in the image package and can be relied upon for this purpose.
For aesthetic purposes all diamonds regardless of actual size appear approximately the same size relative to the website template. Therefore a 0.30ct diamond is enlarged more than a 2.00ct. Magnification levels are fairly consistent across the entire inventory and approximate the view you have when looking through a standard 10x jewelers’ loupe.
Ideal Scope (IS) The Ideal-Scope is a useful reflector instrument that provides visual information about the light handling properties of diamonds. Light return appears in shades of red, while light leakage appears in white to grayish colors. Black is the result of reflection from the camera lens which mimics the obscuration of light caused by a viewer’s head.
The image is captured with the camera facing the table of the diamond with the pink colored Ideal-Scope on top of the diamond with the diffused LED light source illuminating from below. The diamond itself is sitting in a transparent tray.
ASET The ASET (Angular Spectrum Evaluation Tool) is a very important reflector device that provides even more specific visual information about the light performance of the diamond. Both red and green colors represent light return. Red is generally higher intensity light direct from the source and green is light entering the stone from lower angles generally representing light reflected off of objects in the environment.
ASET images are captured with the camera facing the table of the diamond with the filter on top with the diffused LED light source illuminating from below. The diamond itself is sitting in a black tray.
* AGS Laboratory platinum reports contain an ASET image that is computer generated based upon 3D scan data of the diamond run through the highly sophisticated AGS light performance software. There may be small differences between this image and the actual photographic image in the Image Package.
It is important to limit interpretation of both ASET and IS to relative colors within an individual image. Color saturation between images can result from several different factors including the size of the stone and very minute variations in lighting intensity resulting from electrical fluctuations in the power supply of the photographic equipment.
Hearts Image Diamonds possessing excellent sym-metry in three dimensions (optical symmetry) will exhibit a pattern of eight arrows when viewed through the table, and eight hearts when viewed through the pavilion with a special reflector device. Since one of the hallmarks of our A CUT ABOVE® Hearts and Arrows Super Ideal Diamond is a hearts and arrows pattern that conforms to the highest standard in the industry, we post hearts images for all round diamonds in that category. Round diamonds in our Expert Selection category possess distinct hearts and arrows patterning. Patterning of Expert Selection diamonds is within industry standards, but may have some slight irregularities. Hearts images are available for Expert Selection diamonds upon request, but are not posted to the website.
Hearts images are captured with the camera facing the pavilion of the diamond and with the purple colored Hearts and Arrows Viewer on top. The diamond itself is sitting on a black surface with diffused light coming in from all sides.
Glamour Shot In addition to the other images which are intended to be diagnostic in different ways, the “glamour shot” is intended to give the viewer visual sense of the beauty and “personality” of the diamond. After all, what we really love about fine diamonds is they way they reflect and refract light back to the eye. Usually captured from a different angle, these images can convey a feel for the brilliance and fire that the diamond possesses.
*Glamour Shot may not be posted to the site for every diamond but are always available by request.
Putting It All Together
Our image package is intended to be evaluated in a holistic way. No single image can adequately provide all the relevant information needed to truly understand the diamond. But combining the lab grading information with the diagnostic light performance images, as well as getting a glimpse of the personality of the diamond, a very accurate understanding of the quality and beauty of the diamond can be achieved.
Limitations of Static Images
It is also important to understand certain limitations of diamond imaging. First, static images can never adequately convey the dynamic nature of an ideal cut diamond in real life.
Movement of the diamond, the eye of the observer, or the light source creates scintillation and sparkle. In real life at least one of these factors is in motion and therefore creating an ever changing visual impact. The appearance of a diamond is greatly affected by changing lighting conditions and diamonds with the best light handling capabilities will perform at maximum levels under the full spectrum of conditions. The understanding gained from a collective evaluation of different types of static performance images is therefore highly predictive of how beautiful a diamond will be in real life.
To keep things in perspective it is also important to understand that very small light performance deficits visible in static images may not be noticeable in real life. Very minor differences are similar to clarity grading differences at the top of the scale. For example, a Flawless diamond and a VVS1 are essentially indistinguishable by the naked eye. While light performance is clearly the most important factor in determining the beauty of a diamond, it is important to evaluate the image package along with other considerations such as diamond size, color, clarity and price.