Diamond CUT quality, the most important of the 4 C’s, has the greatest impact on diamond beauty. So it may be surprising that of all the diamonds in the market only a small percentage are cut particularly well! And only a small percentage of those are cut to ideal standards. True “super ideal diamonds” are exceedingly rare. So, what distinguishes a super ideal from an ideal diamond and why does it matter?
This graphic represents a rough illustration of the relative cut quality of the best cut diamonds in the market. The two most important gemological labs approach cut grading in different ways and it is widely agreed that the AGS Laboratories conduct the most critical and demanding cut quality analysis of any lab in the world. The AGS Ideal grade is a relatively small subset of the GIA’s top grade of Excellent. Likewise, A CUT ABOVE® Super Ideal Diamonds
(labeled ACA on the chart) are a subset of AGS Ideals, giving them a place in the very “sweet spot” of diamond cut quality.
The AGS light performance cut grading system is the only scientifically vetted system in the world. It involves a sophisticated analysis of the actual behavior of light among the facets of the diamond as modeled by a 3D scan of the diamond factoring in the dimensions and angles of every facet of the actual gem. (For more comparisons on diamond grading at the labs see GIA vs AGS
The A CUT ABOVE® is specifically cut to a very narrow range of specifications at the center of the AGS system and at the heart of ultimate diamond light performance. In addition to achieving the coveted AGS Triple Ideal designation, A CUT ABOVE® diamonds must pass a number of additional tests including very critical hearts and arrows patterning. The proper amount and distribution of this positive contrast in a diamond is critical to diamond sparkle which is the essential characteristic that makes diamonds beautiful. Extreme precision in cut craftsmanship results in an ideal diamond that is perfectly tuned to display maximum fire, brilliance and scintillation.
The GIA system for cut grading is somewhat more broad and forgiving. Diamonds in the outer band can have more prominent light performance deficits such as light leakage, yet still receive the top grade of Excellent. For more in-depth discussion on this issue please see this article comparing GIA Ex vs AGS 0
It takes more skill, more time and more weight loss from the rough to cut diamonds in sweet spot of light performance. Whereas A CUT ABOVE® diamonds target the very bulls-eye on the dart board, most cutters actually target the outer perimeter of the GIA Ex range. By doing so they can maximize the yield from the rough while at the same time receiving the highest grade that GIA bestows- but at the expense of cut quality. This difference in philosophy and approach gives rise to wide differences in precision between some GIA Excellent diamonds and a true super ideal diamond as illustrated by the diamond light performance
ASET image – Super Ideal Diamond
Hearts image - Super Ideal Diamond
ASET image – GIA Triple EX Diamond
Hearts image - GIA Triple EX Diamond
More and more consumers are adopting the position that cut quality is the one area of diamond quality that should NOT be compromised. For those consumers immaculate cut quality holds real value. It speaks not only to the fact that the diamond will deliver maximum performance under the widest range of lighting conditions; it also crosses over into the realm of fine art. A super ideal diamond is like a tiny sculpture of light in which each facet is precisely aligned and polished, and is working in perfect dynamic harmony with every other facet. It is the visual equivalent of listening to a symphony in which every note is pitch perfect.
Another practical benefit of diamonds cut to the sweet spot of AGS Ideal is that as diamond cut grading standards evolve, super ideals will always receive the top grade at any lab under any future criteria. This helps insure the financial investment in a certified diamond of high quality.
For an expensive item that will be worn and appreciated every day for years and even passed down through generations, it makes a great deal of sense to take an uncompromising approach to diamond cut quality. It certainly makes sense to seek out AGS Ideals. And for customers who desire the “best of the best”, there are A CUT ABOVE® super ideal diamonds.