Peter Yantzer, director of the American Gem Society diamond grading lab in Las Vegas, sees a future where grades for diamond cut are as mundane and mandatory as those for color and clarity.
Asked to dream aloud about the future of diamond certification, he envisions a day, one or two years shy of 2010, when jewelers will be able to type diamond measurement data from a Sarin machine, or its equivalent, into a computer and know in seconds its likely AGS cut grade. And he's not talking only about conventional round brilliants. He's talking about cut grades for princess, emerald, pear, oval, and marquise shapes—"all the generic cuts," as he puts it.
Wait. Yantzer is only getting warmed up. After introducing cut grades for all the traditional diamond cuts, he is hoping to spearhead development of AGS cut grades for the most established branded cuts like the Leo and Solasfera that have been carving out niches in the market. The outcome: cut grades for every commercially meaningful diamond cut.
Is Yantzer's dream realistic or farfetched? And do consumers today really care enough about crown and pavilion angles, symmetry, and light performance? Yes. Science is adding to the sizzle of diamonds and diamond selling.
Since the beginning of this year, GIA has been issuing cut grades for every standard round brilliant that it grades. Unconfirmed rumor has it the lab will eventually expand into other shapes. That the inventor of diamond grading as we know it has seen fit to require all round brilliants to be rated for cutting marks an historic point of no return for diamond evaluation and, ultimately, diamond valuation.
GIA's move is a sign of just how important the cutting revolution has become. In addition to AGS, other competitors have already either introduced cut grades or are preparing to do so. IGI offers a "Light Return Analysis" report for round and princess cuts and is researching separate light performance standards for other fancy cuts. By year's end, EGL is planning to unveil its own light performance analysis reports consisting of ratings for what it calls brilliance, radiance, and contrast, as well as overall light performance.
If the leading labs have embraced cut grading, isn't it logical to assume that such ratings will soon be a standard feature on all reports? But the future of gem grading isn't just about gemology. It's also about marketing. Brace yourself for an epic battle of the brands, as gem labs duke it out for consumer awareness and loyalty.