Brian Gavin is a 5th generation cutter from South Africa who is well known for his high performance diamonds in the industry. Since the creation of his signature round hearts and arrows to signature Blue diamonds, Brian Gavin has continued to reinvent himself and relentlessly push boundaries.
The breakthrough came in late 2016 and a brand new class of diamonds called Black by Brian Gavin was officially launched. Brian Gavin described it as “the pinnacle of his career and the crowning achievement of his team”.
And when someone of Brian’s stature says something like this, the entire industry sits up and takes note.
Black by Brian Gavin is the result of painstaking engineering and years of diamond cutting research. From rough diamond selection to crafting by master cutters, Brian developed and fine-tuned a manufacturing process that was carefully controlled to yield the finest diamonds.
Below, I’ll summarize the requirements that the Brian Gavin Black diamonds have to meet:
• Perfect optical symmetry seen in hearts and arrows patterning
• Presence of Gavin Effect – optimization of ancillary angles
• Ideal cut proportions
• IF – VS2 clarity grades
• D – G color grades
• Negligible fluorescence
• Achieve AGS 000 grades
With every Black by Brian Gavin, the material properties of the rough diamonds used are in the higher tiers of quality. This ensures that the polished diamonds will face up white and be eyeclean.
In order to maximize the sparkle factor, the diamond’s proportions are carefully engineered and crafted with extreme precision. Combine this with the patent pending Gavin Effect process (more about this later in the review), every individual facet on the diamond is positioned to create the best optical symmetry and provide impeccable light return.
Now, let’s take a look at a typical listing for a Black by Brian Gavin diamond…
Interestingly, the Black series has a customized AGS Laboratories grading report that was specially created for them. I’ve took a screenshot of the grading report for the above stone below. On the report, you will see the properties of the polished diamond being listed out together with a computer generated ASET scan.
Since the launch of “Black by Brian Gavin”, I had received a number of questions about the differences between Brian’s regular hearts and arrows diamonds and his latest Black signature line.
“What’s the difference between Black by Brian Gavin compared to the other AGS 000 diamonds he sells?”
“Is the premium for Black by Brian Gavin worth it and is there a noticeable difference in a side by side comparison?”
Well, the short answer is that the differences between them are subtle.
Both signature lines are top-notch in terms of cut quality and offer breathtaking diamonds. At this level of cut quality, we are really splitting hairs here. Basically, if it were a school examination and marks were to be awarded, I would rate the BGD signature rounds a score of 96/100 and the Black by Brian Gavin a score of 99/100.
Here’s the long answer: The Black by Brian Gavin signature diamonds have ancillary facet angles which are optimized to reduce low intensity light zones within the diamond (they coin it the “Gavin Effect™”). To put in layman terms, the term “ancillary facets” basically refers to the star facets, upper girdle facets and lower girdle facets.
Let me show you a couple of diamond examples where these minute areas exist and how you can identify them on the ASET. As you can see on the rightmost ASET of a Black by Brian Gavin, the tiny green areas have been optimized for strong light return.
I need to reemphasize that we are splitting hairs at this level of ASET imagery analysis. In reality, the visual differences between these 3 diamonds are minute and even a trained eye may experience difficulty in differentiating the light performance.
Compared to the signature rounds, Black by Brian Gavin is typically priced about 5% more compared to a signature diamond with similar material properties (i.e. color/clarity/carat). Given the higher amount of rough material utilized and skilled labor costs in the production of Blacks, the small price premium is justifiable in my opinion.
One of the things I love to do when performing a review is to randomly select diamonds across various price points and specifications. By doing so, we can get a better idea of quality and consistency throughout the inventory.
The magnified face up views give you a clear idea of how the diamond looks up close in neutral lighting. If you want to check out the sparkle and brilliance of the diamond, feel free to click on the listings above to view the individual stones in various lighting conditions.
The Angular Spectrum Evaluation Tool (ASET) offers a critical analysis of the diamond’s optical performance. The different colors of the ASET is explained below and you can perform your own comparisons against the ASET reference charts here:
• Red: intense light return – red is generally what you want to see.
• Blue: contrast – important for contrast and scintillation. Blue areas should be as symmetrical as possible.
• Green: less intense light return – keep green areas minimal.
• Black: light leakage – keep black areas minimal.
What stands out in the Black by Brian Gavin line compared to other “super ideal cut” diamonds is the absence of low intensity light zones caused by ancillary facet variations. All 3 ASET images display areas of solid reds, greens and blacks at locations they should be in a perfectly cut diamond.
The Idealscope images above give a good idea of light return and leakage exhibited by the diamonds. In essence, here are what the different colors mean:
• Red: indicates light return.
• Black: contrast – important for pattern & scintillation. Black areas should be symmetrical.
• White: light leakage – keep white areas minimal.
To make your own comparisons, you can use the reference charts here to come up with your own conclusions on light return. Besides static light return, the Idealscope images are also useful tools for optical symmetry analysis (arrows patterning).
When the ancillary facets are fine-tuned and crafted with precision, it yields a perfect optical symmetry in the diamond. From the hearts patterning images above, you can see that the hearts and Vs are all symmetrically formed in all 3 diamonds.
If we scrutinize details even further, you will also notice identical sizing for the hearts and Vs as well as a consistent spacing that forms between them. Basically, these are all hallmarks of a perfectly cut diamond.
Having seen a range of diamonds touted as “super ideal cut” from various brands and vendors, Black by Brian Gavin is hands-down the most consistent line of diamonds displaying precise craftsmanship and performance.
The pristine hearts and arrows patterning combined with top-tier color/clarity properties make every single stone a work of art and an engineering marvel. After reviewing tangible data and seeing the diamonds in person, I can only conclude that Black by Brian Gavin is truly a class above.
To sum things up, I will offer a personal analogy of how I feel about Black by Brian Gavin.
Besides a love for diamonds, I’m an audiophile and I take my enjoyment of music very seriously. When I came across the Shure 846 earphones, my life changed forever. The patent pending low pass filter and individual armature drivers deliver a crystal clear sound quality unlike any other earphones.
It was love at first sight. Subsequently, all other competing products I tried using no longer sounded right to my ears and I’m bounded for life with Shure.
In the same way, once you own and see the beauty of a Black by Brian Gavin diamond, your life is going to be permanently changed. With Brian Gavin’s Black, the bar is going to be raised so high that you will never look at other diamonds the same way again.