Believe it or not, a diamond website can operate without possessing any physical stones within their inventory. You see, the majority of online vendors (e.g. the largest retailer, Blue Nile) utilize a virtual inventory system which is basically a list that vendors download from their supplier’s database.

While a virtual listing significantly lowers the operating cost of business, the vendor only has information that is limited to what their supplier shares with them (usually, this is the bare minimum of a grading report). Obviously, getting information beyond a grading report can quickly turn into a major problem. If these online vendors can’t even physically see diamonds listed in the virtual list themselves, how do you expect them to obtain any additional data for you?

listing of diamonds with table and depth percentages

A Typical Result Page of Using a Search Tool – Should You Shop Purely Based on Numbers?

Comparing 2 Diamonds From James Allen in Greater Details

Here’s where James Allen stands out by being are one of the few online sites that has physical access to the diamonds they list. Upon request, they can perform up to 3 ideal scope analysis for free and place the diamonds on hold while you wait for the report.

Tip: Narrow down your selection to 3 choices based on HCA scores/grading reports/proportions first. Click here for a quick and easy tutorial on using the HCA software… Then, make your request known to live support and get them to call in the diamonds for a review.

The entire process usually takes around 2-3 working days. What I like about their service is that the ideal scope images also comes with a synopsis report from a professional gemologist. This will help you better understand the optical performance of your shortlisted diamonds.

For a comparison’s sake, I chose 2 similar looking stones graded by GIA as Excellent cuts. We are going to put them to the litmus test and you’ll soon see why one of the diamond is clearly the better choice.

Round 1.01 Excellent – F – VVS1 (On Left) vs. Round 1.02 Excellent – F – VVS2 (On Right)

comparing an ideal cut vs a leaky diamond

Compare them to the reference chart for IdealScope on the previous page.

Synopsis Report From the In-House Gemologist’s Inspections

“The diamond on the left exhibits excellent fire and brilliance. It’s very bright, has a beautiful white color, and faces perfectly eye clean. This stone out-performs the other choice and will be your best option.

While the diamond on the right (1.01 carat F VVS2) is still a decent rock, I would not recommend it when I’m given a choice between these 2 options. This is because its light performance is lacking a little (evident by pale ring under the table facet which indicates light loss) and doesn’t face nearly as bright as the one on the left.”

With the HCA/IdealScope data on hand, I’m sure you would also come to the same conclusion after viewing the “evidence” presented above. The diamond on the left is by far a better choice than the one on the right. There’s no guesswork involved and it is a pretty straightforward concept to grasp.

As you can see, making a purchasing decision solely based on a grading report is a huge pitfall. Without concrete data, you might have ended up getting the stone on the right. Unfortunately, this is the scenario where the majority of shoppers land themselves into.

On paper, two very similar looking diamonds that are graded as having an excellent cut by GIA can have very different optical performances. Without the HCA and additional light performance data, you would practically be shopping in the dark.

So far, we have talked about the process of selecting round diamonds. What if you’re in the market for a fancy cut diamond? How should you go about evaluating the optics for a fancy shape? We are going to cover that topic on the next page…

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