GIA's Study: The Shot Heard Round the World
I've always been fascinated with events surrounding the first conflicts
of the American Revolution in Lexington and Concord. The gunfire of those
skirmishes was later immortalized by Ralph Waldo Emerson as the "shot
heard round the world." But I wonder whether those tattered soldiers
on that April day in 1775 knew their actions would lead to change that continues
to profoundly influence political thought two centuries later.
Though it may seem overly dramatic to compare the Gemological Institute
of America's new diamond cut study (see p. 32) to Lexington and Concord,
I think it's safe to say jewelry industry historians will one day discuss
the paper in the same reverential tones.
Like the shots at Lexington and Concord, GIA's study is the first volley
in a battle to finally settle a long-standing argument over which proportions
produce the most beautiful diamond. Like those soldiers, GIA is doing battle
using entirely new methods. The American soldiers hid behind trees, introducing
guerrilla warfare to the ramrod-straight British soldiers. GIA's tactics
included a totally new approach to evaluating cut using the power of modern
computers. Though a few other researchers have used computers to evaluate
cut, none has done so with the thoroughness and the number of scientific
controls used by GIA.
Such a sound approach by one of the world's most respected gemological
institutions will advance our knowledge of diamond cut. For too long, companies
have made claims about "this set of proportions" or "that
range of parameters" claims that could not be evaluated completely.
When GIA is finished, there will be a sound foundation upon which to judge
The good news for retail jewelers? For the time being, you can honestly
continue to assure customers that various proportion combinations produce
brilliant diamonds. You also can further your own knowledge of diamonds
by reading GIA's research and comparing the proportions of the diamonds
you sell to the proportions in the study.
What you can't do is use GIA's initial research to tell the whole story
of a diamond's appearance. For that, you must wait for the rest of the study,
which will include evaluations of cut's effect on scintillation and fire.
GIA also will study the effect other factors, such as symmetry and color,
have on a diamond's appearance.
At the end of the project, it's possible GIA will issue cut grades. If
diamonds are given cut evaluations everyone agrees on, a completely blind,
universal language could spring up that makes them finally a true commodity
But there is another possibility. GIA could conclude each diamond is
a truly unique specimen with so many confounding characteristics affecting
appearance that a grade simply won't work. If that's the case, consumers
will still want to see the diamond in person before buying. They'll also
appreciate the fact that cut is terribly complex and feel the need for help
from a local jeweler to understand and make sense of this most complicated
diamond quality. A chart on the Internet just won't be able to say it all.
Which outcome will it be? Only time and more research will
by Peggy Jo Donahue
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.