“Super Ideal”: A marketing scheme or a cut above the rest?
When it comes to the cut of a diamond, you should always seek the best grade possible. After some research, many buyers are familiar with the terms “Ideal” and “Excellent” regarding diamond cut grades. But, have you ever heard of a “Super Ideal” cut? Its meaning isn’t exactly straightforward, but it can make a big difference for certain buyers who desire a “perfect” diamond.🤩
So, what is a Super Ideal cut diamond? And how does it differ from diamonds at the top of the GIA and AGS cut scale? Let’s learn more about Super Ideal cuts, how they’re graded, their value, and where you can find your own Super Ideal diamond online.
Basics: What is a super ideal cut diamond?
Super Ideal cut diamonds are rare, and they must go through a rigorous process to receive their high grade. Let’s dig deeper into the scales used to grade diamonds today and how exactly the Super Ideal cut relates to them:
GIA vs. AGS diamond cut grading
First, let’s take a look at the two most well-known diamond grading scales which are used by gem professionals to grade diamonds before they even reach retailers. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Gem Society (AGS) have developed complex testing and requirements for graded diamonds, setting the standard in the industry.
Both of these laboratories grade diamond cut differently, and the GIA spent 15 years perfecting their process. The GIA breaks their diamond cut scale into 5 possible grades: Poor, Fair, Good, Very Good, and Excellent.
When grading diamond cut, the GIA analyzes each stone for face-up sparkle (focusing on fire, brilliance, and scintillation), proper proportions and weight for durability and a balanced shine, and the overall quality of the diamond cutter’s craftsmanship when polishing the gem and aligning important angles and facets.
The GIA scale is renowned for its ability to assess a diamond’s ability to reflect light and properly designate which diamonds shine above the rest, but it is not the only grading system used by professionals.
In contrast, the AGS’ cut grading scale is more complex, with 11 possible grades for each diamond! On this scale, diamonds receive a grade from 0 to 10, which correlates to a specific quality grade: Poor, Fair, Good, Very Good, Excellent, and Ideal.
This scale allows for more precise grading of diamonds within a “verbal” category. For instance, grades 5-7 rank as “Fair” cuts on the AGS scale. But, a grade 5 is actually higher than a grade 7 and meets more of the criteria for a sparkling diamond. So, even within each category, there is a hierarchy of quality.
GIA Excellent Cut vs. AGS Ideal-0
At the top of the GIA cut scale is the Excellent cut diamond, and the AGS scale has the Ideal-0 cut diamond. How do these stones compare when looking at all of the factors that go into diamond cuts?
Both grades require exquisite cut criteria as mentioned above: outstanding fire, brilliance, and scintillation, well-crafted angles, facets, and proportions, and superior polish. However, the way in which the GIA and AGS come to their conclusions is a bit different.
For starters, both labs utilize Sarine technology to map and measure a diamond’s proportions. But, they actually measure diamonds from opposing vantage points, meaning their values are actually rather different. For example, one lab may measure a diamond’s girdle edge from the midpoint of the valley, whereas the other lab may account for peaks and valleys within its measurements.
In addition to differences in the way they measure diamonds, their data varies as well. The AGS is incredibly precise, and all values are recorded as measured. For instance, if a diamond has an average pavilion depth of 40.2% when measured, that is what will be on the report.
Compared to the AGS’ exact data recordings, the GIA often rounds data to the nearest half percent, so 40.2% may become 40%. This means there is a lot more leeway in diamonds graded as Excellent when compared to Ideal-0 gemstones.
In addition to these criteria, the AGS grades another very important characteristic: light performance. Light performance is a 360° evaluation of a diamond’s optical precision, accounting for facet shape, size, and alignment. While proportions are a necessary foundation for light play, performance comes from even distribution of light throughout the stone.
Grading light performance is difficult, but the AGS has crafted their own tool to aid in their analysis. At the AGS laboratory, each diamond is graded for light performance using an Angular Spectrum Evaluation Tool (ASET). We’ll discuss this cutting edge technology later in this article
Super Ideal cut diamonds: The best of the best
As Super Ideal cut diamonds are an incredibly rare subset of diamonds, it’s easy to see why people would want to get their hands on them. However, this value goes so far beyond that, as these diamonds are rarer than any other stone with a high-quality cut and take up to 4x more effort to create!💪🏻
These diamonds are the cream of the crop, and it can be hard to visualize just how small a percentage of Super Ideal cuts there really are. We already discussed how the AGS is much more critical of diamond cut than the GIA, and—as a result—the supply of high-grade diamonds includes a much larger subset of GIA Excellent rank diamonds than AGS Ideal stones.
Here’s a graphic from Whiteflash to help you better understand just how small the pool of Super Ideal diamonds is, even among Ideal cut diamonds:
What does a super ideal cut diamond look like?
What can you expect from a sparkling, Super Ideal cut diamond? Let’s break down some of the most important characteristics and why they matter:
Superior symmetry and polish
Symmetry and proportions are big factors in light performance. For Super Ideal cut diamond proportions, pavilion depth, pavilion angle, crown height, crown angle, girdle thickness and placement, table percent, and facets all have to be perfect! While Excellent or Ideal cuts seek to be near the top of acceptable ranges, Super Ideal cuts must have top scores to ensure they reflect light to the viewer’s eye in the most optimal fashion.
Here are some suggested proportions when searching for a Super Ideal round diamond:
|Table Size||54.0% - 57.0%|
|Depth||61.0% - 62.5%|
|Crown Angle||34.0° - 35.0°|
|Pavilion Angle||40.6° - 41.0°|
|Lower Girdles||75% - 80%|
|Star Facets||50% - 55%|
|Girdle Thickness||Thin - Medium|
Similarly, polish is incredibly important to a diamond’s shine. A Super Ideal cut diamond requires smooth, flawless facets that act as clear windows to the inner heart of the stone. Additionally, the clearer the facets, the stronger the light play as beams bounce through the diamond.🌟
Exceptional balance between brilliance, fire, and scintillation
Brilliance, fire, and scintillation are the three factors that actually bring the light shining through your diamond to life, creating brilliant displays of white and rainbow-colored light.
In short, brilliance is the white light in a diamond, fire is the colored light, and scintillation is contrasting light and dark spots within your diamond that change as you move it around under proper lighting.
Using advanced tools, gemologists grade Super Ideal diamonds for how well they exhibit each of these characteristics, as the goal is to have the most possible of each one. However, brilliance and fire actually have an inverse relationship, where too much of one means less of the other. This is why it’s so important to cut the diamond perfectly to balance out both fire and brilliance and create a well-rounded gem!
Hearts and arrows patterning
“Hearts and arrows” refers to the pattern of facet illumination created within a diamond. When viewed face-up, a diamond should display symmetrical arrows. When face-down, viewers should be able to see some pointy hearts.❤️
Solely using hearts and arrows to determine whether a diamond has a Super Ideal cut is not advised. This is because not all Hearts and Arrows diamonds are Super Ideal cut, and some actually have uneven proportions that create angled arrows or distorted hearts. Alternatively, a diamond with slightly misshapen arrows or hearts may actually exhibit better light performance than a diamond with perfect symmetry, so the criteria are not straightforward.⚖️
Be sure to utilize ASET technology yourself or have a professional inspect the diamond to ensure your Super Ideal diamond is authentic!
How to inspect the light performance of a Super Ideal cut diamond
Analyzing a diamond’s light performance is a tricky process that the AGS takes pride in doing to provide clients with Super Ideal diamonds. There are a few tools utilized by gemologists to inspect diamonds:
While it may look like a neon funnel, an Idealscope is an excellent way to gather objective data regarding a diamond’s light performance.
The funnel shape works as a magnifier, and it contains a red reflector to stimulate proper lighting for more enhanced inspections. To use it, simply align a diamond’s girdle with the very edge of the funnel and observe.
The light entering from the top of the tube down through the crown should appear red to the human eye, and any light that is leaking out of the diamond appears white. The goal is to see plenty of red light and little pink or white patches, as that means light is moving through the diamond effectively and not leaving before being seen by the viewer.
When a diamond has excellent symmetry, there are typically more of the dark red areas that manifest as sharp arrows. Inspecting a diamond with an Idealscope is an important step in the diamond grading process, and respected retailers like Whiteflash, Brian Gavin, and James Allen actually offer images of a diamond’s Idealscope data in their reports!
We mentioned ASET analysis above, now let’s dig into the specifics! While the Idealscope can give you a better idea of your diamond’s reflection and light leakage, an ASET is a tool that can provide a more detailed view of brilliance, fire, and light performance overall.
The ASET is, at its heart, a simple reflector. However, the data it collects acts as a framework for the entire cut grading system of the AGS!
ASET tools can vary, as some are handheld and some fit a desktop in a lab. There are even backlit versions of the equipment that display light leakage differently, displaying it as black or white. Despite these differences, each ASET has a color-coded hemisphere necessary for grading a diamond.
To use the ASET system, gemologists place a diamond table side down on a piece of glass under a spectrum of red, green, and blue lights at specific angles. The different colors of light appear in different spots within the diamond when viewing from above, and this gives gemologists a better idea of the stone’s light performance.
Each color of light represents a different characteristic:
|Red||Strong, healthy light return, similar to the Idealscope|
|Green||Weaker light return, aim for gems with minimal green light under ASET|
|Blue||Crucial for scintillation and contrast but should be symmetrical|
|Black or White||Light leakage, aim for gems with minimal black/white light under ASET|
Additionally, ASET testing isn’t just for round diamonds! It can be used on round, princess, some cushion, oval, and even emerald shapes.
Once the diamond has been inspected via ASET, the AGS utilize their computer software to create a 3D image of the diamond with ray tracing. That way, you can see each facet’s fire, brilliance, and scintillation on its certification, and they can even create ASET light maps if you so choose.
Is a Super Ideal cut diamond worth it?
With all the hype thrown into diamond cut precision, it’s completely fair to ask whether a Super Ideal diamond is even worth it.🧐 Are they expensive relative to other stones? And why would someone be willing to pay extra for a Super Ideal cut?
As mentioned above, because Super Ideal diamonds take such a high level of precision, they require much more time to create. This superior craftsmanship and extra time costs much more to produce one diamond, meaning Super Ideal diamonds are more expensive than other high-quality gems.
However, much like other graded diamonds, the price of your Super Ideal stone comes down to all 4Cs and how they interact. Always check your diamond’s certification and grading report to make sure you’re getting a good deal!
Depending on your diamond’s clarity and color, you can expect to pay roughly $5,000-$20,000 for a 1-carat Super Ideal stone. Again, this really depends on the retailer as well as the other standardized criteria, so be vigilant while shopping and do your research to make sure you’re not paying more for less.
Reasons to buy
Overall, it can be difficult to notice the differences between a Super Ideal cut and an Ideal or Excellent cut when staring at a diamond with the naked eye. As such, it’s often suggested to save yourself some money and stick to buying a high-quality stone below Super Ideal, as these gems can offer you more caratage and better qualities for less.📝
However, some people prefer to buy Super Ideal diamonds, and they have varied reasons as to why they seek them. Some buyers are obsessed with the idea of perfection, similar to the shoppers who search strictly for rounded 1-carat stones. These buyers are tough to please and only accept the best, and so the Super Ideal cut is the only way to ensure they are purchasing a “perfect” diamond.✌🏻
Another reason shoppers may choose Super Ideal stones is the “hearts and arrows” effect created within the diamond. Both images are symbols of falling in love, reminiscent of Cupid with his bow shooting love arrows into the hearts of humans. Those who prefer a symbolic piece love the extra meaning behind the sharp hearts and arrows within a Super Ideal diamond, especially for engagement or anniversary rings!
When choosing a Super Ideal cut diamond, it’s fair to say that many buyers are purchasing a quality they themselves cannot perceive. But, some people just like to know it’s there, and they have the documentation to back it up. Do what makes you most comfortable and buy the diamond you think will be best for your budget!💡
5 brands of Super Ideal cut diamonds you can trust
As we’ve mentioned, Super Ideal cut diamonds can’t be bought at every retailer. Here are our favorite brands for purchasing Super Ideal cut stones at great prices:
Promising “perfect internal symmetry and proportions”, James Allen is proud to present their line of True Hearts Diamonds. Chat with one of their experienced diamond professionals today to learn more about why you should invest in a True Hearts diamond.
Astor by Blue Nile is a collection of Super Ideal diamonds that offer a rare “new tier” of brilliance. Each diamond vying for a Super Ideal Astor rating faces scrutiny from two additional diamond experts before becoming part of the Astor line.
With precision hearts and arrows that are sure to please, Whiteflash’s A Cut Above brand is internationally recognized as a Super Ideal cut. Their strict, multi-level control process for both rough and polished stones means you can trust that your diamond’s light performance will be extraordinary.
At Brian Gavin, Hearts and Arrows diamonds are cut for optimum performance, providing unrivaled brilliance. The signature Super Ideal cut is internationally renowned, and Brian Gavin is actually a fifth-generation diamond cutter with years of experience!
With both natural and lab-grown diamonds to choose from, Brilliant Earth’s collection of Super Ideal cut diamonds is extensive. Enjoy these “Beyond Conflict-Free” diamonds from a company that promises transparency, sustainability, and compassion.
There’s no single “right” answer regarding diamond cut
Diamond cuts can be a tricky topic, and everyone has their own advice regarding the best grades to buy and why. Ultimately, diamond purchases are personal, and it all comes down to what you want most out of your new gemstone. Diamonds are notorious for their gorgeous light play, so if you want to amplify their best features you’ll want a cut that can emphasize the angles, facets, and refraction that make it all possible.
Are you interested in learning more about the 4Cs? We have an entire article dedicated to diamond cut and how to shop for the right gem for you, or you can take a look at our comprehensive 4Cs guide for more information on how to holistically shop for diamonds!