An Interview with Julia and David Gardner
JULIA GARDNER – info nerd and problem solver with all the feels; prone to the new and shiny; on a mission to educate which C is the most important
DAVID GARDNER ‘78 – wise leader with a long list of certifications and diamond industry knowledge; years of practical application; thinks social media is a passing thing
We will soon celebrate our 40th year of David Gardner’s Jewelers in B-CS. One of the most fascinating things to me are all of the shifts in the diamond industry the past four decades. As a Graduate Gemologist GIA, CERTIFIED GEMOLOGIST AGS, past president of American Gem Society and jeweler for over 45 years, what have been the noteworthy changes in the diamond industry?
In the early part of my career, with few exceptions, most diamonds were cut primarily for size, or weight retention from the rough. There was an awareness regarding cutting for brilliance but it was not a priority. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) taught what was called “ideal cut” and there were a handful of niche companies that cut for brilliance but the consumer market was predominantly unaware.
In about the 60s or 70s GIA started grading stones and providing diamond grading reports to cutters. By the late 70s, most retailers began using standardized lab grading instead of independent certifications from different diamond suppliers.
The American Gem Society (AGS), which was founded to promote ethics and consumer protection, established a lab in 1996. The AGS lab pioneered the Ideal Cut Grade and became the first lab to offer a Diamond Grading Report with a cut grade. Both GIA and AGS were pivotal in establishing industry standards for diamond grading, including cut grading.
I think I represent all women when I say that a diamond isn’t doing its job unless it is sparkling with maximum brilliance. In my humble opinion, so many people are hung up on clarity and color, but it is the cut that really transcends, right?
It is complicated because it is almost impossible for a consumer to decode a diamond certificate.
Even before adding in cut grades, grading reports were complex. For example, after AGS established a cut grade, so did GIA, but their system is different from AGS, using descriptors instead of a numeric grading system. It is imperative that you trust a jeweler who has invested in training and certifications so that they are equipped to accurately interpret a grading report. My strongest recommendation is an AGS store – one committed to ethics and consumer protection.
Let me see if I can summarize – The science of cutting a diamond for maximum brilliance or performance first emerged decades ago, but for the consumer is still a bit of a mystery.
From my experience, what I’ve observed is that the light return (brilliance) and the rainbow of colors (fire) that you can see with a well-cut diamond trumps color and clarity. The color can look one to two grades better and unless it is extremely included, moderate inclusions are almost impossible to see.
What you are talking about is actually two different, but related, things – cut and performance. Diamond cutting is based on many decades of science and mathematical research to help create a diamond with maximum light refraction and reflection.
Diamonds that are well cut tend to have better light performance, largely because they have better symmetry and proportions that facilitate the way the stone interacts with rays of light, and the human eye. As light enters, bends, and exits a stone, the visual play of light – the sparkle, fire, scintillation – is known as ‘light performance’. Light performance is adding another dimension to cut grading.
I’ve been reading about technologies that not only measure a diamond’s light performance, but also let consumers observe the difference between diamonds for themselves. I’m so excited we are one of the first stores in the US to have that technology in our store!!
We are both extremely committed to having the education, certifications, full disclosure and transparency, and technology in our store to protect and educate customers to best assist them in choosing their diamond.