AGS panel debates cut

Cut was the subject of a lively “town meeting” at the American Gem Society Conclave in Vancouver, British Columbia, in April. Price sheet publisher Martin Rapaport dominated the panel, getting into verbal scraps with not only Hearts on Fire’s Glenn Rothman but also the Gemological Institute of America’s Ilene Reinitz.

At times, Rapaport seemed to be groping for a middle ground between GIA’s and AGS’s approaches. He scoffed at the notion of a lab “setting policy” for the industry. “I don’t want a lab telling me what is good and bad,” he said. “People like Cadillacs, some people like Mercedes.” But then he added, “We need [cut] standards for consumer protection, because people are getting ripped off. I hold the GIA responsible for all the consumers who bought off-makes off the Internet. I was disappointed that GIA hasn’t instituted a cut grade, and I think they will eventually.”

Reinitz noted that GIA is developing a classification system for cut. “The goal is to have something on the reports by early next year,” she said. “It’s not going to happen this year, because the trade wanted a more complete answer than what is available.”

She also reiterated that GIA’s cut study has found that no one single set of proportions yields the most brilliance and fire. “We have no problem with a standard that you use as a yardstick,” Reinitz said. “What we don’t like is the concept that there is only one standard, and all else is inferior.”

AGS lab director Peter Yantzer said he was proud that his lab developed a standard for the industry. “We all have an emotional, instinctual desire to strive for an Ideal,” he said. “Cutters, diamantaires, and consumer have validated the American Ideal through observation, consensus and their pocketbooks.”

One audience member complained about AGS reports being used by other jewelers, complaining they are getting to use the AGS name without having the proper credentials. Rothman countered, “If the AGS name is known as the best and is consistently the best, then every AGS jeweler will benefit from that halo effect.”

Rapaport said jewelers need to add value if they want to stay in business. “If a guy wants to buy an AGS diamond from a non-AGS store, it’s because you have not done a good job of marketing yourself,” he said. “You are not going to stop Internet marketing. You have to think of what you are selling as more than just a single diamond in a mounting. If you can’t think of anything, then look in the mirror and try to find something you can make a profit on.

“The future is going to march over you, around you, around you and above you if you don’t change your act,” he continued. “You ever been to McDonalds? You know how much it costs to get a hamburger there? Guess what? Not everyone goes to McDonalds. The buyer may not want to eat at McDonalds, they may not want to buy a diamond over the Internet, they may want to buy a diamond from you. But you have to give them a reason to.”