The GCAL grading lab has introduced the 8X Ultimate Cut Grade, which is meant to salute “precision diamond cutting.”
For a diamond to qualify as an 8X, it has to be judged “excellent” on eight factors: polish, external symmetry, proportions, optimal brilliance, fire, scintillation, optical symmetry, and hearts and arrows.
“Until now, we all know what the best in color is, what the best in clarity is, but what about the best in cut?” asked Steve Feldman, GCAL’s director of sales and marketing, during an online press conference from the company’s New York City lab. “That’s the last standard of excellence in determining a diamond’s quality, but precision cut diamonds have been getting lost in the shuffle.”
Angelo Palmieri, chief operating officer of GCAL, said the 8X differs from the GIA’s “excellent” cut grade—introduced in 2005—in that it’s a “tight standard” that takes into account more criteria and judges cut based on a narrower range of proportions. He said the standard was developed after years of research.
“These aren’t proportions that are randomly selected,” he said during the press conference. “These are proportions that we’ve been able to back into from the hundreds of thousands of round brilliant-cut diamonds that we have looked at, that we’ve been able to access brilliance, fire, scintillation [for]. This is really the sweet spot of diamonds in terms of diamonds that perform the best in those light performance metrics.”
Palmieri noted that only a very small percentage of currently cut diamonds would qualify.
“If you think about, over the last 10 years, if the cut grades of the leading labs have loosened, what has been the incentive to cut to this narrow, precise, optimal range?” he said. “There hasn’t been. They could still achieve a top grade from one of the major labs. We are now providing that platform, where the manufacturers that have the technical know-how, have the resources to do this, now can distinguish their diamonds. So there’s now an incentive to cut in this fashion.”
He said the 8X is “about distinguishing these precision manufacturers, distinguishing their company, distinguishing their diamonds, and allowing their story to be told. These high-end manufacturers go to such great expense, investment in labor, in technology, to cut the best diamond they can cut, and those diamonds…are not able to stand alone and be appreciated for how much effort that goes into them.”
GCAL will still grade other diamonds by its standard cut grading scale, but if a diamond is judged “very good” in any of the eight criteria, it won’t be deemed an 8X.
GCAL founder and president Don Palmieri said at the press conference the 8X diamonds might command a premium—but he’s not sure how much.
“We have talked to dealers, and they all say this will be worth an extra 5 or 10%,” he said. “But just like we found out with country of origin with the Canadian diamonds…people thought their diamonds were worth 10 or 15% more, but when push came to shove, people really weren’t willing to pay for it. So I think it’s a matter of giving the manufacturer an advantage over competitors, and giving retailers advantages downstream over their competitors down the street.”
Each 8X diamond will have the 8X logo inscribed on its girdle, and the logo will be featured prominently on the print and digital grading reports. The reports will also feature a Gemprint of the diamond’s fingerprint, as well as a 360-degree image, and videos that detail its fire and scintillation.
The service will be available for both natural and lab-grown diamonds.
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