“It’s revolutionary!” exclaims Gary Gordon, an AGS
jeweler from Oklahoma City, Okla. Gordon is excited about the “beauty report” generated by the BrillianceScope, a spectrophotometer that reveals the light performance of a diamond. (See “BrillianceScope Makes Debut,” JCK, May 1999, p. 44)
“A friend in New York told me about it two years ago, about how it was being developed,” recalls Gordon. “He said that this thing, if it’s serious, could change the way we sell diamonds.” Less than a week after Gordon installed one in his store, he sold “one fairly large diamond” for a substantial five-figure price “just because of that machine.”
The BrillianceScope, made by GemEx Systems Inc., Mequon, Wis., is about the size of a large desktop computer. It produces digital images that show how the diamond interacts with light. “The beauty of a diamond is dependent upon a number of factors, such as brilliance, scintillation, fire, brightness, sparkle,” says GemEx CEO Randy Wagner. The BrillianceScope summarizes all of these factors as “light performance.” Wagner equates this to “beauty,” hence “the beauty report.”
The traditional method for determining light performance has been to measure the geometry of the stone-the angles of crown and pavilion facets-and their respective height and depth percentages, which give jeweler/gemologists an idea of how a diamond should look. At present, the Sarin electronic measuring device is the instrument of choice for making those measurements. But those geometric measurements are all “on paper.” It’s possible for two diamonds with the same proportions to exhibit significantly different light performance in the real world.
Enter the BrillianceScope. It measures the light returned through the crown of the diamond and visually records it. Bar graphs show relative light performance, using words like “medium,” “high,” and “very high” to describe white light, colored light, and scintillation. GemEx uses this information to generate a report that includes light performance rankings and images as well as the standard proportion measurements and color and clarity information seen on typical diamond grading reports.
The BrillianceScope can also show side-by-side comparisons of two diamonds while the customer watches, allowing jeweler and shopper to choose between two diamonds that might have similar proportions but perform differently. And if a diamond doesn’t have “Ideal” proportions but performs like one that does, the BrillianceScope will show that.
The Gemological Institute of America takes the position that no single set of proportions maximizes either brilliance or dispersion. GIA’s Gem Trade Laboratory (GTL) doesn’t use a BrillianceScope, but it does hope to test the machine, evaluate what it does, and compare its performance against the manufacturer’s claims.
GemEx also provides manufacturers and wholesalers with an online buying service. BrillianceScope reports can be viewed by potential retail customers, who can then purchase the stones over the Internet. Bob DuBois, vice president of marketing for GemEx, believes wholesalers want to go online, but that up until now, it’s been too much work. “The problem has been getting the wholesaler to actually record the diamond and upload the report. The implementation hasn’t been there. Now, we load their inventory for them.”
Frederick Goldman, a leading bridal jewelry manufacturer and owner of the Keepsake brand, now has all Keepsake diamonds quality graded by an independent lab, and a BrillianceScope report is included. “We are right now in a test phase to work out the last details, but our preliminary results in stores that have tested this new product show that sales have almost doubled just because of the BrillianceScope,” says Frederick Goldman president Richard Goldman. “We think that this is revolutionary, not evolutionary. We think that it will open up tremendous opportunities in the diamonds market for retailers as well as wholesalers.” He adds that the company will offer this product to every Keepsake dealer as soon as possible, which will likely be in early spring.
Selling without the ‘four Cs’. Jewelers traditionally sell diamonds by promoting their color, clarity, and cut. “All of that is very important, but it’s the result of those three that’s truly important,” says Gordon. “The brilliance, the fire, and the scintillation. It’s nice if the proportions are an AGS zero grade, or a GIA polish and symmetry ‘excellent/excellent’ call, but what are the results? We’re rediscovering, refocusing, readapting ourselves [to the fact] that the end result is what’s most important.
“The BrillianceScope simplifies things,” Gordon adds. “It takes away the coldness of numbers and letters and allows you to see what the diamond is going to look like when you get it home. We’re back to selling the romance, using words like ‘brilliance,’ ‘sparkle,’ ‘flicker,’ and ‘scintillation.’ We talk about ‘a beacon at a cocktail party,’ ‘rays of light flying away from the stone’.and the customers gobble it up!”