There has been some buzz about the Isee2 on some of the forums over the past year but most information has either been incomplete or hearsay. Buzz of Isee2 cut grading technology and Isee2 diamonds have been rumored so the goal of this page is to introduce you to the entire Isee2 project covering
The Isee2 diamonds
The Isee2 company is actually a cutting facility which cuts some of the most incredibly beautiful diamonds in the world. REALLY. I know because I've inspected quite a few already and have been extremely impressed with the diamonds optics with regards to light return and optical symmetry. (2 aspects of cut grading not currently covered in the labs but will or should be) not to mention all Isee2 stones are AGS "0" Hearts & Arrows. I am not easily impressed as we put our stones through some of the most excruciating tests of any lab in the country but these stones come out with flying colors (pun intended). When we look closer at "The Isee2 Diamonds" below we'll get into what type of goods are coming from this factory.
The Isee2 company has at it's heart an interest in the success of marketing through local bricks and mortar jewelry stores which is why you will not see Isee2 diamonds featured on the Internet. Even with the amount of stones we sell on the net you will not find Isee2 stones on the net or featured publicly on our website. This may change down the road and we would be honored to be the Internet supplier and representative of the Isee2 stones but that's another time and place in history. THIS IS COMMENDABLE as you will not find their diamonds nor their technologies prostituted through basement operations. Wholesalers who look out for the best interest of their retailers IS A COMPANY WHO HAVE THE RIGHT INGREDIENTS TO A RECIPE FOR SUCCESS. No retailer likes a wholesaler who works against them, stabs them in the back, or (as ridiculous as this may sound) competes with them! So right from the get go this company is starting on the right foot.
Why am I mentioning this since Isee2 diamonds are not available via the Web? Very simple. Since being introduced to the technology, we will be featuring the technology via the web and more importantly using it in our purchasing decisions. The company is aware of this fact and it is of mutual benefit to both parties. The public is being made aware of what I would consider one of the most important technologies introduced to diamond cut grading & we benefit by being able to use this in our purchasing decisions.
Parts & Components
The Isee2 technology consists of 2 metal devices used to analyze the diamond in question and an IMac IPOD which runs the software. One of the devices is used to do the Isee2 Analysis measuring the cut quality aspects of a diamond.
The other device is a high power magnifier which is used to read the ionized inscription which is on the table of every Isee2 diamond.
Which came first the chicken or the egg?
With the Isee2 Project the product came before the technology. As only one of a few factories cutting this level of precision it was the brainchild of the CEO to develop a technology that performs an analysis of cut that rewards the light return of the diamond (it's optical properties) and the precision and craftsmanship to which the diamond has been cut to show off and put a technical eye on "diamond beauty" in way no other company has. It is currently the only device of it's kind to perform the kind of analysis that it does.
So... a seller of diamonds creates a technical gadget to sell his own diamonds? I know this immediately casts a shadow of doubt upon the technology. Believe me ... I walk into any review of technology with a highly skeptical eye but it truly does as it claims. The reason I know this is because we ALREADY SELL diamonds with ultra precision and extreme optics and we are able to run and test our own stones on it besides the Isee2 diamonds. The machine does not favor Isee2 diamonds perse' (although the company uses the technology to handpick which stones become Isee2 diamonds or not). The technology favors excellently cut stones. Period.
The Isee2 technology measures 3 elements regarding cut quality and the diamonds beauty. Those three elements are brilliance, scintillation & symmetry. Before I begin to introduce you to the analysis this technology performs it is important to introduce you to some new concepts concerning brilliance, scintillation & symmetry that you may or may not be familiar with.
I am going to ask that you remove from your mind anything you've learned about diamond brilliance for a moment and walk with me as we think outside the box for a moment.
Contrast Brilliance & Scintillation
There is an element to brilliance within diamonds that relates to the contrast seen between facets reflecting back light vs facets reflecting back other elements that are blocking light (ie. your head or body blocking light from behind which the diamond is reflecting within). To demonstrate this point of contrast I'd like to use a few examples to illustrate.
This first example illustrates 2 checker board patterns. The board on the left has an extreme degree of contrast (black and white squares) while the board on the right is the same exact graphic except with reduced contrast, thus changing the colors to different shades of gray.
Sit back from your computer for a moment and gaze at your screen. One of these checker boards is brighter, more brilliant and attracts the eye more than the other. You are now beginning to grasp the concept of contrast brilliance.
Another example I can point to is the contrast setting on your television set. When you increase the contrast your picture becomes brighter and more brilliant. The graphics above are also depicting this aspect of brilliance as well but you don't see the pixels blown up to this level on your television set. However if you were to look at it on a blown up pixel by pixel basis you'd observe the element we are demonstrating above.
This is important in diamond beauty and brilliance because when diamonds are observed in diffuse/office light conditions the laymen is observing one of 3 phenomena.
Facets reflecting back white light.
Facets reflecting back objects blocking the light (like the shadow of your head/body blocking light).
Light leakage (which would reduce contrast).
It is important to understand that diamonds take on a completely different appearance in diffuse/ambient/office light conditions than they do in stronger direct light conditions. Strong direct light conditions emphasize fire (or colored light return) and scintillation within a diamond and is dependant upon the strength and intensity of the light return through the crown of the diamond as depicted in this graphic. We perform optical analysis which represent diamond beauty in these light conditions but this is NOT what the Isee2 is analyzing as it's analysis is done in diffuse light conditions.
Take the same super ideal diamond away from the strong lights (like sunlight, halogens, etc.) and into softer light conditions (office/diffuse/ambient) and now you would be primarily observing the contrast between white light return and areas reflecting back things that are blocking the light. This graphic taken in office light conditions demonstrates the point. Next to it is a diamond with poor contrast brilliance/scintillation. There is a clear observable distinction between these 2 diamonds that the average laymen can easily distinguish.
Indeed this tutorial is not the first article written on the subject of contrast brilliance, it is however a slightly different concept from that offered by others within the gemological field. Reference is made to it by our friends at Moscow State University (reflected in the DiamCalc software as well) and from Peter Yantzer (CEO of AGS Laboratories) view contrast brilliance slightly different although we are all primarily on the same frequency. The contrast they depict is what is also being considered in this study but also that of light return vs light leakage, hence in the DiamCalc software a diamond is rewarded with a higher "contrast brilliance" score when more leakage exists. This does not make sense to me since in my analysis and study of this subject; light leakage contributes to less contrast since there are less reflective surfaces off the pavilion facets, not greater contrast. The more leakage that exists the more dismal the diamond will appear under both diffuse and direct light conditions. I would propose to my gemological friends that the most attractive and appealing contrast is not that of light return vs light leakage but that of pavilion facets reflecting back light vs pavilion facets reflecting back shadows of what is blocking light (ie. head obstruction, etc). So the contrast is that of lights/darks only. Light leakage detracts from this light/dark contrast since there are no reflections back to the viewer except what is seen underneath the diamond. Large portions of light leakage contribute to the decrease of contrast brilliance, not enhance it.
While contrast brilliance focuses on the depth of lights/darks reflected back from within the stone, contrast scintillation focuses on the amount of and points of contrast that exist within the stone. Ie... Are we looking at a checkerboard pattern that consists of 24 squares or 100 squares? The more points of contrast that exist within the diamond the more scintillating it will be in diffuse light conditions.
All of the subject diamonds we have tested for contrast scintillation have been those of 57-58 facet rounds brilliants. There are rounds that have been introduced on the market with more facets than this. I would be curious to test properly proportioned rounds with more facets than the standard to see if their scintillation scores are higher (ie. more squares on the checkerboard = more scintillation theory). I would assume this to be the case but don't know until I test em.
These are the elements of brilliance & scintillation that the Isee2 Analysis is performing and correlates perfectly with human eye observation under those conditions.
The reason this is important to the consumer and ultimately the beauty of the diamond is because soft light conditions are perhaps the most common conditions which most people observe diamonds under.
My studies have also shown me that the intensity of light being reflected within the diamond is not as critical as it is in direct light conditions.
In direct light conditions the amount of fire and scintillation observed is dependant upon how much light is primarily being directed at high and medium angles (high angles are from 76° to 90° (observer head), medium angles are from 45° to 75° and low angles are from 0° to 44°)1. We can observe this phenomenon in our LightScope technology which shows us plainly the blacks, and contrast between dark and pale reds. Blacks and dark reds representing the high and medium angles.
In softer light conditions light being reflected at the lower angles (0° to 44° or light reds in LightScope) plays a more prominent role and doesn’t affect the reduction in light return as much in these conditions because in softer light conditions we are primarily observing moreso the element of reflective/non-reflective surfaces.
A diamond that demonstrates this point is this stone.
You can plainly see the pale reds under the table which demonstrates areas within the diamond that reflect light weaker than other areas that are in dark red & black. This affects to a degree it’s performance in direct light conditions which is reflected in it’s BrillianceScope results…
...however, although weak, they still are reflective surfaces on the pavilion and in softer light conditions contribute to the reflective properties of the diamond in those conditions. The stone has excellent contrast and it’s surfaces are still acting as reflectors, couple that with it’s outstanding symmetry and you can understand why it gets an Isee2 score of 9.8
The point is all reflective surfaces within the diamond, both weak and strong, contribute to the contrast brilliance/scintillation within the diamond. Blatant leakage (whites in LightScope) contribute to it’s decrease in contrast.
Illuminating the Diamond's Checkerboard
Note how the facets on the diamond on the left all correspond perfectly with regards to their black/white illumination. Every internal reflection is illuminated to the identical color of it's opposite corresponding reflection. Where you see black on one side you see black on the other. Where you see white on one side you see white on the other. The depth of contrast is top of the line. Not only the depth but the amount of blacks/whites is superior among those within round brilliants contributing to the very high scintillation score. Lastly, this optical symmetry pattern is insanely consistent facet by facet, reflection by reflection. The obvious difference is seen in the 2nd graphic and represents more common cut qualities on the market.
Lastly the Isee2 Analysis grades symmetry. The symmetry being analyzed however is not that which is traditionally thought of with regards to symmetry grading as done by the labs (GIA, AGS, etc.). The symmetry being analyzed on the Isee2 is that of optical symmetry. Facet alignment on a 3 dimensional, optical scale. We already perform this type of analysis when we photograph our Hearts & Arrows diamonds. The difference is this is taking this analysis into the digital realm and putting a technical eye to the subject of optical symmetry and grading it digitally. Considering the 2 types of symmetry grading (lab graded 2 dimensional symmetry, vs optical/digital graded 3 dimensional symmetry) I can tell you with all confidence which of the 2 affects diamond beauty more and that is the 3d symmetry.
For more details on lab graded symmetry I refer you to this link.
Two ways we currently analyze optical symmetry is through the H&A viewer (called by various names) and through our own LightScope viewer. Each viewer shows us different aspects about the optical symmetry & design of the diamond.
The example below depicts 2 diamonds that have a high degree of internal relflective/refractive properties (both have minimal leakage), however one is severely lacking in optical symmetry while the other is far superior. One of these diamonds took approx. an hour to cut while the other took approx. 4 hours. Both of these diamonds are valued quite differently as well and for good reason. Certain cut grading tools on the market (the HCA & the BrillianceScope) do not take into account this aspect of craftsmanship which could mistakenly lead a person to believe that 2 stones are of equal beauty or value when the case can in fact be the exact opposite.
This is one of the most important features of the Isee2 technology. It puts a technical eye to superior craftsmanship and rewards the diamond accordingly.
Here is the Isee2 Analysis on the 2 diamonds above.
Lastly, optical symmetry analysis would not be complete with a view to the pavilion side. This is done through the H&A viewer which shows optical symmetry through both the crown & the pavilion.
Assigning a Numerical Cut Grade:
The Isee2 Analysis, after looking at the features of brilliance, scintillation & symmetry calculates a final numerical score ranging from 0.0 to 10.0. However the device is designed not to give any diamond a score higher than 9.8. Our experience has shown us that the most excellently cut diamonds range in their Isee2 scores from the high 8's to over 9's. We generally limit our purchasing to diamonds with Isee2 scores over 9.
Q: What is the primary difference between the Isee2 and the BrillianceScope?
A: The Isee2 is performing it's analysis in diffuse light conditions while the BrillianceScope is performing it's analysis in direct light conditions. The results of one does not guarantee the results of the other. Ie. there are diamonds that can score great on one technology and not so good on the other. Understanding diamond appearance in various light conditions helps explain why. For example optical symmetry is emphasized more in softer light conditions and less in stronger light conditions. A very simple rule of thumb here ... if it performs well on Isee2 Analysis you'll get one of the most beautiful diamonds observable in softer light conditions. If you have a diamond that performs well on the BrillianceScope you will have a real screamer in direct light conditions. Of course we focus our purchasing decisions on the most beautiful diamonds in all light conditions and present this data to our clients.
Q: Is it possible to have a diamond that scores great on both technologies?
A: Absolutely. We used some examples above which showed one stone that had "good" results on the BrillianceScope and outstanding Isee2 results and another that had excellent BrillianceScope results but lacking Isee2 results. Here's one of our handpicked cherries that does well on both. :)
Q: Is it possible to assess this information from a Sarin/OGI Report or an AGS or GIA Report?
A: No. Most Sarin/OGI measuring devices only give averages of 17-18 out of 57-58 facets. A knowledge of the proportions and variances of all facets must be known or more importantly an actual physical optical analysis of the diamond must be performed.
Q: Do all Hearts & Arrows diamonds get the same Isee2 results?
A: No. Without mentioning names there are very well known Hearts & Arrows brands that score in the 7's and 8's. This is an interesting diamond to learn from here.
Q: I've been using the HCA to help me determine which stones to consider in my purchasing decision. Will a diamond with a great HCA score guarantee me a stone that would score well on the Isee2?
A: No. The HCA will give you a great idea of whether the proportions of a diamond will have good reflective abilities but the HCA does not account for variances within the diamond nor it's optical symmetry which affect the total score on the Isee2. Therefore you can have stones with similar HCA scores get drastically different results on both the Isee2 and the BrillianceScope. Here are a couple of interesting stones that demonstrate this.
Note: We have another tutorial we are working on entitled "Addendum to the HCA" which those who use it would find interesting. Gary Holloway is a respected gemologist within our trade and I can only say the nicest things about him. He is a personal friend of mine and these comments in no way are to be construed as knocking his research or derogatory to the contributions he has made to helping those in this industry which ultimately benefit the consumer.
Q: Is there any brand of diamond that scores best or gets the highest marks via the Isee2?
A: No. While the Isee2 diamonds are hand selected for their optical qualities, each diamond needs to be judged on it's own individual merits. The name on the girdle does not determine optical quality in most circumstances. We are impartial to where a diamond comes from. What we care about is the craftsmanship that went into the production of the product regardless of the name on the girdle.