Grasping the various elements that determine diamond quality is not limited to being an experienced jewelry shopper. This is due to the intricacies involved in assigning diamonds their value and the fact that industry specialists constantly modify the mechanisms used in grading diamonds.
Diamonds are everlasting. People wish to buy such diamonds that they can hold onto forever. Therefore, it pays to review and understand the gems from all possible spectrums, especially including the cut.
As for the diamond cuts, you are probably familiar with them. But do you understand how the cut of a stone impacts its light performance? A diamond’s sparkle, also called fire and brilliance, has much to do with its cut and polish. For further insight, it is important to explore an ingenious device known as Angular Spectrum Evaluation Tool.
What is Angular Spectrum Evaluation Tool?
The Angular Spectrum Evaluation Tool, abbreviated as ASET, refers to a scientific tool designed by the American Gemological Society (AGS) to investigate the light-handling properties of a diamond. The device examines how a diamond absorbs light from the hemisphere above. It then indicates to what extent light returns to the viewer’s eyes.
There are two key aspects to consider here while determining the fire and brilliance of a diamond. First, whether the diamond absorbs light in the first place and how much light it collects. Second, how the stone handles the collected light. A diamond may absorb light properly, but the light may either reflect on the observer’s eyes or leak through.
According to many buyers, a diamond’s ability to absorb and reflect light has to do with its color. But this is not entirely true. As we shall find out, the diamond cut plays a more significant role.
The ASET tool gathers as much information on a diamond’s brilliance as possible. The data is indicated on a diamond certification. The onus is on the diamond shopper to check with the retailer that their certifications contain ASET details.
When the AGS created ASET in 2005, it was not meant to be used only as a reflector tool. Instead, the device would also offer the theoretical basis that the American Gem Society Laboratories (AGSL) uses for cut grading and light performance analyses. Since its creation, the tool has significantly changed the landscape in terms of diamond grading. The device uses scientifically advanced grading systems and collates, analyzes, and presents data through computer-generated imaging.
How Does ASET Work?
The basic concept behind ASET is to establish crucial details regarding a diamond’s light-handling properties.
First, the diamond is viewed from the top of a hemisphere. But before that, the hemisphere must be painted with different colors to delineate the specific angular ranges. As light travels through the diamond, it will assume different colors depending on where its origin. This is where ASET becomes useful. It not only analyses the different colors passing through the diamond but also indicates the areas of the stone that do not return any light. Such areas are known as “light leakage” because the light leaks through instead of reflecting on the viewer’s eyes.
Most importantly, the lights coming from various ranges of the horizon and passing through the diamond have different attributes. By leveraging those attributes, experts can now use the ASET device to determine how the diamond handles light.
Generally, symmetrically perfect cuts sparkle the most because they resemble an ideal compound mirror. Therefore, the diamond features as many facets/angles as possible, with each facet creating its mirror reflections.
The following is a breakdown of the common angular ranges and their light-handling properties.
0º (horizon) to 45º
In this range, the color is coded in green. The range is characterized by less intense light. Here, the diamond corresponds to low-angle light that bounces off mirrors, walls, and other objects. If a diamond has superior cut quality, it will reflect less green light. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, while viewing the outer edge of a round brilliant, a denser concentration of green light reflection will be noticed.
45º to 75º
The 45º to 75º range is known to reflect the most intense light. The color here is usually coded in red. Diamonds that fall within this angular range correspond well to a direct source of bright light. The range features diamonds with high cut quality.
75º to 90º
The color is coded in blue in this range, and there is no intensity. Instead, a diamond corresponds to the light blocked by the viewer’s body, also known as contrast. Diamonds of excellent cut quality usually feature moderate contrast that shows in a symmetrical pattern. The symmetrical pattern boosts the stone’s overall light reflection.
As you may expect, diamonds in this angular range correspond only to areas that do not reflect light. The light emitted from such areas is known as “leaking light” because it is absorbed instead of being reflected on the viewer’s eyes. Depending on the kind of background, the light can either be black or white. High diamond cut qualities tend to show minimal patterns of black or white around the bezel edge. In some cases, they may show no areas of light.
What affects the color variations under the above angular ranges?
Generally, we view things when light, natural or artificial, from above bounces off their surface. Either way, it comes in various wavelengths. Diamonds tend to absorb direct light from higher angular ranges. On the other hand, the low angles are mostly influenced by indirect light. Indirect light refers to the light that bounces off a secondary object and is less intense than direct light.
If an observer is viewing a diamond from a close range, the light directly above the diamond will be blocked. That light would penetrate the diamond as a blue color. Contrary to expectations, the blue color is considered a negative quality since it resembles shadowing. To redeem the value of that diamond, the blue color would need to be balanced off with light. As such, a contrast is created between the dark blue hues and the light areas, thereby making diamonds twinkle. Now, to improve the twinkle (also known as scintillation), the diamond should be well cut so that it can display all the colors coded in the ASET.
For a perfectly cut diamond, red will usually overshadow the other colors. However, the diamond will still feature some green, blue, and reduced light leakage. On the other hand, fancy-shaped diamonds often display more green color in their ASET imaging. Such cuts also feature asymmetrical contrast patterning due to their poor cutting expertise.
Though commonly used for round brilliant cuts, any cut can be analyzed using the ASET concept. Thanks to these analyses, the final grading report of the diamond can be detailed and unique. So far, the AGSL has only developed ASET grades for four cuts, namely, Round, Emerald, Princess, and Oval. The cushion cut has only been partially analyzed.
Versions of the ASET Device
The ASET device comes in various shapes and forms. However, the most common variants are the desktop and handheld models. Other types are generally improvised from either of these two. In terms of light analysis, an ASET device could either feature a back-lighter dark background. The backlit background reveals light leakage as white, whereas the dark background versions show the light leakages as black.
In a desktop ASET, the evaluators place a diamond on the glass upside down. Afterward, they surround the diamond with a black cover. The cover acts as the background, from which light leakage will appear black. A set of mirrors are positioned inside the desktop ASET. The mirrors bounce and project the image through the viewing window and onto the viewer’s eyes.
Though it takes time to grasp, the handheld ASET is easier to use than its desktop counterpart. While inspecting diamonds using the handheld ASET, you can decide whether to use a portable light source or not. The diamond is placed upright. As white is the background color, any backlighting will result in whitish light leakage.
Using an ASET tool is a thorough and precise procedure. The process entails a ray-tracing of a diamond’s 3D model. As the software measures the physical aspects such as symmetry, it also captures the diamond’s light-handling features. Finally, the software generates ASET images of the stone. An ASET image will show results based on four variables: light performance, physical symmetry, optical symmetry, and the cutter’s expertise. The image may be incorporated into a diamond grading report in the form of ASET light maps. But in most cases, the data obtained is transferred manually to a diamond grading report.
The ASET device has revolutionized the diamond sector and is especially useful in diamond grading. Indeed, a diamond certificate bearing an ASET report is reliable and hard to come by. When shopping for a diamond, insist on certifications that feature ASET findings so that you can be certain that the top-cream gemological labs have graded the stone.