Takara Super Ideal lab diamonds blog - "The road to 3cts...."!

talk-admin

Administrator
Staff member
#1
Hi all,
Happy Friday and welcome back! I haven't done our monthly blog in over a year now (vs 5+ years continuously before that)...but we've got some exciting things happening with our Takara lab diamonds that are going to be similar to the Amora R&D journey all over again (but faster). Thus, I thought it might be fun to start a new monthly blog covering our Takara lab diamond journey from now until we hit 3cts! Thus, the new "Takara blog - the road to 3cts...". We'll of course keep up with Amora, our new Phoenix Moissanite, etc. but the main purpose of the blog will be the Takara journey.

That said, please grab a drink, get comfortable and let's get underway with catching up and offering some details on the latest news here with BTD!

Takara updates: Let's kick things off with a bang. We have been working steadily on our Takara lab diamonds since literally last September...and things started off pretty small (i.e. .40ct, .50ct) but by December we started getting .70ct...and as of two weeks ago, multiple 1ct+ Takara's (and now 1.20ct+ in cutting!). Before I get into details though, let's start with a studio video and photo of one of our Super Ideal Takara's so you can see for yourself what they are about!
First up, Takara Super Ideal lab diamond in the photo studio:


and a zoom photo:



We have had some limited amounts of Takara's before, but there are two big changes now which is why the whole Takara program is rapidly accelerating:

1 - Cut to Super Ideal Hearts and Arrows, AGS-000 equivalent! Effectively, these are cut better than 99% of all diamonds (lab or mined) and the beauty these have completely speaks for itself. I have yet to show someone a Takara and not have them gasp at first sight on seeing how utterly brilliant these are. We'll have a review coming in shortly from a diamond expert, but I can summarize their reaction with one of their own words used to describe it - "Stupendous" lol.
Here's some imagery of the cutting precision:


2 - Price point - We have had Takara's before in limited quantity but not cut to the level we are doing now. But besides the stupendous beauty, the other big improvement is the price point. We are coming in below any other lab diamond pricing (even with our AGS-000 Super Ideal cutting) and at 1/3 -1/4 the pricing of the equivalent mined diamond.
For 1ct+, that maps to roughly $2500/ct and down to $1400/ct for < 1ct, all the way to $670/ct for 3mm H&A Takaras! (and finally for <3mm, ala 1.5mm,etc. we are at $270/ct though not H&A cut of course). The 1.07ct F colorTakara Super Ideal that recently sold for $2568. Equivalent mined diamond = $8432.

3 - Incredible brilliance - to some degree, I'm not sure where this extreme brilliance comes from, but it's part of the reason it draws so many gasps. Our Takara's are grown via HPHT, and not CVD like most lab diamonds, which is why the color is D-G, vs most CVD diamonds end up at H - K.
(we'll go into why this is in detail in the future in this blog. We grew with CVD from 2005 - 2011 for reference).
But we've also compared them with similar mined H&A Super Ideal diamonds. The one possible reason I can think of is that our Super Ideal cutting for Takara is really more like how Eightstar used to cut...specifically if you look at the arrows on the Takara's, there is no bow tie vs. the mined H&A we compared with does have bow ties. In theory, the bow tie pattern means slightly less light return (that's why it's white in the scope vs red) so that's the working theory for now.
Regardless, I'm quite comfortable stating that our Takara's are without a doubt among the most beautiful diamonds on the planet (lab grown or mined). That's a bold statement, but let me partially back that with a customer review below (and for a bit of humour, we were publicly accused that our Takara video was in fact a CGI animation and not a real video b/c no diamond could be that perfect lol):

Everything a diamond should be

By Unknown on 27th Dec 2018
Often times the greatest beauty is found within the simplicity of a common task executed to perfection; in this case, the cutting of a diamond. Recently I had the pleasure of examining my very first Takara Eternity, and it is without a doubt one of the most exquisite diamonds in existence. If cut is the first consideration when ordering your priorities of the four C's, Better Than Diamond has knocked it out of the park with their achievement. No facet of performance has been overlooked or sacrificed, with easily discernible hearts and arrows and sparkle that just lends itself to being admired for long stretches of time while you are temporarily mesmerized by the allure of a diamond that is everything a diamond should be. Everyone who saw it was completely awed, including a long time jeweler. For those who find it helpful, it has an HCA score of 0.9. Indeed, the only "fault" to be found (at least for me, which is entirely personal preference) is I will need them a little bigger!
With the above reference for needing in larger sizes...
Lot's more 1ct+ coming next month, and even up to 1.50ct in size! The other big news is that there has been even more progress on sizes for the Takara. This week we started cutting two of our largest ever - based on the initial Sarine HD estimate, one will be a 1.20ct, and the other...possibly a 1.50ct! That's pretty phenomenal considering how much rough you have to cut away to produce a true Super Ideal H&A, AGS-000 equivalent!
Production is thus ramping up and we are hoping to get to as many as 100/month by late Summer. Thus, we hopefully won't repeat the stressful years of Amora production where we had so many issues with supply. Ironically, the production process with Takara in terms of cutting is much, much simpler by comparison with the toughness of the Amora.
 

talk-admin

Administrator
Staff member
#2
Part 2 - continued!


And with that, let me close this section on Takara with a short video we made showing the first 1ct+ piece of rough we had recently:

And here's a link to our Takara main page, which will have updates over this coming month before the next blog:
Takara Lab Diamonds - Super Ideal Hearts and Arrows Rounds

Amora Updates! Never fear, while the blog is focused on Takara b/c that's where all the new R&D is, Amora continues to perform and impress! In fact, Takara will end up filling in nicely into a new gap we are having with the Amora Eternity production, which is that we are out of rough for the 6mm size and down to just a few pieces left for 1ct size. It's unfortunately just very difficult to hit that size during growth - the start of each run is costly due to the seed expense, and you can't monitor the growth height directly due to the extreme heat...thus we don't want to 'undergrow' and end up with .25ct that we'd lose money on, so usually the result is we end up with 2ct range thickness and can't afford to cut down a 2ct just to make 1cts!

Amora vs H&A diamond - we actually made a video comparing Amora to H&A diamond last spring and amazingly, it never made it into a blog given the 1 year hiatus...so here's Amora next to a $45K H&A diamond. Now, as noted, the Takara's are slightly brighter so the comparison of Takara vs Amora is not quite the same, but this is a very expensive mined diamond compared with Amora Eternity. The result is they are virtual clones and you could readily make a pair of earrings from them!
(of interest, this video is our best performing ever by traffic with over 800K views! vs lots of our videos end up at less than 100 views...):



and finally, something we haven't shown before but here's the very expensive laser system used to prep the Amora rough for processing!


Earring Explosion - one interesting trend that has happened since last Fall is our stud earring sales have rocketed up to now become our 2nd best selling category (loose Amora is still first place), but the earrings have outpaced our ring sales. That's not just Amora studs, but also Avarra lab grown emerald studs and our very improved Phoenix H&A moissanite studs. As a result, we are currently sold out of most prestocked sizes but are restocking a number of these now. Part of the growth may be b/c we are offering many of them as "Overnight earrings" - meaning, they are set and ready to go and if you order before 1PM PST Mon-Thursday, we get them to you next the next day! That's a big improvement from the normal 2-3 week time between ordering and receiving as before.


Phoenix H&A Moissanite: Our Phoenix H&A moissanite cutting has improved further and now these are routinely beating out every other Moissanite we've seen, and at a fraction of the price - $220/ct! Last year in customer testing, we did in person comparison's with Amora Eternity, F1 H&A Moissanite and Phoenix H&A. The results were always unanimous - everyone immediately picks out the Amora as the most beautiful and then would end up stumped between the F1 and the Phoenix. The usual summary was "they look the same".
Now, with the improved precision, I don't believe that will be the case in that Phoenix has improved a lot in terms of it's H&A symmetry and as such, these really offer an incredible bang for the buck in terms of beauty/value and thus why we're seeing strong demand for the Phoenix H&A studs ( 1ct each ear with 4 prong martini settings and protector backs, $549!).
Here's a customer photo of their Phoenix studs as an example:



and a video of the Phoenix in sunlight:


And the Phoenix earrings page:
Phoenix H&A stud earrings

DiamondBistro.com - record website traffic, record listings and record transactions! One big change this year (2019) has been the rapid growth of DiamondBistro - it's hit records for traffic each month, with overall traffic up 25% in the past three months. Similarly, ring listings hit a new record of 2300+ online as I type. And of interest, we're seeing a lot of higher and higher value items ($8K, 15K+, etc) being listed and sold on the bistro, so it's really evolved from the early days as an offshoot of the message boards Buy/SellTrade forum.
In order to help further that growth, we've partnered with Escrow.com and so hopefully in about two weeks, you'll be able to transact on DiamondBistro using Escrow.com's service (if you choose, totally optional) but that will let people transact with a greater level of trust with sellers esp for the higher value items.

We also still need to do some improvements to site speed, and some other items but for now, it's really nice that small amount of ad revenue is now finally covering the daily hosting fees - DB has been a money loser for a long time, so it's nice to see it starting to blossom and take off and hopefully can turn into a major platform for buying/selling over the next year plus.
Note - your feedback on what we need to do to improve DiamondBistro.com is very welcome - just post on the boards or on our Facebook page. And speaking of that, we may shortly make a separate page for DiamondBistro.com on Facebook as a way for people to see new listings or discuss items there.
Please take a look and see the increased listings available!

Misc: Of interest, lab grown diamonds are starting to rocket past mined diamonds in terms of annual sales growth, with the market expected to grow at +22% per year vs 2% mined diamonds!
Forbes - Lab diamonds are the jewelers new 'hot rock'


Next month - more details on Takara Super Ideals including new logo and more videos and growth details (HPHT vs CVD growth and why HPHT produces superior results).
Also, I've been mulling over moving the blog into a video/audio blog instead of plain text. I'd need to get a pro microphone for it (b/c the sound is awful talking into my recording...computer fan sounds like I'm broadcasting in a hurricane even though it's minimal in reality). But, if you think that would be a funner/more exciting format, please let me know in the comments!

We've got Amora restocks, Avarra emerald restocks, Phoenix restocks and of course, Takara restocks all in progress now so we'll go into more details about all those next month as well. (oh and new matching band for our famous Eclipse ring!).


For now have a great weekend and upcoming month, thanks for stopping by and look forward to talking with you next month!
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talk-admin

Administrator
Staff member
#3
Hi all,
Happy Friday! Another month has gone by and thus time for another Takara blog update...thus please get comfortable, grab a drink and let's get underway!

Takara Super Ideal lab diamond news:
Our first 1.50ct size! We had some very great news in that we got our first 1.50ct finished Super Ideal Takara. In fact, not just one, but two (second one is in grading now)!

Needless to say, this was very exciting news as it means we've moved solidly into the Engagement ring center stone sizes at last.

Takara Super Ideal vs mined diamond pricing: For reference, the 1.50ct above sold for $3,900. That compares to a comparable D color, VVS1, 1.50ct on BlueNile.com (their Astor Ideal is H&A cut) at $27,700.
Thus, this Takara sold for ... 14% of the equivalent in mined diamond! And as we'll discuss below, our Takaras are actually a bit purer, structurally more perfect and a bit harder than most mined diamonds!

A number of D color Takara's: The other big production news was a bevy of D color - in fact we have 5 new Takara's in grading now (.75ct - 1.51ct) and our internal grading has them all at D color. Similarly, last week's restock was all D color - 1.50ct, 1.26ct and 1.20ct - 100% D color!


So how do these Takara Super Ideal's in D color look? Here's some photos of a Takara Super Ideal in the sun - this is our 1.20ct D color putting on a veritable fireworks show!

You can immediately see the extremely intense and piercing flashes... and then the real fireworks begin!




and the grand finale:



We also have some video but haven't finished putting that together - hopefully next week.
Here's the link to our Takara super ideal inventory for reference:
Takara Lab Diamonds - Super Ideal Hearts and Arrows Rounds

To avoid the "too many photos in one post" let's move to the next section below...
 

talk-admin

Administrator
Staff member
#4
<<blog continued...>>

Takara lab diamonds vs mined diamonds - are Takara lab created, a 'more perfect' diamond? We have had some customers ask how we can be "BetterThanDiamond" since we now have steady production of lab grown Takaras.
Well, the easy answer is that besides better cutting than most mined diamonds, and better pricing, Takara's are slightly better in 3 other measures of crystal quality - purity, internal strain and hardness. Let's review each of these:

1 - Takara lab diamonds have no internal strain. Mined diamonds and CVD grown lab diamonds (most lab diamonds are currently CVD grown) have high internal strain.
We asked NAGL to test our Takara diamonds for internal strain last week and they confirmed no internal strain. They then checked a mined diamond and confirmed the mined had internal strain.
To explain - here's a photo from GIA research showing internal strain (mined diamond) vs no internal strain.

above - internal strain - basically all mined and CVD lab grown diamonds have this.

Mined diamonds undergo a very stressful process to make it from deep underground to the Earth's surface (most get ground to dust and don't make it) but as a result, nearly all mined diamonds have high amount of internal strain.
Similarly, when grown via CVD, almost all CVD lab grown diamonds have high amounts of internal strain.

No internal strain:

example of no internal strain above.

Does the internal strain affect beauty/light flow? One thing that has been noticed by everyone that has seen a Takara in person has commented on how brilliant they are...and so we are suspecting one reason for that exceptional brilliance, is not just the Super Ideal cut, but that the crystal structure is strain free and thus may allow light to pass through more easily. It's just a theory, but maps to one unique aspect of our Takara's which is no internal strain.
Thus, we can say - Takara diamonds are structurally a bit more perfect than mined or CVD Grown diamonds.
This may, *may* account for the extreme brilliance of the Takara's above and beyond the exceptional cutting.

Are Takara lab created diamonds purer than most mined diamonds? Yes. Takara diamonds are what is known as Type IIa diamonds. These are diamonds that have < 5 parts per million nitrogen, and make up only about 2% of all mined diamonds. Most mined diamonds have a relatively high amount of nitrogen.
Now, you should be asking - but nitrogen makes diamonds yellow and yellow diamonds are rare...
The surprise fact here is that most mined white diamonds are actually born as yellow diamonds! However, over millions of years of being in a high temp, high pressure area...the nitrogen atoms slowly migrate towards each other, by flipping places with carbon atoms. This is because nitrogen has an extra electron and thus an extra negative charge...and so when the nitrogen meets with other nitrogen their electrons bond. That bonding or 'aggregating' of the nitrogen makes their extra electron bound and they no longer interact with incoming light..and thus the diamond turns white(r) instead of yellow.
This is also why many G/H/I etc. all have light amounts of yellow...they didn't stay in the post growth annealing process long enough to go completely colorless. This is of course the more common diamond color and is why D color in nature is quite rare and thus so highly priced.


Are Takara diamonds slightly stronger than most mined diamonds? Yes. The reason is most mined diamonds grew in a series of stop/start, stop/start, repeat growth waves. This is largely due to the intermittent flow of the carbon rich fluids that allow the diamond to grow. As a result, nearly all mined diamonds have a series of 'seams' (not usually visible) where each layer stopped and started. Sometimes this is visible as graining, in other cases it's not visible at all.
There is one specific mine in Australia where the small diamonds there all grew as 'one shot' growth, with no interruptions similar to how Takara's are grown. These diamonds are famed for their exceptional hardness and one of their main uses is as 'bruting' diamonds - basically they are used to grind against regular mined diamonds to shape the girdle!

Takara melee (small diamonds): we've now got Takara melee (small diamonds < .50ct) in D-F color, and VVS-VS clarity. These are excellent cut, with one exception - 3mm or .10ct, we've actually managed to cut to the same Takara Super Ideal H&A specs!
These are available as loose from 1mm - 5mm, so you can order and use for your own jewelry project as pave or matching side stones,etc.
Pricing starts from $299/ct!
Note that due to customer feedback, we are going to change the page from pricing via per carat to 'per stone' in order to make it easier to order (i.e. if you need 10 @ 2.5mm, vs figuring that out in carat weight :)
Takara small melee lab diamonds

<<blog continues in next post...>>
 

talk-admin

Administrator
Staff member
#5
<<blog continued>>

Amora Gem news:
We had a large restock last Friday of our Amora Gem Eternity H&A rounds! This one featured a lot of Internally Flawless and sizes from .5ct to 4ct!
Amora Gem Inventory

Amora Gem and Diamond are crystal cousins - here's a very interesting fact from a recent diamond research paper. If you add some silicon to a diamond growth run using the normal HPHT process, you will end up growing both diamond and...Amora Gem! Depending on the % of silicon, you'll get more diamond than Amora (i.e. <25% Silicon), equal amounts of both around 50% Silicon, and almost all Amora Gem with greater than 75%.
Now, we don't use high pressure to grow Amora Gem (instead we mimic the outer space process of extreme lack of pressure) so had no idea that Amora could also be grown in exactly the same conditions as diamond.
Anyway, one more interesting proof of how closely related diamond and Amora Gem are!

DiamondBistro.com - continued growth, new record of 2,500+ rings on the site! Happy to see the continued traffic and listing growth of Diamondbistro.com. We recently hit a new record with over 2,500 rings for sale on the site.
We are now investigating moving to a new software platform for the bistro, in order to speed up the site and also be able to more easily add new functionality. However, that's both time consuming and costly so not sure if we'll do it at this point...but if we get an increase in additional ad revenue from ad clicks,, that's where we'll be investing the proceeds into!
DiamondBistro.com: Dedicated Jewelry Classifieds, Buy and Sell New and Used Jewelry

We've got a lot more items in process and thus should have more to show you next month - including a new 9 stone half eternity Regal band to match our best selling Regal engagement ring, made with our Takara lab diamond melee, a possible video review of Takara Super Ideal's by Jonathan of AugustVintage, and even some possible sneak details regarding a new Takara diamond growth facility in...Las Vegas, Nevada!

Have a great May and look forward to seeing you next month!
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talk-admin

Administrator
Staff member
#6
Hi all,
Happy Friday! Blog is a bit short this month due to being tight for time, but wanted to keep the monthly tradition going - thus, please grab a drink, get comfortable and let's get underway!

Takara updates:

Working on larger sizes: This month we did not have as much luck with larger rough. Multiple "large growth" runs targeting 1.50ct+ finished were attempted but ultimately nothing of usable quality due to inclusions. Work continues on this front. However, expect the next month or two to have more of the .90ct - 1.25ct sizes and not likely to get any 1.50ct for a bit.

Cutting had some delays as well but we'll have a restock next week of Takara's, from .80ct - 1.10ct in size, and should have steady weekly production of 1ct+ going forward.

Takara Super Ideal lab diamonds Inventory page

Inventory - sold out of all > .75ct: Kind of an indirect positive (but overall negative) we've been sold out for nearly two weeks now of every Takara over .75ct. As noted, restocks are coming. We have had requests and will be making next week a page for those who would like to place a deposit to secure a stone from upcoming production.

Customer feedback on their Takara - in this case, one of the 1.50ct! We were extremely pleased to get a really nice review from a customer who purchased one of our largest Takara's to date:

I can't believe how much this diamond sparkles!
I bought a 1.5 ct Takara diamond for an engagement ring and we are so happy with our purchase! I went to a jeweler and compared it to some mined diamonds, and this one hands down had the most fire. The jeweler who helped us said it is an incredible stone. Me and my fiancé can't stop looking at it. It's perfect!!!
Thanks a ton to this customer for their feedback. I will note that reviews help us lower our marketing cost and thus let us continue to offer among the best pricing in the industry, even while offering Super Ideal Cutting that almost no one else offers.

Pushback from retailers - Takara lab diamonds are priced too low! As we continue to expand production, it's been interesting talking to retailers that have expressed interest in carrying Takara's. However, don't expect to see Takara's in a store near you anytime soon. The main reason is that our pricing undercuts basically all of the current lab diamonds in inventory, so retailers worry how will they sell their existing stock if they have Takara's that are better color, much better cut and to top it off, at lower pricing.
Our goal with the Takara line is to bring it a large scale and that means we want to produce our inventory, sell it rapidly and repeat to keep expanding production...so our business model is not the same as say a retailer who may want to maximize profit per stone rather than turning inventory rapidly.
Anyway, interesting dilemma but again, reviews like the one above help to spread the word and since it looks like most of our sales will end up being direct from our site, greatly helps!

Comparing Takara Super Ideal cutting vs GIA graded "Excellent" cut mined diamond: If you've known our company for any length of time, you know we are focused on producing the most beautiful gems possible and that means, at the top of the list, the very best cutting possible.
That's why we are big fans of the AGS cut grade system, as it's much more stringent about the cutting perfection.
By way of example, here's a top graded mined diamond, graded under GIA standards, compared to a Takara Super Ideal. This is under a Hearts and Arrows scope:
GIA-Triple-Excellent-Takara-Lab-Diamond.jpg

As you can see, there's a pretty massive difference even though the mined diamond is the 'highest' cut grade offered by the GIA.
However, while "Excellent" cut sounds good ...the reality is 55% (per online research) of all diamonds submitted to GIA are awarded a cut grade of Excellent.
In other words, it basically tells you nothing really. Imagine if you went to school and everyone who got a D- or higher was then awarded an "A+" grade. That's the closest analogy here.

However, under the AGS grading scale, you can see it's not that well cut as it only gets an AGS-5. By contrast, the Takara gets an AGS-000, so without even looking at a scope image, you immediately can tell which is the better cut and that, in my opinion, is how a grading scale should work. Not help people cut so-so stones and award them a high sounding grade to pass to customers.

More Takara Super Ideal videos coming: We're behind on this front, but planning to make a computer modeling video of the above Excellent cut alongside the Takara in various lighting to further drive home the difference, and also make a sunshine video for the Takara.

Our first ever Takara Super Ideal return - what? : We've had our Takara Super Ideal production running since September of last year and while production has been small, we had maintained a record of never having a single Takara being returned...until now. What happened? Well, funny enough, this customer already had an Amora...and found there wasn't enough visual difference for her to justify keeping the Takara :)
Not that we haven't been saying this all along, but was kind of neat to hear it from a customer.
Thus, if you already own an Amora, other than simply changing to "real" diamond, visually you are better off to do Takara studs or other where it's not designed to replace your Amora as you may find it's not really a visual upgrade.
What was interesting was that this customer's feedback was she would never doubt her Amora again after seeing it side by side a Super Ideal Takara. She had previously thought the Amora had too much fire and that a 'real' diamond wouldn't do that, etc. Anyway, as we've stated, you could make earrings pairing a Super Ideal H&A diamond on one side and an Amora on the other and no one would be the wiser.

Amora updates:

No Amora restocks currently in progress: Interesting seque from above, but at this point we are nearly out of Amora rough and due to the growth costs involved, we may not be doing many more Amora restocks, possibly ever. Overall, our focus is shifting to the Takara Lab Diamonds and esp after this year, that's going to be our flagship product moving forward. We simply don't have the resources to do both and the momentum at this point is with scaling up Takara lab diamond production as fast as possible to strike while the iron is hot so to speak.

We do still have a healthy inventory of Eternity rounds, except for the .75ct and 1.00ct size which are basically sold out. But definitely will not have the steady restocks like we've had the past few years...the steady restocks will be coming from the Takara production, esp now that we have our new diamond cutting section fully finalized.

Misc:

The cut grades, from top to bottom: Multiple people have asked so here's a simple list on how the cut grades rank from top to bottom:
1 - Super Ideal Hearts and Arrows. The best, bar none. (Note that there are a lot of "hearts and arrows" that aren't really...look for Super Ideal).
2 - Ideal cut - these have optimal angles but not optimal symmetry. They are much easier to find, and cost is lower due to not nearly as much cutting time needed due to the lower symmetry.
3 - Excellent cut - sounds great, but it's really middle of the road on average. (note that because of the 'everyone gets an A+' grading here, the range is huge within this grade).
4 - Very Good cut
5 - Good
6 - Fair - even the worst diamonds don't get a simple "Fail" but rather a very generous "Fair". Steer clear.

Short update this month, but with production expanding should have a lot more updates at the end of this month. Have a great month and a great weekend!
Best regards,
Less
 

gemcat

Super Moderator
#7
Thank you, Less for the interesting information. I did not realize how much difference there was between the GIA and AGS cut grades. It makes me wonder if there is that big a difference in how the GIA vs AGS judges other aspects of a diamond such as color or clarity.
 

talk-admin

Administrator
Staff member
#8
Thank you, Less for the interesting information. I did not realize how much difference there was between the GIA and AGS cut grades. It makes me wonder if there is that big a difference in how the GIA vs AGS judges other aspects of a diamond such as color or clarity.
Hi Gemcat!
In our experience and from others that have sent stones to both, there's almost no difference re: color and clarity grading between GIA and AGS. Both are very strict and very consistent on color and clarity (though note that AGS uses the number scale for color and clarity as well...but the mapping is consistent).

The cut grade is the huge difference. GIA softballs on the cut imo to try and help the diamond industry sell more diamonds for more profit with this liberal use of "Excellent" for the cut grade.

AGS I believe was created as a split off from GIA (or technically people that left GIA to found AGS) b/c of the disagreement over the cut grading and some other things. More importantly, as AGS points out, most other labs were created to help the diamond industry, not to help consumers:

Most diamond grading laboratories were created as a service to the diamond industry. Not AGS Laboratories. We were founded in 1996 by the American Gem Society (AGS), and are a nonprofit diamond grading laboratory with a mission of consumer protection. This mission ensures you will receive an unbiased opinion on the quality of your diamond.

This is why it’s essential to have a diamond grading report from AGS Laboratories. It reveals the genuine quality of your precious gemstone, both inside and out.
I also note this quote from beyond4cs.com, which reinforces what our position is re: cut grading :

"In the industry, the truly well cut super ideal diamonds are sent to AGS instead of GIA as that is where the “wheat is separated from the chaff”.
That’s because the AGS cut grading system is a lot more advanced and less forgiving when assessing a diamond’s craftsmanship and performance."
I'm glad this info is helping to clarify things!
Best regards,
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