360-degree diamond images is the single most useful tool you’ll have when doing your diamond search online.
A Excellent Tool for Shoppers
Up until a few years ago, only a small handful of retailers provided 360-degree views of their stones. This was a huge competitive advantage for those retailers and the emergence of a new trend in the online diamond business. Fast forward a few years and almost all retailers now offer 360-degree views of diamonds to help shoppers make better purchase decisions.
Why 360° Views is So Important
Before the introduction of 360-degree diamond images, only static images of the diamond was available and so the online diamond buying process was still very different than in-store shopping process. Shopping for a diamond in-store gave you the opportunity to look at it from different angles to see how it would perform under those changing conditions. With static images, this simply wasn’t possible and so shoppers were buying a stone based on limited information.
With 360-degree diamond images, you now have the ability to rotate the diamond around or back and forth. This opens up the opportunity to learn much more about the diamond, specifically:
- Seeing inclusions that were hidden by the angle of the photograph
- Viewing the overall light performance of the stone
- Seeing whether a stone has exhibits scintillation or fire, or a combination of both AND to what degree.
In a nutshell, 360-degree diamond imaging has successfully closed the gap between the in-store process and the online process giving you the full diamond shopping experience from the comfort of your home.
Some 360° Diamond Images are Better Than Others
Like all things involving technology, different flavours (variations) of 360-degree diamond images are used by different retailers. When looking at these different retailers, it’s clear that some 360-degree diamond images are better than others. Our personal favourite is James Allens’ 360° Diamond Display Technology because the images have a large magnification (15X) and showcase the optical performance of the diamond in an everyday setting thanks to the soft lighting used. This differs from other retailers who’s 360 diamond images showcase harsh (strong) light which bring out a lot of sparkle but also makes it very hard to spot inclusions.
Below are samples of 360 images from different online retailers. Click on any of the images to see the actual full quality 360 images (the ones below have been scaled down).
What to Look For in 360° Images
Inclusions and Light Performance are the two elements we’ll be focusing on when we use the 360-degree image. Our recommendation is starting with inclusions as it’s faster to do and doesn’t require another diamond image side by side.
To look for inclusions, click and hold on the 360-degree diamond image and start to rotate the diamond. Look for any dark inclusions that would prevent the diamond from being considered eye-clean. Complete a single rotation of the stone. Rolling back and forth several times on a section of the diamond often helps confirm the presence of harder to see inclusions. The goal here is to uncover any inclusions that might impact light performance.
Here’s an example of a diamond with an easily missed inclusion when looking at the still image alone. Viewing the diamond’s 360-degree image clearly shows the inclusion on the left portion of the table.
Once you’ve inspected for inclusions, the next thing to look for using the 360 image is the overall light performance of the stone. Here you should be looking for a stone which exhibits both flashes of colour and sparkle, respectively known as “fire” and “scintillation”. More importantly, the 360 diamond image will help showcase the “degree” of scintillation and fire. As you rotate the stone, if there are many flashes of light and colour, then consider this a high degree of scintillation and fire. If you observe only the occasional sparkle and colour, then this is a low degree and you should move on to a different stone.
Now, when observing the degree of sparkle and colour, it’s always helpful to have a reference point. Without one, it’s quite difficult to make a decision on what’s a good stone and what’s a bad stone. You can create a reference point by bringing up two 360 diamond images side by side and comparing their light performance as the stones turn. Look for the stone which appears move lively with more flashes of light and colour.
This approach is especially helpful when you are narrowing down a small set of stones to pick your final stone. Start by opening a browser tab for each stone and identify which is the best performer. Use this “winner” to compare to the next stone. If the next stone performs better, than it becomes the new winner and repeat the process again. Using this process, to work your way through you list of stones, will leave you with the final winner and best performing diamond from the group.